Happy New Year!
While 2020 was a challenging year, OSSS worked to help meet the needs of our community in a time of crisis and made gains in reaching our long-term goals. We are grateful for the resilience, hard work, and innovation of our community members, partners and funders.
Please take a moment to look back at what we were able to collaboratively achieve in our OSSS Year in Review.
We begin 2021 with a renewed focus on supporting Oakland’s youngest children and their families. Thank you for your partnership, and look forward to our continued work together.
In the November 2020 election, Oakland voters supported ballot initiatives that would uplift equity for children and families. Measure W will fund services for people experiencing homlessness; Measure QQ enables youth to vote in school board elections; and Measure Y approved bonds to fund OUSD construction. We’re proud that our local community prioritizes much-needed social services, youth civic engagement, and a long-term commitment for school infrastructure.
Statewide election results show that we have to continue to mobilize for equitable systemic change.
While Oakland voters overwhelmingly supported the passage of Schools & Communities First (Proposition 15), Restoring Affirmative Action (Proposition 16), Youth Voting (Proposition 18), and Rent Control (Proposition 21), these statewide ballot initiatives did not win the support of the majority of California voters. With its narrow margin of loss, Proposition 15 is still the most successful challenge to Proposition 13 budget cuts in the past 40 years, signaling that there is more voter willingness to invest in public education. A response to the Proposition 209 (1996) ban on affirmative action in public universities, Proposition 16 would have reinstated affirmative action for Black, Latinx, and Native Americans who face systemic barriers in accessing higher education. This loss suggests that we need to have more political education on the importance of affirmative action in systems change efforts, and on the devastating impact that Prop. 209 had in blocking pathways for educational and economic mobility for many Californians.
In 2021, Oakland has the potential to lead on racial equity priorities in early childhood at a statewide level, especially in response to the newly released California Master Plan for Early Learning and Care.
Oakland Starting Smart and Strong understands that early childhood is at the intersection of many issues, including education, health, quality employment, housing justice, and community-based leadership. Our Policy & Advocacy Agenda centers investment in our youngest learners, parent and family leadership, and equity for early childhood educators. The good news is that our local electorate and many of our elected leaders reflect these values, and it’s our responsibility to bring these values to state and national policy conversations. Oakland is fortunate to have seasoned community advocates who prioritize racial and economic equity for our children and families. We congratulate the winners of the Oakland City Council and School Board races, and look forward to sharing our policy agenda with them in the coming months.
Just as our young students are learning and growing online, we’re doing the same -- through the Oakland Early Learning Symposium. Part II of the symposium, on November 14, focused on Online Learning and Family Support. Over 170 participants heard practical tips and inspiring stories of connecting with children and families during this challenging time. And, teachers and caregivers shared their personal pride in learning so many new tech skills to make their online teaching more effective.
Ideas we heard for how to build more connection with families and children:
We’ve compiled all the questions asked and answered here. The resources discussed during the symposium can be found here. Watch the full workshop here, including presentations from:
Stay tuned for the next workshop in February 2021!