By Aram Mendoza and N. Finch in collaboration with Dewey teachers

Displacement of longtime low-income residents due to gentrification has been an all too common story in the Bay Area recently. Now the same insidious process is targeting some of the most “at-risk” students in Oakland.

Over the past two weeks, in the end of school rush, the Oakland Unified School District’s administration revealed they have been in close discussions with gentrifying developers that puts Dewey Academy, one of the public continuation high schools in the OUSD, in the cross-hairs of real estate agents and developers. The developers are already planning a 24-story luxury condo building overshadowing Dewey and now want to add Dewey and the old OUSD headquarters to the project.

What follows is an overview of the situation, why it’s problematic, how it’s situated in the context of gentrification in the Bay Area, and what those of us opposed to the displacement of Dewey and the gentrification of Oakland can do about it.

“Surplus Property” and “Surplus Populations”

On Monday, June 10, an OUSD-initiated group named the “7-11 Committee” (the name stems from the requirement that the committee have at least 7, and not more than 11, people on it) met for the second time. The Committee was composed of various real estate attorneys, members of charter school boards of directors, and a couple of community members.

Not a single active OUSD teacher or student was on the committee — the only current educator on the committee was the current principal of Dewey Academy. They were charged with “advising” the school board as to the status of the OUSD property located on 2nd Avenue, east of the lake between East 10th and East 12th streets. This property currently houses the former OUSD administration building, which was mysteriously flooded last year, as well as Dewey Academy. The question set before the Committee was to determine whether or not the parcel of land housing both the former OUSD admin building and Dewey Academy was “surplus property.”

Surplus property is defined as property that is retained by the school district but is not currently being used. How can anyone imagine that an actual school — Dewey Academy — that has just graduated about 130 students in the past weeks, and that houses a GED program for community members, could ever be considered “surplus?”

During the first 7-11 committee, one of the OUSD’s attorneys referred to the “surplussing” of Dewey — that is, using the word “surplus” as a verb — and described the way that the OUSD and developers could actively convert Dewey into “surplus property” in order to make it open for development. (1)

The surplus property category is being used as a means to displace Dewey students and treat them as a surplus population.  It has nothing to do with Dewey actually being property that’s considered “surplus.” This mirrors the treatment of Oakland’s youth in the broader society. Seen as an expendable, incarcerable, and unemployable “surplus population,” Oakland’s youth are those who should be pushed to the margins in order to make way for more desirable occupants of land — those that can afford the lakeside view from the window of their 10th floor condominiums. This is the opposite of how they are treated at Dewey Academy, where educators and community members work hard to support students who are missing credits needed to graduate, impacted by gangs, and who might otherwise slip through the cracks of other OUSD schools.

Against the Displacement of Dewey Academy

“The safest place for Dewey to be [for the students] is right where it is.” – Dewey High School alum

There are at least three central reasons that highlight how problematic and oppressive the move to displace Dewey and the OUSD Administration building are.

First of all, Dewey’s current location is next to the Youth Heart Health Center, a student-centered free health clinic that Dewey students helped design, in collaboration with OUSD employees and MetWest High School students. What sense does it make to take our highest-risk, highest-need students away from a health center that they helped design?

While OUSD has committed in rhetoric to prioritizing the social/emotional needs of Oakland youth, this move by the administration directly goes against the social/emotional needs of Dewey students, and by extension, all youth who access the health center. These students helped shape the YHHC with the understanding that they would be able to access the medical services there. Since its opening, Dewey students have made up the highest percentage of youth who have accessed the clinic. Without these young people being in close proximity to the YHHC, the center’s numbers may decline and put them at risk of budget cuts and layoffs, causing further harm to all students who access the center — including those from MetWest and La Escuelita.

Additionally, many students at Dewey are gang-impacted, and the location of Dewey in an accessible and relatively neutral territory by the lake means that students can come to school and be in a safer space than they would be if they had to attend another school in another neighborhood. The informally-discussed alternative locations of Fremont High School in East Oakland, Santa Fe elementary in North Oakland and Lakeview campus north of the lake are all either unsafe for gang-impacted students or inappropriately far, especially for youth who are already struggling with truancy.

This proposed displacement will only further the alienation and marginalization that these young people face by destabilizing what is perhaps one of the most stable institutions in their lives.  If Dewey did not exist and function as it is, and where it is, many of these students would not have the opportunity to recover credits in a safer space and eventually graduate with a high school diploma.

Lastly, the decision-making process behind Dewey’s forced displacement has been incredibly undemocratic and marginalizing of youth, educator and community voices. The committee that is advising the school board on whether or not Dewey is “surplus property” includes real estate lawyers that represent condominium developers and charter school board members. This is unacceptable and disrespectful. Nobody should decide the fate of a school but the students, educators and staff who make the school run on a daily basis. The fact that this committee was appointed by the superintendent without any meaningful engagement with the school community is a slap in the face to a community of students and educators who have worked hard to make Dewey one of the safest campuses for struggling students in Oakland.

All of this led us to the question, “Why is this displacement being pushed forward in such a rushed way?”

Why Dewey and Why Now?  Gentrification and OUSD Administration

Clearly the value of lakeside property is at the heart of why Dewey’s students, educators and community are being treated as an expendable, surplus population. In a rapidly-gentrifying environment, city officials and school district administrators are quick to collaborate in “public-private partnerships” with developers and real estate attorneys who see the growth of luxury condominiums and rising property values (and thereby rising rents) as the center of a strategy to “develop” and “improve” the city of Oakland.

