With the November election behind us, Bay Area residents are reflecting on what the election outcomes will mean for our children and schools. Based on the recent conversations I have had with parents and teachers in Oakland, there's reason to be optimistic.
In Oakland, Measure J passed with overwhelming 84 percent support, delivering $475 million to ensure our kids have safe and modern school facilities and access to healthy meals.
California voters also passed Proposition 30, allowing us to avoid cuts to school spending for this year -- and ensuring stable funding for the next seven years.
Each of these wins is a victory for our students, but the results of the Oakland Unified School District board elections are especially exciting for Oakland parents, teachers and children.
Since 2008, Great Oakland Public Schools has worked with hundreds of families, educators and community leaders to advance a shared vision of an Oakland where all children receive the schooling and support they need to live successful, fulfilling lives.
One of the best ways we have found to move our vision forward is through electing great leaders who make informed, thoughtful decisions on behalf of our students.
So this year, we worked with the Oakland community through forums and interviews to endorse candidates in three of the four school board races -- Jumoke Hinton Hodge, Rosie Torres and James Harris.
With our endorsement came
For months, our offices were packed every weeknight with parents, educators and community leaders phone banking for candidates.
On weekends, people walked neighborhoods and talked to voters about why this election was vitally important to children.
All told, nearly 300 people volunteered for our effort, and we knocked on more than 11,500 doors and made more than 64,000 phone calls. This effort was a true recognition of changing priorities in Oakland.
You may ask why we think down-ticket races matter so much. Simply put, school board members have a lot of power and have previously not been held accountable for effectively wielding that power.
Locally, school board members prioritize a nearly $600 million budget, can hire and fire the superintendent, and make policy-related decisions like setting graduation requirements, approving curriculum and ensuring accountability.
Yet, in years past, most school board races went uncontested -- eight of the last 12, in fact.
This year was different. Each of the four races was hotly contested, and Oakland residents showed they care about holding leaders accountable and putting children first.
There was no better evidence of how much Oakland residents care about education than peeking into our offices every night before the election.
A wide swath of Oakland -- parents from West Oakland, teachers and principals from around the district, and longtime Oakland folks who know how important our schools are to the future of this city.
These individuals volunteered their time because they want every Oakland student to have a quality education.
The future is brighter thanks to the work of these empowered individuals. Election Day was only the beginning.
Jonathan Klein is co-founder and executive director of Great Oakland Public Schools.