Getting Mack Back on Track

IMG_7900Tonight, McClymonds High School hosted it’s Back to School Night and it was a sight to see. I can’t front, it was great seeing the cafeteria filled with families, teachers and community folks. The truth is, everyone is looking at McClymonds. McClymonds has had a tough road over the past few decades. West Oakland as a whole is having trouble retaining students since Oakland became a choice district.
It’s forcing us to develop quality schools for children so parents will begin to opt back in and McClymonds is the epicenter. As one of the new Community Engagement people in a brand new department, I am aware of just how valuable success at McClymonds High is. The school is entering it’s phase of full redesign which hopes to improve on the academics, aesthetics and anything else that will bring Oakland students back to the high school that Bill Russell hails from.

Tonight, we got to see that this year, 50+ more students enrolled in McClymonds. Tonight, we got to see families and community members together packing out the house for Back to School night. Tonight I heard families excited for tomorrow night’s school redesign meeting. Tonight, we saw a principal’s hard work be acknowledged by the community in a way I hadn’t personally seen. It feels as if we are turning a corner from blaming and fighting to one of possibilities because the truth is, what happens at Mack will inform much of the redesign work that needs to happen across our district.

In just a few days, our district will release the test results for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or better known as the SBAC.  The scores are expected to be quite low especially in West Oakland where Mack resides. This release is coming at an important time as the community is coming together. That means we can focus our attention on the academics. This gives us an opportunity to really sit in these results that let us know exactly where our kids are. There’s no need to hide from the truth rather this is our opportunity to lead with it. These scores will offer us a sobering look at where we are academically and will lead us to make good decisions based on evidence and the belief that our children deserve much much better. The McClymonds community has the opportunity to serve as a model – not only for Oakland, but for any place that serves impoverished kids of color failing to educate kids at a high level – for how a community can build it’s own capacity and lead a true redesign process that educates our kids at a high level. If we do that right, we’ll have a new problem, a waitlist for kids all over the city fighting to get into the new McClymonds. I welcome that problem.

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