Of a highly secondary concern are the human beings who have worked at Dewey for years, sought a high school diploma at Dewey, or spent years in community design processes putting together plans for a community-centered educational complexes like the Downtown Educational Complex that houses the Youth Heart Health Center, La Escuelita Elementary and MetWest High Schools, and that Dewey students heavily participated in.

In addition to the raw economics behind the OUSD wanting to sell lakeside property, the destabilization of a school like Dewey also plays a social role in the gentrification of Oakland. It’s been well established through studies in New Orleans, Chicago and Philadelphia (2) that school closures and moves contribute to declining enrollment by those students who are displaced.

OUSD’s own declining enrollment shows a relatively stable amount of students — around 38,000 students — from 2006 to 2010. Then from 2011 to 2013, we see a decline by over 1000 students over the course of each year. (3)  What happened in those years that could be correlated with this decline? In 2011 the OUSD school board approved a plan to close 5 elementary schools. In 2012, Fremont and Castlemont high schools went from being broken up into small schools back to being large, comprehensive high schools. Both of these moves further destabilized the lives of young people and their families in the same way that displacing Dewey will do.

The “shock” of destabilization through school closures and displacements have played a key role in pushing out long-term residents from cities like Oakland and Chicago. The more a community is destabilized, the more the conditions are created for them to be pushed out of the city, creating space for wealthier, higher-waged, and whiter residents to move in and take their place.

In a place that prides itself on a radical history and wields progressive rhetoric, this situation epitomizes the reality that the City doesn’t really care about Oakland’s youth. When push comes to shove, the needs of developers always take priority over the needs of Oakland’s communities, especially when the community members are young people who have struggled to make it through a dysfunctional school system and are seen as a moveable nuisance by upscale property developers.

The Role of OUSD Administration and School Board

Where are our school board and OUSD officials in the midst of all this?  While Superintendent Gary Yee has been central in appointing and coordinating the 7-11 committee in charge of determining whether or not the old headquarters and Dewey are deemed “surplus property,” the school board members appeared to have just found out about these proposals for the first time. Why the lack of public information regarding this important decision?

There appears to be, however, at least one Board member who knew plans were in the works. Board President David Kakashiba, who represents District 2, where Dewey is located, was acknowledged in the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan under the heading: “Community Stakeholders Group and Technical Advisory Committee.” (4)

This stands out because the City is currently undertaking the development of “Specific Plans” across the city (including West Oakland and the Oakland Coliseum area) which essentially streamline development by providing a universal Environmental Impact Plan and rezoning for certain target areas of the city.  Recently, the West Oakland plan has received a lot of heat because it includes no guarantees of affordable housing or renters’ rights, essentially streamlining gentrification.

In the case of the Lake Merritt Specific Plan, Dewey Academy and the old HQ are specifically rezoned from “institutional” land to “urban residential.” (5) This draft plan was proposed in December 2012, just a month before the HQ was flooded on January 8, 2013. This begs the question, why did Kakashiba, elected to be a steward of schools, sign off on a document that reclassifies an existing school and an at-the-time fully functioning administration building as land targeted for residential development? And how come the true stakeholders of the school community — parents, students, teachers, staff, and community members — are only just now hearing about plans to demolish our school and lease off public property to developers?

UntitledUnfortunately, the circle of powerful officials who knew about this before us doesn’t stop there.  Perhaps the most troubling discovery so far,is that California Assembly members are assisting this project. On February 14 of this year, Assembly members of the East Bay Rob Bonta and Nancy Skinner introduced a bill (AB 1726) that is specifically intending to exempt OUSD from needing to offer any “surplus property” to charter schools before being able to sell or lease it to other parties.

It should be clear that this bill is targeted specifically at Dewey and the old HQ in order to fast-track its development into condos. The 7-11 committee was formed less than a month ago in order to deal with “surplus property,” yet to this day, no other sites have been brought up about being “surplussed” and OUSD officials have openly stated that this process was started as they were approached by the developers about the Dewey and HQ sites. (6) Moreover, this bill extends the period that this exemption would be active from the current 2016 to 2020.

Clearly, Dewey and the old HQ could be just the start of selling off “surplus” public property.Untitled All of this paints a clear picture of our city’s upside-down priorities and processes: developers and politicians are uniting around a plan to increase the number of luxury condos while those who will be most directly impacted by the sale of public properties have no decision-making power.

So far, District staff and Superintendent Yee have been pushing this development using the argument that OUSD is an underfunded urban district with many needs. They tell us that we can build a new HQ by using the lease payments of the condo development. Looming over us, they say, is that we need a quick solution to our administration facility problems since the insurance payments from the flooding of the old HQ runs out by August of 2016. After that, we would have to use general funds to pay for the current temporary administration location. This argument is structured to force a quick decision that will lock public land into a 99-year lease and accepts condos as acceptable replacements for an active and important school.

In opposition to Gary Yee’s plan, some of the school board members discussed how Dewey already has a great location and should not be moved. They hoped to keep Dewey on-site using some proceeds from the lease.

One board member, Jody London, speculated that some of the apartments could be subsidized to support Oakland teachers and families. She was quickly checked by President Kakashiba and Superintendent Yee for forgetting that the main objective was a new HQ. While these proposals are certainly better than what the district staff and developers have dreamed up, they are far from what is really most beneficial for our students and Oakland overall.

