More new principals for Oakland schools

Wednesday Update: Here’s the official list of new principals and assistant principals that went to the board tonight.


The school board doesn’t approve the latest round of new principal hires until Wednesday’s meeting, but I found a 2008-09 school directory posted online with most of their names. Ann Kruze, who announced her retirement from Redwood Heights this summer, was still listed as principal. Maybe she had a change of heart… or maybe it was a typo.

Tilden Elementary – Rachelle Sallee
Piedmont Avenue Elementary – Zarina Ahmad (last year, she was an assistant principal at ACORN Woodland)
Lincoln Elementary – John Melvin
Garfield Elementary – Michael Rothhammer
RISE Elementary – Connie Tillman
Redwood Heights Elementary –

Skyline High School – Continue Reading


Don’t forget those shots!

School starts just two weeks from today, but not for new students without immunization cards.

Sherri Willis, the public information officer for the Alameda County Public Health Department, said that when she worked in OUSD, hundreds of kids would miss the first few days of school — in some cases, more — as a result. 

Some families wait until mid-summer to make an appointment with their pediatrician and can’t get one in time, or they misplace their records, she said.

But don’t panic! You can take advantage of the public health department’s free and low-cost immunization program. It’s designed for uninsured families, but everyone can use the service — no questions asked, Willis said.

Check out the clinic locations Continue Reading


High school debate returns to Oakland

I don’t know about the history of the fast-talking extracurricular in Oakland — or, for that matter, how anyone can utter 2,000 words in just 30 seconds. All I know is that debate is back.

Next week, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, Oakland teens will be learning the art of debate at Castlemont’s Leadership High School. Anyone is welcome to come. I guess a new league is forming in the school district.

Sounds like a feel-good story, if I’ve ever heard one.

Here’s some more detail, written up by Dmitri Seals, the organizer of the Bay Area Urban Debate League’s first summer institute: Continue Reading


Oakland’s new middle school administrator

When I reported on the departures of Harriet MacLean and Fred Brill, the two OUSD administrators who supervised Oakland’s middle schools, I neglected to mention MacLean’s replacement: Gia Truong. (I also didn’t tell you that yet another “network executive officer,” Donald Evans, left for a job in Compton. That’s four out of the eight nexos.)

Truong was the principal at Urban Promise Academy, a district middle school in the Fruitvale area, for the last four years. She must have been appointed after the initial list of incoming and outgoing principals was compiled, since the school didn’t appear on the list. I’ve asked for an update.

Here’s the announcement that went out to district staff in July: Continue Reading


Oakland administrator named Lafayette supe

Oakland Unified proved an solid stepping stone for Fred Brill, a network executive officer who supervised half the district’s middle schools for the last two years and helped design the Alternative Learning Community.

The Lafayette school board is expected to announce tonight that Brill — former principal of Lafayette’s Stanley Middle School — will be the district’s new superintendent. Lafayette has about 3,000 students, and five schools.

I always enjoyed my interviews with Brill. He struck me as a high energy, enthusiastic and straightforward guy who could serve up a good quote. The hiring committee at the Lafayette School District probably thought so too (except, maybe, for the quotability part).

Here’s a blurb that’s running tomorrow in our sister paper, the Contra Costa Times: Continue Reading


What the heck is Expect Success?

Ever since I started covering this beat, people who follow OUSD goings-on (including school board members) have complained that they have only a vague idea of what Expect Success is, other than a punchline for district critics.

They knew the district was spending millions of dollars in private funding on the initiative (or platform, or project, or slogan, or whatever it is), but the specifics remained a mystery.

At a 5 p.m. special meeting tonight, staff plans to unveil the inner-workings of Expect Success for the board, the audience and the government access television-viewing public: What it is; how much remains of its $43 million budget (very little) and where the money has gone; which mega-foundations have donated what; and which consultants are paid from it.

You can read up on it yourself, if you’d like. It is part of a broader report on OUSD goals for the coming school year under the new, interim supe.

And here are some other upcoming happenings of note: Continue Reading


Give your old computer a second life, in a school

The yellowing, obsolete computer collecting dust in your attic might not be techno trash after all.

Technicians at the LinuxWorld Conference in San Francisco are refurbishing old, discarded computers on the spot and donating them to Bay Area schools. Their goal is to collect and retool 2,000 to 3,000 computers with free, open source software in collaboration with the Alameda County Computer Resource Center.

They’re accepting computer dropoffs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday in front of the Moscone Center, on Fourth and Howard streets in San Francisco.

ASCEND, Lockwood and KIPP Bridge Continue Reading


Crocker principal quits before he gets started

I’ve heard of principals quitting weeks before the start of school, but the door to the front office at Crocker Highlands Elementary is revolving so fast it might come unhinged.

Benjamin Redmond — who was recently hired to replace outgoing principal Chelda Ruff — quit yesterday, less than three weeks before the start of school. He was previously the principal at Lafayette Elementary School in West Oakland.

Here’s how Redmond announced the news to Crocker staff:

Hello Staff

As of August 5, 2008 I have resigned from Oakland Unified School District.
I thank you for the enthusiasm and support, but I feel that it is in my best
interest to leave OUSD at this time. Continue Reading


In a child’s education, who matters the most?

The “Outstanding Teachers for All Oakland Students” tax, as the name implies, would raise the wages of the school system’s more than 2,000 teachers — but not its custodians, its secretaries, its teachers’ aides, or its attendance clerks.

Which, of course, raises the question of equity: For the school system to improve, shouldn’t all school employees benefit equally?

Most of the speakers at last night’s hearing — which drew a decent sized crowd for Aug. 4 — seemed to think so. But Noel Gallo, the only school board member who supports OUSD’s latest parcel tax initiative, made an intersesting counterpoint.

Gallo said the board and the district have long acknowledged the importance of improving teaching quality in Oakland. If it’s truly a priority, he argued, the district should throw its resources behind it — and not spread its money too thin. Continue Reading


A week filled with poetry at Brave New Voices

eoak0515blogger01.jpg Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. There are three more weeks left before school starts again and I have nothing planned for the rest of summer.

Summer Update

Three weeks ago (July 14th-July 20th), I flew down to Washington D.C. for a poetry festival called Brave New Voices. Brave New Voices is the biggest youth poetry slam in the world. (A poetry slam is a competition at where poets read/recite/perform their original work). There were poets from all over the country and a couple from Leeds, England, Trinidad & Tobago, and Worcester, England. We were all in teams and each team consisted of 4-6 poets. There were about 400 poets at the festival in total.

Honestly, I did not think I was going to make any friends in Washington D.C. because I am not very social and I thought the whole week was going to be about the competition. After arriving and unpacking into the Potomac house, I walked down the hall and was immediately greeted by a couple of poets. I thought it was really, really weird for them to talk to me and invite me into their rooms to cypher. After my first night in BNV, everything I thought about the people there was wrong. Continue Reading