Much of the money flowing into Oakland Board of Education elections, which will impact the direction of the Oakland Unified School District for the next four years, is coming from Great Oakland (GO) public schools, an organization that is widely viewed as a supporter of new charter schools and pro-charter policies in Oakland.
GO is backing four Board of Education candidates this year: charter school teacher Huber Trenado in District 5; and incumbents James Harris in District 7, Jumoke Hinton Hodge in District 3 and Jody London in District 1.
GO has already raised $148,121 to support its slate of school board candidates and spent $97,896, as of Sept. 24, according to the organization’s most recent campaign statement.
Some of the money is going directly to candidates’ campaign committees, but much of it is being used for independent expenditures for literature-related expenses and staff time for their candidates.
GO was established with the support of the pro-charter, Oakland-based Rogers Family foundation and receives significant funds from pro-charter individuals and organizations.
So far this year, GO’s biggest backers are San Francisco venture capitalist Arthur Rock, a major backer of charter schools who contributed $49,900 to the organization; and the Parent Teacher Alliance, a statewide political action group that works with the California Charter Schools Association, which donated $9,599 in staff time and data to GO.
By contrast, the biggest spender in the campaigns supporting opponents of GO’s slate is the teachers’ union, the Oakland Education Association, which says it plans to spend a total of $50,000 to support candidates in the four races.
In District 5, GO has spent a total of $14,952 in independent expenditures, including staff time, to support Huber Trenado in his bid to defeat incumbent, attorney Roseann Torres.
GO also donated $1,500 directly to Trenado’s campaign.
Torres, who is endorsed by CA State Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, has raised $12,420 this year and spent $23,074, according to her recent campaign fling.
She received a contribution from Assemblyman Tony Thurmond and $1,500 from local labor unions.
As of Thursday, school activist Mike Hutchinson has not fled a campaign contribution statement.
Mike Hassid, who works as an adviser to nonprofit organizations, has not appeared at most election forums. He has raised $7,536 and so far spent $3,099.
District 7 incumbent James Harris is a small business owner and a founding board member of GO.
GO’s independent expenditures for Harris total $22,627.
His campaign committee has raised $11,836 so far this year and spent $6,170.
He has received $1,500 from Families and Educators for Public Education, sponsored by GO. His contributors include Brian Rogers, associated with the Rogers Family Foundation; Jonathan Klein, CEO of GO; and Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Running against Harris is parent Chris Jackson. He has raised $9,622 so far this year and spent a total of $26,882.
He has received $3,500 in contributions from local labor unions, including $1,500 from SEIU 1021.
Incumbent Jumoke Hinton Hodge has received $3,468 in contributions this year and spent only $731, according to her latest campaign spending statement, fled on June 30.
She has received $500 from Brian Rogers and $1,500 from the GO organization, Families and Educators for Public Education.
GO’s independent expenditures supporting Hinton Hodge so far this year total $9,701.
Running against Hinton Hodge is Kharyshi Wiginton, who works with students, families, and the community of McClymonds High School. She has received contributions totaling $2,315 and spent $1,451.
Other district 3 candidates, Benjamin Lang and Lucky Narain, had not fled campaign expenditures reports as of Thursday.
District 1 two-term incumbent Jody London has a background in public policy. She has raised $18,323 this year and spent $7,741 so far on her campaign. Her contributions include $406 from GO, Patrick of Walsh of the California Charter Schools Association and Mayor Libby Schaaf.
Running against London is Don Macleay, who graduated from San Francisco State University and worked for many years as a machinist. He has not fled a campaign expenditure statement.