Be informed, get involved, vote in Oakland school board election Nov. 8th

Almost nothing is more important to the health of a city than how well it educates its kids. So, if you care about Oakland, you need to care about who runs the schools.

On November 8th you can do more than “care” in the passive sense. You can activate all of the power a democracy affords citizens by voting for folks who want to be on the Oakland Unified School District’s board of trustees.

Before you vote, please do your homework. There is so much noise out there about the candidates and what motivates them. Frankly, there’s a lot of political marketing that isn’t intended to make you a smart voter, in fact, it’s intended to do the opposite.

That makes your job as a voter harder.

Of course the most important issue in any school board election should be student achievement. But news reports get lost in personality conflicts, funding sources, and us-versus-them rhetoric.

Don’t fall for it. Stay focused.

Communities elect school board members to hire a superintendent, then they hold that superintendent accountable for improving academics for children.

But in Oakland, like an many other urban cities, we sometimes take our eyes off the prize and get lost in political stunts.

A recent L.A. Schools Report article puts it this way:

The education issues being fought over in this Bay Area city with a long history of social activism — the successful growth of charter schools and how much of a seat those schools should be given at the table — are reflected in large urban districts across the country right now where the inherent tension between district and charter schools has become an open battle. How it plays out in Oakland and whose interests will be served could say much about where education reform is headed.

Yes, there are good discussions to be had about the “tension” between charter schools, school reform, and opponents of reform, but we can’t let all that make us go blind to the facts of our district.

Achievement and enrollment are improving, and high-quality options for parents are expanding, but there is still a lot of work to be done if the goal is an equitable school system for all.

Oakland kids are not alright. We have too many kids who aren’t being prepared to live their dreams.

Fights over whether or not charter schools should exist for parents that want them isn’t the fight we should be having.

Battles over whether or not there should be a common enrollment system so parents can have an easier time finding the right school is off-target.

And, the noisy complaints about the districts attempt to mainstream special education systems is important, but shouldn’t dominate to the point that other important matters are neglected.

So, what can you do?

In short, be a good citizen. Get informed, get involved, and get in the voting booth this coming November 8th.

Here’s what you need to know…


Where to vote?

You can find your polling place at the California Secretary of State’s website.


Who is currently on the board, and how does it work?

The OUSD’s board of education webpage will providing you with basic information on current trustees, board meetings, and policies.

The page says: “The OUSD Board of Education is the elected policy-making body of the public education system within the City of Oakland, California. The Board of Education is comprised of seven Directors who have the primary responsibility of ensuring that every student served by the District is well-educated for college, career, and community opportunities upon graduating from an OUSD school..”


Who is running for school board?

District 1

  • Jody London, school board member
  • Don Macleay

District 3

  • Jumoke Hinton Hodge, current school board member
  • Benjamin Lang
  • Lucky Narain
  • Kharyshi Wiginton

District 5

  • Michael Hassid
  • Michael Hutchinson
  • Roseann Torres, current school board member
  • Huber Trenado

District 7

  • James Harris, current school board member
  • Chris Jackson

Who has been endorsed?

(this is not a comprehensive list by any means)


East Bay Times

Oakland school board Dist. 1 – Jody London

Oakland school board Dist. 3 – Jumoke Hinton Hodge

Oakland school board Dist. 5 – Huber Trenado

Oakland school board Dist. 7 – James Harris


GO Public Schools

District 1 — Jody London. See endorsement

District 3 — Jumoke Hinton Hodge. See endorsement

District 5 — Huber Trenado. See endorsement

District 7 — James Harris. See endorsement

Review all of the candidate’s questionnaires and Endorsement Day interviews.


Oakland Education Association

District 1 – Don Macleay

District 3 – Kharyshi WigintonBen Lang

District 7 – Chris Jackson


East Bay Women’s Political Caucus

District 1 – Jody London

District 3 – No Position

District 5 – Rosie Torres


Metropolitan Greater Oakland Democratic Club

District 1 – Jody London
District 5 – Rosie Torres
District 7 – James Harris

  1 comment for “Be informed, get involved, vote in Oakland school board election Nov. 8th

  1. Peggy
    November 7, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Thank you for this blog post. I especially appreciate your including an explanation of what the school board does. I wanted to point out, though, that you link to and quote from a school board in Oakland, Michigan. Here is the OUSD link:

    I would also like to recommend looking at the endorsements of the teachers’ union and OUSD Parents United:


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