Joaquin Alvarado, one of the Claremont Middle School parents who managed to convert a run-of-the-mill computer room into a high-tech media lab — and a basic word processing class into a 3-D animation elective — doesn’t have much love for the school district’s central office.
In an interview this week, Alvarado said Second Avenue had been more of a hindrance than a help. For one thing, because of a new board policy introduced in the middle of the semester, the people contracted to teach Claremont’s animation class (and many other contractors, for that matter) weren’t getting paid. The PTA had to cut these teachers a check so that they wouldn’t up and leave, as others did. It’s supposedly been fixed.
OK, so central office bureaucracy is hardly a new story line. But what about that staff presentation about turning Claremont into a “school of choice for North Oakland families?” Wouldn’t this new media focus potentially further that goal? You’ve got these die-hard public school advocates pouring all kinds of energy into a cutting-edge project, and essentially doing most of the fundraising and heavy lifting. It sounds like a dream come true. How can the Oakland school district do a better job of encouraging such innovation — by parents and teachers alike – and to what extent is it doing so now?
A story on Claremont’s Media Lab is in today’s paper. You can read it here.
P.S. I feel like a broken record here, but customer service in the central office is bound to suffer, at least in some departments (details TBA), with the upcoming budget squeeze. CFO Vernon Hal said Wednesday night that to spare schools from deeper cuts, Second Avenue is taking the biggest hit.