Students skip school, protest immigration raids

Hundreds of high school students from Oakland and Richmond flooded BART stations today while trying to get to a big immigration protest in San Francisco, causing BART service to be delayed.

Tribune photographer Jane Tyska, who took this photo in East Oakland’s Fruitvale district, was later detained by school district police while trying to film the demonstration with a video camera. OUSD Police Chief Art Michel reported that Tyska Continue Reading


Too much time in the counseling office

Well I’ve finally started the college application process. It’s something I’ve beenĀ preparing for andĀ anticipating for a while now, but the one thing I didn’t anticipate was the fact that I am going to have to rely on others to do their part in order for me to accomplish my goals. This complicates things very much because now problems can arise that are beyond my control.

My main problem comes from the counseling office. I am applying to mostly private colleges and universities, which all require a counselor evaluation. I knew far in advance that I would have to have some evaluations completed by my counselor for college, but I did not expect it to be such a complicated process. After all, this is why the counselors are there, right?

Continue Reading


Documentary explores California’s science deficit

Many consider California to be a cutting-edge state, brimming with innovation. So why do its schools rank among the last in the nation on standardized science tests?

KQED explored these questions in a 25-minute documentary, “Under the Microscope: Science Struggles in Schools.” I meant to post this on Tuesday, the night it aired, but you can watch the 25-minute show here:


Denied: new American Indian charter school

The five local schools that use the American Indian Public Charter model might be among the highest-scoring public middle and high schools in Oakland (not to mention the state), but tonight, the state administrator stopped a new one from opening.

David Montes de Oca, Oakland’s charter schools director, was careful to say that his recommendation to deny the charter petition “is not a condemnation of the American Indian Public Charter School model or its schools — far from it.”

The problem, Montes de Oca said, was Continue Reading


Judge puts the brakes on Algebra I plan

California’s bold new algebra plan has a new variable.

Today, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Shelleyanne Chang ruled that the state board of education would have to temporarily delay the eighth-grade Algebra I testing requirement that it approved in July. (You know, the one that Schwarzenegger pushed for in the 11th hour, over State Superintendent Jack O’Connell’s strong objections?)

The ruling was made in response to a lawsuit to stop the new requirement. It was filed in September by the California School Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators.

Chang has ordered the state board to hold off any any decisions on the algebra test until a court hearing on Dec. 19. Continue Reading


The pre-voting demographic

Yesterday, I covered a debate at Bishop O’Dowd High School between representatives of the Obama and McCain campaigns. Hundreds of students attended the optional event, which was organized by 15-year-old Julia Owens — who told me she thought it would be useful and fun for her classmates to watch a live debate.

The students’ questions were detailed and policy-oriented. One referenced the economic crisis, and another asked about the prospect of Georgia’s membership in NATO: “Is there anything that can be done to help people like my grandparents who are out of the workforce and are too old or ill to go back to work?” and “Why is defending Georgia in the national interest of the United States?”

Government teacher Bonnie Sussman, who’s been at O’Dowd since 1972 Continue Reading


Phasing out, moving schools

The Oakland school board put a halt to talk about large-scale closures this month, but they never said school closures were out of the question. Some of these tough decisions will surface in less than two months, while others are slated to determined a year from now.

In December, the Oakland school board will decide whether to continue to phase out BEST High School at McClymonds (which is now grades 10-12) and Peralta Creek Middle School at Calvin Simmons (now just eighth grade).

They’ll also discuss the possible relocation of Life Academy and Tilden Elementary School.

In the fall of 2009, the board is slated to decide what to do with the following list of “focus schools” — those with academic and/or enrollment concerns: Continue Reading


Schools dragged into marriage debate

Whether you’re a campaign hack or just selling a home alarm system (or tires, or antidepressants, or disinfectant), scare tactics can really come in handy. And there’s probably no easier way to freak people out than to make them think their kids will be in harm’s way if they don’t vote a certain way or buy a certain product.

National Public Radio did a story yesterday about how education has become swept up in the California campaign for Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban. Here’s the TV ad that prompted the story, followed by a response from State Superintendent Jack O’Connell.

Here is how O’Connell responded: Continue Reading


Ten weeks in!

Bryant Phan, a student-blogger, is in 10th grade at Life Academy. -Katy

Hello. This is my first time blogging since the school year has started. Is it just me or is this school year passing by extremely fast? We’ll be getting our second report cards in about three weeks or so.

Recently, I transferred from MetWest to LIFE Academy. So far, I’ve been feeling pretty good about the school. However, I really miss the sense of community at MetWest.

It is also pretty ridiculous that we have to share a building with two middle schools. Because of this, we don’t have off campus lunch and the school lunches aren’t necessarily very delicious. I’ve tried to bring my own lunch but I get tired of eating sandwiches everyday. The school cafeteria has promised to serve better lunch but has not fulfilled their promise. I don’t know if it’s because LIFE Academy is on a middle school campus or because LIFE Academy is a public high school in Oakland, but the lunch that is being served isn’t very nutritious. What do you think is the best way to put pressure on the school so they will serve better food?

Alright, back to the positive side of school. Continue Reading


Hey, that’s my Honeydew melon!

Two years ago, there were few, if any, salad bars in Oakland school cafeterias. Now, there are 38 of them. And because of a $16,700 state agriculture grant, five more school cafeterias — serving kids from 10 schools — will offer fresh fruits and veggies every day.

photo of Manzanita Community School cafeteria by Laura A. Oda, Oakland Tribune

The latest round of salad bars will materialize on the Jefferson campus (Jefferson Elementary, Learning Without Limits, and Global Families); Brookfield Elementary; Melrose Leadership Academy; Continue Reading