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inside the news
September 2000

Oakland Mayor Pushes Military Academy
by Wilson Riles, Jr. 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Inside the News

AT A GLANCE: Military Academies

  • Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown’s proposal to start a military charter school has been met with community opposition.
  • Brown submitted the proposal to the County Board after the Oakland Board of Education rejected it.
  • Community activists believe that military discipline and control are not the answer for public schools' difficulties.
  • Funding a small military charter school is not the best way to meet the needs of all Oakland students.
  • The proposed school would not benefit the "at-risk" youth it claims to target.
  • Accreditation and building safety are also concerns.
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Jerry Brown, mayor of Oakland, CA, has proposed that the city open an all-military charter school, the Oakland Military Institute (OMI). Proponents of the school have been actively working to create the school for more than a year, fulfilling Brown’s pledges of support for charter schools in his 1998 campaign platform.

UPDATE: December 2000
On December 6th, the California Board of Education granted the petition for Oakland's military charter school, after hearing testimony from such persons as the governor, Gray Davis, and Oakland's mayor, Jerry Brown. Six of the 11 members of the Board were present and the vote was unanimous. It was the first time in the history of California that the State Board approved a charter. Before the school can open, it must get over a a number of other hurdles, such as securing a lease.

UPDATE: October 6, 2000
After the Oakland Board of Education rejected the charter school, Jerry Brown submitted the proposal to the Alameda County Board. On September 26, this board voted 6-0 to reject the proposal. Board members felt the proposal had too many gaps, including financial and environmental. They also cited a lack of community support; indeed, they said they had been inundated by calls and e-mails from people opposed to the school. Brown will now seek approval for the school from the California State Board.

 

Both California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) and Governor Gray Davis (D) supported the original proposal for the military school. Brown indicated that Vice President Gore did as well. However, the proposal to start the school did not come from concerned parents and community support is limited. In late March of 2000 when Brown submitted his proposal to the School Board, the little community support he had was from teachers at other charter schools, city staff, former or current members of the military, and (early on) a few African-American ministers.

A substantial part of the Oakland community, including myself, is loudly and actively opposed to the proposal. A small group of the same folks who "lost" in efforts to stop the Marine invasion of Oakland has been the core resistance. (In March 1999, Brown invited US Marines to practice urban warfare in Oakland.) We never met as a group to plan strategy, tactics, or activities, but kept everyone informed through e-mail. We also coordinated lobbying, networking, and outreach to new groups and individuals through the Internet. We sought assistance from other AFSC offices, Friends groups, and elected officials in the state and school district. We organized on two fronts: to try to have the funds for the school stripped from the State Budget and to convince the local school board to turn down a proposal from the politically powerful mayor.

Learn more...
Asking Questions about the Military Academies

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About JROTC Academies

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