Handcuffs can get smaller than you’d think

minihandcuffs.jpgIn January, I blogged about a middle school boy who was handcuffed at Montera Middle School. I thought that was pretty young.

How about 5 years old?

A mom recently called to report that a security officer cuffed her son to a chair at an elementary school in North Oakland. (She’s not sure for how long.)

The mother told me that the officer said he had been unable to control her son, who had been screaming and throwing a tantrum, and that he later apologized to her for what happened.  “My goal is to Continue Reading


ICE panic hits schools

You may have heard stories today of a principal stopping U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at the gate of an East Oakland school, or about arrests at Berkeley High, or about King Middle School kids being loaded into a van.

ice.jpgThose rumors are false, according to school staff, district police and even ICE, themselves. But there is truth at the heart of the matter. As Mark Coplan, the Berkeley school district’s public information officer, put it: “This whole experience is so terrifying that it really brings out the greatest fear in everybody.”

When the final bell rang this afternoon at Korematsu and Esperanza academies in East Oakland, a number of aunts, uncles and other family members with legal immigration status came to pick up children from school.

Earlier in the day, word of immigration vehicles in the East Oakland neighborhood Continue Reading


What’s really going on in middle school

The Trib ran two stories today about a $15 million Atlantic Philanthropies grant to fund health clinics, family services and more after-school and summer programs at seven Oakland middle schools (five campuses). Above is a video posted on YouTube about the kids who have been involved in researching their peers’ behavior — and weighing in on what services each school should offer.

Curious about the subject myself, I did some nosing around and came across Continue Reading


The Skyline jazz band’s got chops


They may have been up against suburban music programs with deeper pockets, but Skyline’s jazz band took second place at the Reno Jazz Festival the weekend before last.

Ted Allen, the band director, said Skyline was the only urban school in its division — 16 teams from California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. This is the second year in a row that the group has won second.

Allen, who reads this blog regularly, urged me to share this “real news” about OUSD happenings. How can I argue with that?

photo by Paul Dries


Reading First study has a surprise ending

reading.jpgReading First, a multibillion-dollar literacy program adopted in Oakland and more than 5,000 schools in the country as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, might not be superior to other reading programs, the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education found.

In a study mandated by Congress, researchers found that kids in schools that participated in Reading First scored no better on comprehension tests than those at schools that didn’t take part, the Washington Post reported.

From the Post story (linked above):

“There was no statistically significant impact on reading comprehension scores in grades one, two or three,” Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, director of the Institute of Education Sciences, the Education Department’s research arm, said in a briefing with reporters. He said Continue Reading


Life Academy will move, after all

I got home after midnight from last night’s school board meeting — and I left early. (Next to me was Moyra Contreras, the principal of Melrose Leadership Academy, who had waited for hours to discuss a future dual language immersion program at her school. By the time she leaves the meeting, she’ll probably have a full 6-7 hours before she needs to be back at work.)

moving2.jpgBefore I call it a night, though, I wanted to report the latest chapter in the Life Academy saga. Or an executive summary:

Life Academy is moving, at least temporarily, because of recently discovered earthquake safety concerns. The 7-year-old, bioscience-focused high school in the San Antonio/Fruitvale area will probably squeeze into the Calvin Simmons middle school campus on 35th Avenue, or in the building where MetWest High School is located, near Laney College.

“It is absolutely painful to uproot a school that is working, that is serving this neighborhood,” said board president David Kakishiba. Continue Reading