Closing system

Oakland School Board Member Shanthi Gonzales Resigns Amid Controversy: ‘Students Are Not Meeting Their Needs’

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — An already troubled school district is now losing a key school board member. Oakland Unified has seen declining enrollment, school closures and teacher strikes, while data shows large numbers of students are falling behind in reading and math. Now a disillusioned school board member, Shanthi Gonzales, has announced that she will quit.

After more than seven years as a member of the Oakland Unified School Board, Shanthi Gonzales is candid about her abrupt departure.

“What’s problematic about this is that A, students’ needs are not being met, most students or their needs are not being met and B, it’s been hurting our enrollment for 20 years now,” said explained Gonzales, who is moving to Humboldt County.

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Here is the data from Oakland Unified. More than 47% of secondary school students are a year or more behind in reading, 44% are behind in mathematics.

53% of primary school students do not read at grade level, with nearly 60% of students below grade level in math.

Gonzales insists the board is forced to spend too much time on other matters that have nothing to do with a student’s academic needs.

He’s not the first board member to complain. Jody London served for 12 years.

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“When the school district gets caught up in mad protests and teacher strikes, it sends parents back and if we really want to make sure we have a good education system for Oakland students for a long time, we really need to tie- you and find out how we’re going to educate the kids,” London said.

In his parting letter to the community, Gonzales also spoke about the challenges of working with the teachers’ union.

“One of the challenges I see is that our union has always resisted all efforts to encourage any effort to attract teachers in hard-to-fill subjects, chemistry, physics, mathematical language and in particular the special education. Why is that? “I don’t believe in wage differentiation. They think everyone is a teacher, everyone should be paid the same.”

ABC7 News has contacted the Oakland Education Association. Here’s what union president Keith Brown told us. “We will not miss Principal Gonzales. We hope the next principal will listen and honor his commitments to the students and families of District 6 rather than closing their schools.”

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