Vol: 19 No: 3 – January 2021
APT is committed to OSA as a diverse, equitable and inclusive school community. A place where students thrive, and where parents, teachers, and students— together with the school leadership and board, partner to ensure the success of the school.
Please join us for the Monthly APT General Meetings on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 6pm!
January Meeting: POSTPONED in service of attending OSA Board Meeting on Equity
PLEASE ATTEND: January 28, 2021 @ 6:15pm
Zoom Pending… Password: Pending… (To Be Sent by School Administration)
If you know 6th grade families or those who are new to the school, please send this newsletter to them.
Sign-up for Konstella! “The only platform where OSA parents can have interactive discussions online”
Konstella Videos & Guides: See these useful Konstella Videos & Guides
OSA BOARD MEETING ANNOUNCEMENT:
The Alliance of Parents & Teachers (APT) has long been a key supporter of OSA’s continued growth towards providing all our students with equitable learning opportunities. In lieu of our standard January APT meeting, we’re asking our community members to attend the January 28th OSA Board Meeting. This is the first of two important meetings that will focus on the topic of equity at OSA. Exec. Director, Lisa Sherman-Colt – along with a team of staff & faculty members – will be presenting.
- January 28th – Equity Part 1 – will outline how the school is currently supporting students and how it is monitoring student success and identifying and addressing achievement gaps during remote learning.
- February 25th – Equity Part 2 – will focus on the audition phase out plans and how the school will work to restructure curriculum and embed supports for incoming classes. This presentation will cover the work which has taken place thus far with support from Equity consultant Candice Wicks-Davis and Uma Joshi, our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) program researcher.
Attending the OSA Board Meetings and engaging in understanding the charter initiatives demonstrates the strength of our parent community and our common goal.
Please plan to attend virtually on
Thursday, January 28th at 6:15pm
Log-in details to come directly from OSA.
New Parent/Teacher/Staff Group!!!
OSA LGBT2SQI+ Education and Advocacy Group
This group is for parents and caregivers, teachers and staff who: identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two Spirit (2S), Queer, Intersex (LGBT2SQI+) and more, for people who were raised in LGBT2SQI+ families, people who are raising LGBT2SQI+ young people, and those who want to be in community and solidarity with LGBT2SQI+ people.
We will gather for:
- community building and socializing
- work on integrating work and visibility of LGBT2SQI+ artists and artivism in all of the arts disciplines
- integrate LGBT2SQI+ organizing in collaboration with organizing around JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) at OSA
(Contact: Maya Scott-Chung firstname.lastname@example.org 510-381-0876, co-parent of Luna Scott-Chung in 11th grade Theatre)
Disability Rights – A key component of Diversity and Inclusion.
On December 16th, 2020 PODS and APT joined forces to bring two renowned advocates and pioneers in the special ed community. Emily Nusbaum Phd and Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF). In this meeting parents received training and resources to become better advocates for their children, administration received updates related to COVID19 restrictions and responsibilities at both state and federal level, and families shared possible changes and ideas to bring differently-abled people in the arts industry to bring awareness and representation to OSA.
- All Deadlines to respond to request, initial evaluations and triennials are now in full effect.
- A valid reason for a denial of assessment must be in writing in a Prior Written Notice (PWN).
- Once received this begins a legally-mandated set of timelines:
- Receive assessment plan within 15 days. (approval or denial)
- Families have 15 days to give consent.
- School has 60 days to assess.
- Initial IEP meeting held within those 60 days.
- Review IEP at least annually.
- IEP requested by parents or teachers 30 days.
We will continue to bring resources, ally forces to advocate for our students rights, and provide moral support for parents and caregivers.
PODS – Is a parent led social group for Parents of Students with Disabilities.
To receive meeting updates, resources, and connect to other parents in PODS please join our group APT-PODS in Konstella.
Check out this link for more Konstella tips.
Our goal this year is to ensure adequate services are implemented for all students with IEPs and 504 plans.
Crip Camp on Netflix, is an extraordinary, award winning film, created by Jim LeBrecht and OSA parent Nicole Newnham. The film is a powerful, moving story that chronicles the fight for the rights of those living with a disability in America. View the film and encourage those you love to do the same!
Dear New Families – Connecting at OSA
Starting at a new school under traditional circumstances can be a challenge, but add a pandemic, online learning and political tensions, and it makes connecting to a new group even more difficult. It’s all new, it’s all different and a lot of times we find that we don’t know what we don’t know or who to go to for answers. The OSA parent community is full of knowledge and experience and we can be a great resource to each other.
If you’re excited to understand the school and community better, here are a couple of ways to dive in:
- Attend the next OSA Board Meeting on January 28th – Many newer families have no idea what went into the charter renewal process last year or how OSA parents & staff continue to contribute to the success of OSA and all of its students.
