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Indybay Feature
View other events for the week of 2/ 4/2004
Date Wednesday February 04
Time 4:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Location Details
California State Building
1515 Clay Street, Near the 12th Street BART
Event Type Other
Organizer/AuthorMike Seigel
Forward Widely!

Wednesday, 4PM, California State Building
1515 Clay Street, Near the 12th Street BART
More Information or an E-mail Copy of the Flyer: Contact Mike
Seigel 510.289.3318
Also Contact: Tanya Russell, 638-7005

It is time to put the pressure on Senator Perata and Assemblywoman Chan to
stop the closures of Oakland Schools!

1. Who is Randolph Ward, Research from the Equal Opportunity Now Caucus
2. A Repulsive Letter from Senator Perata (Call His Office at 510.286-1333
3. Letter from Pamela Drake
4. Oakland Tribune Article
5. March 4 Call to Action for Books not Bombs


Randolph Ward is the unelected Trustee of the Oakland schools. His record
of union-busting and imposing deep cuts during his six years as Trustee in
Compton (1996-2002) won him the Oakland job at well over $250,000 a year,
paid for by OUSD.


Under the Compton takeover, over half of Compton’s teachers left the
district. Ward’s austerity policy of imposing wage freezes ensured that
Compton’s teachers remained the worst paid in the Los Angeles Area. The
school bus drivers union in Compton was busted and services contracted-out
(Data Center Report, Youth Strategy Project).

Ward left a legacy in Compton that will not be quickly repaired. Even
today, nearly half of all Compton teachers are employed on Emergency
Credentials. This compares to fewer than 4% of Oakland teachers with
Emergency Credentials (California Department of Education, Educational
Demographics, 02-03). In an August 21, 2001 interview with Scripps
Howard News Service, Ward stated his preference for Emergency
Credentialed teachers and exposed his anti-union, anti-education
sentiments saying “When we get emergency credentialed people they come in
totally open-minded. Too often when we have veteran teachers with
established instructional strategies, they tend to be resistant to

In a series of LA Times articles in 2000, four years after Ward became
Trustee of the Compton schools, Compton high school students spoke-out
against the conditions in their schools -- describing a protest in which
dozens of students wore ribbons of different colors to protest different
issues – green for lack of teachers, red for the absence of
extracurricular activities, etc. Students stated “the school needs more
of everything” (LA Times, 12/10/00).

In 2000, students at Centennial High in Compton filed suit with the US
Department of Education because the school’s failings constituted a
violation of their civil rights (LA Times, 12/10/00). Just last month,
after three additional years under Ward’s control, Centennial High, one of
three high schools in Compton, lost its accreditation, meaning that
students may not receive credit for classes they took in Compton when they
transfer to another District or apply to college (Christian Science
Monitor, 1/13/04).

In Compton high schools Ward approved new grading policies that tied
student grades to racist standardized test scores (LA Times, 12/10/00).
While pushing high-stakes testing, Ward failed to implement programs that
would help Compton students get into college. In 2000, because of a lack
of school counselors, Compton High School and Centennial High failed to
participate in a new program that would have guaranteed the top 4% of
their graduates a place at a UC campus (LA Times, 12/10/00).

Between 1996 and 1999, in a District with about 800 graduates a year,
Compton sent only 26 students to a UC school. Randolph Ward bears
responsibility for overseeing this appalling record of impoverished and
substandard education.

In 1998, while trustee of the predominately Latino Compton schools, Ward
implemented the anti-immigrant Unz Initiative (Prop. 227) in the harshest
manner possible, dictating that classrooms in Compton use “English only”
90% to 98% of the time (LA Times,9/2/98). This was in stark contrast to
virtually every other majority Latino district in California. These were
the actions of a conscious conservative who chose to impose the harshest
possible educational conditions on Compton's Latino students. Ward also
left special education programs scandalously out of compliance during his

In September, 2000 the Dallas Morning News revealed that Ward was
registered for eight years with the American Independent Party (AIP) – a
far-right wing libertarian party which ran George Wallace and Pat Buchanan
for president, advocates eliminating affirmative action and bilingual
programs, denying public education to children of undocumented workers and
repealing the US Voting Rights Act.

In 1997, over three years after the abolition of an elected Compton
school board and the year after Ward became the appointed administrator;
the school district was sued by the ACLU (Serna v. Eastin) for providing
unequal education for black and Latino students.



