I've made no secret in the past of my utter contempt for Oakland's school system.
I can't imagine sending my kid to an Oakland public school -- even one of the few good elementary schools sprinkled throughout the hills area. While economically, sending a child there would seem like a bargain, I simply am unwilling to put any faith or trust in these unionized teachers.
With few exceptions, every action I've seen the union take is designed to push up teacher pay, benefits and perks at the expense of students.
Put this in the context of an ultra-Leftist school board whose entire goal is to avoid any appearance of discrimination, and the school district has zero chance for success without some kind of wholesale change.
I have repeatedly asked a simple rhetorical question, one which has received deafening silence in response: Why does Oakland not have a single magnet school?
Surely, in a city as large and "diverse" as Oakland, the school district could find a set of 100 students per grade level who can handle work at an advanced level.
Such a school would benefit those at all income levels and would increase the allure of the city to prospective homeowners. Sadly, though, because a magnet school would disproportionately benefit those whose parents have more means and education, no one can have it.
Such class warfare seems pretty clever when it first passes the Leftist's lips, but after a moment of reflection it's obviously futile. All the wealthy parents do is enroll their kids at Head-Royce or Bentley or wherever. They don't really mind spending the money, and it's a good riff-raff filter.
For the Leftist who believes liberalism is about "helping people," I'm sorry to point out that by making money the key to unlocking eduction, this system guarantees that the smart poor kid has no chance whatsoever.
I've viewed the city's charter schools as at least a source of potential opportunity for the kids trapped like this by the well-meaning but evil Leftists.
Charter schools are not ideal mind you. As far as I can tell, they aren't allowed to select students based on actual potential or achievement. Still, they do tend to get kids whose parents care more than the average parent, which is very important.
Still, the union is waging an all-out war on the non-unionized charter schools. That's because the union isn't your standard Leftist entity. Sure, they all vote Demoncat and support bigger government. But, when it comes to equality of opportunity, they'll fight for their pay packets.
The bottom line is that the teachers union doesn't really care about the substance of what their members do every day. As far as the union is concerned, they might as well be representing garbage workers. Who cares if the garbage learns to read or function in a civilized society? The garbage can't learn anyway. But, the garbageman can make more money, and that's real important.
The most recent salvo in the war between the union and charter schools came with their refusal to support a parcel tax for schools if it might benefit charter schools.
Now, I don't generally support taxes, but avid readers of this blog know that I do support parcel taxes because they disproportionately tax those at the lower end of the income spectrum. And, as a homeowner/investor in Oakland, I want to replace those people with the more well-to-do.
So, a parcel tax for schools sounds like a reasonable idea to me. Doubly so if it would go to support schools whose teachers actually want to improve educational standards.
Above all, I'd like to encourage readers who have smart kids to make sure and take them out of Oakland public schools. Don't give these people a chance to hurt your kids.