Adelfa Chala 
Member since Feb 22, 2017


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Re: “Two Highly Touted Oakland Charter Schools Quickly Closed, Now Owe the District Money

A lot of people do not understand the ins & outs of schooling in this country and many of our educational leaders will tell different stories to look good rather than to truly support children and their communities. I was employed at CPA upon its commencement in 2015. I was attracted by their petition and written commitment to the Castlemont community. What attracted me was the following: For awhile, I've been noticing how both OUSD and charter organizations focus on recruiting Latino communities while continually marginalizing African American children. This to me is an intentional strategy. It is my observation that the entire district let alone the Bay Area continues to practice pervasive attitudes towards our Black students. I am Afro Latina and can speak to both sides of the story. Castlemont's vision was truly inspiring. However, what was the challenge was the poorly skilled leadership and roll-out of this program. It feels to me that many educational leaders go into positions of authority for the status quo and not necessarily to lead and inspire. This is what was observed while there. When I was hired, I had the skills necessary to do what I was hired for. We had a staff that was so committed and so driven to support these students. However, speaking for the primary academy in 2015 there were 2 out of 5 teachers who had experience as teachers but were previously released by OUSD. This means they did not pass their evaluations at that district. The other three teachers never stepped foot in a classroom. Of the three teachers only one had just completed her credentialing program. The other was enrolled in Teach For America and the other did not even have an emergency permit to teach in a class. My responsibility was to coach all of these teachers as a Dean of Instruction. However, there was NO principal or Dean of Students at the primary academy to address the plethora of students being kicked out of their classrooms by the same teachers. So, I spent most of my time either substituting in a class or restoring normalcy in the office as I counseled students, parents and teachers to support them in keeping students in the classroom. The leader whom I worked for made the decision to pull the principal out and have him only lead the junior academy. She thought for some reason I would juggle both. There were also some power struggles observed between the two. At this time I was also a member with New Leaaders for New Schools and my coach of the time flatly stated that I would not survive if things did change quickly. Things didn't change and I made the decision to leave. I learned a few months later the CJA closed. I also learned through others that the leader I was working for was known for poor leadership skills. I learned in the summer that NONE of the previously employed staff was returning. So, how did this happen to a predominantly Black school in Castlemont? How is it that Education for Change, Aspire, Vincent Academy and others survive? What can be learned by what happened? How about this new school OUSD is about to unleash next year to support language immersion? I would take a very close look at what recruitment strategies are being. I would also look at how similar Open Enrollment rhetoric has really looked like in other cities. Anyone committed to both Black and Brown students should always see both sides of the story. Ignorance is no longer tolerable.

Posted by Adelfa Chala on 02/22/2017 at 5:04 PM

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