Candidates for the State Assembly reacted sharply Questions about some of the critical issues facing Oakland schools and the community – including evictions, housing, reparations, public safety, and returning full local control to public schools – at a recent one from the School of Education at Holy Names hosted Education Candidate Forum at Zoom University in Oakland, in partnership with the Oakland Post Community Assembly.
The candidates are running to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro in a June 29 special election for California State Assembly District # 18, a seat previously held by Rob Bonta, recently appointed California attorney general. The forum was attended by James Aguilar, Victor Aguilar, Mia Bonta, Joel Britton, Janani Ramachandran and Malia Vella.
The event was moderated by Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, Dean of the School of Education at Holy Names that emphasized the importance of these issues for the future of the city.
“We just went through a moral and political crisis (in this country) around racism and the role of the government in maintaining this system. We are looking for a new approach and that is the lens that we are going to use for this educational forum today, ”said Dr. Mayfield.
Candidates and the public also welcomed Paul Cobb, editor of the Oakland Post, and his wife, Gay Plair Cobb, who welcomed the candidates and the public to the event their keen interest in school and education. Paul Cobb is a past member of the Oakland Board of Education and Gay Cobb served on the Alameda County Board of Education for many years.
The first question to Candidates was whether they were against the grand coalition of politicians and money strong interests Behind Oakland A owner John Fisher’s stadium and the huge downtown real estate project at Howard Terminal.
Opponents of the project fight that A’s proposal is vague and a. would come high cost to Oakland taxpayers who would pay the bill for decades. They say development will work a city-within-a-city, like Piedmont, that would displace locally Resident and probably wreck the Port of Oakland and its high paying jobs on the coast turning the city’s waterfront turning and downtown become a tourist attraction like Pier 39 in San Francisco.
Of the three top candidates, only Janani Ramachandran was strongly against Fisher’s deal. Malia Vella and Mia Bonta raised concerns but didn’t oppose the development.
James Aguilar, Victor Aguilar and Joel Britton was also against the project.
Bonta, president of the Alameda School Board, said, “I believe there is a way for us to hold the Oakland A’s accountable to the plan and the processes they are implementing … beginning with stakeholder engagement on the environmental impact of that planned project. “
Malia Vella, Alameda Vice Mayor and Teamsters Union attorney said, “We need community input. The best projects are the result of a robust process involving community stakeholders and an opportunity to be meaningful to achieve the best community benefit. “
Said Janani Ramachandran, a social justice attorney: “I was the first candidate in this race to uncompromisingly, clearly and publicly against the project … because after visiting Howard Terminal I saw why it was utterly impractical and harmful to you our residents of West Oakland and is extremely detrimental to our thriving port, the fifth largest in the country. “
Candidates supported the nationwide Call for or Restitution and the Movement for Restitution for Black Students raised by community groups in Oakland. They also supported an approach to public safety that puts less emphasis on policing and emphasizes the need for jobs, housing and health care to build safe communities.
Candidates also supported the return of local control of Oakland schools and loan making to end school hegemony through a government-imposed trustee and the austerity program promoted by the Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT), as well as the end of school closings in lowland districts.
Bonta called for “a decade-old final state bankruptcy” and the FCMAT mandate which created a tax enslavement status for Oakland Unified which, along with the growth of charter schools, has created a structural deficit that can’t come out from below. “
In terms of teacher recruitment, all candidates would seek to complete costly standardized tests and other barriers for blacks and other colored people trying to become teachers.
Janani Ramachandran said she would support the legislation “To remove unnecessary and expensive tests and other barriers that … Black and other potential color teachers from entering the profession.”
To view the forum video, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vsEi_7bXx4