Oakland Unified School District

Oakland Unified School District

OUSD logo
1000 Broadway
Oakland, California 94607
United States
District information
Type Public school district
Superintendent Antwan Wilson
Schools 118
Students and staff
Students 37,075
Teachers 2,332
Student-teacher ratio 16
Other information
Website http://www.ousd.org

Oakland Unified School District is a public education school district that operates about 86 elementary schools (K-5), middle schools (6-8), and high schools (9-12) and 32 District-authorized charter schools in Oakland, California, United States serving 49,000 students.

Located in California's most diverse city, OUSD serves a diverse population of students. Nearly half of the students in district and charter schools speak a non-English language at home. For the school year 2013-2014, 30 percent ofOUSD students are English Language Learners.[1] OUSD also serves a large population of newcomer students.[2] Seventy-three percent of students receive free or reduced-price meals.[3]

OUSD was among the first school districts in the country to implement restorative justice practices to limit or eliminate suspensions.[4] During the 2015 school year, 96.1 percent of students were not suspended.[5]

Started in 2010, OUSD’s African American Male Achievement Initiative, enrolls more than 400 students. Students in the program have experienced success, including higher GPAs, higher graduation rates (up over 10 percent), and lower suspension rates (with a decrease of ⅓ for students enrolled in the program).[6] In 2016, OUSD launched an African American Girls and Young Women Achievement Program to give students a place where they can find equitable support and new pathways to success.[7]

In 2015 and 2016, OUSD forged partnerships and secured grants from a number of technology companies, including Salesforce, Intel, Code.org,[8] and Google,[9] and set a goal to make computer science a graduation requirement for the freshman class that begins school in 2017.


The first school in Oakland opened in the 1850s and was located in a rented room in the back of a fandango at Second and Washington Streets. On July 12, 1853, the city held a parade to the first official school building.[10] The schoolhouse was at the corner of Fifth and Clay and cost $1,000 to construct.[11] The first school house had 16 students and was taught by a woman named Hannah Jayne.[12] Jayne was the only teacher in Oakland until 1855.[10] Franklin Warner was hired soon after as Oakland’s first principal.[10] Frederick M. Campbell was hired as Oakland’s first Superintendent.[10] Reading, writing and arithmetic were stressed, as well as American history. Paper and books were scarce, so a lot of learning was done out loud.[10]

In 1860, there were about 400 students in one-room schoolhouses taught by one teacher, and another school building at Fifth and Broadway taught older students.[10] The first public high school opened in 1869 with 29 students. By the end of the 1870s, there was a public high school and nine public grade schools.[10] In the 1880s, the first kindergarten and the first night school in Oakland opened.[10]

A 1909 Chamber of Commerce guide to the city includes this description of Oakland public schools: “Oakland’s chief pride is its public school system and the fact that her schools rank among the highest in the United States. No more modern school buildings can be found in any city in the United States than in Oakland. There are twenty-two public school buildings, and according to the figures of the City Assessor (which, upon municipal property are naturally low) the school land valuations amount to One Million, Ninety-three Thousand, Two Hundred Seventy-five Dollars … Connected with the High School is a completely equipped observatory, in which the study of astronomy is made effective and interesting with the aid of the most modern instruments.”[13]

A City of Oakland Chamber of Commerce brochure from 1915, which includes a photo of Oakland Technical High School, states: “The pride of Oakland is its schools. This, the Technical High School, with forges, machine shops, a great auditorium seating 1600 people, chemical laboratories and many other education features which prepare young men and women for an active and useful life, is one of the finest structures of its kind in the United States.”[14]

A 1915 Board of Education guide to Oakland schools included 46 schools, many that are still open today. They include: Allendale, Claremont, Cleveland, Dewey, Elmhurst, Emerson, Franklin, Frick, Fruitvale, Lincoln, Manzanita, McClymonds, Melrose, Peralta, Piedmont, Prescott, Sequoia, Santa Fe, Fremont High, Oakland High, and Oakland Tech. High school departments included: English, History, Foreign Languages, Mathematics, Science, Commercial, Home Economics, Physical Training, Shop and Drawing.[15]

Oakland’s first teachers’ union, the Oakland Federation of Teachers, was first organized on May 3, 1943 as the Alameda County Federation of Teachers, Local 771 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to both "improve the educational facilities for the children of the nation and to improve the working conditions of the teachers in the public schools."[16]

