Could the Oakland Athletic League’s days be numbered?


The Oakland Athletic League has been without a full-time commissioner for almost a year now, and sports advocates and league insiders say they have a bad feeling the school district is going to let the historic institution fizzle because of a lack of funds.

Carl Steward, a columnist, wrote about the situtation in today’s Tribune:

One of the most historically proud and distinguished prep sports leagues in America, the Oakland Athletic League, is in trouble. If it doesn’t get a smart, committed savior right now, the OAL could be history by the time school resumes in the fall.

Unfortunately, that would-be savior would require strong school district support that doesn’t currently appear to exist. Continue Reading


School bus issue gets Barbara Lee’s attention

Last week, we reported that the Federal Transit Administration might impose a new rule that could make it illegal for public agencies, such as AC Transit, to offer special bus routes to schools. The move is apparently an attempt to help private, “yellow school bus” companies (which may or may not be interested in providing service in Oakland to begin with) remain competitive.

In response, Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office sent this release today: Continue Reading


On the agenda: June 11

The board has its next regular meeting Wednesday, on the eve of the last day of school. Here’s the agenda, and some of the highlights:

  • presentation on the district’s graduation rates and the percentage of students who graduate with the UC/CSU requirements, broken down by race
  • Paid meal price increases, proposed for the fall
  • A discussion of the proposed changes to OUSD’s enrollment policy and its admissions priorities (No vote yet, just a hearing)

Chabot says goodbye to its 60-year-old “temporary” portable classrooms

A voter-approved tax levy is allowing Chabot Elementary School to scrap its World War II-era portable classrooms. Needless to say, parents, teachers and students at the Rockridge area school couldn’t be happier about the prospect of a trailer-free education.

chabotground2.jpgPolly Winograd Ikonen, co-chair of the Chabot: Way to Grow! campaign, wrote me a note detailing Saturday’s celebration to mark the start of the $17.5 million construction project.

It’s too soon to put any holes in the ground — there are still four more days of school — so Chabot dad Michael Bettendorf marked the occasion by destroying an old wooden bench with a sledgehammer. (Apparently, he did it in one swing. Doesn’t that sound oddly therapeutic?)

I hear Chabot alumni from the 1930s and 1940s even came. Dozens of photos are posted here.

Are other schools are celebrating the prospect of portable-free futures? Do you feel the funds are being distributed fairly? If you want to see how the $435 million in bond measure money Continue Reading


Senior year anxiety is setting in, early

dbroussardresize1.jpgHi everyone! I’ve been busier in this last semester of junior year than in the rest of my high school years put together! As the school year comes to a close, I become more anxious and apprehensive about the future. I feel as though I’m ready to leave high school, yet at the same time I want to hold on to it. These years have passed by so quickly.

It also amazes me how great it is to see that nearly me and all of my peers have begun the process of college admissions so early. As we speak, I am contemplating which top ten schools I am interested in applying to in the week deadline given to me by my mom and step-mom.

Of course, I have been looking into various schools for about a year now, but it is somewhat overwhelming. Since the school that I attend will influence my entire future, any questions float in my head: Which school is right for me? What if I apply to all of these schools and I’m rejected by all of them? Continue Reading


A glimpse into Oakland’s graduation season

Our staff photographers have been especially busy this week as they run from one commencement ceremony to the next. Here are some of the pictures they took yesterday, and one from the day before:

BEST High School senior Ashley Addison (below left), at the BEST and EXCEL graduation at McClymonds
photo by Alison Yin

Paul Robeson School of Visual and Performing Arts grads James Albright (below, left) and Denean Brown, practicing before the big moment
photo by Alex Molloy

Skyline High School’s Class of 2008, at the Paramount Theater Continue Reading


In other departure news…

Another central office administrator, Harriet MacLean, is leaving 1025 Second Ave. at the end of June (And she doesn’t sound too broken up over it, either).

