Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ode to Oakland 9 |
Community Educators & Educating Communities

When it comes to Oakland there's a lot of talk about education. The power of Oakland Unified School District was just returned to the city after exiting receivership and a take over (sometimes hostile) by the State of California. When you talk with people leaving Oakland, or thinking about making that choice, it's almost always around schools and/or crime. I've blogged a lot on it, torn from the challenges of education our children in public schools in the city, excited and at times overwhelmed by the inequity and systemic stuck-ness. And it's not just OUSD that educates our children.

We've been part of a cooperative preschool community for several years. As we leave that space and community I'm reminded that it does take "a village to raise a child." That we've been blessed to have our two children loved and known by other kids and families, and for our family to love and know other children and families. The diversity (cultural, class, financial, educational) of our city is amazing and shows up in our kids. It's also a huge challenge to those that work in education. How to you meet, respond to, let alone simply articulate the myriad needs that exist.

I've been repeatedly amazed by the passion of those who work in education in Oakland, life-long commitments (in many cases to the city that they grew up in) of educators to empowering the citizens of Oakland. Heroes for me, who recognize the sickness and stuck-ness of the system yet refuse to be complacent, hopeless or apathetic. They form a great cloud of witnesses I think of when I lose hope. Their example lifts me up to push on to finish the race we all are running together as a city community: Gary and Caroline Yee, Di-Di, Gail Murphy, Brook Pessin, Mel Stenger, Misato Araki. We should be hearing more about such heroes as a city. Katy Murphy at the Oakland Tribune does this to some extent on her blog: The Education Report

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