Monday, March 07, 2011

Victims of the Budget: You Can Help

An email from a teacher at the school I used to work at:

I apologize for the mass e-mail, but I wanted to get in touch with you about something that is currently very close to my heart.  I have spoken with many of you about the situation that is unfolding at my school, but I'll just summarize for those of you who haven't had the full story.  Our school is in danger of being dismantled and all the gains we have made in the last four years are in danger of being lost as ALL but one of our classroom teachers will receive lay off notices on March 15th.  This is unfairly affecting communities like ours in traditionally 'hard to staff' schools serving low income communities of color.  We are making a video to document this struggle and advocate for our cause and we need YOUR help!  Please visit our site at 

make a donation and support us in raising awareness and telling our story.

Here is a shortened version of our story from our fundraising website:

Formerly one of the worst and lowest performing schools in Oakland, known as Lockwood elementary school, Futures was created when Lockwood split into two separate schools sharing one campus.  Not only have test scores improved dramatically in the four years that Futures has been in existence, (Futures had the highest test score gains in the district in 2009) but our teachers and staff have also initiated a wide variety of programs to support and enrich our students academic growth. 

While Lockwood lost over 100 teachers from 1999 to 2006 and had 8 principals in 8 years, this pattern of attrition has stopped with our current staff.  This is the first year in many that 100% of our teachers have made their commitment to return to Futures for the following school year.  However, despite our strong will and commitment to continue building the relationships in the community that have begun to create significant changes in academic outcomes for our students, Futures wil once again be subject to the chaos and disruption of losing up to 100% of its teachers if the current budget remedy employed by the district goes through.  

All but one of our classroom teachers will receive pink slips on March 15th!

Because Futures is a new school, and has drawn new teachers as well as experienced teachers from other districts who are new to Oakland Unified, it will be very disproportionately affected by the impending lay-offs.  We see this as a violation of our students right to equal access to a quality public education. We believe that it is unjust for these cuts to be so concentrated in any one school, particularly one whose intention is to correct decades of precisely this kind of instability and neglect. 

Last year when similar schools in Los Angeles were looking at the same potential lay-offs and reforms, the ACLU defended the students and sued the district with the claim that the disproportionate losses for students at schools like Futures Elementary is a civil rights issue.  Recently the ACLU won and the district settled.  However, it hasn’t yet set a legal precedent.  This is why we must take action!

Four years ago: More Evaluator Woes

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