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Performance pay: a step forward or back?

money.jpgEarlier this year, the Oakland teacher’s union rejected $18.84 million in cash bonuses for its members – on principle.

To be more precise, the union’s executive board decided not to endorse the school district’s grant application for the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund. The hefty grant, if awarded, would give cash bonuses to stellar teachers (or teachers of high-scoring students) at high-needs schools for the next five years.

Betty Olson-Jones, the union president, argued there were too many strings attached. Although the idea behind the cash rewards was to share good teaching practices, she said, the system would only cause divisions Continue Reading

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Barriers to walking to school?

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Tomorrow, for International Walk to School Day, tens of thousands of kids at more than 50 schools in Alameda County will walk or ride their bikes to class.

(Left: Roosevelt Middle School children at an after-school bike club, Cycles of Change)

I’m sure everyone feels good about the one-day event, but what do you think needs to happen for more children to walk or ride their bikes to school on a regular basis?

I hear stories about kids being bullied on their way to and from school — safety could be a factor. In other cases, maybe it’s just easier for working parents to drop their children off on their way to work, if they drive. It also could be that a lot of kids attend schools far from their neighborhoods.

A new local initiative called Safe Routes to Schools plans to survey kids about how they get to school – and why. It should be interesting.

Speaking of research:

Continue Reading

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Oakland High students show support of “Jena Six”

jena3.jpgStudents from Oakland High School and local activists held a press conference and rally at lunchtime today outside the school to voice their support for six black high school students in Louisiana who were charged last year with attempted murder for beating a white classmate.

(Ashley Rivers, an Oakland High School student, is shown here giving a statement).

I hear from Larry Felson, a teacher at Oakland High, that the chief of the school district’s police force tried to put a stop to the event, fearing a student walkout (which, Felson said, wasn’t part of the plan). It went on anyway.

The fight at Jena High School apparently started after white students hung nooses from a tree Continue Reading