Jim Mordecai 
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Recent Comments

Re: “Getting Schooled: An Overview of this Year's Oakland Unified School Board Races

I pay on my property to OUSD 0.1539% of accessed property value or $1,380,86 for interest and principal on OUSD construction bonds. Added to that is $198 parcel tax Measure G and $120 parcel tax Measure N. Total depends on County's assessed value of your Oakland property. Since currently parcel tax total I'm paying is $318, total OUSD tax bill for just parcel tax will total $438 not $500.

Posted by Jim Mordecai on 08/18/2016 at 10:44 PM

Re: “Getting Schooled: An Overview of this Year's Oakland Unified School Board Races

All the incumbent Oakland School Board have to run on a record of not be entirely truthful with the public. In the middle of a historic housing crisis they ask for passage of a third parcel tax as if cost of housing isn't high enough.

When you get your voter guide and read the summary written by the School Board of its 12 year $12.4 million parcel tax you will not see mention of charter schools as benefiting by the tax. Oh, you can find the Board writing of charter schools role in getting their portion of the tax in the "full text" of the Measure. Reading the full text you see a complicated formula for distributing funds between charter and public schools.

And, a deep reading of the full text reveals that the purpose behind this new parcel tax Measure is the same purpose the Board had behind previous $120 parcel tax Measure N. Intent of the Board is to put up Oaklland property owners' money to attract charter schools to sign MOUs that give Oakland School Board greater control over its charter schools.

If this third parcel tax passes, some charters will take the money. Some charters won't and some will take the money and tell the Oakland School Broad that you're not my Daddy. There Daddy is the California Legislature and the Legislature's charter laws. These laws say that charters are independent of the school board that authorizes them. Not likely that contracts to lessen charter school autonomy will stand up in court.

It is hard for the incumbent Oakland School Board members to be honest about the real purpose behind Measure N and the newly proposed parcel tax.

Posted by Jim Mordecai on 08/17/2016 at 2:33 PM

Re: “Letters for the Week of February 11, 2015

Yes, Adia Mariam, Charter Schools regional director, "Charter Schools Work".

They work to divert public education tax dollars to private management.

And, they also work to increase segregation. Oakland School Board recently renewed the charter of Oakland School of the Arts (OSA) founded by Governor Brown.

It is the most segregated charter school of all 38 Oakland charter schools. And, the School's enrollment trend each year is fewer and fewer African Americans. OSA is a School located in downtown Oakland lacking neighborhood enrollment.

District report found that over 40% of OSA enrollment came from cities outside of Oakland.

The Oakland School Board permits class and race segregation because it supports OSA policy of enrollment by audition.

The Oakland School Board could take away OSA's use of auditions. It could give enrollment preference to students in the neighborhood in poverty. It could give second level enrollment preference to students from the District.

The Board talks equity, but in the case of OSA charter school, endorses enrollment auditions that created class and racial segregation since 2005.

Jim Mordecai

1 like, 1 dislike
Posted by Jim Mordecai on 02/12/2015 at 12:48 AM

Re: “A New Era for Charter Schools?

Aida Mariam, Regional Director, Alameda County, California Charter Schools Association

Ms. Mariam:

"Many common misperceptions persist about charter schools. The truth is that all charters schools are public schools just like traditional district schools."

Perception that charter schools are not the same is correct.

Charter schools are privately managed and most public schools are managed by democratically elected school boards. And, when school boards are not democratically elected, the official that appoints the school board is an elected official.

Another difference is that all California charter schools are corporations with governing board's selected by the founder(s) of the charter school.

Courts have ruled that school boards are "agents of the state government"; and employees, students and parents ,have state and federal constitutional rights that being managed by a private governance are not guaranteed.

Many of the laws in the California Education Code do not apply to charter schools because charter schools have agreed to be evaluated by high stakes standardized test scores. However, in practice many low performing charter schools have political support and school board's are reluctant to close charters as school boards are reluctant to close public schools that have lost enrollment to charters.