Oakland’s first African American Superintendent was Dr. Marcus Foster, also the first black man to head a major U.S. school district.[17] Born in Athens, GA, Dr. Foster arrived in Oakland in 1970, “already a celebrated and proven educator.”[18] Dr. Foster viewed the three R’s and critical thinking as the building blocks of education. But in addition he emphasized the need for art programs, team sports, and school activities that reflected the life circumstances of the students.In the short time he was in Oakland, Dr. Foster created a climate that gave life to a number of firsts: the Arts Magnet School, Far West School, Street Academy, Montera Film Festival (now the National Educational Film Festival), and the Oakland Education Institute (now the Marcus Foster Education Institute). Dr. Foster was murdered by the Symbionese Liberation Army in November, 1973.[18]

In 2003, OUSD Superintendent Dennis K. Chaconas was fired and Governor Gray Davis approved a $100 million emergency loan, the biggest school bailout in California history. Chaconas was replaced by a state-appointed administrator, Randolph E. Ward.[19]


The district-run schools includes 59 elementary schools, 13 middle schools, 19 high schools, with 9 alternative education schools and programs, 4 adult programs and early childhood education centers at most of the elementary schools. There are 38,000 K-12 students in District schools and more than 5,000 employees.

Notable schools

Montclair Elementary School

In 2015, Montclair Elementary was recognized with the nation’s highest honor for a K-12 school, the Blue Ribbon award that recognizes “exemplary teaching and learning. Only 10 schools in the Bay Area, public or private, received the award that year. Nearly half the students (47 percent) who attend Montclair come from outside the neighborhood. The East Bay Times reported that, “One of the school's secrets to success is what (Principal Nancy) Bloom calls the morning intervention acceleration model. Used in the kindergarten, first and second grades, children meet once a week in groups with no more than four or five students and get targeted instruction that meets their individual needs. On the other days, the students are outside doing physical education."[20] The school serves an increasing number of English Language Learner students and students who receive free and reduced priced meals.[21]

Coliseum College Preparatory Academy

In 2015, Coliseum College Prep Academy (CCPA), located on the Havenscourt Campus in East Oakland, achieved a 91 percent graduation rate. The school serves about 450 students and a large percentage are English Language Learners (170 students in 2014-15).[22] CCPA’s ethnic breakdown for the 2013-14 school year consisted of 42.7% Hispanic or Latino students, 28% Black or African American students, 13.2% Asisan students, 9.8% White students, 2.6% Two or More Races students, and 1.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.[23]

Notable alumni

Notable Oakland public school graduates include:


  1. "English Language Learner and Multilingual Achievement / The Review of Services for ELLs in OUSD". www.ousd.org. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  2. Kingsley-Ma, Liza Veale, Hannah. "Seeking asylum: Young migrants hope to make Oakland their home". Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  3. "Oakland's central kitchen to provide a bounty of fresh, locally sourced school meals – The Mercury News". Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  4. "Schools ban suspensions after success with restorative justice :: SI&A Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource for Superintendents and the Cabinet". www.cabinetreport.com. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  5. "New Fast Facts 2015-16 Now Available!". OUSD Data. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  6. "Oakland leading the country in programs to better black male achievement, according to new report – The Mercury News". Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  7. "Press Release: OUSD Creates African American Girls and Young Women Achievement Program". Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  8. "Oakland Unified to expand computer science and math with tech company grant". EdSource. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  9. Pershan, Caleb. "Google To Open Youth Education Center In Oakland". SFist. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Bagwell, Beth (1982). Oakland: The Story of a City. Oakland Public Library: Presidio Press. pp. 96–101. ISBN 0-9640087-0-X.
  11. "Hannah Jayne - Oakland - LocalWiki". localwiki.org. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  12. Phillips, Ryan. "More than a century of Oakland Public School history on display at main library". Oakland North. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  13. Oakland :the city of opportunity /. Oakland, Calif. :. 1909-01-01.
  14. "New or greatly enlarged industrial establishments of Oakland and East Bay cities / by Oakland (Calif.) Chamber of Commerce.". www.oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  15. "School directory, Oakland, Cal. 1915-16.". HathiTrust. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  16. "Guide to the Oakland Federation of Teachers, Local 771 Collection, 1940-1955". www.oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  17. "Marcus Foster - Oakland - LocalWiki". localwiki.org. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  18. 1 2 "Our Founder, Dr. Marcus A. Foster". marcusfoster.org. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  19. Murphy, Dean E. (2003-06-08). "Dream Ends for Oakland School Chief as State Takes Over". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-09-29.
  20. "Montclair Elementary named National Blue Ribbon school – East Bay Times". Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  21. "EdData - School Profile - Montclair Elementary". www.ed-data.org. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  22. "EdData - School Profile - Coliseum College Prep Academy". www.ed-data.org. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
  23. "Ed-Data Website". www.ed-data.k12.ca.us. Retrieved 2016-09-13.
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