Ward was recommended for the Oakland Trusteeship by Oakland Mayor Jerry
Brown and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell in
consultation with billionaire businessman Eli Broad (Alameda Times-Star,
8/11/03). Ward and his Chief of Staff “Woody” Carter are both affiliated
with the Broad Foundation, a training program for school superintendents
and trustees that includes voucher supporter and Bush-appointed Secretary
of Education Ron Paige as a member of its staff. Eli Broad, who funds the
foundation, is an advocate of right-wing “reforms.” Broad supports
charter schools and merit pay while maintaining that teacher transfer and
seniority rights should be eliminated and locally elected school boards

Since arriving in Oakland in June 2003, Ward has acted as an unelected,
unaccountable overseer attempting to strip down, degrade, and privatize
education in Oakland. Ward implemented a 4% wage cut on Oakland teachers
in August, before they even returned to school, imposing an illegal
contract despite his knowledge that it was illegally ratified with a
mail-in ballot which clearly violated the OEA Bylaws. Another of Ward’s
first actions was to layoff more than 60 school custodians. After Ward
attended a closed-door summit of California superintendents in November,
2003 with new California Secretary of Education Riordan (R), he and other
Superintendents stated they had discussed “contracting-out” unionized
school services in order to save money. (LA Weekly, November 21, 2003).

Ward also made cuts at the expense of quality education programs. In
announcing his plans to make cuts in services to students in the special
education program, Ward states “I don’t think we need five-star programs
for everybody.” (Montclarion, 6/27/03).

Ward is proposing a corporate-style “results-based budgeting” plan that
would increase the inequality between Oakland schools, by throwing each
school into competition with all others for scarce resources. Each
school’s funding would be based on student attendance instead of
enrollment, and the site administration would have only this limited
budget – minus deductions for downtown administration as well as special
education and other programs – to pay for all school expenses, including
teachers’ salaries. Staffing decisions would be made for economic
expediency rather than educational quality. For example, school
administrators might decide that veteran teachers are too expensive and
try to staff the school with newer teachers. Staffing levels would no
longer be guaranteed based on the number of students enrolled at the
school, and could also decrease as a result. Ward has already announced he
plans to close five elementary schools by next August.

Oakland has a long and proud history of struggle. We must end the
disenfranchisement of the Oakland community, return to a locally elected
and accountable school board, and build the movement for equal quality
education. We must act now to show that Oakland will not allow Randolph
Ward to attack Oakland’s schools, students, teachers, and communities.
Randolph Ward must go!

Equal Opportunity Now Caucus

For more information call 510-978-0846 or contact EON at: 1/28/04

A Repulsive Letter from Senator Perata (Call His Office at 510.286-1333

Text of January 29th Letter Regarding Closure of 5 Schools

Dear Dr. Ward:

I urge you in the strongest manner possible to delay your decision to
close the five schools until after the voters decide the March 2 parcel
tax. Give them the opportunity to reinvest in the local public schools, as
they have so often and generously in the past.

Perhaps the closure of schools is inevitable. I know other districts are
making similar cuts. But waiting until March at least gives you the
maximum range of possibilities with which to make this decision.

Closing schools will create a hardship on families and young students,
many of whom are already among the most educationally disadvantaged. In
days when we should all work to convince local taxpayers to help our
bankrupt district to avoid or defer these radical changes, the controversy
(however limited it may be) over closing schools is divisive and
self-defeating. Change is often more obvious to those charged with making
it than it is to those most affected. Neighborhood schools are among the
most cherished benefits of a public school system.

I know better than most the tough decisions you face. I appreciate the
enormity of your job. But I know too that how Oakland voters decide the
parcel tax and statewide voters decide the deficit bond will have dramatic
consequences on your fiscal and administrative decisions. Please, take a
few months until we know more precisely what we do and don't have to work
with - locally and in Sacramento.

Thank you for your consideration in this difficult issue.

Don Perata

Pamela Drake" <>
Subject: Last night I attended the Oakland School Board Meeting
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2004 13:09:24 -0800

HTML Attachment [ Scan and Download | Scan and Save to my Yahoo!
Briefcase ]

>From Wednesday, January 28th

Last night I attended the Oakland School Board Meeting (or whatever we're
calling it these days). I was met again with a large show of police force
and no little amount of intimidation. School security and police officers
straddled the steps. It was not apparent that you were able to enter at
all. I went around them successfully and found at least a half dozen OPD
officers immediately inside filling up the hallway.

I asked the officer in charge why such a large force was needed. He said
he probably needed more and had I seen what had happened at the last
meeting. I said I had and there had been no incident. He told me that
they were required to enforce the fire safety laws (or something to that
effect). I asked him why folks were not allowed to stand in the halls as
they always had in the past when the room filled up. He felt that there
were already too many people in the halls. At the time, most of people in
the halls were TV reporters and cameramen. He commented that if there
were an emergency, a gurney would not be able to get through. So I’m
guessing that next the press may be excluded for causing a hazard.

