UOO administrators Ceresta Smith and Deborah Anderson attended the Real Talk Leadership Summit in Orlando, FL on May 19 – May 20, 2017. The goals of the Leadership Summit included addressing the root causes of inequity in public schools; offering solutions that better prepare black, Hispanic and low-income children for success in the future; creating measurable organizing, advocacy and leadership development goals for 2017 and beyond; developing roles and responsibilities for coalition members at the statewide and local level, with an emphasis on relationship building, community outreach and creating strong systems for communication and accountability.
“Children in low-income communities, and especially communities of color, are not provided the same opportunity to succeed as everyone else. State lawmakers are depriving public schools of the necessary resources to help those children who need it the most. The fractured civil rights and education advocacy landscape is kneecapping our ability to be heard on critical issues that could level the playing field." --The Real Talk Problem Statement
UOO Administrator Denisha Jones coordinated the monthly B.U.S. radio show in March as part of the Education Town Hall on We Act Radio. B.U.S. stands for Badass Teachers, United Opt Out, and Save our Schools and represents the voices of three grassroots organizations working to save public education. Denisha invited a mom from Florida to update listeners on the third grade retention law suit filed by parents who opted out last year.
UOO Administrator Denisha Jones presented at the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) Shared Vision Conference in late February on a study she conducted on how teacher advocates responded to the passing of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Her results highlighted how teachers are concerned that the emphasis on test-based accountability restricts their ability to help children learn and succeed.
UOO Administrator Erika Strauss Chavarria was profiled in Maryland's WBALTV. "The daughter of undocumented immigrants broke into tears and hugged her teacher moments after the County Council voted to approve the sanctuary designation bill. "This means so much for my amazing students who I love and deserve the best in this world," teacher Erica Chavarria said." Watch video: http://www.wbaltv.com/article/howard-county-council-to-vote-on-sanctuary-bill/8683652
UOO Administrator Ceresta Smith is running for a position on the NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION Executive Committee. In a UOO press release Smith stated, “We now face a crisis in democracy that impacts all areas of life in America. With a Trump Presidency that is hostile and distrustful of the public good, we, as educators and labor unionists, must organize resistance to attacks that threaten equity and justice in public education. As we organize resistance, those that have demonstrated the wherewithal to take militant stances against these threats must become the new leadership that ensures just treatment regardless of special needs, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, immigrant status, primary language, and religion."
UOO Administrator Steven Singer opted his child out of testing. In a UOO Press Release he said, "For me, it was a political statement as well as a parental one. I wanted to do my part to chip away at the corporate school reform movement. I know how much they rely on these test scores to justify closing poor schools like mine. I don’t want to give them a chance."
UOO Administrator Denisha Jones, joined her colleagues in late January to advocate on Capitol Hill against the privatization of public education. They met with legislative aides for New Hampshire Senator Hassan and Vermont Senator Sanders and Denisha discussed how high stakes standardized testing harm Black and Brown students and their communities.