Even in these cases put forward by board members, the developers would still privatize public land and make millions of dollars off of building on previously public high-value real estate. Accepting these proposals would set dangerous precedents and misses out on an opportunity to establish a brand-new model in an age of gentrification that could truly set OUSD and other school districts on a path to really serve our students best.

Turning Our City Right-Side-Up: What Is To Be Done?

Recent history shows us a concrete example of what we can do instead of simply accepting the orders and wishes of developers. In 2006, the schools right across the street from Dewey, La Escuelita and MetWest High School, were faced with a very similar attack. A developer proposed to the district that they knock down the outdated building that housed MetWest and the portables that were La Escuelita.

Very similar to today, the parents, students, and teachers were outraged, and they organized in favor of a counter-proposal: they proposed that OUSD refuse the developers and build an educational complex befitting our children. Through mobilizing to put pressure on the District, they were successful, and David Kakashiba, their district board member, supported them.

Now 8 years later this vision has culminated in the beautiful new Downtown Educational Complex complete with new schools, a health center, a media center, and the soon-to-be-completed athletic complex and early-childhood education center. What board members like David Kakashiba once supported is now what they’re turning their backs on.

Whereas District officials appear quick to forget history’s lessons, we should not. We are faced with another precedent-setting moment: we can choose to invite gentrification into our own backyard or we can demand that OUSD serves students and not real estate developers. Dewey needs to stay intact without disruption to the students’ learning.

The developers in question, Urban Core Integral, are planning to build 244 units of luxury condos that will extend 24 stories high, blocking much of the sun from ever reaching the current location of Dewey Academy. (7) The building will be worth approximately $69 million. (8) If these units are rentals, and we assume they will rent at the very conservative estimate of $3000/month (taken from a comparable apartment building across the street), Urban Core will earn gross revenues of $8.8 million per year.

A 10% gentrification tax on either the sale or rental income of this property would net either approximately $7 million upfront or $800,000 per year, respectively. That money could contribute toward building a new headquarters or new schools or hiring new teachers. What we would spend it on should be decided by the teachers, students, and parents: those who know best how to improve and stabilize schools and the lives of Oakland’s youth.

Next Steps

We are in a moment when anger against gentrification is increasing across Oakland and the Bay Area. What is deeply needed right now is a successful struggle showing what people united could win against rapidly ascending gentrification. The crossroads of a fight to save a school, win more money for education, and put a halt on gentrification could be that struggle.  If successful, we will have blazed a trail that shows how to set Oakland and OUSD right-side-up again.

To support us, please bring your voices to the next 7-11 Committee meeting on Monday, June 23 at 6 p.m., located at KDOL Studios at 314 East 10th Street in Oakland. Also, please come to the next School Board meeting, since they have the final decision-making power, on Wednesday, June 25, also at 6 p.m. in the Great Room located at 1050 2nd Avenue in Oakland.

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1. http://ousd.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=4&clip_id=607. Near minute 54:00.
2. http://www.researchforaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/RFA-School-Closure-AYP-Analysis-Feb-2013_FINAL.pdf and see Pauline Lipman’s book, The New Political Economy of Urban Education: Neoliberalism, Race, and the Right to the City.
3.See both http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us/cms/lib07/CA01001176/Centricity/Shared/Fast_Facts.pdf and OUSD 2012 Facilities Master Plan, page 9.
4. Lake Merritt Specific Plan draft released 12/2014: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/oakca1/groups/ceda/documents/report/oak039049.pdf.
5. Ibid.
6. http://ousd.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=4&clip_id=607.
7. Report to Oakland City Council on 6/25/2013. “ENA To Develop 12th Street Remainder Parcel.”
8. Based off a reverse calculation of a city-estimated annual property tax of $899,286 at the average property tax rate of 1.3%.

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Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland.
For guidelines, see: http://oaklandlocal.com/guidelines.
For more information on posting to community voices, see The word on Oakland Local’s Community Voices posts, http://bit.ly/1nsD19L.

27 Responses

  1. Oakie

    The author is entirely misdirecting attention from what is the authentic power struggle involved and who the forces of evil are.

    This does NOT have ANYTHING to do with Gentrification. That is a complete canard. Trendy canard, but a canard none the less.

    The issue IS that OUSD does have surplus property, and probably plenty of it. The viewpoint of the school board, as explained by Jody London, president of the School Board, at a recent meeting at the Rockridge Library is that they strongly wish to “monetize” the surplus properties any way they can. They are in perpetuity ravenous for more money, no matter how much money they get (Jerry Brown’s budget bumped ADA 30%, but this never gets mentioned by the district and somehow all the old arguments of underfunding continue). They pretty much behave like ravenous dogs; they can think only about how to find more money. This is their only concern. That’s why their proposed Tax Measure for “Linked Learning” is so blatant a scam: LL is just an excuse, they just want more money. They never have enough. And the bald truth is no one cares about LL, they care about getting more money.

    The problem, Jody London explained, was that if they sell the surplussed property they are required by law to sell it for no more than the fully amortized cost. That’s what the district paid for the property, many decades ago, and then only after deducting for all the depreciation of the years of usage of the buildings and structures, which my guess pretty much makes the maximum they can sell for is the cost of the land. At 1930’s or 1940’s prices.

    Since Jody London clearly is not someone particularly dedicated to obeying the law (with regard to charter schools), she explicitly stated that she had no interest whatsoever in letting the property go on those terms to charter schools. She did not elaborate. She didn’t have to. The School Board has made it abundantly clear how they feel about charters.