And, there is a complexity when a district's enrollment drops due to competing charters enrolling a district's students; the drop is not usually at just one school. The impact to the budget is felt across a district that will weaken good programs and student services while overhead cost remain after students leave and cost the budget average daily attendance income to a district.

Seldom notice difference is boundaries. School districts mostly draw enrollment from within their district. If individual student wants to go to a school outside his/her district they have to get permission from the county board of education to transfer to a new district.

Charter schools do not have any boundary restriction. Governor Brown founder of Oakland School of the Arts charter school draws over 40% of its enrollment from outside the District.

Perception that charter schools are not the same is correct.

Jim Mordecai

Posted by Jim Mordecai on 01/25/2015 at 9:43 PM

Re: “A New Era for Charter Schools?

Reporter Sam Levin: I know that you have a limit on the number of words for an article but the following sentence you wrote needs more context: "District officials have insisted that the RFP process is not about expanding charter organizations — which can submit proposals to OUSD at any time — but is about coming up with innovative plans to improve the schools. "

Two things are being conflated here. First anyone can submit to a school board in California a petition to start a charter school. But, including charter school management in a RFP call for plans to improve five schools under the jurisdiction of the Oakland School Board is not the same procedure as submitting a petition to start up a charter school or by 50% of parents and/or teachers at a school site signing off on a petition to convert to a charter school. This is radical initiative of Superintendent Antwan Wilson to pit his public school district against plans submitted by charter operators.

My understanding of the basics of the California Education Code is that the State's public schools can only do what is defined in the education code. Nowhere does the Education permit a district to issue an RFP for school improvement that includes charter school operators.

Federal law allows for school districts that receive Federal money to solicit and turn over the management of schools that do to low test scores are in their 4th or 5th year of school improvement. However, Oakland is one of nine school districts that have been granted a waiver from having the option of turning low performing school over to charter school management as fulfilling required step to improve low performing school. Oakland would have to not apply for the waiver next year to be able to exercise the right to convert to a charter school one or more of its 5 public schools.

Charter school operator submitting a plan for school improvement would be investing money into responding to the RFP but the District could not guarantee that it would have the necessary number of parents and/or teacher signatures required to convert a school from public to privately managed charter status.

State legislature set up charter schools to compete with public schools for students within the public school system. Why would public school boards want to facilitate the turning of their schools over to private management? Administering a school district shouldn't mean surrendering public school assets to private managers with a plan that a superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District likes.

If Oakland Superintendent Wilson doesn't have a plan for improvement that leaves out privatization, then he should resign.

Posted by Jim Mordecai on 01/25/2015 at 9:10 PM

Re: “East Bay Progressives Dominated the Election

Progressive religious community OCO affiliated Washington D.C. political action committee pumped $250,000 into little noted Oakland School Board Measure N that began with $160,000 left over unspent from Measure J bond measure. Not clear why so much money was pumped into Measure N when there was no organized opposition and why religious community would be willing to spend so much money when public schools are competition for religious schools.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Jim Mordecai on 11/12/2014 at 11:42 PM

Re: “Vote Libby Schaaf for Mayor of Oakland

I disagree with East Bay Express endorsement of Measure N: "Our only concern about Measure N is that some of the funds would go to privately run charter schools. But we think that tradeoff is worth making in order to help students in the city's cash-strapped public high schools."

Here's why it is a bad deal. No other school district in the Bay is taxing its property owners to fund "privately run charter schools". Measure N lasts ten years and for ten years charter school operators will have millions of reasons to start a charter school in Oakland and get some of the $12-13 million a year generated by the Measure N tax.

As more charters come for the Oakland Measure N money the amount of money going to Oakland public schools will become ever decreasing amount of the Measure N funding.

Measure N is a bad deal. Vote No on Measure N's charter school tax.

12 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Jim Mordecai on 10/15/2014 at 6:51 AM

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