Vol: 19 No: 5 – May 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 May 24 at 6:30pm!
PLEASE ATTEND: Monday, May 24, 2021 @ 6:30pm
The APT ends this very challenging school year with a community discussion about equity and the push for Ethnic Studies and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion) work at OSA. This Monday, May 24th at 6:30pm, we offer presentations by Ethnic Studies teacher Uma Joshi and her students about what JEDI*/ Ethnic Studies means to them and what it might look like at OSA in the future. Wei-ling Huber of the APT and Board President, Dr. Josefina Alvarado Mena will share stories about their work in Ethnic Studies. The panel will be facilitated by Melinda L. de Jesus, APT Co-President and Associate Professor of Critical Ethnic Studies at California College of the Arts.
Please join us for this robust and timely discussion about transformative pedagogy and Oakland values!
*JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion)
Zoom: LINK Meeting ID: 935 596 0147 Password: OSArocks
The Alliance of Parents and Teachers (APT) typically meets on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 6:30-8pm. Agendas will be sent out in the days leading up to each meeting. If you’d like to suggest a topic for a general meeting or have other questions/concerns, please reach out to the APT board – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Excellence, Pride and Artvism
Parents of Students with Disabilities hosted the first disability community, empowerment and activism event on May 17,2021. This event showcased the talent of our parents, students, alumni and community activists.
Quotes from panelists:
- “Crip Camp allowed me to see disabilities as part of the civil rights movement. Working with people of the disability justice movement has been transformative and empowering” – Nicole Newnham / Co-Producer of Oscar Nominated Crip Camp
- “It is ok to not be producing all the time, your value is it is not dictated by how much you produce” – Sara Ilsen, OSA alumni and American Idol contestant.
- “Many artists have disabilities, you won’t believe it, our disability actually enhances our art…. It doesn’t hinder it” – Kwame Grant, OSA alumni, singer & musician.
- “If you don’t say something, sometimes it’s hard to ask but you must advocate for yourself, otherwise you are just one more in the class” – Emilio Mena, 12th Grade-Theater
- “My disability actually made me a hard worker at school and life” – Citlali Morfin, 7th Grade- Vocal
- “Capitalism kills disabled people” – Zoe Jung, 9th Grade – Literary Arts
- “Disability Education should be part of the curriculum… As black man I want to instill this education to our black and brown kids…. It is the law…. Don’t forget about the Fair Act” – Leroy Moore, Krip Hop Nation Co-Founder
- “One of the principles of disability justice is leadership of those most impacted and that includes disabled people particularly multiple-marginalized….Their voices should be amplified” – India Harville, Founder of Loving the Skin You Are In.
If you missed the wonderful event that has been labeled by many attendees as transformative, eye opening, memorable and very touching; You can view it here.
Get Set Up for Better Connections in 21-22
Did you feel disconnected from OSA this year? Do you wish there had been more opportunities to get involved? With a new school year on the horizon, now is the time to take a moment to create/update your Konstella account so that you’re all set up and ready for a fresh new start in August. The Konstella platform is managed by APT volunteer parents & keeps you updated on community building events, opportunities to support students & teachers and ways to connect with other parents in your sub-pathway. https://www.konstella.com/cd/h9yisM
A Year of Change and Hope
The 2020-2021 school year has been unlike any other. As we enter the final stretch of the year, the APT is appreciative of all that staff, students, and families of OSA have endured. The COVID-19 pandemic shook the foundation of routines and learning structures we had come to depend on. The impact has been more severe for some families than others, and we want to recognize the hard work and dedication of the OSA staff in scrambling to meet the needs of our students in uncharted territory. We extend a heartfelt thank you to all employees of OSA for your commitment throughout a very trying academic year. We see you.
The school year also involved the intense advocacy and activism of many people in the OSA community on issues of racial justice and equity. We know that the movement and demands for meaningful equity, inclusion, and justice for all our kids, staff, and families is not unique to OSA. However, as a school community in Oakland CA, a city that has a uniquely progressive legacy on racial justice issues, the events of this year have been very painful in moments. Our own reckoning at OSA is a result of plummeting diversity of both students and teachers of color over the years. Too often, when this reality has been raised as an urgent concern, symbolic words have been offered without action. We are far beyond a time when people of color must bring up inequities and microaggressions over and over to prove what we know is happening. We are far beyond a time when staff of color can be expected to pour themselves into additional duties and tasks to support kids of color without fair compensation. Our student leaders of color have stepped up in this time to demand that meaningful change take place at OSA now. The time for meeting to discuss these issues over and over is gone. We are at a crossroads, and ready for real change. As your OSA APT, we are ready for the bumps ahead, the mistakes that will be made, the difficult conversations that will take place. We know and embrace that this is all part of forward movement together, on the road to a school culture that is welcoming and equitable for all.
We congratulate school leadership on the hiring of a new JEDI Coordinator. This is one of many critical pieces of the work ahead of us. We thank and congratulate the new OSA Board Chair, Dr. Josefina Alvarado Mena for her service during this time of great change. We believe that Josefina is the ideal leader to help steer the ship through the work ahead. We recognize and thank OSA alumni who have stepped up to reengage in this community effort out of love for OSA and wanting current and future students to have the best experience possible. We extend a huge thanks to Uma Joshi. Uma is the kind of teacher who changes the lives of young scholars in ways that will undoubtedly make this world a better place for all of us. Although we are profoundly sad to see Uma leaving OSA, we are thankful for her courage in tackling injustice and speaking truth to power. We thank all our teachers of color, who have carried a heavy load during difficult conversations and continue to inspire our kids to follow their dreams. We also thank white teachers who refuse to sit back when injustice is happening. All of you are ingredients of the “special sauce” that makes OSA such an amazing place.
