Reccs for East Bay Public Elementary Schools

We (multiracial family with same sex parents of color) are planning to move in the next month and are seeking suggestions on where in the SF Bay Area we might consider that offers excellent elementary public education. Our daughter will start kindergarten next year. Our criteria for excellence: 1) public health a high priority 2) diverse staff and studentbody 3) well rounded curriculum (i.e., promoting arts, physical fitness, and exploring nature) 4) social justice a core value 5) transparent, timely and accountable communication. We desire to stay in the East Bay but willing to relocate up to a 40 min drive without traffic from Oakland.

Also, any tips on discovering the "real deal" about a school beyond the great schools site which we feel has its own set of limitations/bias in its rating system. We understand school tours and other more interactive research may be limited due to COVID-19 but wonder what would be accessible at this time. TIA for your referrals!

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

I'd recommend checking out Redwood Day in Oakland, and Park Day in Oakland and Prospect Sierra in El Cerrito. All of those are pretty clearly aligned to your criteria. Oh and I almost forgot St. Paul's in Oakland, they also have a wonderful new Head of School! 

Good luck!

Cleveland Elementary School in Oakland meets all of your criteria. It is truly diverse. The school’s core value of responsibility and inclusion is reflected well throughout the community. We have eco-literacy program, arts, music and PE. It’s not a privileged rich school but we have a very strong and involved PTA that is committed to social justice and equity. PTA works very hard to raise an impressive amount of funding without pressuring families to write a $1000/kid check like certain “hills” schools do. 

OUSD has its shortcomings and the pandemic response in terms of instructional planning leaves a lot of room for improvement. But I recognize that teachers are working hard and the district has so many challenges (contract negotiation, contractural prohibition for teachers to work in the summer, huge inequity among students to name a few). Sure, it’s frustrating to wait many weeks for the district and teachers to come up with a plan while our friends at private school are learning, but private schools don’t have to figure out how to feed kids and whether kids have lap tops or internet. we are staying in OUSD. We can afford a private tutor and if we pull out, we will be adding to further deterioration of public school. 

Consider that in the public school system, you cannot always expect placement in your first choice of school. Depends on zoning / your zip code. 

We are in BUSD (Berkeley) at Rosa Parks and really happy. Berkeley has three zones across the city, so that results in a very diverse student body at each school. All schools are very similar, so you can't really go wrong in Berkeley. Oakland works through neighborhoods, so there might be less diversity depending on where the school is located, less funding through PTA, hence fewer enrichment classes etc.

By the way, the three schools mentioned by previous posted Dr. Mommy are all private schools.

My daughter (multiracial) attended El Cerrito public schools; El Cerrito High School is ranked the 6th most diverse high school in CA, and Korematsu Middle School, ranked #20 among state middle school diversity.

Regarding staff and student diversity, that is all online from the State of CA at

The curriculum is well rounded (CA public education is structured this way, you can see it all here,, every subject, every grade).

Your other criteria is hard to tell during distance learning, and how that will play out for next year, but I recommend giving El Cerrito a look (

About 5 years ago I toured a (public) charter school in Alameda called the Academy of Alameda and also toured Maya Lin a regular public school also in Alameda. Both schools stick in my mind today for different reasons. The Academy is a school whose cornerstone is about diversity and social justice. Maya Lin blew my socks off because of the enthusiasm and passion of the principal and teachers for their art's based curriculum.

The best way to discover the real deal is a lot of on the ground research.

BTW I've only heard superior feedback on all 4 of the private schools mentioned by the first response. If you are able to afford them, they probably meet all your criteria better than any public school in the East Bay.