Section 1

Hope for the Future

Two Decades of Organizing: For 22 years, Emma Paulino has been organizing for education justice in Oakland.

Discussion Questions

What does it mean for parent leaders to work with an organizer who has experienced the same struggles they’re experiencing?

Understanding school and district data has been empowering for parents. But, as Emma notes, it can trigger questions and concerns and also create tension with school and district staff. How can school data be used to inform conversations and identify needs, rather than as a way of shaming or punishing schools?

OCO Action

OCO’s education organizing has spanned several decades in Oakland. This archival footage shows a 1999 organizing meeting at St Elizabeth’s Parish, where OCO began in the early 1970s.

Discussion Questions

In Oakland and around the country, grassroots organizing has been a catalyst for positive change in schools. What’s the power of community organizing? How would an organizing effort advance equity in your local schools?




Visiting Life Academy

Fremont High School parents visit Life Academy to deepen their understanding of what it takes to create a strong and vibrant school.

Discussion Questions

What would it mean for parents, students, and educators in your community to visit high-performing schools? What emotions might it elicit? How would the experience help to advance a shared vision for strong, community-engaged schools in your neighborhood?

School visits at times can be difficult for parents, who might blame themselves not knowing that the schools are of uneven quality or for assuming that school leaders always know best. How can community groups be prepared to support the varied responses of parents to what they learn and see on school site visits?


Passing Proposition 30

OCO parent and student leaders were instrumental in passing Proposition 30, a tax on upper-income earners in California that brought much-needed funding to public schools.

Discussion Questions

OCO’s work on Proposition 30 helped the organization build a new kind of power in Oakland. How would voter engagement work build your organization’s power and influence?

What would help you to build civic engagement capacity in your community?