Billionaires Failure Oakland Resistance

Oakland: The Laurene Powell Jobs XQ School That Never Happened

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Jane Nylund, a parent activist in Oakland, read about the Guide prepared by XQ Project, the vanity program of billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs. She felt inspired to share the Open Letter that she wrote to Powell-Jobs in 2016. It is about a “super-school” that didn’t happen.

She wrote me a few days ago:

Enjoyed the post about Ms. Jobs and the XQ project; this was an old msg from 2 years ago I wrote as a response to a lot of ego and self-promotion; not much has changed, but thankfully, the door did hit Ms. Jobs on the way out. The project miraculously went away, along with Antwan Wilson, who was its champion. As we now know, Antwan Wilson was hired from Oakland to be the chancellor in D.C., but fired in D.C. after he pulled strings to get his daughter into a favorable school, violating a policy he had just promulgated.

———- ———
From: Jane Nylund
Date: Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 11:25 PM
Subject: An Open Letter to Ms. Laurene Powell Jobs
To: [email protected]

After hearing about the new Summit School experiment that Laurene Jobs plans to fund here in the city of Oakland (once again, corporations telling us what we need, because they know better!), I just had to put together a really good rant. Here are some links to information regarding my rant. It would be laughable if so many of those power brokers didn’t think it was just the greatest school project ever for the city of Oakland:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/09/14/100-million-jobs-widow-aims-remake-schools-high-tech-age/90353636/
http://xqsuperschool.org/abouttheproject

Dear Ms. Jobs:

I read with great interest your newest philanthropic project: to bring a brand new super(!) school to the city of Oakland, I am writing you to please consider rethinking that $10 million bet (that’s what it’s called in the USA Today article) and consider the following:

While your idea of “virtual chemistry labs” sounds utterly fantastic to your software programming team, the fact is that children require actual hands-on lab training in order to properly study science. While I understand that the procurement of Pyrex glassware, microscopes, lab benches, hoods, and other equipment isn’t quite as sexy as, say computers and software, it’s really what’s needed in Oakland schools (and elsewhere). What you are telling us is that even though you have the means to distribute all kinds of school equipment and supplies (have you even heard of Pyrex), none of this makes you or your Silicon Valley friends and relations any money. So instead of providing students what they need and deserve, you provide them with your idea of the kind of chemistry labs that are good enough for you, and your friends and relations. There is also the added plus of another glowing screen for our kids to stare at during the day.

So from the website, here is your idea of a Super School in Oakland. The other schools on your site sounded a lot cooler, but this is what Oakland gets:

“Summit Elevate will bring world-class education to Oakland and innovate further, taking student achievement to new levels. At Summit Elevate, students will benefit from learning that integrates fine arts, architecture, and arts and sciences. Partnering with California College of the Arts and Oakland Unified School District, students will truly be “in the driver’s seat” of their own educations, whether selecting their own network of personal advisors and mentors from education and industry, or using Basecamp’s digital platform to ensure college- and career-readiness.”

Well, you kind of missed the boat on that one. Oakland already has high schools that integrate most, if not all those subjects (Oakland Tech and Skyline). Other high schools have struggled for years to provide a similar curriculum, but programs were cut. We old-fashioned types call this newfangled idea of yours an enriched curriculum, the kind I grew up with and which disappeared during the Prop. 13 days. There’s nothing new about it; sorry you didn’t get the memo. Oakland already has charter schools that focus on the arts (OSA and COVA), technology (BayTech and EBIA), and language immersion (Francophone, Yu Ming).

So, in conclusion, how about spending that $10 Million this way:

1) The Montera woodshop teacher needs some upgraded tools and safety equipment-maybe a student taking the class will end up building you some world-class kitchen cabinets. The local community just ponied up the first $5000 for the teacher; hey, go crazy and do a company match!

2) The Montera music teacher needs supplies and funds for music purchases, chairs, and field trips/band camps-maybe one of his students will end up becoming a jazz/blues/classical/rock/pop/latin musician. You could see him/her performing at Yoshis

3) The Montera art teacher needs newspaper, yogurt containers, milk jugs-get ’em from your friends and drop them off

4) Every teacher in the district needs Kleenex and paper towels. They can’t reuse those (well, they could, but there’s a serious yuk factor), but they reuse practically everything else. They also each need a raise and a mani-pedi

5) Oakland Tech (Tech stands for Technical-maybe you didn’t know that) needs plotter ink and copy paper

6) Several schools need earthquake safety retrofits-no explanation needed, I hope

7) Castlemont recently started its music program back up again-see #2

8) Restart some industrial arts classes in the schools again, but not virtual ones. The students need to use real tools.

Thanks for thinking of us here at OUSD. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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