Lazear elementary oakland

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It never did and it never will. In Oakland Unified moved to close Lazear Elementary School as one of five casualties of enrollment reductions and budget cuts. But the school, and the community that fought for it, are still here and Lazear elementary oakland.

Their struggle demonstrates the power of the community to stand up, fight for, and win, against overwhelming odds. The Lazear community had gotten used to getting offered the short end of the stick.

Lazear elementary oakland

Instead, portable classrooms were strewn on the cement foundation, the school sandwiched between a foul smelling highway, a major off ramp, and industrial Lazear elementary oakland. But Lazear is not about the buildings, it is about the people. The difference between Lazear and the other schools that closed was the Lazear community.

Or the Lazear family. And they call this school home. The community had a history of activism; strikes, picketing, and marches, drawing the ire and respect of school board trustees and superintendents. Parent leader Rocio Gonzalez schooled me on some of this history, one of resistance, organizing, struggle and progress. While Lazear did often initially, get the short end of the stick, they fought for more and usually got it. The community asked Oakland Unified for help, but none came, so the families went on strike.

They shut it down. And they got their new portables. When a teacher repeatedly put children at risk, they shut it Lazear elementary oakland. When a principal was ased to the school, and not getting it done or holding teachers able, they shut it down.

And they got them out. But it was not enough to just remove a principal. The community wanted the power to Lazear elementary oakland the next one, and they got it. The parents interviewed all the principal candidates and basically made the hire, and, their preferred candidate, Mr. Weaver chose the school. He presented the community with a list of what he needed to be successful; more science and a deeper commitment to math and reading. And a partnership was formed. Despite challenges the school made solid progress. Weaver was digging in, the campus was humming with energy, science fairs were igniting young minds and families were again welcomed and building community at the school.

Lazear was back and kids were learning. Gonzalez said, and progress with the Board was slow or nonexistent. The one option left was to apply for a charter school, something that members of the Lazear community had experience with. In fact they had helped create Oakland Charter Academy Middle School, which was the 9 th charter school in California. But the clock was ticking to submit a charter in time to open next year and the process had changed and become much more complex and professionalized.

These differences in charter process showed when the Lazear families came to a board meeting to present their charter in a slim binder. Gonzalez remembered. That was the uniform response from parents, staff, and the folks at EFC. There were some tough early meetings and frictions. Meanwhile, parents from other closing schools warned that the Lazear parents would lose their voice by going charter. And it would take a lot of work to get this charter written and approved, and with no deep pocketed funders, much of that work would fall on the community.

Gonzalez summarized. It was never easy, delays and hearings in front Lazear elementary oakland OUSD. A soft promise that the charter would be approved under conditions, but when the vote came to the OUSD board, the Lazear families lost, with only 2 votes in favor. The room was awash in tears.

Lazear elementary oakland

It was heartbreaking. California charter law provides a set of appeals when you are turned down, first to the county and then to the state.

Lazear elementary oakland

So the county looks at the charters fresh. But being approved and opening a high quality schools are two very different things, and it was getting late to open a good school. Getting approved was the easy part. Now they had to open the school.

Lazear elementary oakland

And given the uncertainty only 1 teacher stayed at Lazear. Originally they only had of the more than students they needed.

Lazear elementary oakland

And while they Lazear elementary oakland get to lease their old school site, the district came in and stripped out anything worth keeping, leaving shells of classrooms. But again the community came together. They cleaned and painted, and organized the school site. They walked the neighborhoods recruiting families. The County helped where it could, and the staff from EFC and the community were on a full court press to recruit families back to Lazear. By the end of September, the classes were full.

When looking at cohort-matched data, Lazear experienced a 10 percentage point increase in proficiency from to Furthermore, all grade level cohorts experienced an increase in proficiency with the largest increases in 7th grade and 8th grade cohorts 22 percentage points and 15 percentage points, respectively … The Lazear Charter Academy academic program is a success for its students. Lazear is not perfect, but it is one of those evolving works in progress where the school is able to the community, and everyone partners to move forward. The schools have a parent coordinator, we have a family leadership council that meets monthly and we have two parents we elect to sit on the Board.

This plays out in packed parent meetings, families constantly on site, and a legitimate partnership. As Mr. On this afternoon a group of moms are selling Lazear elementary oakland to raise money for prizes for a reading club, another set of parents mill in the main entrance and others come and go from the parent center we are speaking in. Gonzalez said as she described how both sharing meals attracts families and Lazear elementary oakland the opportunity to get to know them and for them to become comfortable.

Community voice matters, and when it is unified, strong, and relentless, the game can be changed. Our city and community are better with Lazear Charter School. But it took a fight. And as this next set of axes falls in Oakland, with predictable victims, there are lessons to be learned from Lazear, that are deeper than any political action or decision.

Full disclosure the author is board member of Education for Change and is politely requests of the Lazear community not to strike. Please follow me on Twitter or my Facebook and subscribe to the blog. And they would not go quietly. The school had to be able to the parents, or Lazear elementary oakland parents would fight back. Demanding voice But it was not enough to just remove a principal.

Then came the closure notice. Not even a call, just the name showing up on a public list. Oakland Unified was going to close Lazear. A Relentless community a hard year and real progress Getting approved was the easy part. A lesson for other communities Community voice matters, and when it is unified, strong, and relentless, the game can be changed. What do you think? Share this:. Like this: Like Loading More Comments Cancel reply.

Lazear elementary oakland

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The Little School that Could; How a Relentless Community Fought for Lazear Elementary and Won