Keeping the Promise: Struggling for Equity, Student Achievement and Small Schools in Oakland Unified Small is Not Enough: Creating High Achieving Schools for All Students January 30 - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Keeping the Promise: Struggling for Equity, Student Achievement and Small Schools in Oakland Unified Small is Not Enough: Creating High Achieving Schools for All Students January 30

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Title: Keeping the Promise: Struggling for Equity, Student Achievement and Small Schools in Oakland Unified Small is Not Enough: Creating High Achieving Schools for All Students January 30


1
Keeping the Promise Struggling for Equity,
Student Achievement and Small Schools in Oakland
UnifiedSmall is Not Enough Creating High
Achieving Schools for All StudentsJanuary 30
31, 2004
  • Steve Jubb
  • Executive Director
  • Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools

2
National Public High School Graduation College
Readiness
Source Public High School Graduation and College
Readiness in the US
3
OUSD student attrition classes of 2000 2002
4
Students were falling through the cracks in our
relationships.
5
In 1998, parents wanted an alternative to some of
the most crowded public schools in California.
As many as 2000 elementary school students shared
campuses built for 500 in multitrack year-round
schools.
Students and teachers were rotating classrooms
every month.
Portables lined the blacktops.
There was no room to play.
In the high schools, students roamed the halls
and teachers had to lock their classroom doors to
keep order.
The system produced abysmal results.
6
In 1999 Oakland Community Organizations (OCO)
asked the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable
Schools (BayCES) for assistance in trying to
start a small school at Jefferson Elementary
School.
After being rebuffed twice, OCO turned their
attentions to charter schools. Three of six
opened.
BayCES provided research, data and counsel. OCO
learned that charters are hard to start.
After we visited small schools in Chicago and New
York together we knew that we had to think more
systemically. We started dreaming of a system of
small schools. We needed to engage the school
district.
7
A Unique Partnership forNew Small Autonomous
Schools
Oakland UnifiedSchoolDistrict
8
Our Work Started With New Small Autonomous Schools
  • New designs, better teaching, deeper connections
    with community
  • Small enough to be safe, personalized and
    relationship based for students, educators and
    families
  • Autonomous with control over the important means
    of success
  • Accountable for results

9
What We Did To Launch Small Schools
  • Formed an partnership with Oakland Community
    Organizations (OCO), representing 35 churches in
    the low income neighborhoods of East, West, and
    North Oakland.
  • Added OUSD as a partner when Dennis Chaconas
    became Superintendent in March, 2000 passed a
    policy in May
  • Hired a shared BayCES-OCO organizer to organize
    teachers so that the teachers union would have to
    respond positively to the desires of members.
  • OCO organized parents and families who demanded
    small schools as an end to overcrowding, unsafe
    conditions, and low achievement.
  • Developed a model of school incubation and
    support for design teams that starts with
    organizing and leadership development for
    teachers, students and family members.
  • We launched 15 small schools and engaged the
    district in considering a radical redesign of
    systems

10
The One Irrefutable Fact
Education happens
one school
one teacher
one child
at a time.
11
The Importance of Respect and Care
  • "To teach in a manner that respects and cares for
    the souls of our students is essential if we are
    to provide the necessary conditions where
    learning can most deeply and intimately begin."
  • bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress, Education as
    the Practice of Freedom

12
The Way It Should Be A Partnership for Learning
13
If we know what to do, why dont we have the
schools we need?
  • Despite two decades of leadership by thoughtful
    and competent people who reflected the
    demographics of Oakland, the outcomes for
    students DID NOT IMPROVE SIGNIFICANTLY. They got
    worse.
  • Though low income communities of color are the
    political majority, they have been able to act in
    a unified way to gather political will behind a
    common vision for schools. Why not?
  • We observed that the problem was not the people,
    it was something larger than the sum of the
    capacity of individuals. Competent people became
    incompetent in Oakland.
  • We reasoned that it had to be a systemic
    problema district poorly designed, inadequately
    resourced, with an internalized culture of shame,
    blame and ineffectiveness that continuously
    reinforced itself.

14
The Challenge A Culture of Blame, Shame and
Ineffectiveness
Urgency
Over promising to get support
Rapid top-down Change
Disappointing quality and depth of outcomes
Blaming the Problem on the New Solution
Undermining Leadership Credibility
Cynicism Deepens
Leaders Depart, New leaders enter, Urgency
Increases
15
Where does this culture of shame and blame come
from?
  • Communities that suffer from racism, poverty,
    discrimination and neglect have been hurt deeply
  • These communities often feel they have little
    power to change their reality, which creates
    anger and more hurt
  • These hurts often cause people to distrust one
    another and especially those in power, causing
    them to act in ways that seem irrational to those
    with power
  • Communities must adapt and survive, and so they
    develop cultures to resist, lessen, or transfer
    the pain
  • Often many aspects of these cultures inhibit the
    formation of the cross-race, cross-cultural
    alliances needed to gather the power to act
  • Belief systems emerge that explain the experience
    of powerlessness, different belief systems for
    the powerful and the less powerful

