Get to Know Oakland
For the past eight years, Oakland Unified School District has been named the most improved urban school district in the state of California with an overall API growth from 568 to 719. Just a decade ago, however, the educational prospects of a child growing up in inner-city Oakland—the Flatlands—were grim compared to those of a child in the more-affluent Hills. Today, due to the efforts of committed educators working alongside community leaders and families, Oakland’s schools seem poised for real change.
In 2000, the Small Schools Movement began in response to the disparity between Flatlands and Hills schools. The movement reorganized existing large, failing schools into new smaller or charter schools and gave them more autonomy in budget, staffing, and curriculum. By 2007, 49 new small schools had opened in the district. While the Hills’ schools continue to score well, many schools in Oakland’s highest-poverty neighborhoods are closing in on those results and—in the case of one school led by a Teach For America alumnus—beating them.
Longtime community organizer Ron Snyder, executive director of Oakland Community Organizations, believes the bonds Teach For America corps members and alumni have forged with the community have played a vital role in Oakland’s burgeoning turnaround. “They began to work with teachers and parents,” he says of their efforts, “house to house, school to school, church to church—creating an appetite for improvement.”
Tracy Session, Senior Managing Director, Oakland
Tracy is a graduate of UCLA and a Coro Fellow. Before beginning his work in Oakland, he worked for Teach For America's recruitment team. As a child growing up in poverty, Tracy experienced the real limitations that our students face in our classrooms and communities. Driven to help his community, he joined Teach For America and taught third and ninth grade in Atlanta. He now leads Teach For America's Oakland region and believes that our work alongside our families, students, and community members will make a substantial difference in the lives of kids.
Oakland follows the economic boom of United States, expanding to become a city for the automobile industry and its factory workers.
The Black Panther Movement forms, primarily to help protect African-American neighborhoods from police brutality. They also create the Ten-Point Program, a document that calls for "Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice and Peace.” After founding its first liberation school in Berkeley, the Black Panther Party launches the Oakland Community Learning Center in the Elmhurst neighborhood of East Oakland.
After founding its first liberation school in Berkeley in 1969, the Black Panther Party launches the Oakland Community Learning Center in the Elmhurst neighborhood of East Oakland
State voters pass Proposition 13, limiting revenue to schools.
The Small Schools Movement launches with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create new smaller schools from those that are large and failing.
Oakland Unified School District is placed into receivership of state loans due to financial hardship.
Over 50% of students taking the STAR test perform “below basic” while only 20% are at least “proficient.”
Superintendent Tony Smith launches Community Schools, Thriving Students: A Five-Year Strategic Plan for full-service community schools. Additionally, the Office of African-American Male Achievement is created to support the development of African-American boys.