We hope that each of you have a restful and healing Summer. We extend a warm and sincere invitation to join the APT in the work ahead next year. We believe that together we can ensure that OSA is the arts and academic home that all our kids deserve.
For White Leaders in These Times
by Morey Riordan (APT Co-President & OSA Parent)
We in the US are in a time of upheaval, and a shifting ground underneath our feet on issues of equity and racial justice. We are in a transformational struggle that is long overdue. I write this a white person, a leader of LGBTQ social justice work, and a parent who wants a more just and equitable world for all our kids. Those of us who want this must recognize that education justice is what we must fight for. Where we see kids of color having less access to schools and services, less culturally welcoming and inclusive environments, less curriculum focused on their own experiences and those of their ancestors, or a general status quo environment that lacks leaders of color, we must speak out. Our strategy must be grounded in and informed by what BIPOC communities and leaders demand. While their voices inform our work, it is critical that we do not expect or rely on them to constantly educate and provide emotional support to us. We must not add to the cultural and emotional taxation that we as white people often expect people of color to bear.
Being a white leader in these times requires so many things that have not been required of us until now. I say required, because there are white leaders who have participated in anti-racist learning, both on personal and professional levels and have begun the ongoing personal work that is necessary to evolve over time. Although I hope that I am one of these leaders, I know my learning and making mistakes will be a constant throughout my life. I know that I will doubt myself and worry about saying or doing the wrong thing. There will be times when I feel inadequate and frustrated with myself. As white people committed to racial justice, we must support and push each other forward with a mix of compassion, honesty, and accountability. We must cultivate curiosity in one another – our growth depends on curiosity. Why do I feel defensive at times in conversations about racial justice? What is the history behind this story? Who can I talk to when I need more information? What should I be reading about this topic? Is there a training I can join to learn more? Is there a trusted person I can talk to about how I am struggling in this?
I have been thinking in my head about what it means to be a white leader in any social justice work at this moment. Here is my list of what I need to remember and do as a comrade of Black and Brown communities in these times:
- Be always clear, that our own discomfort is our own problem to deal with. We do not have a right to put our own pain, hurt feelings, or confusion on people of color to sort out and respond to. I am responsible for my own care in these moments.
- No one is above being called out or questioned on issues of equity and race. As white people, we are the ones most often holding power, making it even more challenging for others to question us or challenge our thinking and planning. We must let go of the very often unspoken and assumed power we hold. It is not acceptable to remain clueless to this dynamic and continue to behave ignorantly without consequence.
- This movement is both not about us, and about us. The pain, lack of basic safety and well-being, and continual micro aggressions that communities of color experience every day is fundamentally what this moment is about. The part that is about us, is our responsibility for past complicity and damage done. Our part is listening to Black and Brown leadership and community voices as our cue on why, where, and when to act.
- Sometimes, we need to step down from leadership. This is painful and hard, and true. If we are white leaders in these times who are not able to accept discomfort and extreme accountability, who are not constantly curious about being a better comrade to communities of color, who are thin-skinned in the face of criticism on equity issues, who have not done personal work on race and class and how that plays out in our institutions, who are not focused on transformational change and true equity for all, every moment of every day, who do not seek out the voices of the most marginalized community members in decision-making and true power sharing, it is time for you to begin developing an exit strategy.
I write these thoughts down as an imperfect leader. A leader who can default to wanting everyone to get along and not have conflict. A leader who can feel overwhelmed and inadequate. A leader with so much to learn. The thing I am most sure about is that the time to get off our couches (mine is very cozy) and be a part of a movement for what is just and right and long overdue, is now. Each of us have a different role to play in pushing forward to true equity in our schools and broader institutions. I invite you to join me in what can be a graceless and clumsy journey, but one that we can tell our kids that we took because it was the right thing to do.
APT Is Seeks New Board Members!
The APT Board of Directors is recruiting for new members!
The APT Board is a group of parents committed to the success of OSA staff, families, and students. 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. In addition to monthly general APT meetings on various education and advocacy topics, we also develop this newsletter, and support the only interactive online parent platform, Konstella. We work to build community and equity for all at OSA.
If you are interested, we would LOVE to hear from you!
Please reach out if you are interested in joining us next year. To ensure we have a diverse APT board that is representative of our Oakland community, we encourage all interested parents to apply, including BIPOC (Black, indigenous & people of color) and underrepresented groups to apply. Please contact Morey Riordan at email@example.com or Melinda DeJesus at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have interest or questions. Please note that we are looking for candidates who can commit to serving through the 2021-2022 school year.
- Educators Who See Themselves as White Allies Are Dangerous When It Comes to Developing Anti-Racist Classrooms
- Teens Take Charge and UCLA Civil Rights Project are offering an Academics x Activists event about racial justice in k-12 schools in NYC.
- Disability Visibility Project
- Ford Foundation No Equality without Everyone
- Teaching Artist Guild Professional Development Conferences
- How To Sustain Your Activism
- 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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