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Jane Nylund: Who is the Wolf at the Door?

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Jane Nylund is a parent activist in Oakland, California, trying to stave off a charter takeover of the school district.

The charter wolf that’s supposed to guard and hunt with us in lean times? That wolf? He’s flipped you on your back and is now tearing at your throat. And who is the dominant one now?

I admit, I still use the privacy-sucking, venom-spreading, kitty-loving social media platform that is Facebook. It makes it easy to stay connected with friends and issues that I care about. Imagine to my surprise when one recent morning, this video pops up on my Facebook feed. Let’s see what behind Door #1?

Ok, a flattering piece of advertising from the newly-created (it was sponsored content) on Kimi Kean, from Aspire. Given the recent controversy regarding Aspire, is the timely appearance of this ad just a happy coincidence? Don’t think so. Maybe just a well-timed piece of Aspire marketing/branding? Probably.

Around the same time, this article came out from the East Bay Express. Now, let’s see what’s behind Door #2?

In the Door #1 video, it poses this question, “How can Oakland Charters help all our public schools, district and charter?” Um, by threatening a lawsuit? If that’s their idea of what collaboration means for OUSD, then please, no more help necessary, thanks very much.

So which example honestly portrays the true nature of whether Oakland charters and district schools can collaborate together? Think hard before you answer. Door #1 or Door #2? My vote goes to Door #2. But that’s just me.

The worst thing about this latest episode is that it goes beyond emotional arguments and and name-calling. It is the subversion of the democratic process. That the collective “we” would allow Aspire/CCSA to intimidate any elected board into postponing needed legislation is unacceptable, but not entirely unpredictable in the Age of the Orange One Who Shall Not Be Named. The board has a right (don’t they?) to draft any piece of legislation that it wants, and it is scary when the charter schools are given so much power that they can bully and threaten a democratically-elected board into backing down from doing their job. I’m sure there’s more going on behind the scenes, but this incident makes it even more critical that both the OUSD board and the Oakland City Council know exactly what they are dealing with and who is behind it. That would be Door #2. Even more enlightening is that Reed Hastings, the founder of Aspire and hater of school boards everywhere, is probably cheering the loudest at this point. The idea that CCSA/Aspire made the school board blink is, in his mind, a small but significant step towards eliminating the school board entirely. He’s loving this stuff. I, for one, did not participate in the democratic process only to have it dismantled by a guy like Reed Hastings. He is simply one of many in a long line of corporate billionaire ed-reformers who has made it clear that he’s no friend to public education. This is an article from 2016, but you get the idea…

I hope that going forward, both the OUSD board and the Oakland City Council understand the degree of propaganda put forth by those who will stop at nothing to get what they want, including trampling on the rights of the citizens who elected them, regardless of what kind of school their children attend (or not). I will also reiterate that this discussion has nothing to do with Ms. Kean’s clear passion and dedication to Aspire. But everyone who has voted for members of either the OUSD board or the Oakland City Council has a reasonable expectation for democratic representation and should resist any effort to interfere with that representation. Don’t allow CCSA and its backers to erode that responsibility. We have too much of that nonsense going on in the rest of the country already.

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