I keep promising educators, my editors and myself that I will buckle down and write a piece or ongoing series examining Oakland’s small schools movement — its grass-roots beginnings and its later funding sources, its promise of educational and social justice, and how that vision has played out in various schools throughout the city.
I’ve spoken briefly with folks from the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools, which has played a major role in the movement, and I’m sure that more in-depth discussions will follow.
What I also need are stories from teachers, parents, students and principals. People who have seen lives changed for the better because of the reforms it has brought to particular schools — and, maybe, those who have been disappointed by a concept of education that never really took root.
The school district will certainly be looking at this issue, especially as the student population drops precipitously, as there is an impression (though debated) that small schools are more expensive to run. A report analyzing the success of small schools will be presented soon — possibly, at an August school board meeting.
Please e-mail me or post your views and anecdotes, if you’re so inclined. If you could include contact information for follow-up interviews, that would be quite helpful. Know any Oaklanders who traveled to New York City in the late 1990s to visit small schools there? I’d love to hear what they think.