It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since I had the great honor of being sworn in to serve on the Hayward School Board. I’ve learned so much from my fellow board members, from our superintendent, and from our staff, teachers, students, families, and community members. I’d like to share a few highlights from the last 12 months to give a sense of what we’ve accomplished and where we’re heading.
Student and School-site Health and Safety
Low-Performing Students Block Grant: In February, we ensured these funds were directed to the schools and programs that serve this particular group of students. This grant was important to our students because it supplied funds for those who are not receiving supplemental or concentration funding through LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula). We’re excited to see how the implementation of this additional support helps our students.
Student Discipline: In the spring, the board took a closer look at our disciplinary practices to examine them through the lens of equity. Because we know that student expulsions perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline and because we know that discipline comes down disproportionately to our students of color, particularly our male students of color, rethinking our approach is absolutely necessary to ensure our students receive restorative practices rather than punitive ones.
Schools & Communities First: HUSD passed a resolution in support of the Schools & Communities First initiative, which will appear on the November ballot. It is imperative that we reform the current structure of Prop 13, which allows for corporations and wealthy investors to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.
Student Success and Achievement
Strategic Plan: Under the leadership of our Superintendent, Dr. Matt Wayne, the district put together a 3-year strategic plan to guide us toward the vision and goals we all have for our students. Dr. Wayne assembled the District Advisory Committee, comprised of community leaders, faith leaders, teachers, families, staff, and most importantly, students. It took several months to create the plan, but what we have now is a compass to steer us in the direction our community believes we must go.
Equity: A major pillar of our Strategic Plan is Equity. To use the metaphor of one of our student board members, equity is about providing each student with a toolkit that is uniquely designed to help them thrive, both inside and outside of the classroom. As leaders of the district, it was important to the board to demonstrate the value of professional development, which is why we held a board retreat to learn more about equity and implicit bias, so we can uphold the pillar of equity in the decisions we make.
Accountability for Charter Schools: We had one renewal petition come through this year, and we’re relieved that Golden Oak Montessori restructured their lottery to make their acceptance procedures more equitable to families of all income levels by lifting the preference for families that had previous Montessori education (which is only available as a private option and thus gave privilege to more socioeconomically advantaged families).
Hewlett Grant: In August, HUSD was one of 10 districts in CA invited to participate with the Hewlett Foundation to focus on learner-centered education. How did they select those 10? In the first round of qualifications, districts had to be medium-sized (15,000-50,000 students), have 50% or more students receiving free or reduced lunch, and enroll 40% or more students of color. That narrowed the pool to 77 districts. From there, districts had to demonstrate a commitment to equity and to a democratic way of thinking about schools. That narrowed the pool to 12 and then ultimately to 10. HUSD was proud to be among the 10.
Childcare at Board Meetings: As of September, we began offering free childcare during our board meetings because doing so promotes democracy and allows our community and families to be more engaged in the meetings.
UIY & CMF: We have a growing population of Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth (UIY) and Children in Migrant Families (CMF). In September, the district partnered with the Emergency Housing Team of the South Alameda County UIY and CMF Collaborative, led by Pastor Arlene Nehring, to secure emergency and transitional housing assistance for this vulnerable population of students. Please email me at email@example.com if you’re able to help in any way or if you’re interested in learning more.
To me, this feels like a lot! And while I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished this past year, there is still so much more to do. In addition to continuing to push for equity and to reform our student discipline practices, there’s also a great need for integrating trauma-informed practices and for becoming a truly inclusive district in how we serve students with different abilities.
I’ll leave this quote from Zaretta Hammond, which anchors me every time I read it: “You cannot call yourself a ‘culturally responsive’ educator if your purpose is to raise test scores rather than to liberate young people’s spirits and ignite their intellectual curiosity.”
With Deep Appreciation, April
Paid for by April Oquenda for Hayward School Board 2022. FPPC#1405598