Frequently Asked Questions
Please see the links at the bottom of this page for translated versions of these Frequently Asked Questions.
Q. What does “Community Schools, Thriving Students” really mean?
A. Our obligation in OUSD is to work in partnership with the community to develop students who are thriving academically and socially and are prepared to contribute to democratic society. Community schools are the mechanism that will make this vision a reality. We expect our children to succeed, but it is only by providing the conditions necessary for high-levels of teaching and learning (academic, social and emotional) that we can we achieve this result.
Q. What is a full-service community school?
A. The full-service community school, of which we now have thriving examples in Oakland, is a place where the school has broadened its mission and vision to meet the needs of all of its students.
In addition to a high-quality education, physical health, mental health, dental, eye care, nutrition and recreation services are provided in this model, along with housing and employment assistance and parenting, job skills and language acquisition classes. The emphasis is on educating and caring for the whole child and providing supports for family and community. Social and human services are not seen as extra or add-ons in these schools. Instead, collaboration in service of the well-being of children and families is how these schools consistently behave.
We are convinced that community schools are the key component in our effort to provide safe, healthy, and supportive schools; high quality, effective instruction; and college and career readiness literacy for all students. By meeting both the curricular and extracurricular needs of children and families, full-service community schools ensure that learning happens for every child regardless of their background or zip code.
Q. What is the Theory of Action behind the Community Schools Vision?
A. If the Oakland Unified School District:
- focuses all its efforts on creating the learning conditions each child needs to succeed academically and socially,
- uses all of its physical and organizational assets in service of these effective conditions,
- changes the OUSD structure to engage everyone in the community in creating and protecting the conditions students need to succeed,
- and designs interdependent accountability systems that promote individual and shared responsibility,
then we will prepare all Oakland children for positive civic participation, and diminish the predictability of performance by race, class, and gender.
Q. Why Oakland?
A. Oakland is the Capital of the East Bay; the foundation of movements, the hub of transportation, and in many ways a testing ground of the future United States of America (engaged politics, relations across race, class, and language, public safety, sustainable economy, shipping, and education). The heart of the city is full of belief, power, and resources and we have the intellectual capacity to solve global problems. We have the capacity and people to put our hands together to do real work with each other to make real differences in the lives of children, young adults, and families.
Q. Not every child is disadvantaged. How does the Community Schools, Thriving Students vision benefit the rest of the city?
A. In Oakland, the promise of changing a citywide landscape through thoughtful learning and uncommon resource management is possible. A commitment to putting organizations and individuals to work on behalf of children is essential. Unless we accept that all of Oakland belongs to all of us, The city we think we love will soon belong to none of us. Acts of violence and inequity do not stay contained in certain zip codes forever.
The effect of loss and violence is already felt throughout our schools and is limiting the healthy growth of our city. We must do something different to create a healthy climate for learning, personal safety, vibrant neighborhoods, positive employment, civic participation, sustainable business development, and improve the overall quality of life in Oakland. To realize the vision of former OUSD Superintendent Marcus Foster, we must, “dare to take risks,” as we become an institution that uses all assets to advance the well-being of children.
If we fail to address the problems which afflict our must vulnerable children, the social ills which result will impede learning for all students and perpetuate pathologies that diminish the quality of life for all Oakland residents.
Q. What role do OUSD employees play in realizing the Community Schools Thriving Students Vision?
A. The power of OUSD to positively respond to current challenges lies in the strength of our employees and in the continuing transition to a service culture that meets the needs of Oakland’s citizens. The system of educating children must become a resource for actively resolving challenges and issues in ways that clearly protect the teaching and learning conditions for our children.
The central organization must lead the work of praising the teachers, staff, and principals who create classrooms where children are already thriving today. The teachers who bring learning to life and ignite passion are a precious resource in Oakland and we have to find ways to protect and enhance what they do. Classrooms where students and teachers alike share what they know and take risks to explore what they don’t yet know or understand are the design labs for our future.
Highlighting the learning conditions where adults and students are engaged, where content is current and rooted in historical context, where groups and individuals are well known, where the newest understanding of human development is paired with the practice of great teaching, where community assets are a resource, and where students demonstrate what they know in many ways is one of our beliefs.
Q. How do I become involved with the Community Schools Thriving Students vision?
A. Community Schools require community commitment. Our effort to ensure that every Oakland student experiences the conditions required for high-levels of learning is ambitious and the school district can’t accomplish it alone. We are working with students, families, concerned citizens, other government agencies and the non-profit, political and business communities to provide the structure and support needed to realize this goal.
If you’d like to help us build a better school district and a better Oakland, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Translated versions of these Frequently Asked Questions are provided in the files attached below.