    My feeling was that she was implying if the district can sell the property at full market value, then she basically didn’t care who got the property on those terms. But since that won’t be possible, she said that they were considering some sort of repurposing of the property so they can rent it out (say to strip mall developers?) to increase the rent to the maximum possible in the market. This works around the problem they have with selling the properties outright.

    Her focus was clearly on maximizing income from the surplus property, not what value it served to the neighborhood or disservice to the community at large based on how the property was used, for which she spoke nothing. The money collected was the only point, for which she spoke plenty.

    One wonders if she would object to whore houses, which might actually maximize the revenue she could have collected. Don’t forget she got elected with the strong support of the teachers’ union and almost all the additional money will end up in teachers’ salaries. When is the next contract negotiation?

    Which gets me to the real evil being done here:

    The reason OUSD is doing everything possible to screw Dewey Academy is because it is a charter. It has absolutely nothing to do with Gentrification. It’s nothing personal, bro. They hate all charters and want them eradicated.

    OUSD is also trying to force shut American Indian Model schools, too. In the case of AIM, the reason they are working so hard to shut them down is because AIM students perform so well that it clearly makes the public schools in OUSD look worse than lame – they are in fact incompetent at educating students. And their test scores, drop out rate and college entrance rates compared to AIM proves it. AIM students scores ranked #6 in the state this year, above Lowell in San Francisco. Oakland public schools hang out at the bottom of the barrel in the state. In fact, an OUSD student (at Skyline, no less) was one of the brave defendants in Vergana vs California that successfully sued because of the poor quality of their education, as guaranteed by the state constitution.

    Also, AIM serves almost entirely minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. And AIM students go on to high quality colleges at 100% rates. That makes comparisons to the performance of OUSD run public schools shameful. And they clearly don’t like it-and rather than learn from the charters, they’d rather squeeze them shut. AIM had to go to court to stop OUSD from shutting it, and although the trial is not over, the judge did give AIM a preliminary determination that they had clearly demonstrated the superiority of their case and stopped OUSD from proceeding to close the school.

    Of all the students in the city of Oakland, 2 out of 5 choose not to go to a OUSD run public school. And that number keeps increasing over the years.

    That “voting with their feet” is making the political power centers in OUSD very bitter and driven to destroy all charters, even though some so outperform the public schools that shutting them would be a great disservice to those students. What do the power centers of OUSD care about them? Not much, as demonstrated by their actions and the court determination in Vergana (the judge said the quality of education delivered “shocks the conscience”).

    Note that although 40% of the parents in Oakland voted NO to sending their own kids to OUSD public schools, the OUSD School Board is 100% exclusively supportive of the public schools and working diligently to destroy all charters. You wonder why the 40% have no voice? I wonder, too.

    That is the scandal. And there are evil doers. Now go after them! And stop wasting your time on non-issues.

    Reply
  2. Santizo

    Oakie, Dewey is not a charter school, so the entire 2nd half of your comment is misleading and factually incorrect.

    Reply
  3. Oakie

    Santizo,
    Thank you for that correction. Dewey is not a charter, so I don’t really have a dog in that fight to save it. In fact, it’s test scores are as poor as most other public schools in Oakland (API of 569, well below average in compared statewide) even though only 29% of the student body are socioeconomically disadvantaged. AIM by comparison has an API of 928 while being 67% socioeconomically disadvantaged. Not sure what the reason is to save a school with such poor scores even though it’s serving middle class kids.

    http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/california/districts/oakland-unified-school-district/dewey-academy-2911

    http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/california/districts/oakland-unified-school-district/american-indian-public-high-school-2940

    In any case, not sure what you find “factually incorrect” but just stating that does not make it so (although there is a pattern of taking that approach in Oakland when the facts are not on your side).

    Reply
  4. Len Raphael

    From reading your op-ed and then the first few paragraphs of Oakie’s response (before he got into the AIM discussion) I think Oakie’s explanation of OUSD’s actions is more correct: OUSD board and administrators aren’t pushing this because they want to gentrify Oakland, they’re pushing it because they’re always short on money.

    If anything, OUSD board and admin are anti-gentrification: they know that if Oakland totally gentrified the number of OUSD students will further massively drop, and the OUSD govt funding based on enrollement will vaporize.

    This is typical Oakland muni government behavior, where in other situations, where city staff and elected officials give higher priority to feeding the City’s appetite for money to cover out of control operating and retirement costs, than they give to the needs of the residents. No sinister ruling class racist conspiracies, just universal organizational behavior adapting to the real estate market boom.

    From what public data I could find and the reasons in your op-ed, Dewey should be continued at the current site.

    You are needlessly antagonizing gentrifiers instead of appealing to them for support. You assume that just because they’re higher income they wouldn’t support keeping Dewey there. (it certainly helps, that there are few gentrifiers in that neighborhood now).

    You also are trapped by past and present absolute unwavering opposition of the teachers’ union to charter schools. You should be mobilizing public opposition to Bonta and Skinner’s move to deny charter schools the chance to purchase “surplus” OUSD property at bargain price. If that bill passes, OUSID will be selling everything that isn’t nailed down.

    Len Raphael
    Temescal

    Reply
  5. Santizo

    Yes, OUSD is short on money. Nobody questions that, and it’s alluded to in the article on a few different occassions.

