Oakland – The Oakland Unified School District Board of Education will take part in the regular City of Oakland Inauguration and Organizational Meeting of the Board on Monday morning, January 4, 2021. This event, which happens every two years, usually doesn’t include so much change. In the last such meeting, the Board saw one new Director sworn in. This time around, the Board is welcoming four new Directors, the most that can join the body in any single year.
The four new Directors are Sam Davis in District 1, VanCedric Williams in District 3, Mike Hutchinson representing District 5 and Clifford Thompson from District 7. They replace outgoing Directors Jody London, Jumoke Hinton, Roseann Torres and James Harris, respectively.
In District 1, Sam Davis joins the Board after years serving as a teacher in OUSD’s Adult Education program. His work included teaching in the Family Literacy program at the Manzanita campus. He was also the family outreach coordinator at Manzanita SEED until 2014. For the past five years, Davis has worked in the University of California Office of the President on the Transcript Evaluation Service, an educational data project which assists high schools across California in assessing their students’ progress towards meeting A-G requirements. His son is a current OUSD 9th grader.
“I’ve been an involved parent throughout my son’s time in OUSD,” said Davis. “ I decided to run to make sure that families, teachers and school site staff voices are truly heard in District decision-making. I plan to increase communication, transparency and accountability in OUSD, so that our school communities feel better supported by the District and can better focus their time and effort on teaching and supporting our students.”
In District 3, VanCedric Williams proudly says he was the first in his family to graduate from college, attending San Diego State University. After college, he worked as a paraeducator in San Diego with refugee child soldier students from Sudan. In 2000, he moved to the Bay Area to start teaching in San Francisco schools, including Thurgood Marshall and Galileo high schools.
“After teaching 150+ students per year for 17 years in the most vulnerable schools and communities, I realized through inquiry and asking hard questions that there were institutional, systemic structural policies and practices in place that stood in the way of much of my students’ successes,” said Williams. “I will continue to fight tirelessly for funding the classroom and advocating for educational justice for our most vulnerable and marginalized students. Leading with a racial and social justice equity lens in our schools and communities has always been the driving force behind my work.”
District 5’s Mike Hutchinson proudly says he was born, raised and educated in Oakland. He attended Crocker Highlands, McChesney Jr. High, Oakland High, and he graduated from Skyline High, before going on to U.C. Berkeley. His mother was a teacher in Oakland and an active Oakland Education Association member for 40 years. His father was an instructor at Laney College for more than twenty years. Hutchinson says even his brother taught in Oakland schools for a time. He spent more than 20 years working and volunteering in Oakland schools and with the city’s youth. In 2011-12, he says he stepped up his involvement in OUSD’s political process when the two schools that he had worked at since 2001, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe, were two of five schools that were threatened with closure.
“I’ve actively attended nearly every school board meeting, testified at the Department of Education in Washington, D.C. about the damage caused by school closures and charter schools in Oakland, co-founded Oakland’s Public Education Network (OPEN), and was a founding member of the Journey for Justice National Alliance,“ said Hutchinson. “I strongly believe that every child in Oakland has the right to a high quality public education. Together we can reclaim our public education system. We can understand what’s happened, collectively decide what’s best moving forward, and then begin to build the schools we need and deserve.”
District 7’s Clifford Thompson is one of 19 children who grew up in Oroville, CA. He attended U.C. Davis before getting a master’s degree and a Doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco. He has worked in education for 41 years as a teacher, teacher on special assignment, administrator and an assistant college professor. He currently teaches 5th grade in West Contra Costa County Schools. For several years, he has taken part in a tutorial program in East Oakland, where he tutors elementary and middle school children. His son attended OUSD schools before becoming a professional actor, singer, and dancer.
“I decided to run for the Board of Education because I wanted to give back to OUSD and the families of Oakland,” said Thompson. “Also, I want to utilize my skill as a practitioner in education to provide further direction and pedagogical insight in decision making, relative to adoptions, curriculum, and fiscal accountability. In addition to providing input regarding COVID and distance learning (I presently teach virtually), I am interested in creating neighborhood schools that have a clear articulated pattern from elementary school to high school that provide a quality curriculum. I am certain that will bring more students back to Oakland.”
The four new Directors join three veteran Directors on the Board, Aimee Eng in District 2, Gary Yee in District 4 and Shanthi Gonzales in District 6.
The City Inauguration and Organizational Meeting for the Board of Education happens online at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, January 4. Please note that the swearing in of OUSD’s Board of Education occurs after the City of Oakland’s elected leaders are sworn in. The OUSD Board meeting will include the Board voting in its new President and Vice President.
Click here to watch the City and Board of Education Swearing In Ceremony
At its final meeting in December 2020, the Board of Education honored its four outgoing Directors, Jody London, Jumoke Hinton, Roseann Torres, James Harris.
Director and Board President, Jody London served on the Board for 12 years. During that time, she led the Board to ban the use of styrofoam in the District’s Nutrition Services program, championed health and wellness initiatives, created a Board Policy on working with the community during school construction projects, adopted the A-G graduation standards, supported the creation of a full-service community school district that focuses on the needs of the whole child, supported creation of the African American Male Achievement initiative which grew into the Office of Equity, worked to pass Measure N and helped buld out career pathway academies at every high school.
Director and former Board Vice President Jumoke Hinton served on the Board for 12 years. She focused on making the school district Anti Racist in every way, and looking deeply at the policies and practices that disenfranchise and support systemic barriers to a Liberatory educational system. She supported a Board policy that ensures Oakland small businesses have access to at least 50% of the contracts within the District’s capital improvement programs, represented historic West Oakland schools such as Prescott Elementary which her mother and daughter attended, and where Dr. Ida Jackson became the first African American teacher in California, and where she fostered the legacy promoting African Centered education academically and through arts and culture with programs including Prescott Circus.
Director Roseann Torres served on the Board for 8 years during which time she led the support for the completion of the Fremont High School Project with its expanded Media Academy through Measure J funds, helped lead the effort to pass the Sanctuary District Policy, which affirms that everyone in the District will do everything possible to ensure students and families are safe at school regardless of their immigration status, sponsored the Anti-smoking Policy for OUSD along with the students and staff of the Health Pathway at Oakland Technical High School, and helped lead the effort to pass the George Floyd Resolution to eliminate the Oakland School Police Department, as part of the national movement to take police out of schools.
Director and former Board President James Harris served for 8 years. In his time on the Board, he co-authored Board Policies regarding the Quality School Development, Community of Schools, and Distance Learning, served as the Chair of the District’s Charters Committee, Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, and Board liaison to the Measure N and Measure G1 commissions, co-authored Measure G1, a voter-approved parcel tax known as the District Wide Teacher Retention and Middle School Improvement Act Fund, created to give a salary increase to school-site educators across the District, and to provide Middle School grants which are used to increase access to instruction in art, music, and world languages in grades 6-8, and he fought for full and fair funding for all East Oakland schools.
OUSD sends deepest appreciations to the outgoing Directors for their service on behalf of the students, staff and families of Oakland public schools.
Post based on press release from OUSD to Zennie62Media. Happy New Year!
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