Kids cool the world

photo courtesy of Cool the Earth

North Oakland Community Charter School parents might be wondering why, all of a sudden, their kids are bugging them to use compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), to eat one less pound of beef per week, or to take shorter showers.

The Oakland charter school is one of more than 20 schools to join the Cool the Earth initiative. Started in 2007 by Marin County parents, the program educates kids (grades K-8) about global warming and gives them “action coupons” for saving water, paper, electricity and gas at home.

Cool the Earth is run by a small team of parents and/or other volunteers at each school  Continue Reading


Is the parcel tax vote threshold too high?

Jack O’Connell, the state superintendent of public instruction (pictured far right), and Vince Matthews, Oakland’s state administrator, have called for a change in election law that would allow school parcel tax measures — like construction bonds — to pass with 55 percent of the vote, rather than 67 percent. 

Measure N, the failed parcel tax for Oakland teachers, netted about 61 percent approval.

The below letter by O’Connell and Matthews was published in the Tribune today. Would you support the kind of change they’re proposing? Continue Reading


The Experience Gap

This year, 24 Oakland teachers — and about 750 more statewide — will each get an extra $5,000 for making a four-year commitment to a low-performing school and taking on a leadership role there.

Those teachers, who have already undergone the rigorous National Board Certification process, receive a $20,000 grant over the course of those four years as an incentive to stick around.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Incentive Award is designed to keep great teachers from heading to higher-performing schools or better-paying positions. Of course, like so many other initiatives and projects, this one could be cut short during the state budgeting process. Continue Reading