`No Child’ turns seven

It’s Elvis’s birthday, too, judging from the plastic bust that appeared in the middle of the newsroom today. But I digress.

With the presidential election behind us, efforts to reauthorize and re-shape the landmark education law might start up again in earnest.

Many of you have watched public education transform because of NCLB. What’s different, and what has stayed the same? What in the act, if anything, would you keep in place, and what would you pitch? 

If nothing else, hasn’t NCLB focused more attention on children who have historically been failed by the system? I guess the real question is whether that attention has helped those kids and the schools they attend, and how progress should be measured.

Here’s what American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten had to say: Continue Reading


Last call for inauguration lessons!

A couple of you informed me, ever so gently, that my previous call for examples of pre-inauguration lessons was slightly premature, because much of the planning happens over the teachers’ two-week “break.”

But if you send me a note, along with your contact info, by the end of the week or Monday, your class — or school — project might still be featured in the story.

Feel free to post your plans on the blog, as well.

image by ajagendorf25 on flickr.com/creativecommons


A new principal’s thoughts on her first term

Carin Geathers, the new principal of Burckhalter Elementary School, tells us about her first months on the job. -Katy

Stimulate: to rouse to action or effort, as by encouragement or pressure; spur on; incite…

As I reflect on my first five months on the job as a new principal, the analogy that comes to mind is akin to how I felt as I welcomed home my new baby daughter eight years ago. I looked forward to and welcomed the new addition to my life, but had no idea how this little person would completely change it.

Assuming the leadership of Burckhalter Elementary School has changed my life in ways too numerous to mention. The school and those there have acted as a balm during one of the hardest times of my life, the loss of one of best friends and ardent supporters; and has caused me to summon and call forward experiences, teachings and “learnings” and roused me to take actions and exert effort to help shape the school into a thriving and vibrant community.

I began the school year with the uncertainty of school closure but refused to let myself or anyone inside of the school dwell there. There was and continues to be much to do… Students need teachers focused on delivering the best educational program they are capable of, teachers need leadership that provides stability, instructional expertise and directs dwindling resources toward helping all students meet the increasing demands of a fast changing and evolving world.

The learning curve has been steep: Continue Reading


OUSD police chief leaves district

OUSD Police Chief Art Michel is leaving his post, and I think today Thursday is his last day. I wouldn’t have known about it, had it not been for the farewell salutes that went out over the police radio this afternoon. Michel (pronounced Mitchell), a retired OPD sergeant, has led the resurrected OUSD police force since January 2008.

I’m told the chief is leaving because of compensation issues — he came out of retirement to head the school police force and was likely receiving retirement benefits — and not necessarily because of a controversy last fall in which he detained Tribune photographer/videographer Jane Tyska during a student protest. (I called him this afternoon. Let’s just say he didn’t want to talk about his departure, or anything else.)

I understand. Despite his long career, Michel might be remembered for this:


Your new school board prez

School board meetings can be painfully long, but they promise not to be dry, bureaucratic affairs this year. That’s because today at Oakland City Hall, the board elected Alice Spearman its new president.

Spearman is not one to tip-toe around the issues. I’ve watched her chest bump a teacher who insulted her (at a televised meeting); cross-examine an eighth-grade KIPP student about her high school selection process; accuse a fellow board member of racism; and, most recently, chide parents for taking advantage of the district’s school choice policies, rather than opting for their neighborhood school. Continue Reading


Happy New Year! Now, about that financial aid…

Just as college-going high school seniors have caught up on their sleep over the holidays, they face another round of application deadlines — this time for scholarships and financial aid.

Fortunately, they and their families don’t have to figure it all out on their own. Next Tuesday evening (Jan. 13) at Oakland Technical High School is the first of at least 11 multilingual Cash for College workshops (put on by the California Student Aid Commission) to take place across the city before the March 2 federal financial aid deadline. You can find the workshop locations and times here.

Then, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, California State University, East Bay is holding its annual Latino Education Summit, open to everyone. Continue Reading