    However, both Oakie and Lee Raphael attempt to divorce the question of gentrification from the declining funds in OUSD’s budget, even though Lee Raphael ends up supporting the connection when he writes, “[OUSD admin] know that if Oakland totally gentrified the number of OUSD students will further massively drop, and the OUSD govt funding based on enrollement will vaporize.” This clearly shows one of the main connections between the gentrification of the city and the ongoing decline in funding faced by the school district.

    The point is that the district will be complicit in the ongoing gentrification of the city by following through on plans for public-private partnerships that give up public land to private condo developers.

    A flyer passed out at the June 11th board meeting stated, “The district will say, “We need money. We have to do this.” We have pointed out in the past where to really find the money. Start by cutting consultants and admin salaries to reasonable levels. Then start a campaign to tax the developers, port, and corporations (like Kaiser) profiting off our city.”

    This is how the board should be getting more money. Private developers should not be taking over publicly controlled land, especially when it’s in use by community members like Dewey Academy is in use by the educators and students there.

    Lee Raphael, it’d be great to talk to you tonight at the 7-11 meeting, and/or Wednesday at the school board.

    Santizo

    Reply
  6. Len Raphael

    Santizo, I will email Jody London, my OUSD board member tonight against moving Dewey.

    Gotta chose ones battles with City Hall. I’ll be attending the City Council Public Safety Committee Meeting at City Hall Tuesday, June 24 to support amending the city charter to create a Public Safety Oversight Commission (PSOC).

    Did the OUSD panel show any signs that they even tried to work a mixed-use deal where Dewey got to stay with the appartments rising above them? I’m sure the developer would be less than thrilled by Dewey students rubbing shoulders with market rate tennants, but that just reduces the lease payments to OUSD.

    I disagee with the Oakland teachers’ union on several issues, including their take no prisoner opposition to all charter shools. But they (and you) are dead right about need for OUSD to greatly reduce the total amount spent on administration at HQ.

    Len Raphael
    Temescal

    Reply
  7. Len Raphael

    To Jody London
    ‘jody.london@ousd.k12.ca.us’

    Don’t Move Dewey Academy

    I realize OUSD is desperate for money for all the usual reasons.

    You surely can come up with a better solution than moving this school.

    Go back to the negotiating table and work out a deal where Dewey gets to stay underneath the proposed market rate apartment building. Tell the developer to pound sand if they don’t like it or find another partner.

    I won’t waste your time or mine suggesting cutting HQ admin costs before moving Dewey because you’ll probably say it’s already been done or hands are tied.

    Regards,

    Len Raphael
    4922 Desmond

    Reply
  8. Erica

    Dewey Academy is not a charter school. Before you attempt to lampoon someone’s effort to draw attention to an important issue please have all of your facts together. Also, gentrification is about money…a school is being displaced for money. Whole communities are being displaced for money. That is gentrification.

    Reply
  9. Jim Mordecai

    2nd Avenue 7-11 surplus school property Committee’s focus is covered in great detail. But, what is missing is who was responsible for signing a contract with UrbanCore Development LLC? Oakland City Council,

    Also, who was most responsible for informing the Community of the City’s intention to sign a contract with UrbanCore Development to build Lake Merritt Tower, towering 20 or more stories up against Dewey High School were the sun will become a distant memory along with parking spaces?

    Council District 2 – Patricia Kernighan (Council President) who was a party to Lake Merritt BART planning area plans.

    District 2 Councilwoman Kernighan is not running again for her seat. But, before she leaves shouldn’t the community hold her accountable for explaining why she didn’t inform the people in her District she represents that the City was signing up with a developer to build public/private Tower against the back of Dewey High School?

    Just saying.

    Reply
  10. Tim

    How exactly is this building going to cast shadows on Dewey when it will be due north of the location of the school?

    Reply
  11. Oakie

    Erica,
    It is true I did not realize that Dewey was not a charter. However, I’ll stand by my argument that gentrification has absolutely nothing to do with this issue.

    “… gentrification is about money…a school is being displaced for money. Whole communities are being displaced for money. That is gentrification.”

    I don’t have a dog in this fight regarding Dewey because the academic achievement is so lousy. Furthermore, it doesn’t really serve many poor kids, as it only has 39% socioeconomically disadvantaged kids, far below what is typical in OUSD schools.

    So neither is it providing a good education nor is it serving a substantial number of kids who come from poor homes. The reason OUSD would want to squeeze out Dewey is all about our dysfunctional district and their voracious need for more money.

    OUSD has an annual budget of $550,000,000.00 It serves 36,000 students. That works out to more than $15,000 per student per year.

    When I arrived in Oakland in the early 80’s, it served 54,000 students, and the student age population of Oakland has actually gone up a bit. About 40% of Oakland’s kids do not go to OUSD public schools. The trend is growing each and every year. I suspect in two or three years, a majority of Oakland kids will not go to OUSD public schools.

    The problem is that the central administration is very slow to reduce itself. It’s the overhead, stupid.

    Can you imagine if that $15,000 FIRST went directly to the school? The money available first and foremost for the classroom, at 30 students per classroom is $450,000. The average teacher plus benefits is about $70-80k. How much do you think their cost of rent should be since the properties were bought many decades ago and the building are all paid off? Electric bill?

    Do the math and you will see that there is a whole lot of money being spent elsewhere. The fact that they’re scouring everywhere to find more money is the scandal, Dewey being just one of many victims. They should shut down the central administration and let each school’s principal run it as an enterprise. An enterprise that should be judged solely on how well it provides an education to our kids. As an added bonus, all those people who are the power structure of OUSD and its special interests would have their heads exploding. Let them go find something constructive to do and stop destroying our kid’s futures.

