Keep Oakland Schools Open
The Oakland school board has decided to close seven schools in the next two years. Yes, these schools are located in black and brown neighborhoods. The Oakland school board has referred to budget cuts and low enrollment as the reason to close these schools breaking the hearts of students, their families and their teachers and staff. Students are losing their environment, their being separated from their peers, their teachers, their old school life. It’s a big transition that many Oakland students will have to face.
One of the reasons I think there has been low enrollment in Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) school’s is due to the rise of charter schools in Oakland. Growing up in Oakland, I have seen the number of charter schools increase. I went to two different charter schools for high school. One of the similarities both of these high schools had in common was that they were only a few minutes away from each other. Also, they weren’t too far from where I lived. I started to notice there were more charter schools in in my area. If OUSD really wanted to keep students enrolled in OUSD schools, they shouldn’t have allowed so many charter schools to be built.
Parents are going to choose to place their children in schools that they believe are best for them. With charter schools increasing in neighborhoods where there were no schools, there will be parents who will choose to send their children to those schools. Charter schools took advantage of this and its paid off. They manage to attract parents and their students into their schools because they were close to where they live. For many families these charter schools were their only option in which include my family. My mother sent me and my sisters to charter schools because they were close to where we live. Many OUSD schools were too far from where we lived so we couldn’t consider those schools as options.
No school is the same. A charter school is no better than an OUSD school. Each school is different. The best way to keep schools open and to support students is by investing in schools. Moreover, teachers are being given more students than they can handle making it difficult for them to give each student attention. State, local and federal governments need to invest more in education and in public schools. Closing schools is going to overwhelm schools that remain open while they are already underfunded.
Closing schools is not the solution. In fact, more schools should be built and more should be done to help students by providing them the support they need mentally and academically. Investing in schools in black and brown neighborhoods and keeping them open should be the priority of OUSD. Their access to an equitable education is just as important. However, OUSD has decided to approve more charter schools to lease OUSD school campuses in which many were closed and many are still open. OUSD is expected to earn $2.3 million from 16 charter schools just this year. This is unfortunate because it seems OUSD is prioritizing making money from charter schools over the future of OUSD schools and their students.
Students, teachers, staff have been protesting for their schools to remain open. I hope schools can remain open. Education is essential and Oakland students deserve better.