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 www.YouthTogether.net.
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