Alameda Journal highlights

You can find the Alameda Journal article about the new theatre’s gala opening here. And you can also read Journal Editor Connie Rux’s tribute to the restoration. The schedule for this weekend’s opening events, which includes free showings of classic movies, is here.

And it sounds like, despite all the grumblings of the past, many people are enjoying the idea of having a beautiful place to see movies in town. I even chanced to hear one woman say to her a friend as they walked by me on Park Street the other day, “I was against it, but now that it’s here I’m kind of glad.” I think I’ll be taking my kids to the show this weekend.

It’s also nice to see a letter from nine-year-old Ruby Siltanen running in the Journal this week. The Paden Elementary third grader lists her top ten reasons for supporting Measure H (which, as you know I, too, fully support). Ruby writes, “Kids are worth paying $10 a month for four years.” And, too, “A lot of kids in elementary would like to play sports when they get into middle and high school.”

Ian Merrifield, Encinal’s student body president who was active in the school protests in March, has an editorial in support of Measure H . He writes, “There is no Alamedan who can claim that she is independent from the success of AUSD. Quality schools boost property values, reduce crime rates and enrich the local economy…”

Jeffrey Smith, an Encinal High School math teacher, has a “con” piece running in today’s paper, which concludes with a somewhat befuddling series of questions, “Should this extortion be titled Measure H, Proposition H or Preparation H?”


Housekeeping: Alameda, Alameda, our Alameda

Morning, Alameda.

It has come to my attention that many of you don’t know that you can find Alameda Journal articles online here. They usually post live some time the day before the print paper comes out. So, if you’ve written a letter to the editor and want to know if it’s going to run or you want to browse the latest headlines, check there.

Today’s Journal includes a very nicely-reasoned, pro-Measure H (which, as many of you know, I support) “My Word” piece by Michael Schmitz: “Voting for Measure H can protect our assets.” As well as an editorial, “Local schools can’t wait for Sacramento,” which puts in very plain language the state of school financing.

Keep Alameda Schools Excellent, the group formed to support Measure H, also has some good info about the “May revise” of the state budget. Which, as best a I can discern (though no one seems to have a handle just yet on what exactly the budget will mean) shifts how the money is going to be cut, but still cuts a significant chuck from schools. Instead of suspending Prop. 98, it cuts the cost of living adjustments. Instead of cutting special education, it reduces monies for rising utility costs. “The revised budget is a shell game,” School Trustee Bill Schaff told the Journal yesterday, “leaving our schools the biggest loser…we still must anticipate a $4 million hit to Alameda schools.”


Alameda “Save our Music” concert this Friday

This Friday, May 2, at 7 p.m. in Kofman Auditorium (in Alameda High) there will be a benefit concert to try to keep music in grades one, two and three in our district’s schools. The concert is brought to you by Bay Farm parent Lorri Garrett and a host of other hardworking volunteers in the Save our Music crew. You can buy tickets to the hip-happening event online here and also learn more about the class acts, including on- and off-island talent as well as many of our district’s bright-eyed third graders. If you can’t make the show, there’s also an online auction, with items including tickets to the San Francisco Opera, a $100 gift certificate to Scott’s Shoes and a drum head signed by Metallica.

Measure H
As always, Continue Reading


Alameda schools in crisis, a state-wide problem

Tom Pavletic can blame Alameda’s school funding troubles on a bloated administration, but the actual fact remains that public schools up and down California don’t have enough dollars to provide the services they’re expected to. (Here’s a chart comparing administrative costs in Alameda Unified to those of other county districts—Alameda ranks 12th of 16.) Every district is hurting and hurting hard; every district needs outside funding sources, be it parcel tax dollars, grants or donations. Most districts are doing their best to get by with a combination of the three. Rob Siltanen, who blogs at School 94501/94502, linked yesterday to an Los Angeles Times article, California public schools seek private money just to cover basics, which attempts to track some aspects of the state-wide problem.

Education funding is complex. Why does Alameda get less than other districts? Why do local districts have to set their budgets before the state budget is final? If you want to learn more about Alameda schools, come to an informational meeting featuring some of our town’s dedicated citizens, School Board President Bill Schaff, Alameda Education Foundation Executive Director Brooke Briggance, and Jerry Nussbaum, of Kane & Associates.

Tuesday, April 29, 6:30 – 8 p.m.
Ruby Bridges Elementary Multipurpose Room
351 Jack London Ave.

Free child care will be available


Charter schools in Oakland, charter schools in Alameda

The Education Report‘s Katy Murphy has a new post (with some interesting discussion) on the bill written by Assemblyman SandrĂ© Swanson to halt the creation of charter schools in Oakland. Assembly bill 2008 is relevant to Alameda because, as a district like Oakland with declining enrollment, our town is poised to face, on a lesser scale of course, some of the financial challenges brought by the creation of charters.


Video: Today’s school budget protests in Alameda

New at 11:10 p.m: Below is Oakland Tribune video of today’s protest and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. If you watch until the end—it’s only two and a half minutes so probably you can hang in there—you get to see the governor say one of the most amusing/perplexing things that’s been coming out of his office lately. He talks about how education in California is currently ‘overfunded.’


Thanks to school board member Mike McMahon for the link to this KPIX story on today’s protests. Enjoy the video of parents and students talking about why public schools matter. Hopefully more links to come.

New at 4:46 p.m: Here’s the KCBS story.

New at 4:48 p.m: Here’s an ABC 7 story from today on the long-term impact of cuts to education in our state: Higher Education cuts could be devastating to California.

New at 9:45: The Oakland Tribune’s Josh Richman also filed a story on Schwarzenegger’s visit. He writes about the governor’s softening rhetoric on taxes and the state’s decaying infrastructure.


Protest planned for Governor Schwarzenegger’s visit Wednesday morning

Every protest needs friendly, happy kids, no? Below is video of two startlingly cute first graders standing in a trash can during the Alameda Education Foundation’s Step Up and Donate/Public Education is too Valuable to Throw Away awareness campaign last month.

As you may or may not have heard—it’s hard to know, isn’t it? Just who’s heard what?—Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be Continue Reading


Governor Schwarzenegger is coming to Alameda

Our very own California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will be in town Wednesday April 16, visiting the USS Hornet where he’ll participate in an ‘open conversation’ (as opposed, I guess, to a closed one) as part of the Bay Area Council’s annual conference.

Those who pay attention to these things have lately been noticing a shift in Schwarzenegger’s language: from a staunch anti-tax stance, to a more open rhetoric, one which includes the possibility of raising taxes to fund vital state services like, say, education and parks.

For any of you who may have somehow missed it, Continue Reading


Pictures of school protests in Alameda

In case you missed it, yesterday afternoon many of Alameda’s main streets were lined with protesters in trash cans drawing attention to some to the features of public education—arts, music, athletics, counselors, clerical staff, ‘children’s futures’—that are, by way of catchy slogan, ‘too valuable to throw away.’ The protest was an upbeat, cheerful affair, drawing lots of yells and honks of support.

Pictured below in trash cans are Edison Elementary students Liam John with Tyler and Julia Kennedy as well as Alameda High teacher, Rob Siltanen. There’s also a shot of trash cans/protesters from the kickoff rally held on the steps outside AUSD’s district offices.

Some of the younger students in trash cans report learning this lesson: if you drop your sign and lean over to get it without someone else anchoring the trash can, you will fall on your head.

rally for schools

[Ed. note: The California Progress Report has a nice piece (with lots of pictures) on yesterday’s protest.]