Answers about AIMS summer school

As you probably already know, AIMS got a reprieve yesterday that will at least keep the schools operating during the summer session while the controversial board fights OUSD’s decision to yank its charter. Jim Mordecai, who many followers know from OUSD board of education meetings, noted:

The FCMAT audit found problems with the summer program called SAIL. SAIL was a private summer school offered by Dr. Chavis’ company and a conflict of interest according to the audit report. For new students it was mandatory and thus violation of the California Constitution. Instructors were not paid a salary but paid with scholarships.

Will the SAIL program be part of the summer school? Is there a new summer school or has there been both public and private summer school in the past?

Good questions. Here are the answers from AIMS staff.

1. SAIL program is not being offered this year during the summer session. Instructors who work during the summer session are being paid at their regular pay rate.

2. In the past, there has/have been both public and private summer school. 

The Alameda County Board of Education is set to decide whether to uphold the revocation on June 25. That should be a lively meeting.



Heads up: Special Ed Community Committee meeting tonight

I was planning to attend the Programs for Exceptional Children Community Advisory Committee meeting tonight after writing about the departure of OUSD’s special education director Karen Mates. I can’t make it but there is a lot to talk about from what I hear:

The Special Education Teacher Caucus will be presenting, there will be
discussion about plans for next year’s Special Education program, and there
will be legal advocates on-hand to help staff the break-out consultation
groups (below). The meeting is from 6-9pm
tonight, potluck at 6. Location is United for Success Academy, 2101 35th Ave., and there will be
childcare and Spanish language translation.

1: Setting Strong Goals and Ensuring Academic Progress in the General
Education Classroom
Estableciendo metas fuertes y asegurando el progreso académico de los
estudiantes en los salones de educacion general

2: Setting Strong Goals and Ensuring Academic Progress in the Special Day
Estableciendo metas fuertes y asegurando el progreso académico de los
estudiantes en los salones de día especial

3: Behavior Plans & Behavior Support
Planes para el apoyar el comportamiento y apoyo al comportamiento en general

4: School-Site Concerns—Beyond Special Education Staff
Preocupaciones relacionadas a la escuela—Mas allá de los empleados para la
educación especial

5: Ensuring the Effective Use of Accommodations & Modifications
Asegurando el uso eficaz de los acomodos y las modificaciones

6: Making the Transition to Middle School
Haciendo la transición a la secundaria

7: Making the Transition to High School and to Adulthood
Haciendo la transición a la preparatoria y a la adultez

8: Supporting Special Education Staff (*Intended as a support session for
staff who need their own consultation)
Apoyando a los empleados de educación especial

9: When Everything Goes Wrong: Hitting Up Against the Wall
Cuando todo no funciona y chocamos contra la pared

Many thanks to Stacey Smith for the reminder.


An unwise cut: help for new Oakland teachers

Steven Weinberg, a retired Oakland teacher and occasional blog contributor, writes about a cut to a program that supports hundreds of new teachers each year.

Since my retirement I have stayed involved with the district by providing coaching and mentoring to new teachers as part of the district’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program. Last week those of us who provide that help were told that the program will suffer a huge budget reduction for the coming year, with only about 70 new teachers receiving mentoring support instead of the 320 receiving that help today. Since each coach receives a $1,300 stipend for each teacher supported, this reduction will save the district about $400,000 next year.

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Upcoming dates to note

June is going to be a busy month.

June 3 is the next special ed Community Advisory Committee meeting. 

The Alameda County BOE has until 7/17 to decide on the AIMS charter (whether to uphold OUSD’s decision to revoke the charter). They have meetings during which that can happen: 6/11 and 6/25.

May 29 OUSD BOE selects District 4 candidates to interview to replace Gary Yee. 

June 5 they will identify final candidates

June 12 is the deadline for making their appointment. Unless they heed the public attempt to open up the process, the new D4 representative will be announced at the regular board meeting. 

At the same June 12 the board will have the first reading of the OUSD budget (more about dates here). 

June 26 is the final reading. 


Community group wants OUSD board to slow down on D4 appointment

A letter from the Block by Block Organizing Network to OUSD Board of Education chairman David Kakishiba asking for a little more public access to the appointment process that will fill Gary Yee’s District 4 seat. The board is planning to appoint a replacement by June 12 and already closed the applications last week. Here is a list of the candidates with one change: Carlos Carmona sent me an email this weekend explaining that he was disqualified due to his “residency.”  Here is the letter:

Dear Mr. Kakishiba,

We are writing as Oakland citizens to ask you to assure that the process of filling the District 4 opening on the Board is transparent and allows for input from concerned members of the community. We appreciate that the Board wisely decided not to hold a costly election to fill a year-and-a-half vacancy. However, we believe that six people alone should not decide whom to choose without input from the electorate. We hope that you assure that the criteria for your selection are clear and that the public has opportunity to express concerns and opinions.

It is our recommendation that the Board hold at least one special meeting (a town hall, if you will) where a panel of representatives of the public have a chance to ask questions of all the candidates. Given your timeline, we hope that that meeting will be held on an evening (or weekend day) between May 29 and June 12 – the sooner the better, of course.