    Reply
  12. Len Raphael

    Is Oakie’s back of the envelope OUSD revenue per student of 15k/student a good ballpark number? I just tried to read my first OUSD budget document and realized it would take hours to read the first time. No wonder the OUSD board (with Jean Quan as chairperson) over a decade ago could plead cluelessness as their defense for the district going belly up.

    Not obvious to me whether the numerator and denominator in Oakie’s rough calc match each other. ie. do both of them include/exclude charter school kids? What about special ed. Are the funds for special ed much higher per student than non special ed?

    Reply
  13. Oakie

    Me neither, Len. As you are fully aware, it is not difficult to obfuscate how money can be wasted by an organization as devious and dysfunctional as OUSD with a complex mix of funding and buckets of allocated spending categories. You’re in that kind of business to know the tricks of the trade.

    I can’t find any mention of charter schools except about $1 Million for some overhead costs. The words “charter school” do not appear anywhere else in the document. And that’s where 12,000 out of 48,000 students in OUSD are. But they do have lots of pretty photographs in the document!!

    So it is unstated whether the $549 Million of the $550 Million includes costs for the charter schools. Makes a big difference, but apparently it was not in their interest to be explicit about that.

    Of course when Jody handed out the pretty and colorful information packet at the Rockridge Library meeting it only showed $6,000 ADA and why they so desperately need more money (CA funding is “49 out of 50”!), and why we would be such stingy people if we don’t vote for yet another parcel tax to give them ….. Linked Learning ….

    The amazing thing was that I was the only person at the meeting suspicious of their claims. Did you know that the word “gullible” is not in the dictionary?

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  14. Len Raphael

    Oakie, look on the sunny side. When Jody London first ran for OUSD I asked her if she knew how much CA paid OUSD for attendance. She gave a really wildly low number.

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  15. James Miller

    1) Plans to sell surplus property at the OUSD HQ site have been around, and publicly scrutinized and discussed, longer than Dewey has been in existence, I think. I dont think they should move the place, but this is not a case of a new idea coming around and people deciding that Dewey isnt worth saving. The idea was there, and the folks running Dewey should have thought about that. perhaps they have, but this is not new news. These plans also well preceded the (most recent) wave of concern about Oakland gentrification (note, we’re still not gentrified)

    2) Len knows this, and others should: selling surplus property doesnt just earn the District a one-time cash infusion from the sale, it creates a long-term savings as facilities no longer need to be maintained, secured, insured, etc. There just arent as many kids around as there used to be, and wasting money on unnecessary facilities (as opposed to putting it into the classroom) is just plain dumb.

    3) Regarding gentrification and the schools, I dont think anyone is necessarily doing anyone any favors by fighting for them to remain in OUSD schools. My kid goes to a good one, but will not go to a bad one for middle school. There’s an untested assumption here that all low income people leave Oakland involuntarily. I contest this assumption and would suggest that getting out of crappy schools is as much a driver as high rents for people to leave. Many many anti-gentrification activists are childless, mostly because they are young, and really havent had to face the hard choices actual families make every day.

    That said: find a place for Dewey, but dont entirely block the fruitful redevelopment of a great area by the Lake to do it.

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  16. Oakie

    That’s the sunny side?

    The state ADA went up something like 30% this year in Jerry’s budget. I asked her about that and whether the numbers she’s handing out (last month) included that or not.

    She was entirely not aware of that.

    But fully “aware” of how Linked Learning will solve all our problems if we just pass one more parcel tax. Guaranteed.

    And the teachers’ union is wholly against the parcel tax because, and only because, the money is shared with the 40% of the OUSD student population that are choosing to be in charter schools. Choosing is the operative word, and at the heart of their objection. Only a monopoly, by them, is allowable. Parents are simply misguided, poor soles. The union knows what’s best for all of us.

    There’s a lot of blame to go around for the dysfunction that is OUSD. And giving them more money will not improve things. Quite to the contrary, it will enable them to make things worse.

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  17. SD

    We can’t keep arguing for maintaining everything exactly the way it is. Change happens. And we can stand jn the way (bad option), just let it happen(also a bad option), or make sure it happens in a way that benefits everyone. If the location is so important, why not demand that the developer reserve the first few floors of the high rise for Dewey? That way students get a brand new building, Oakland gets development and urban infill, and the neighborhood gets more eyes on the street, making it safer for the students. A win win for everyone?

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  18. Jim Mordecai

    Concern some have is developer’s “fruitful development” will turn out to be rotten development for the public. Real estate interests are a stakeholder in the concept of a public but their interest shouldn’t overshadow many other interests, including those interested in Oakland School making decisions that advance providing public education to Oakland students.

    But, determining how best to serve interest of OUSD enrolled students becomes complicated, not just because of the developers’ interest, but because of Ed Code requirement that charter school be provided with “right to first refusal”Dis on selling of surplus school.

    The lawyers for District, and developer UrbanCore, that has plan to build tower apartments 20 plus stories behind Dewey High School, believe that they can side step Ed Code requirement to give interest charter school right of first refusal by joint public/private development.

    The lawyers may be right or they could be brought to court by the California Charter School Association that may not be happy about a district dodging a charter schools right of first refusal.

    To paraphrase Shakespeare: Oh what a tangled web we weave when public schools are privatized by charter schools and their lobby.

