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October 2018


MAJOR victory in the free 2 Learn campaign with the passage of ab-1840. Read more here

July 2018

Since our last push we:

  • Have held multiple meetings with staff from Assembly Member Thurmond and Bonta, and Senator Skinner’s office.

  • Engaged with our partners in the other indebted districts to coordinate messages and strategy.

  • Begun building a long-term plan to advocate for systemic fixes to current underfunding of schools.


Your activism helped make all this happen but we need to push now more than ever!




Our plan will return $6 million per year

to OUSD over the next four years.

Take Action


While the State is sitting on a $8 Billion dollar surplus, OUSD schools have faced deep cuts, and face more in the coming year. Oakland parents have been working under the banner of Free2Learn to send the message that our district needs relief to create some breathing room to invest in its fiscal and accountability infrastructure, and in improving schools for all kids. Thanks to those who made calls and sent emails to legislators to put this issue on the table. Our kids need you to take action again! Final budget negotiations are happening now and state representatives need to act by June 6th to see relief in this year’s budget cycle.

Ask our legislators to advocate for Oakland Unified Schools by supporting the state relief package offered by Assembly Member Burke.


Specifically, ask for:

  • Loan payment deferral: a 5-year break in payment on our state loan would free up $6 million / year to be spent in our classrooms and righting our financial position.

  • Ability to sell or lease surplus property to meet community needs: If the district were able to sell or lease surplus properties to meet community needs like affordable housing, without the worry that those properties would be re-opened as charter schools, OUSD could direct the proceeds to help address pressing needs, including debt payments, but also to support high-needs students.


  • Revenue Stability: Due to increased growth of charter schools in the district, OUSD has experienced enrollment declines that have made revenue levels uncertain. OUSD needs temporary protection from this uncertainty.

Who to Contact:

Senator Nancy Skinner: Capitol: (916) 445-4009  District: (510) 286-1333

Assembly Member Rob Bonta:  Capitol: (916) 319-2018:  District: (510) 286-1670

Assembly Member Tony Thurmond:  Capitol: (916) 319-2015:  District: (510) 286-1400

More on the FREE 2 LEARN campaign

While our long-term goal is to get more systemic relief for the City of Oakland within the context of the current budget negotiations we want to support Oakland’s inclusion in the state relief package offered by Assembly Member Burke.  Our hope is that the final bill will address the following issues:

  • Loan Payment Deferral:  This provision would allow the district to defer it’s $6 million payment on our State loan for up to 5 years. These are funds that would instead be used to preserve critical, core educational programs and services for Oakland students.  We continue to believe that the state should cancel OUSD’s loan, which was given under different circumstances and never anticipated OUSD enrollment loss due to charter schools. However, a starting place is a short-term reprieve from the debt to aid district leadership in developing sounds budget strategies to meet all financial obligations, while preserving quality teaching and learning.


  • Surplus Property:   Being able to use proceeds from the sale or lease of the district’s capital assets will allow OUSD to neutralize the loan payment deferral and/or retire the State loan. This provision would exempt the district from requirements that it first offer the property to charter schools, or offer the property at below-market rate. The district would be free to sell or lease the property for specific uses needed by the community, including affordable housing.


  • ADA Safe Harbor:  As a result of the increase in the number of students enrolled and continuing to enroll in charter schools, OUSD has experienced a significant decline in ADA since the State takeover. This ADA decline has negatively impacted our State funding. A “hold harmless” provision for OUSD ADA will enable OUSD to make strategic budget and programmatic choices, without the pressures of impending catastrophe.


  • Accountability:  We SUPPORT strong fiscal and academic accountability measures as part of a temporary State relief package that holds OUSD to high standards, but doesn’t set unreasonable expectations. The purpose of this package should be to give OUSD a leg up, not land us back in state receivership.

The Free 2 Learn Committee is an ad hoc, grass roots, broad-based parent-led coalition working in partnership with community-based organizations to ask our legislators to stand with Oakland. We ask that the state allow Oakland to invest these funds in specific ways to improve fiscal accountability—and accountability to students, parents, and community. 

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