The people deserve to have a voice in the process of selecting someone to fill a seat that is normally an elected position.

Yours truly,

Evans Daniels

Sharon Rose

Sheryl Walton

Co-chairs, Block by Block Organizing Network


OUSD special education legal woes on the rise?

Guest blogger Stacey Smith is an OUSD parent and volunteer who has served on several district committees, including the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education. What she writes about does not reflect the view of any group.

The Oakland Unified School District’s 2011-2016 Strategic Plan calls for “a significant decrease in the number of special education litigious and non-compliant cases” by 2015-2016, a legal problem the district blames on negative relationships and communications with parents and the community.

Unfortunately, data so far shows that non-complaint cases and litigation have remained the same or increased, attorneys’ fees are up about 50 percent, and the real problem may be program implementation and lack of critical student support.

Let me explain:

OUSD has long complained about the high cost of special education litigation and compliance complaints, claiming these costs create a barrier to providing better special education. The goal it developed is hard to measure when there are no specific numbers, dollar figures or percentages included as part of the goal — or even a description of how OUSD defines “litigious cases.”

But it’s budget time again. It seems like a good time to talk about how OUSD is progressing toward this vague goal and how that could affect spending decisions for 2013-14. This isn’t just an exercise in data crunching – there is a real child with special needs behind each case.

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Ride for a Reason: Bike for school dollars + Jerry Brown’s plan to fund locally

For those of you who fought for more school funding and are resting easy after the passage of Prop 30: You might be planning a backyard barbecue or some spring cleaning this weekend but not the annual Ride for a Reason bike to Sacramento, whose organizers would like to remind you that it’s not over ’til it’s over. The group takes off from Oakland Saturday at sunrise to advocate for additional state funding and to raise money for enrichment programs in four North Oakland schools: Claremont Middle, Oakland Technical High, Emerson Elementary, and Oakland International High.

More money? Yes, say the riders, in order for California to get to the national average in state funding per student. California would need three times the revenue expected under Prop 30  to reach the national average, according to the California Budget Project. Ride for a Reason didn’t mention Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula.

CBP just  released its analysis of the proposal, which changes the way school districts are funded by giving districts with low-income and ESL K-12 pupils extra money.

Our regional education reporter Theresa Harrington wrote about it here in February and will have an update story soon. It’s too early to apply specifics to OUSD because state lawmakers are still dueling, armed with separate bills. My take is that they fear even the hint of losing money for their district (which is not what the local formula does) or letting another district get a cent more then theirs.

Brown’s proposal is weak on oversight and accountability for local school boards who would be in charge of spending the  extra money on the low-income and English learning students based on “what makes most sense” based on local needs, Steven Bliss of the CBP said during a call-in this morning. His organization favors the proposal but conceded there are “issues and problems with the accountability piece.” The he local school board comes up with an accountability plan spelling out how the money would be used to address specific issues. The plan gets vetted before board members vote to adopt along with the district budget. The budget and local funding formula align are supposed to align. In the case of OUSD, the Alameda County Board of Education would decide whether they do. But the governor’s proposal does not specific what to do if they do not align and doesn’t go far enough to make sure local school boards are doing a good job prioritizing and spending.

The second catch is the money. Where is the additional $15 million going to come from? Theresa’s story will explain the short-term answer. But as far as the long term answer, the proposal depends on economic growth. The Ride for a Reason cyclists might be pedaling to Sacramento for a few more years before the plan is fully funded.

As for Saturday: Most riders will depart Oakland near sunrise and arrive in Sacramento in the afternoon for a 4:30 p.m. rally on the north steps of the Capitol building. State Superintendent of Education, Tom Torlakson, is the featured speaker.



“This is not a lecture:” Oakland Youth Forum on Crime and Safety

The original flyer.

The City of Oakland Youth Commission, the City’s Neighborhood Services Department, Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, Strategic Policy Partnerships, and  Councilmember Lynette McElhaney will facilitate the Youth Forum on Crime and Safety on Thursday, May 9, 2013 from 4:30-7:30pm. The forum will take place at Laney College at 900 Fallon Street in the Forum Lecture Hall (off 10th Street). This forum is one of the six town hall meetings with the consultants of the Strategic Policy Partnerships which took place throughout the City this spring.

These town halls are intended to seek input from residents about the community’s public safety priorities as the Strategic Policy Partnership consultants develop a comprehensive crime reduction and suppression strategic plan.

Questions for these small groups will include:

  • · What do you want to see the police do differently?
  • · What can young people do to make Oakland safer?
  • · If you were a police officer, what would you do to earn people’s respect and trust?

Oakland Teacher Honored in Race for National Teacher of the Year

I’Asha Warfield, a seventh grade teacher Frick Middle School, was honored today as a California nominee for the National Teacher of the Year Award.

Although not among the finalists or beating out Jeff Charbonneau, a Washington teacher who received the award, Warfield was the only California teacher nominated for the national award. The English teacher is one of five teachers who were recognized as Teacher of the Year for California.

Go here to see the article about Warfield.

Go here to see more about Charbonneau.