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!
The Promising Practices Portfolio is now a workshop for educators!
In November, OSSS launched “Improving Early Learning Outcomes for Boys of Color: 10 Promising Practices,” a three-hour training based on the innovative equity strategies and approaches that were featured in the report developed by the Boys of Color workgroup.
“This was, so far, the best training I have attended on this topic,” wrote one OUSD participant in a post-workshop evaluation survey. “I appreciated that this [workshop] actually talked about bias in education and education of young children.”
Workshop participants learned concrete practices for how to put equity into practice in early learning settings, including background on brain science, stages of racial identity development, regulating stress responses, and practical ways to address educator bias. Led by facilitators Dr. Julie Nicholson (Mills College professor), Dr. Tasha Henneman (education researcher), and Dr. Thomas Williams (former OUSD early childhood administrator), participants had opportunities to discuss and practice strategies in breakout groups. By the end of the workshop, they shared takeaways they were looking forward to trying out, including:
More than 150 early learning educators from OUSD and community-based programs participated in the workshops held on Nov. 7 and Nov. 13. An overwhelming number of participants—93 percent—said they would recommend it to an early childhood education colleague.
The Promising Practices Portfolio highlights innovative work in Oakland that is nurturing educational joy and success in all children, particularly young boys of color, in two major areas: family engagement and trauma-informed practices. Learn more about the OSSS Boys of Color workgroup and the portfolio here.
Look for the next efforts of the Boys of Color Workgroup to come in 2021!