Calling all first-year teachers (who like to write)

The first year in the classroom is chock-full of poignant moments (or so I hear) — and we want to document as many of them as possible for our project on beginning teachers.

I’ve decided to expand the My First Year blog to other brand new teachers who want to share the good, the bad and the funny, unexpected break-throughs with students and lessons they’ve learned, themselves. Hopefully, their more experienced colleagues will chime in through posting comments.

We’re planning to start this right away. If you’re a first-year teacher or you know someone who might have the itch to chronicle some of their experiences, my e-mail is kmurphy@oaklandtribune.com. Phone: (510) 208-6424.


Space Exploration Academies make final appeal

spaceresize.jpgUpdate: The state board upheld the district’s decision. The two schools are closing immediately. This means the kids will have to find new schools one month into the semester.

West Oakland’s Space Exploration Academies took an unofficial field trip to Sacramento today. It could be their last mission.

As I type, some 50 kids and teachers and a handful of parents are waiting to convince the state board of education to overturn Oakland Unified’s decision to shut them down only months after they opened.

I believe they are the first charter schools in California to go through a new appeals process. Schools can keep receiving state funds until they exhaust their appeal at the state level.

Camron Gorguinpour, who helped start the one-year-old middle and high schools, says the district’s case is bogus Continue Reading


Statham offered job in D.C. schools


Afternoon update: She has accepted the position (See the below statement).

Oakland’s outgoing state administrator, Kim Statham, said last Friday that she didn’t have a job lined up back East.

Maybe that’s true. But, as it turns out, she most likely had an offer when she gave her two-weeks notice. The Examiner in D.C. ran a report over the weekend that suggested she had accepted a chief academic officer position.

Today, a spokesman with Washington, D.C.’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education confirmed that his boss had offered Statham the job. The spokesman, John Stokes, said he wasn’t sure if Statham had taken Continue Reading


Alice Walker invites Bay Area students to enter essay contest

awalkerresize.jpgOn Friday morning I was walking through the Skyline High School parking lot, an old copy of The Color Purple on hand, when I got the call about Kim Statham’s resignation.

As much as I hoped my editor would ask me to stay and cover Alice Walker’s talk about writing and life, breaking news pulled me away.

Walker came with LaToya London, a Skyline graduate who stars in the musical. The author announced an essay contest themed Continue Reading


A few hours later, a new boss for OUSD: Vince Matthews

vmatthews4.jpgChief of Staff Vince Matthews, 45, will replace Kim Statham as state administrator — at least, for the short term. He’s been with the district since May.

He’s a 2006 Broad Academy Fellow, a former regional supe for the San Diego schools, and a former principal at Edison Charter Academy in San Francisco and John Muir Middle School in San Leandro.

He’s got a five-page resume that lists about 10 jobs. Anyone remember his brief stint as principal at Dewey? That’s not on there.


Statham quits on eve of her first anniversary

kimberly-statham.jpgIronically, when I talked to Kim Statham yesterday about the balance between work and family (the story appeared in today’s Tribune) she didn’t mention the most important detail: Her tenure was coming to an end.

She explained to me this morning that she didn’t want her staff to have to read the news in the paper. She told them her department heads this morning.

Here’s the release her spokesman sent out this morning:

OUSD State Administrator Announces Plan to Step Down
Dr. Kimberly Statham resigns her post as
head of the Oakland Unified School District 

Oakland – Sep. 14 2007 – Dr. Kimberly Statham, State Administrator of the Oakland Unified School District today announced her resignation, effective Continue Reading


A day of schooling on small schools

I spent a good part of today brushing up on one of the most ambitious and controversial school reforms in Oakland. First I met with Hae-Sin Thomas (you might know her as Hae-Sin Kim) who until recently oversaw the “incubation” and opening of many of Oakland’s small schools.

She was frank about the challenges — the brand new principals and teachers at some of the schools, staff turnover, starting one particular school with just a few months’ notice after King Estates closed — and about the fact that some of the schools have failed.

But her message was loud and clear: The Oakland educational system is better off because of the movement, and schools that show promise should be given time to blossom.

Tonight, I met with about 10 parents and organizers at the Oakland Community Organizations office who shared their personal stories and work at Coliseum College Prep, ASCEND, CBITs, Leadership Prep and MetWest, among others.

I believe the long-awaited small schools analysis Continue Reading


Oakland High budget director, longtime teacher, dies


Update: A memorial service at Oakland High is planned for 6 p.m. Monday. 

I have some sad news to report. Charles Shin, who taught for years at Oakland High School before becoming the budget director this year, died unexpectedly last night of natural causes. A student told me he died just before his 43rd birthday.

An administrator at the school told me staff were just being informed of the news. I’ll post updates as I learn of memorial services or other information.

If you knew Shin as a colleague or a teacher, if you have a photo of him, or if you would like to be interviewed for his news obituary, please contact me.


NAACP hosts meeting to outline district’s reform plan

Parents, staff, students and community members who want to learn more about the current direction of a school district initiative (that I still don’t fully understand) called Expect Success are invited to an NAACP meeting tomorrow evening. Kimberly Statham, the school district’s state administrator, will address the group. Here’s the info:

SEPTEMBER 13, 2007
5:30-7:00 p.m.
 Lakeside Park Garden Center
666 Bellevue Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610

For more information Continue Reading


Chalkboard, anyone?

I know, chalkboards are so 1980s. They are messy and dusty and make some people sneeze. But does anyone have a full-size one around anymore, or know someone who does? We’d like to photograph one for a graphic, and they are much more photogenic than whiteboards (even if they’re obsolete).

While I’m on the subject of design … um, this blog doesn’t really have one. I’m working on it. My sister also tells me that “The Education Report”  is an incredibly boring name. I’m fine with it, since I’m not into the cutesy puns that are so often associated with education, but if you have any ideas, send them along!

(I just have to make sure the name is not already in use. Someone in the newsroom came up with The Hall Monitor, for example, and I was crushed to find out that it was already the title of two other blogs.)