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Gunshot fired in middle school classroom

No one was hurt when a gun went off yesterday at Cole Middle School, hitting an old fashioned radiator and breaking into pieces.

But I can’t imagine what must be going through the minds of parents, teachers and students, knowing what could have happened.

The 13-year-old student accused of bringing the loaded weapon to school is in juvenile hall. Troy Flint, the OUSD spokesman, said it wasn’t yet clear how or why the shot was fired. Continue Reading

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School tours

Have you ever wanted to see what an Oakland public school looks like from the inside, but didn’t want the hassle of setting up an appointment?

Now’s your chance to see a school at work.

An organized tour might not offer as candid a snapshot as if you dropped in one morning without the herd of parents, but it’s probably much better than going on hearsay alone.

For elementary school tour dates (*see below list for recent revisions), click here. For middle schools, here. For high schools, here.

(The above photo, by Tribune photographer Laura Oda, was taken during a 2006 tour of Crocker Highlands Elementary School.)

The School Options window, during which families select their top school choices,  Continue Reading

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On the agenda: Supe search, cuts and more

Tomorrow night, the Oakland school board and the public hear how the governor’s proposed mid-year cuts would affect the school district. The board also discusses an analysis of Oakland Unified’s budgeting system (which I blogged about the other week, here) by American Institutes for Research.

Meanwhile, the board is inching closer to hiring the school system’s first permanent superintendent in almost six years. Seven search firms think they have what it takes to find the right leader for OUSD, and a committee will soon form to pick a favorite, according to a document posted on the agenda.

What do you know about the below firms? (Well, other than the CSBA, which apparently recommended Stephen Wesley to the Emery school board without double-checking his resume.) Continue Reading

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Some girls are mean (and violent). Anything new?

Teresa Williams, the principal of Oakland’s Bret Harte Middle School, said it seems like a brochure for some “Mean Girls” conference crosses her desk at least once a week.

Williams hasn’t attended such a seminar yet, but her school experienced a real-life example Nov. 7, when a seventh-grader was jumped at lunchtime by another girl – and then by two or three of that young woman’s friends. 

The 13-year-old girl, who had transferred to Bret Harte from another Oakland school this year, suffered head, neck and arm injuries and spent at least two nights at Children’s Hospital Oakland. She did not belong to a gang, Williams said, but one of the suspected attackers claimed there was a Norteño/Sureño conflict at play.

The girl who apparently instigated the beating is awaiting an expulsion hearing and “most likely will not return,” Williams said.  (That girl and the victim are Latina, and the others are African-American, according to the principal.)

The victim probably won’t return to Bret Harte, either – or any other Oakland school, for that matter. Her family apparently plans to move to Guatemala.

“That’s what’s sad,” Williams said, adding that many of her students were upset by what happened. Continue Reading

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College Applications: Not so simple after all

Hello again. It’s been awhile since I’ve had the free time to blog but I thought I would add a recent update on what senior year is like at Skyline. For starters the school seems to be functioning well enough, much smoother than last year. Mr. Sye does seem to have things under control and I’m starting to hear all these new announcements about students who are tardy to class starting next week will be detained (maybe it’s just me but that made me chuckle awkwardly considering how much we’ve been reading about the Patriot Act in government class).

I’ve been enjoying my senior year but it is crazy busy. I’m currently loaded down with three AP classes, plenty of homework to keep me busy, a job three days a week, participating in three clubs while running one of them, and trying to apply to colleges all at the same time. Yes… my head starts to explode probably every other day. Let’s just say I HIGHLY recommend that every student in this type of situation use a day planner… it’s been saving my life.

As for colleges, I’m starting to get overwhelmed and a little lost. Continue Reading

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A lesson on race from Obama’s victory

Ronald Johnson, editor-in-chief of the Green & Gold student newspaper on East Oakland’s Fremont campus, had this advice for his fellow students. -Katy

It’s great to see students excited about a presidential election. It’s great to see a minority make it all the way to the White House. It’s great to see the “equality” in America become a little more equal.

But we think there is a lesson here that students at Fremont Federation need to learn.

Obama was dedicated and committed to his goals. He used hard work and integrity to achieve what most would have called 20 years ago “the impossible.” He didn’t let race be an issue that stood in his way to success and neither should we.

Continue Reading

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The First Family’s school search

I found an interesting column today in the The Root, an online magazine that features black perspectives on the news of the day, about the Obama family’s search for a new school for Sasha and Malia.

The author, Meera Bowman-Johnson, writes:

Most parents struggle with where to send their kids to school. But the decision can be especially agonizing for upwardly mobile black parents. There are worries about low expectations from teachers and peer pressure to value coolness over studiousness. Inevitable accusations of “acting white.” Then there’s an extra pressure to ensure that your children Continue Reading

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The middle class “preschool pinch”

A national study by the preschool advocacy group Pre-K Now found that hundreds of thousands of middle-income families across the country can’t afford preschool, and that the situation’s only worsening with the economic crisis.

According to the Associated Press story on the report:

A middle-class family of four in Massachusetts needs to earn $94,500 a year to afford rent, food, health care and pre-k – $50,000 more than the state pre-k program’s eligibility threshold. That means nearly 32,000 of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds are caught in the middle. Continue Reading

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Hold that thought!

I’ve just learned that The Education Report and all of the other Inside Bay Area forums are being transferred this afternoon to “a bigger, better, happier server.” Hopefully that means it will load more quickly and that we’ll experience fewer traffic jams (like the one on Election Night).

Unfortunately, it also means that I can’t post anything — and that you can’t, either — from 3 p.m. today until sometime tomorrow morning. You’ll be able to access the blog, but not to respond to it.

Those of you who love to have the last word: Here’s your chance!

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Charter schools and children in poverty

The high test scores of the Oakland Charter Academy and American Indian Public Charter schools have surfaced again, this time in a brief released today by the California Charter Schools Association.

The charter schools advocacy group performed a simple analysis that compared the composite test scores – the API — of high-poverty public schools in California (those in which 70 percent or more of the students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch). Guess what it found?

Twelve of the 15 schools on that list are publicly funded (tuition-free), privately run charters. Six of the top 15 are located in Oakland, and Continue Reading