Skip to content

You Tell Us: Youth Together asks Mayor Quan to focus on education

on February 8, 2011

At Youth Together we are happy to support the new mayor in her historic position. This election was the result of grassroots organizing and is a true testament that democracy can work. As an education justice organization we have worked in the Oakland schools for the past 14 years. We have seen mayors come and go and have witnessed their effects or lack of effectiveness on our schools. We ask that the mayor really look at the different issues that young people are facing in the streets of Oakland so that students can go into the classroom ready to learn as opposed to having to worry about things such as increased cop presence in their schools and communities, police collaboration with immigration enforcement agents, police harassment, and a lack of jobs for young people.  With the dropout rate at 40 percent according to the California Department of Education and the OUSD facing a $29 million budget deficit, this is the perfect time for Mayor Quan to use her position to empower people to work together to solve the education crisis we are having Oakland.

We would like to congratulate the mayor on the creation of an education cabinet. We feel this is important because by doing this she is showing the youth of Oakland that she values their education.  We hope that during her tenure, this cabinet will work with students, parents, teachers and community groups to ensure that issues of teacher effectiveness and safety are addressed in a way that involves all stakeholders in the process.  We also want to see Mayor Quan advocate for the OUSD at the state level for debt forgiveness.  It’s the state’s fault we’re in this big of a financial hole.

When talking to our students and staff about what they would like to see the mayor focus on during her time in office, many new and old ideas surfaced. What resonated most with us was around making youth a priority for the city. We would love to see the Oakland Youth Commission be given voting power at the City Council, at least on the issues that come before the City Council that directly relate to youth constituents. We would also like the mayor to work with AC Transit to provide free youth transit passes during school commute hours.

We know about and honor Mayor Quan’s history of organizing and working with community.  We hope that in her new position she stays grounded in this experience and creates an environment in Oakland where youth truly feel connected and cared for. We hope to work with her and look forward to her, and Oakland’s success.

This essay was written by Skyline High School senior Kiara Howard, junior Cesar Gonzalez, Youth Together co-director Akua Jackson and Political Education and Propaganda Coordinator Chinyere Tutashinda. Youth Together was formed in 1996 to fight violence and racism and to improve schools and communities. Youth Together began as a multiracial consortium of five community agencies and in 2003 became an independent non-profit. Youth Together works with four high schools across the East Bay including Richmond High School in Richmond, Castlemont Community of Small Schools in Oakland, Fremont Federation of High Schools in Oakland and Skyline High School in Oakland. Their web address is


You Tell Us is Oakland North’s community Op-Ed page, featuring opinion pieces submitted by readers on Oakland-related topics. Have something to say? Send essays of 500-1,000 words to We’d love to hear from you!

All essays reflect the opinions of their authors, and not of the Oakland North staff or the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Oakland North reserves the right to edit submissions for length, clarity and spelling/grammar. You Tell Us submissions must be written in civil and non-offensive language. We do not publish hate speech, libelous material, unsubstantiated allegations or rumors, or personal attacks on individuals or groups.


  1. AnnoyedVoter on April 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    As a taxpayer, I take exception to the arguments put forth by these well meaning children. First and foremost, there is already a person in Oakland who is focused on the children. We call him Tony Smith, Superintendent of Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). The mayor has enough to focus on without doing Tony’s job. OUSD may have a deficit of $26MM but Oakland has a budget twice that and growing.

    Your free tickets for AC Transit come at cost. They may be free to you but they are going to cost others in the form of increased fares or reduced subsidies for the indigent. Part of charging some fee for AC Transit teaches there is value in the service and you need to be responsible about allocating your resources.

    It is your narrow minded single purpose thinking is the reason why youth don’t deserve voting power at City Council. There is a reason why minors can not legally enter into contracts. You lack the capacity to make informed decision. It is why parents don’t let you stay out all night.

    • Anna Nelson on April 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm

      I love the fact that youth are getting involved in community service and action. It is great experience as well as a positive outlet. If you believe free bus fare during school, commute hours is a worthwhile, then you have every right to request such. I’m sure with a little creative thinking something can be negotiated. And who better to show us how to think outside-of-the-box than our future constituents.

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

Photo by Basil D Soufi
Oakland North

Oakland North is an online news service produced by students at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and covering Oakland, California. Our goals are to improve local coverage, innovate with digital media, and listen to you–about the issues that concern you and the reporting you’d like to see in your community. Please send news tips to:

Latest Posts

Scroll To Top