- Attend a monthly Community Town Hall Meetings (January 26th) – Mike Oz and other staff & faculty members showcase some of the amazing things that are going on at OSA. It’s a casual forum perfect for getting answers to your questions.
- 3. Utilize Konstella – Connect with other parents in your student’s sub-pathway or parents with similar interests to your own on Konstella. Several parent groups use this platform to plan meetings and share information (i.e., Anti-Racists Education & Activism Parent Group & Parents of Students with Disabilities (PODS)). Please help new families connect by sending them this newsletter and this link to join our online community – https://www.konstella.com/cd/h9yisM.
OSA Staff Spotlight: Part II
Interview with an Equity Champion
What’s one hope you have for the future of OSA or the OSA Community?
CTE is about college and career awareness and readiness. On the career side, we are a performing arts school, so it was fairly simple for me to start putting together programs. I am an artist. I started out in theater, I’ve sang in like three bands in high school, I’ve been a fashion choreographer. I’ve been in artists management at Aspired Artists Management in LA. I worked in the comedy department, which landed me the job of putting together showcases for HBO and Def Comedy Jam. I auditioned everybody from Martin Lawrence to Jamie Foxx and I negotiated on behalf of a lot of our comedians at Aspire.
So when I started looking at the CTE work-based learning component, I noticed that one of the things that they really wanted us to do is to create space for our students to have access to professionals. I started the Artist speaker series. Every month, we bring in a different artist. I also pull two kids from that sub pathway, and they moderate the event. Later, I asked that person if they would be willing to mentor or teach a private masterclass to the sub-pathway, and I have not been turned down yet. We’re going to have James DuBose. James started out as the King of reality TV – most of the reality TV shows that dealt with African Americans. We have the head of Disney Animation coming, we have one of the Metropolitan Opera House musicians coming, we have a Project Runway contestant coming. I just got an email from an old friend of mine Fab Five Freddie – the King of Graffiti art.
When it comes to career exploration, I created a program that I’m calling the MMI program, which is Mentor Masterclass and Internship. I’m asking for two professionals per sub pathway class. And I recently signed on two people from KQED who are working in the literary arts department. It’s about bringing career exploration, awareness and then the internship. That’s the big shebang that I’m hoping for. I recently got in contact with Mimi Chakarova, a documentary filmmaker and CNN photojournalist. Mimi came onto KOSA the talk show with some of our students, she was so impressed that she said, I would love to have some of your students as interns. And I tapped LaMar Baylor, a principal dancer for the Lion King on Broadway. I sent him a picture of one of our kids doing one of their fantastic poses and immediately he responded. We’re not just a performing arts school. At OSA our kids are on a whole other level when it comes to performance. And this is what I tell people, our kids, they sell themselves, you know, they’re the buy in.
I went to a webinar that dealt with internships. When I looked at it, I said, this doesn’t fit what we do. We’re not a school of engineers, we’re not a school for nurses or doctors. So I asked, “Are you opposed to us creating internships on campus? We’re performing arts school.” This is something that I thought about, because when I was substitute coordinator, sometimes I would get thrown in classes at the last minute. Since I really didn’t have any particular knowledge of that class, I would look for a senior that had no class that period and let them conduct the class. I would film it and I would send it to faculty and go “look at how professional they are.” That’s how I started thinking about the on site internship. You have seniors that are able to come back and work under the faculty member as an intern and work with the younger class. So that’s how the MMI program is going to work for our class, because we may not be able to get everybody in entertainment to sign up our kids. We already have teachers that are performing artists, just like myself. I’m still in radio. I still do a television show in LA. A lot of us are still working, so we can create right on campus. I’m super excited about that.
And my goal just so everyone understands is not to create a moment but something that is going to continue at the school. Every time we turn around, it’s like okay, now we’re doing this now. I’ve told everybody from admin to the faculty, if I leave this position, I leave you with everything that I put in place and it’s documented. It will be on paper. You’ll have the phone numbers, you’ll have the connections, you’ll have everything to where you can continue this work, so it becomes a staple, not just a moment. Our kids can look forward and say, “Hey, I want to be a senior so I can get to that internship program,” and the institutions are built.
APT Is Seeks New Board Members!
The APT Board of Directors is recruiting for new members!
As you may know, we are a Board comprised of parents invested in OSA’s success for all students & families. The APT is the largest and oldest parent group at OSA, and we are committed to providing parent and family community building and educational events. We are also strongly committed to advocating for equity and success for all OSA students and families. Our Board meets monthly, and we also plan and offer a monthly APT General Meeting to the larger parent/family community at OSA.
If you are interested, we would LOVE to hear from you!
