SUPPORT OUR ALLIES FOR REAL SOLUTIONS. STIC will be here, talking to folks, passing our flyers and with activities for youth!
WHAT: Press conference with parents, teachers, and neighbors of Santa Fe Elementary, as well as civil rights attorney Michael Siegel
WHEN: Tuesday, March 20 at 2:45 pm.
WHERE: The steps of Santa Fe Elementary, 915 54th St. at Market in North Oakland.
Marianne Moore, North Oakland Neighborhood Assembly
Phone: (508) 241 0698
Michael Siegel, Law Offices of Siegel and Yee
Phone: (510) 839 1200
On March 12 the Oakland Tribune reported that Superintendent Tony Smith has rescinded his plan to close 20-30 Oakland schools over the next two years. Though at the beginning of this year the financial projection for the district was so bad that the only way to break even was to close five elementary schools immediately and plan to shutter many more, apparently this coming school year the district will be operating without a structural deficit in its budget for the first time in years. http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_20149024/oaklands-painful-school-closure-era-might-be-over
STIC is deeply disturbed to see Oakland City Officials gouging out more public city resources from an area targeted by one the City’s two temporary gang injunctions. While the City unquestioningly spends more money on police tools and prison/jail-oriented solutions, they continue to fail to invest in the most fundamental elements that make safe communities: schools. One of the schools slated for closure is Santa Fe Elementary. Santa Fe is an historical Oakland school serving a deeply-rooted, African-American and working class community in North Oakland. North Oakland has been hit especially hard by unemployment, education cuts, and gentrification. Santa Fe Elementary is one of the only public schools in North Oakland, and thus one of the very few public spaces in which young people and their families have access to meaningful programming and receive consistent adult mentorship in the neighborhood.
Closing Santa Fe is an affront to the hard work of families and employees of the school, who have put in unquantifiable energy into making it a place where neighborhood youth grow and succeed. The school has partnered with community organizations to provide outstanding after-school and tutoring programs, as well as to create many beautiful murals around the school grounds. In the OUSD Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Competition, Santa Fe has taken first prize eight years running. When there are real community resources and building facilities creating viable safe spaces for youth, their families, and neighbors, STIC is outraged to see the City shut these spaces down. The North Oakland injunction has been called ineffective and waste of money by City Council members Pat Kernighan, Nancy Nadel, Desley Brooks and North Oakland’s own representative Jane Brunner, yet they refuse to take action to end the injunction and thus free up viable City funding resources for real solutions. Why let schools and families flounder when failed policies like injunctions suck up $1.8 million City dollars? Why close schools and continue to spend money on policing policies that City officials say do not work?!
The Santa Fe closure brings about more questions regarding safety and daily needs. The OUSD plan to close Santa Fe makes no accommodation for the transportation needs of families who will no longer be able to access their neighborhood school. The majority of Santa Fe’s parents currently walk their children—Madeline Jackson and her 3rd-grader, Sabrina, live five minutes from Santa Fe. “When I heard about the school closing, I was devastated,” she said. “On days when I have to work, my mom doesn’t drive, so it’s very convenient for my mom to walk my daughter to school.” If the school closes, Madeline will enroll her daughter in Emerson, a twenty-five minute walk from her house. “My mom has diabetes, so she really can’t do a lot of walking—she gets tired,” she added. “It would be different if they had buses for our children, to transport the children to school.” As yet, the district has provided no busing option for children like Sabrina. Elementary school kids — as young as five years old — will be expected to catch AC Transit buses to their future school site. The district has told parent that a lottery will be held to determine which students receive free bus passes. No bus passes will be available for parents.
While the City of Oakland continues to spend disproportionate funds on police and ineffective gang injunctions, community spaces like Santa Fe Elementary and the surrounding neighborhoods suffer from lack of prioritization. Real solutions for our city, for our youth and for family support, must be grounded in local education resources. Oakland must invest in close, accessible resources for people of all ages who grow up, live, and work in Oakland. Santa Fe is a highly utilized and valued community resource; funding community institutions like this a real solution for safety and stability.
UPCOMING with Phat Beets!
- Tuesday, March 20th 2:45pm-4:45 “Save Santa Fe Elementary BBQ and Press Release“ Santa Fe Elementary 54th and Market in North Oakland https://www.facebook.com/events/357669837597101/
- Saturday, March 24th 11-1pm “The Legacy of Food Justice with Black Panther Melvin Dickson” Food N’ Justice Workshop Series at the North Oakland Farmers Market 57th and Market behind Arlington Med www.phatbeetsproduce.org/events
- Sunday, April 1st 11-3pm “Cesar Chavez Youth Day Celebration” @The Healthy Hearts Garden, Dover St. Park 57th and Dover; Music, Art, Free Food, Aztec Dance, n More… www.phatbeetsproduce.org