MacLean was a principal at Helms Middle School in the West Contra Costa Unified School District for years before coming to Oakland in September 2006. Come fall, she’ll be a principal once again, in another district — though she won’t say where until the offer is finalized on Monday. As a “network executive officer,” she oversees a number of Oakland middle schools, including Explore, Bret Harte, Madison, Melrose Leadership and Montera.

Chelda Ruff, who has been principal of Crocker Highlands Elementary School since just December 2006, is moving on — ostensibly, for personal reasons. Here is a copy of the letter that was recently sent home to families.

At a news conference this morning, a group of teachers spoke out against the removal — or “reassignment” — of Anisa Rasheed, principal of the Paul Robeson School for Visual and Performing Arts (Fremont campus), among other concerns. More on the Robeson issues later.

Jonathan Klein, the special assistant to the state administrator and acting communications director, is also leaving the crumbling administration building. The Broad resident has taken a job as a Chief Program Officer with the Rogers Family Foundation, an Oakland-based organization directed by the former school board candidate Brian Rogers. Rogers and Klein work together on the board of the Oakland Small Schools Foundation.

Here’s an excerpt from Klein’s farewell dispatch: Continue Reading


Departures ’08 (a working list)

Speaking of people leaving the Oakland school district … I’ve been meaning to tell you all — who don’t already know — that Eric Nelson, a “network executive officer” who oversees more than a dozen elementary schools, is leaving at the end of the month. He’s taking a job with School Turnaround.

Nelson’s area includes ASCEND, Bella Vista, Cleveland, Crocker Highlands, Franklin, Garfield, Glenview, International Community School, La Escuelita, Lazear, Manzanita SEED, Joaquin Miller, Montclair and Think College Now.

And Allison Sands, a Broad resident who you might have seen at any number of school “engagement” meetings — about closures, enrollment priorities, and school interventions — has already left.

Here’s a letter Nelson sent out a couple of weeks ago:

Continue Reading


Report: Half of Oakland students graduate on time

graduation.jpgThe graduation estimate by Education Week’s research center for Oakland Unified’s Class of 2005 — 50.5 percent — is actually slightly better than one that came out about three years ago, which used the same formula. (Remember the one by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard that labeled Oakland and Los Angeles “dropout factories?” That one. It put the rate at 48 percent.)

Who knows? Maybe in another three years, when the data for this year’s graduating class comes out, it will show that Oakland is above the state average (70 percent in 2005).

Now for my perennial disclaimer: No one knows exactly how many kids graduate high school on time — or ever — and how many drop out and never return to school. This is just a researcher’s best guess for the percentage who graduate in four years with a regular diploma.

Check out the Diplomas Count report and an interactive, color-coded map showing estimates for every school district in the country. Continue Reading


Could two three-way races end without a runoff?

WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE: It looks like there could be a runoff between Alice Spearman and Doris Limbrick for the East Oakland-Elmhurst seat. With all of the precincts counted, Spearman had 49.54 percent of the vote (Limbrick 32%; Beverly Williams 17%), and candidates need at least 50 percent to win.

Jody London won the North Oakland race, with 55 percent (Brian Rogers 36%; Tennessee Reed 9%). Jumoke Hinton Hodge will represent West Oakland on the board (Hinton Hodge 52%; Olugbemiga Oluwole Sr. 47%)


Jody London (North Oakland) and Alice Spearman (East Oakland-Elmhurst) have double-digit leads on their respective opponents, but Spearman was barely beyond the 50 percent threshold as of midnight.

Unless Spearman secures 50 percent-plus-1 in the race against Doris Limbrick and Beverly Williams, she’ll face Limbrick (now in second place at 31 percent) in a runoff.


It looks like London has a lock on the three-way race for the North Oakland seat, with 55 percent of the vote to Brian Rogers’ 36 and Tennessee Reed’s 9 (57 percent of precincts counted). If London dips below 50 percent, it’ll be a run-off between her and Rogers.


The District 3 race is slightly closer. Continue Reading