    Despite the charter school Ed Code cloud over the best path for the Oakland School Board to take on dealing with District’s Second Avenue property and Dewey High high school, I have opinions how the Board can best advance the interest of enrolled OUSD students.

    First, any monies that generated by the sale/lease of 2nd Avenue District property be used to provide Dewey High with a planned improved facility and the relocated is approved by Dewey students and staff.

    Second, use of monies from sale/lease of District Second Avenue real property be used for building/purchase of new Administrative building.

    I believe the District should avoid public/private partnership option and possible lawsuit by California Charter School Association.

    Current Ed Code says that charter school management under right of first refusal can buy Dewey High School at not less than 25% of market value when cost to the District has been calculated. To avoid putting public/private at risk of lawsuit, taking 25% hit in having to pay below market value would speed up getting funding for new school and administration building.

    Also, getting the 2nd Avenue sold quickly will mean that the cost of housing after the insurance money runs out in 2016 for paying rent on housing administration will shorten time of the District carrying that debt.

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  19. JR

    I am trying to figure out how Oakland Local is trying to claim that turning an empty lot and an unusable school building is gentrification. It seems that there are many “facts” in articles on this website that are shaky at best. Some seem innocent enough, but many are outright lies. From claiming that this building will cast a shadow on the school to calling security guards police officers are a few examples.
    The sad thing is that their vendetta against what they call gentrification is seen by most as a rebirth and revitalization of our city, something that a majority of people who have lived here for their entire lives and newcomers have been waiting for. I am constantly amazed at how much progress is being made here- uptown is a great place to enjoy yourself, even the Sears building is being redone; Brooklyn Basin is going to open up the waterfront for everyone to finally enjoy, and the MacArthur Transit village will hopefully connect Temescal and Uptown (Both projects built on land with no housing on it and with large affordable housing aspects). Neighborhoods are being cleaned up and many places are feeling safer, and cleaner (thanks in part to SeeClickFix-please use!) And all of this while our reputation is getting better and people from all over the country and even world are moving here. So I say yes to a new tower on the lake to replace a dirt patch and also the bonus of getting rid of the old school admin building, if they can put the school in the project then that would be great as well.
    The funny thing is that the more they talk about gentrification the more people want to move here and check it out.

    Reply
  20. Oakie

    In the best tradition of George Orwell, and as a public service to the readers here, I would like to offer my translation service for some of the terms and phrases chosen by Jim Mordecai to obfuscate the clear meaning by substituting plain English. I’m fine if you agree with him but at minimum he should be speaking in plain English as to what he means:

    “…including those interested in Oakland School making decisions that advance providing public education to Oakland students.”

    “advance providing public education to Oakland students” really means providing education for only those students in Oakland who are in OUSD public schools.

    This excludes the 40% of Oakland students whose parents do not CHOOSE to send them to these underachieving schools. Many of them choose charter schools which operate under an OUSD charter, some who choose other charters under Alameda County BoE or other sponsors, or who choose something else. These students apparently do not deserve for us to advocate for their interest.

    “…becomes complicated, not just because of the developers’ interest, but because of Ed Code requirement that charter school be provided with ‘right to first refusal’ is on selling of surplus school.”

    This is only complicated if the intent is to have total disregard for students whose parents choose a charter pathway. If we, as citizens and taxpayers of Oakland are interested in every student age child in Oakland, then it wouldn’t be so complicated and any action that would help charter students would be a good thing.

    “…side step Ed Code requirement to give interest charter school right of first refusal by joint public/private development.”

    The side stepping is because the OUSD school board, as openly stated by President Jody London, and with unanimous support of every school board member, is to work diligently to ensure that Oakland residents who are charter students not get a fair shake in any development deal. Mr. Mordecai is clearly in favor of doing exactly that, his concern mainly is in whether it can be accomplished. This is no moral quandary for him and the School Board.

    “To paraphrase Shakespeare: Oh what a tangled web we weave when public schools are privatized by charter schools and their lobby.”

    You have to love this nugget. Actually the tangled web is the corruption of school board elections to ensure that only teacher union supported candidates are elected (true for at least the last 30 years) in spite of the sentiment of the 40% who reject their schools. The tangled web is when charter schools are characterized as “privatized” instead of what they are: operated under the control of the parents whose children go to those schools. And tangled because there is in fact no lobby for these parents; only the teachers’ unions lobby for what they want in Sacramento using millions of dollars in dues collected by the unions to ensure democratic election processes are subverted-which is quite the opposite of what he is claiming. Quite tangled, that is. War is peace, peace is war.

    “… best advance the interest of enrolled OUSD students.”

    Again, charter school students need not apply for being of concern to these voices.

    And yet soon they will ask us to vote to give them yet another parcel tax, this time for a half baked trendy scheme with an alliterative catch-phrase of Linked Learning which in fact has no supporting evidence that it will improve OUSD’s public schools’ hideous academic under-achievement.

    Reply
  21. Jim Mordecai

    Oakie provided his Oakie Dokie in translating my rant against charter schools complicating the sale of 2nd Avenue District property.

    Politics makes strange allies as we are both in agreement for a No vote on the School Board’s parcel tax in November.

    Sticking to facts is not a strength of Oakie’s posts: “Actually the tangled web is the corruption of school board elections to ensure that only teacher union supported candidates are elected (true for at least the last 30 years) in spite of the sentiment of the 40% who reject their schools.