Please send an email with any questions and a bit of information about yourself to Co-Presidents Melinda de Jesus (email@example.com) and Morey Riordan (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please note that we are looking for candidates who can commit to serving through the 2021-2022 school year.
What The New Oakland School Board Means For OSA
In a Jan. 4 inauguration ceremony, the pro-charter majority of the Oakland School Board was swept away with a new slate of pro-equity activists.
Oakland charter schools are on the defensive. In the November elections, the charter-friendly OUSD board appears to have been swept away in an anti-charter wave. But it’s more complicated. Galvanized in part by the 2019 teacher’s strike, all but one of the slate of candidates supported by pro-charter advocates and big money donors were roundly defeated by candidates supported by the teachers union and advocates for democratic decision-making driven by school communities rather than District administrators. In an apparent referendum on the direction of the school board, most of the winning candidates oppose district school closures and the opening of new charter schools.
Seen by some as a petri dish for privatization, Oakland currently has the highest percentage of students in charter schools of any California district. Even before the election, Oakland charters were identified as problematic. Nearly a third of Oakland charters failed, some closing midyear, disrupting the lives of Oakland students and their families. Even under the old Board makeup, some charters—like OSA—were criticized for having such low percentages of Black, Indigenous, Latinx, low-income students and students with disabilities that they resembled private schools—except that they’re financed on the public dime. In the face of those critiques OSA agreed to abolish auditions starting next year. The new OUSD board members represent diverse perspectives—some see a place for charters while others want to make it harder for charters to exist—but it is almost certain that as a body they will tighten requirements for Oakland charters and insist that schools like OSA make radical changes in order to more equitably serve Oakland’s diverse communities.
In this polarized atmosphere, what strategies will help OSA not only survive but thrive in service to our community and the excellent arts education we provide? Many OSA parents are reluctant charter parents, uncomfortable with the privatization of public schools that most of us attended yet committed to an arts centered education. A few years ago our OSA Board of Directors began discussing ways to grow our program so that hundreds of additional students can attend. We embraced and funded Step It Up and agreed to end auditions in the hopes our unique program will be accessible to all students in Oakland regardless of whether or not their families had access to preparatory arts training. Last year, several parents attended OUSD school Board meetings to speak at the podium in favor of OSA’s charter renewal and found ourselves moved to join the chorus of district school parents protesting the closure of their own beloved schools. We feel caught between those with an ideological commitment to charter school innovation and independence—such that was able to birth a School for the Arts in Oakland and those who oppose charters because they often fail to serve students with disabilities, are less transparent and accountable to the community, and threaten the future of district schools. In fact, reluctant charter parents might be the bridge-building leaders we need to navigate the choppy waters and set a course for equity and excellence.
OSA is in a precarious position. If we hope to expand or get our charter renewed next time, OSA must prove our value as a charter community that advances educational equity in Oakland; we must become champions of equity through the following principles and actions:
- Equitable enrollment and retention. Doubling down on our current efforts, OSA must recruit and support a student body that, like most Oakland schools, is predominantly Black, Indigenous, Latinx and low-income. And OSA must become a model Oakland school in its support of students with disabilities and for students who are English language learners.
- Pro-teacher/Pro-labor. Charters are notoriously anti-union. We need to support our teachers and their union and move heaven and earth to pay them living wages so that OSA teachers, BIPOC teachers in particular, can afford to stay in Oakland. We must also support and build a relationship with the Oakland Education Association teachers union.
- Pro-democracy and transparency. Charters are consistently criticized for their top-down, corporate style governance and lack of transparency and accountability. OSA must become radically bottom-up and set standards of transparency and inclusion that exceed district schools.
- A solidarity school. The OSA community needs to support Oakland’s district school community. We need to explore ways to engage with and support those fighting for resources and equity across the district.
- *NEW: Ford Foundation No Equality without Everyone
- *NEW: Teaching Artist Guild Professional Development Conferences
- *NEW: How To Sustain Your Activism
- *NEW: Teaching in the Aftermath of the Coup
- Special Ed in the Age of COVID – The School Bus for Distance Learning Came, But It Didn’t Have a Ramp
- Struggle for Ethnic Studies at California College of the Arts
- “This podcast outlines the history of the struggle for Ethnic Studies at CCA. Former chairs Dr. Opal Adisa, Dr. Sonia Manjon and [APT co-chair] Dr. Melinda Luisa de Jesús dialogue with current chair Shylah Hamilton about “this sacred work,” what sustains us, and what it means to be women of color in academia… “
- What Happened When My School Started to Dismantle White Supremacy Culture
- Nice White Parents Podcast
- White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, PhD
- EmbraceRace Website and Upcoming Webinars
- GoodNews Antiracism Resources Links
…more to come!
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