Charter School Proposal Will Aid Black Pupils in Oakland

The Oakland school board will hear eight pending charter petitions — three district schools that would secede from OUSD and run independently; one new school and four existing charters that are up for renewal, writes Katy Murphy at The Education Report.

As Murphy reported last month, the leaders and staff of the new small schools say they've watched the mistakes made by schools who promised too much when they opened. They gave examples of control over curriculum, staffing and budget.

And faculty at teachers at East Oakland's ASCEND and Learning Without Limits elementary schools voted to break away from the district and apply for a conversion charter.

Their concerns came to a head last spring, when many of their teachers, low on the OUSD seniority chain, received a layoff warning or termination notice. The district issued hundreds of those notices, and ended up rescinding most of them.

And another charter proposal, for a new K-12 school that's open to all, but designed for African-American boys, was submitted by 100 Black Men of the Bay Area.

As they make the case for the new school, they highlight the poor performance of African-American males across the country, as well as in the city's public school system:

"While the Oakland Unified School District is working hard to meet the academic and developmental needs of its students, the underperformance of African-American and Latino students remains stark."

One of the leaders behind this charter school proposal is Chris Chatmon. Chatmon was appointed by OUSD a year ago to help change that very system. He will serve on the charter school's board of directors, is the executive director of the Oakland school district's privately funded Office of African American Male Achievement.

Chatmon is also the chairman of the education committee of 100 Black Men's Bay Area chapter.

The petition acknowledges the work of Chatmon's department, and it says the school would "serve as an integral partner with the (Office of African American Male Achievement) in an effort to drastically change the trajectory of African American male students in Oakland."

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