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School

Oakland Unified School DistrictCandidate for School Director, Trustee Area 1

Photo of Jody London

Jody London

Incumbent
21,746 votes (75.4%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Ensure that changes I've made to promote community schools, restorative justice, social emotional learning, and equity take hold. This includes building out career pathway programs in our high schools that are linked to careers.
  • Ensure the financial health of the Oakland Unified School District. This includes identifying how Oakland Unified can realize revenue from unused property in order to pay down debt owed to the State from being in receivership 2003-2009.
  • Support emerging work with individual schools that allows them to re-design themselves in order to better meet the needs and desires of neighborhood families.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Incumbent School Board Director, and Sustainability Coordinator
Sustainability Coordinator, Contra Costa County (2016–current)
School Board Director, Oakland Unified School District — Elected position (2009–current)
Principal, Jody London Consulting (2005–2016)
Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, Oakland Unified School District — Appointed position (2006–2008)
Senior Program Manager, Grueneich Resource Advocates (1998–2005)
Director, Business Development, Working Assets (1996–1998)
Advisor to Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission (1990–1996)

Education

Columbia University in the City of New York Master of Public Administration, Energy and Environment (1990)
U.C. Berkeley B.A., English, with high honors (1985)

Community Activities

Member, Host Committee, League of Women Voters, Oakland (2011–current)
Coordinator, Wetlands Restoration Day, Temple Beth Abraham (2001–current)
Board of Directors, Save the Bay (1999–2008)
Chair, Long Range Planning Committee, Chabot Elementary School PTA (2004–2008)

Biography

I am the proud parent of two children who are in 10th and 12th grades at Oakland Technical High School, after attending our neighborhood elementary and middle schools. I started my work with OUSD in 2005, when my older daughter was in kindergarten, as a parent volunteer with something to offer in the way of school facilities and sustainability. After chairing the $435 million Measure B bond campaign in 2006, serving on the District’s bond oversight committee, and leading my neighborhood school community in working with the School District to design and build a new classroom building and multipurpose room (the first project in the State to receive matching funds for being green-verified), I was asked by the incumbent to run for the School Board in 2008.  I’m proud that I’ve been able to provide leadership to Oakland Unified on issues that include sustainability, green buildings, and energy; race and equity; and financial stability. 

When I joined the Oakland School Board in January 2009, the District was at the tail end of six years of State receivership.  I made very hard decisions during my first term, in the midst of a crippling recession that gutted education budgets.  During that first term, we closed the $40 million structural deficit that had landed us in receivership, adopted the community school district framework, began our emphasis on social emotional learning, and initiated groundbreaking work to focus on student populations that have been historically underserved by the education system, including Latino students and English language learners. I’m pleased to report that this year OUSD caught up on years of back audits, and in July, OUSD regained its credit rating at a very high rate (AAA).

 I’m a leader on the Board, having served as Vice President and President. I’m known for being consistent and reasonable. I do my homework. I’ve authored policies on asset management and involving the community.  I’ve been an advocate for the Central Kitchen project and high school pathways.  In my district, I brokered an agreement over a dispute regarding playing fields that has led to the creation of a practice soccer field next door to the baseball Field of Dreams, and a softball field on the way nearby. I’m proud to have been part of the management team that in 2015, was able to agree on a 14% salary increase for our employees, the largest in many years. 

 In my day job, I have for many years worked in and with State and local government and non-profits on critical policy issues. In June 2016, I joined Contra Costa County as that County’s Sustainability Coordinator, managing implementation of the County’s Climate Action Plan to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. I bring my familiarity with how government operates to my work on the School Board. 