I made my way to the meeting hall. There was an officer blocking the door.
He said that the room was not yet open. Dan Siegel was coming down the
stairs from the Closed Session. He asked Ward if the meeting room could be
opened to the public now. But when I tried to enter, I was asked who I
was. He then told me that I had to have a ticket. I was unable to locate
the ticket “vendor”. A teacher from Burbank School came up to me and got
me to the lady giving out the tickets. She asked me if I were a Burbank
teacher or parent and the teacher said that I was; so using subterfuge I
was able to get into an OUSD “public” meeting.

Once in the meeting there were numerous police and security personnel (as
there were also in the entire hallway. I asked one guard if her were on
overtime and he said yes). The speakers from Burbank were asked to line up
at the mike to speak. About 30 folks lined up and spoke very emotionally,
many of them children.

As I got up to leave I observed an audience member (whom I know somewhat),
almost get into an altercation with an officer apparently over handing out
flyers. Another officer calmed the first one. I saw that more security was
coming in. I also saw an officer from the hallway ask if more citizens
could come in. He said no. I watched as numerous people left, but it was
still no. I could see the OPD and school security forming a barrier at the
top of the stairs. Citizens were being ushered out the side entrance and
not allowed back into the hallway. I watched a mother plead with the group
of officers to let her take her daughter to the bathroom. They escorted
her out. I shifted myself to the door and quickly left as an officer
attempted to grab me before I could get through.

I was told that the room would be “cleared” before the next school could
come in to plead their case. I will be submitting a complaint to the
ethics commission on this violation of the Brown Act. If you know of any
other witnesses who wish to complain, please notify me. I am outraged and
believe that if we do not stop this thwarting of public participation, the
flaunting of laws and intimidation will continue to grow. In my opniion,
it has already reached an unacceptalbe level.

Pamela Drake


Oakland Tribune

Last-ditch try to save 5 schools
State administrator hears concerns, though he said he's already made up
his mind on closures
By Alex Katz

Thursday, January 29, 2004 - OAKLAND -- Parents, students and teachers
made a last-ditch effort to save their schools Wednesday, when a few
hundred people testified at a hearing on the impending closures of five
city campuses.

It was the second hearing this month on State Administrator Randolph
Ward's plan to close and consolidate five elementary schools with
declining enrollment.

Ward said his decision to close five schools -- Burbank, Foster,
Longfellow, Swett and Toler Heights -- at the end of the academic year
was already made. But Ward said he wanted to hear more public comments
on the matter and make the decision official in an open meeting.

He was expected to finalize the closures at the end of the hearing,
which was scheduled until 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Fifth-grader Rogelio Gonzalez broke down after talking about the
closures to a television reporter on the sidewalk outside the hearing.

Gonzalez said he came to Burbank Elementary two years ago not knowing
any English. He's now fluent.

"I learned everything there," he said. "They've got good leaders. They
help you to be successful in life."

Ward says the district shouldn't be paying for principals, cafeterias,
janitors, clerks and utilities bills at schools with only a few hundred
students and falling enrollment.

By consolidating schools, the district can spend less on administering
campuses and more on classrooms and students, Ward says.

That argument has not won much support among parents. They say it's
important to have small schools -- declining enrollment or not -- in
their neighborhoods.

Ward was appointed to run the Oakland schools during the state takeover
of the near-bankrupt district eight months ago.

Closing schools "won't be more efficient, because you'll have a higher
absentee rate," said Longfellow Elementary teacher Linda Williams, who
also attended Longfellow as a student. "If I have to send Sally 14
blocks to go to school, and it's raining, I'm not sending Sally to

Speaking in Spanish, parent Cecilia Chavarria said Burbank is "a school
that's 100 percent good for us."

Chavarria said a number of parents at Burbank don't have cars to drive
to the next-closest school, which is probably Burckhalter Elementary.

"Some parents don't know how to drive, and some have no means of
transportation," she said. "So how are they going to get to other

Lack of adequate transportation has been one of the biggest objections
to Ward's plan. Young children can't walk up to a mile away to get to
school, parents and teachers say.

Ward maintains that parents in affected neighborhoods will be able to
reach other campuses without much trouble. The distance to other
was one of the criteria Ward used to decide on closures.

All schools on the list are using less than 70 percent of their
classroom space, according to district data. Ward also chose schools
with less than 300 students and declining enrollment.

Henry Hitz, head of the community group Oakland Parents Together,
for parents to keep children out of school if Ward doesn't change his
mind. A large-scale school boycott would cost the district a huge
of money, and would put financial pressure on Ward, he explained.

Other parents said Wednesday's hearing was far from a last effort.

"We're really just pulling all our parents together," said Rev. Jeffrey
Parker, a Burbank parent. "We're not done. We're going to fight this
until the end."
Added to the calendar on Tuesday Feb 3rd, 2004 1:12 PM
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