16
We Learn to Accept Inequity--It Becomes Normal
  • Assigning new or weaker teachers to the most
    challenging students (e.g, ninth grade)
  • Subsidizing low class sizes in advanced courses
    with high class size in general education
    classes
  • Counseling loads so large that only some students
    can receive college counseling
  • Teachers with no training or opportunities to
    learn about their students home language,
    history, and culture
  • Segregating students into tracks that limit
    postsecondary options
  • Student contacts so numerous that it is a relief
    when half the kids dont show up for class

17
Most School Reform Fails to Address the Power Gap
  • There are no pedagogical solutions to political
    problems
  • Asa Hilliard

18
School reform must address the culture of low
expectations!
  • We can, whenever we choose, teach all children
    whose learning is of importance to us. Whether we
    do so, depends upon how we feel about the fact
    that we have not done so already.
  • Ron Edmunds, the Founder of the Effective School
    Movement

19
What makes the difference for student achievement
and equity?
  • Instruction the quality and capacity of the
    teacher has the greatest impact on student
    achievement
  • Family participation the ability of families to
    support student learning, make good decisions,
    and participate as a partner in the learning
    process
  • School Design the allocations of time, personnel
    and resources in a context that supports good
    teaching and positive family-school relationships
  • Leadership leaders who relentlessly and
    creatively pursue equitable and high achievement
    for every student.

20
What does it take for full participation of
families?
  • Community Organizing
  • Addresses the need for equal power, in the form
    of representative leadership, authentic
    participation, equitable opportunity and
    relational accountability
  • Community Engagement
  • Addresses the need for collaboration, vision
    building, dialogue, and connecting the reform to
    peoples hopes and dreams
  • Community Outreach
  • Addresses the need for timely and accurate
    information, access and entry into educational
    opportunities

21
When We Attempt to Engage the Community, We
Rarely Address Power Inequity and Its Consequences
  • The system fails to meet the needs of the
    community because the major forces acting on the
    system are those entities that have been
    established to act on behalf of the community
    (school board members, civic leaders, high level
    district officials), and not the community
    itself.
  • And the communities, especially those with little
    political power, have lost control over these
    entities which instead react to external demands,
    divergent interests and threats.
  • The central power structures becomes increasingly
    authoritarian, responding to the need to protect
    their power to act decisively in the face of
    mounting criticism and low performance.

22
Assumptions
  • More powerful entities, distant from the
    community, and perhaps even antagonistic to it,
    place increasing demands on the systemdemands
    that may be overwhelming, contradictory,
    nonsensical, or irrelevant.
  • The system attempts to respond. But it lacks
    resources, expertise, collective will and
    capacity to be effective at such a large scale.
  • The voices of students, parents, and teachers in
    the community, if not strongly organized, cannot
    compete in placing demands on the system that
    will force it to be responsive to them.
  • However, the system cannot respond effectively to
    local demands if they are not coherent, with a
    focused, shared vision of what the communities
    need and want.

23
Conclusions and Implications
  • Community engagement and outreach are necessary
    but insufficient means to address issues of
    inequity and low achievement.
  • Any strategy for serious engagement must address
    the unequal power relations that are operating in
    oppressed communities
  • Some strategies are
  • Partnerships with agencies that can organize the
    community
  • Cross race, cross cultural alliance building
  • Leadership development and support for family
    community participation
  • Advocacy for the less powerful
  • Interruption of inequity when it is identified

24
Creating Change The Courage to Interrupt, The
Commitment to Transform
  • Interruption
  • Transition
  • Transformation

Courageous Action
Transformation
Transition
Interruption
Getting to a vision of equity
25
Achievements
  • 15 new small autonomous schools created since
    2000
  • One high school converted to five small schools,
    two more will convert in seven small schools by
    2008
  • 36 new schools to be created by 2008, 22 of them
    high schools
  • Increased attendance for teachers and students
  • Increased parent involvement in schools
  • Increases in student achievement and decreases in
    attrition
  • We have survived a state takeover and a deficit
    of an estimated 100 million dollars
  • But the future depends ultimately on building a
    culture of efficacy, partnership (shared power),
    and mutual accountability.

26
The Leadership Opportunity A Culture of
Efficacy, Partnership and Accountability
A Culture of Efficacy and Accountability
Increased confidence, take bolder actions
Support responsible action, celebrate Success
learn from mistakes
Trust people to solve Their own problems
Create conditions for success
Focus on bold but achievable, short-term goals
Organize People behind a shared vision of Success
Urgency Listen to the hopes, dreams, and
challenges of Families and teachers
27
My Lessons Learned
  • Take responsibility for your ideas
  • Creating equitable schools in an act of hope and
    faith
  • Nuts and bolts matter--the devil is in the
    details
  • It is about culture, competence and
    conditions--they are all important to get to the
    outcomes
  • Equity work is personal--you have to be the
    change you wish to see in the world
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