Statement from ASCEND, Learning Without Limits teachers by BayAreaNewsGroup


Teachers from two Oakland elementary schools voted to break away from the district and convert their schools into independently run charters. In this document, they lay out the policies they want to see in Oakland's public schools.

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									Wednesday November 16. 2011

                          A Joint Statement Regarding Charter Conversions
                              from Learning Without Limits and ASCEND

        The decision to submit charter petitions was an arduous one for both LWL and ASCEND, and it
called into question many teachers’ strongly held beliefs about education and society. Nonetheless there
was a general consensus that there were certain conditions coming out of the Small Schools movement
that were integral to its success and worth fighting for. A majority of the teaching staff felt that
converting to charter status was the best way to fight for those conditions, and preserve all that they had
built together. Simply a fear of school closure and/or consolidation was not the primary motivation
influencing our decision. The decision was based foremost on how to best serve the interests of our
school communities.

        Many Small Schools in Oakland have achieved dramatic success in raising student achievement in
the flatlands. The conditions which were imperative to that success, and which we believe are necessary
for all Oakland schools, are:

1. Autonomy around staffing
     We believe that students’ needs should come first when it comes to choosing the people who stand
       before the class, work in the office or on the yard. We believe that school communities and job
       candidates should be able to mutually decide whether the placement is a good fit.

2. Autonomy around curriculum
     We believe that the people closest to the children should be treated like professionals, entrusted
       to make the best decisions for their students’ learning.

3. Autonomy around budget
     We believe that school sites make the most informed decisions about how money should be spent,
       so that it reaches students most effectively.

4. Autonomy over calendar
    We believe that school sites should be able to make decisions around PD schedules, start time, and
       the ability to be flexible in order to best meet students’ learning needs.

   Additionally, we would like to address another misconception regarding our petitions to convert.
Education For Change did not approach ASCEND and LWL to initiate the charter conversion process.
Both school communities felt the conditions that allowed us to be successful were being revoked, and
ongoing success within the District was being threatened. We approached EFC.

  We believe in the power of unions and collective bargaining. We hope to organize our faculties, and
work towards creating a union model that preserves and respects educators as professionals.

   If you have any questions or would like to speak with us about our decision you may contact us at


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