    What is true is that GO Public Schools Former (Dryers’ Executive) got all three of its $100,000 PAC endorsed Oakland School Board candidates elected. For the last decade Oakland School Board members have short-changed Oakland classroom teachers the minimum amount a district is required by law to spend on its teachers. Meanwhile the School Board provided thousands of its education dollars to try and bailout a charter school is favored. Urban district with the most charter schools as percentage of enrollment in the state, does fit the charge district’s school board as being a lackey of the teacher union. Privatization is us could be the District’s motto.

    Finally, the Oakie Dokie is turning around the facts when it speaks of charter schools giving power to parents. Charters reduce a parents rights. Privatized charter management makes charter school employee and parents second class citizens because legal rights under the U.S. Constitution are reduced by leaving a public school for a privatized management of a charter school. However, parents retain the right to leave a charter school and return to a public school. Under charter favorable law returning means the funding for that year stays with the charter and drains funding from the public school that a parent might enroll their child. Just one of many facts that show charter schools are toxic to public education.

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  22. Oakie

    Thanks Jim, I wasn’t aware of GO PAC. That’s cool to see! I saw they endorsed three, but only two seem to be on the board. Maybe you know the intricacies of that.

    Sure wish they’d sponsor an alternative against the sock puppet for the union, Jody London. Her arrogance, lack of knowledge and bias against charters are maddening. Only because her district is full of affluent mostly white people who are perfectly capable of educating their own kids no matter how poor the schools are, do they have the luxury of electing people like London, helping to maintain an awful school district as is the unions’ wont. The Oakland teachers’ union is twice as white as the city, and far more affluent, obviously.

    Unfortunately for the mostly minority and poor parents in East and West Oakland, they don’t have the choice. Which may be why the GO’s candidates won in those neighborhoods. Among the poor and minority parents of Oakland, the charters are a saving grace.

    If GO spent $100,000 on three candidates, care to inform us as to how much the unions that contract with OUSD spent electing their favorites, so that they’d see their faces across the negotiation table the next time contracts come up? Don’t forget the fair market value of their time campaigning.

    If OUSD has the highest share of students in charters in the state, that’s a reassuring sign that a good chunk of Oakland parents are not willing to throw their own flesh and blood on the sacrificial alter of union dogma.

    If the OUSD School Board is so pro-charter (btw GO PAC specifies they support both charter and public schools, unlike the unions which solely support public schools and only have vituperation for any charters) why is it that something like 1,000-2,000 are on waiting lists to get into charter schools in Oakland? I would have thought, if what you say is true, that they would ensure there would be plenty of seats available through our charters.

    I can understand your objection to spending “thousands” bailing out one or another charter in trouble, but you fail to mention the tens of millions in misappropriation and misspending by OUSD that got our district put into state receivership. Is one dollar misspent on a charter more valued than hundreds misspent at an OUSD operated public school?

    I’ll definitely stand by my belief that charters are run by parents, and OUSD public schools are highly removed from parental control. Just ask a half dozen parents in each situation if you don’t believe me. “Privatized” management really means management not under the control of OUSD bosses, teachers’ union bosses or anyone else. That’s why parents are flocking to them and the public schools are on the hind tit when it comes to attracting parents to their cause.

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  23. Oakie

    “According to Junious Williams, chief executive officer of the Urban Strategies Council, said inadequate funding for schools is a major barrier in helping students to be successful. Other school systems around the country spend around $16,000 a year to educate students while Oakland receives only $8,000 per pupil.”
    http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_26033455/safe-oakland-forum-focuses-school-safety-achievement

    Of course nobody challenges this. But if OUSD has 36,000 students and funding is $8,000 per year, my calculator says that comes to $288 Million.

    Since the OUSD budget is actually $549 Million, what happened to the other $261 Million?

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  24. LibbyCali

    Have any of you actually been in the HQ on 2nd ave and Dewey? It’s decrepit, run down with extremely old and neglected systems. Dewey is offered Lakeshore on Grand across from the Grand Lake theater and the claim is that this is too far and it’s in gang territory? It’s a mile away and it’s a much, much nicer site and location. Yes, the district is just looking for money and they’re not particularly good at it. There’s an unused OUSD facility down the street that many different parties have tried to rent out for various long term uses. You can’t even get your phone calls returned. But the tone of this article, as if the powers that be in the district are thinking broadly about impact (ha!), no.

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  25. Oakie

    All I would add to that is to remember this on election day in November:

    When OUSD comes to us with yet another tax increase, don’t say NO say HELL NO. Until they take action against their wasteful spending culture none of our students will benefit one iota with ever higher taxes.

    Reply
  26. Oakie

    Len, here’s what you asked about:

    He is inheriting a district with students scarred by the city’s unrelenting daily violence that often spills over onto school campuses. And a large number of Oakland schools have been failing academically for decades. Last year 33 of the district’s 86 schools — 38 percent — were ranked at the very bottom of California’s Academic Performance Index.

    The district’s bureaucracy is so dysfunctional, according to a recent Alameda County grand jury report, it can’t complete state financial audits because it is unable to find its own records. In April district staff drew up a budget approved by top administrators with revenue projections that were off by nearly $70 million.

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_26063126/new-oakland-schools-chief-not-afraid-make-tough

    So it looks like they manage to lose $70 million in their seat cushions.

    Reply
  27. genluv

    Ha! An alternative high school for low-income at-risk students of color in a new luxury condo building? That’ll be the day.

    Reply

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