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Democratic Party
  • Sierra Club
  • Mayor Libby Schaaf

Organizations (10)

  • Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County
  • BWOPA-PAC
  • East Bay Times
  • Wellstone Democratic Club
  • Planned Parenthood Mar Monte
  • Latino Task Force
  • Alameda County Labor Council
  • Alameda County Building Trades
  • GO Public Schools
  • Oakland Magazine

Elected Officials (7)

  • Oakland School Board President James Harris
  • Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb
  • Oakland City Councilmember Abel Guillen
  • Oakland City Councilmember Annie Campbell Washington
  • Assemblymember Tony Thurmond
  • Senator Loni Hancock

Individuals (9)

  • Hundreds of individuals, including educators and parent leaders. See www.votejody.com for complete list.
  • Zarina Ahmad
  • Jessica Cannon
  • Carmelita Reyes
  • Staci Ross Morrison
  • Honorable Ken Rice
  • Honorable David Kakishiba
  • Honorable Gary Yee
  • Honorable Nancy Skinner

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (1)

A recent law made major changes in the way that the state allocates funding to schools.  What will you do to ensure that the public understands your local control formula for school spending and your plan to measure outcomes?
Answer from Jody London:

Oakland Unified has a public process for developing our budget, which occurs starting in the fall with study sessions about budget priorities, and continues throughout the year, culminating in budget adoption in June.  In recent years, we have developed a robust community involvement process in determining our budget priorities, in accordance with the Local Control Funding Formula. Oakland Unified convenes a Local Control and Accountability Plan task force that includes representatives from schools across the City, as well as students, foster youth and their advocates, special education parents, and others. Parents and community members are active members of this task force, which meets regularly.  All communications and meetings are translated.

 

 

Questions from League of Women Votes of Oakland (1)

Talk about 3 programs or plans you would work on to improve school attendance and reduce suspensions of students for discipline issues.
Answer from Jody London:

Our District, during my time on the School Board, has taken bold steps to interrupt the pattern by which students from certain backgrounds are not well-served by the education system.  This includes changing our policy on suspensions so that students spend more time in the classroom, and using restorative justice across the District.  There is always room for us to improve on these programs, and every year they get better.

Oakland’s African American Male Achievement initiative is making a big difference for African American boys, and is being expanded to serve African American girls and other historically underserved student populations. I support these programs because they can be successfully replicated across the District, and reach individual students. It is challenging when solving systemic problems to remember that we must reach individual students in order to be successful.

 

Recognizing this, I believe we need classrooms that engage students early. We also need to educate parents about the value of education and regular attendance from an early age. Additionally, I support Oakland Unified’s work to develop and implement an equity policy.  I also believe that our ethnic studies policy, which we the Board approved last year, will help make school more relevant for students.

Questions from League of Women Voters of Oakland (2)

Large numbers of OUSD students are English Language Learners (ELLs).  How would you help OUSD address the needs of this group of students who are of many different ethnicities/language backgrounds?  
Answer from Jody London:

Oakland Unified two years adopted an English Language Learner roadmap that is focused on teaching English Language Learners to understand and use academic English proficiently and effectively while at the same time ensuring they have meaningful access to a high quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.  Oakland has been successful in reclassifying English Language Learners. We have in the last two years introduced programs specifically focused on long-term English Language Learners. Oakland also has a large number of newcomer students, many of whom speak Spanish. It has been an honor for me to represent Oakland International High School, the first newcomer high school in the City, which now serves 400 students who speak over 30 home languages. Every class at the school is about English language acquisition, in addition to the core topic.  This program is now being replicated within elementary, middle, and high schools across the City.  Over the past three years, Oakland Unified has increased its investment in newcomers by 184%, from $730,000 in 2013-14 to $2.4 million in 2015-2016. 

Currently, a low percentage of Federally mandated services for education of students with disabilities are Federally funded.  As a member of the OUSD Board, how would you work to fund effective special education services without disadvantaging students in regular education?
Answer from Jody London:

Our special needs program needs a new approach. I am cautiously optimistic that shifting the leadership of programs for students with special needs under the Chief Academic Officer, which has occurred this year, will introduce more rigor and standardization. I have made difficult decisions in recent years to change job classifications in the special needs program in order to have instructors and aides with more training for our students, and to create more clearly articulated career paths for our staff.  

 

A key strategy for delivering special education services more effectively will be to provide more special education services in-house, rather than in private placements. We also need to ensure that charter schools are serving a proportionate number of students with special needs, at every level of disability. And, if we can develop a new approach for our special needs program, we may be able to draw Oakland's charter schools back to our Special Education Local Plan Area, or SELPA, rather then take those services from El Dorado County, as most of them do now. 

 

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