Oakland teachers get praise — and moola

Teachers at Monarch Academy and at Lighthouse Community Charter School‘s secondary program (grades 7-12), will get more than a pat on the back for the academic strides that their students made last year.

They will share $67,000 and $29,000, respectively, thanks to an award from the Effective Practice Incentive Community (rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?), a new initiative of New Leaders for New Schools. It amounts to roughly $3,500 per teacher.

The award money, itself, comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund. That, if you recall, is the same source of cash bonus money that the Oakland teacher’s union rejected in 2007, on principle, because of the performance pay strings attached. (Specifically: The union didn’t sign onto the district’s $19 million grant proposal, and OUSD didn’t win the grant.)

You can find the news release here.

On a similar note: I hear that performance pay is a hot issue in preliminary parcel tax talks. You can probably imagine who’s fighting for it, and who’s fighting against it.

Where do you stand?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Oakland Teacher

    The OEA turns down money to raise teacher salaries in the past and now potentially in the future with this parcel tax – that shows how unbelievably out of touch with their constituency they actually are. As a teacher, the OEA does not represent me or most of my colleagues at all.

    A colleague who is a union rep told me that they recently spent hours at a meeting debating on how they would vote on a non-binding resolution about how OEA feels about the Israeli-Palestine conflict. What a joke.

  • John

    Oakland Teacher: The OEA parent organizations are CORPORATIONS. The bottom line of THIS Corporation is money and political power. NOT teachers!

    They’ll happily block your pay increase if it suits their political agenda, but you’d better never try blocking their increase to your teacher union dues!

    Has your Corporate Teacher Union ever taken a union dues pay cut!? Look at the numbers suckers!

    Teachers UNITE!

    Grab your picket signs and MARCH! “LEFT LEFT LEFT MARCH LEFT, LEFT LEFT LEFT MARCH LEFT…” (No drooling on the sidewalk please.) Hmmm You know, there’s something NO right about that march.

    In Teacher Union Corporate parlance MARCHING & PICKETING is called, “occupational therapy” for the rabble.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Oakland Teacher:

    The OEA is a democratic union and representatives are elected at their school sites. Churchill said something to the effect that democracy is the worse form of government but all the others. If your view on a subject is the majority it will represent the OEA.

    Become a site representative and represent your views at union representative meetings. It is easier to state that OEA does not represent your view than become part of the process of defining the OEA view point.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Harold

    Who would you cry to, if OUSD said you’ll be taking a pay cut? who has lawyers for all of the grievances? where did all these job safety laws come from? why aren’t there 12 year olds working as custodians?

    the union.

  • http://jeanswatercolors.blogspot.com Jean Womack

    I went over to the West Contra Costa Unified to get a job application for substitute teacher. They handed me an application which they said was the same application for a teacher as for a sub. A few days later I read in the newspaper that they were anticipating layoffs and the union was protesting. Of course I would not dream of applying for a job there when layoffs are anticipated, even though I do not believe it will happen. I’d rather stay alive to visit my grandchildren one of these days. My question is, what is evidence of NCLB compliance? Is my CSET passing grade enough? Is my clear credential enough?

  • Sharon

    Katy: It appears to me that the DOE program may pay for only a portion of the bonus to these teachers. It seems to be pumped up by other “private sources.”

    According to a New Leaders for New Schools press release of 3/5/09, their program called EPIC (Effective Practice Incentive Community)is “funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), school district and charter school partners, AND private philanthropic funders.” http://www.nlns.org/Press.jsp

    I haven’t yet been able to locate the source of the philanthropic funders and probably won’t have the time to do so. However, there is definitely a strong influence of the usual edu-philanthro-manipulate-preneur billionaires on the NLNS Board of Director members list, most notably Broad and Gates:

    – Josh Bekenstein, Managing Director, Bain Capital*, LLC
    – James A. Bell, Corporate President & Chief Financial Officer, The Boeing Company
    – John E. Deasy, Deputy Director, US Program, Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    – Domenic Ferrante, Managing Director, Bain Capital*, LLC
    – Libia Gil, Senior Fellow, American Institutes for Research
    – Kevin Hall (Board Observer), Chief Operating Officer, The Broad Foundation
    – Barbara Hyde, President, J.R. Hyde III Family Foundation
    – John King, Managing Director of Excellence & Preparatory Networks, Uncommon Schools; Founding Co-director, Roxbury Preparatory Charter School
    – Vanessa Kirsch, President and Founder, New Profit Inc.
    – S. Joshua Lewis (Board Chair), Founder & Managing Partner, Salmon River Capital
    – Sandra Licón (Board Observer), Policy Officer, US Program Advocacy, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    – Lory Pilchik (Board Observer), Portfolio Director, US Education, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
    – Jonathan Schnur, CEO & Co-Founder, New Leaders for New Schools
    – Naomi O. Seligman, Senior Partner, Ostriker von Simson, Inc.
    – James Shelton, Program Director, Education, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
    – Joanne Weiss, Partner and Chief Operating Officer, NewSchools Venture Fund

    A 2/14/05 press release from NSNL stated:

    “New Leaders for New Schools today announced they have formally selected the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) as a partner district, and have also entered into a new partnership with the statewide California Charter Schools Association. These two major initiatives will have a great impact on education in the Bay Area and, over time, throughout California. This is first in a series of national New Leaders’ announcements throughout the country this month.

    New Leaders also announced a major grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which will support this work along with $200,000 from local funders, and $75,000 from the CA Charter Schools Association.”

    *Bain Capital is one of the world’s leading private investment firms managing approximately $75 billion in assets under management.

    It’s strange to me that all of these investors and businessmen are so interested in getting involved with public education just now, because their care and attention to the welfare of urban public schools could have been used many decades ago. It certainly isn’t because they send their own children to the schools, or would be willing to (unless a gun was held to their head). This kind of stuff keeps me wondering what is behind it all.

  • Jose, Former Student


    Why is Lighthouse Charter school getting money with such low academic scores on the state test?

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon

    Jose: Here’s some information which might help toward answering your question.

    If you go to the Lighthouse Community Charter School website, and look at their board of directors’ page, you’ll notice that the president’s name is Brian Rogers. The SF Business Times reported in 10/06 that he was the executive director of the T. Gary Rogers Family Foundation. He was also the Oakland school board candidate who recently lost to Jody London.

    Now, if you go to the website of the National Center for Charitable Statistics and look at the page for that foundation (at http://nccsdataweb.urban.org/PubApps/showVals.php?ft=bmf&ein=943381315), you’ll be able to view its Form 990’s (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax) and the grants it has awarded over the past several years. The most recent tax return is for 2007, which summarizes the spending for the previous year.

    So for 2006, you’ll notice that this foundation gave the California Charter Schools Association $50,000 and New Leaders for New Schools $30,000. See the connections between these organizations, and the EPIC award, in my comment above. The foundation also gave $25,000 to the Alliance for School Choice, the “nation’s premier nonprofit organization promoting school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs.”

    While you’re looking at the list of grant recipients for the last several years, you’ll see that the T. Gary & Kathleen Rogers Family Foundation (Dreyer’s Ice Cream, etc.) has regularly given money to Aspire Public Schools, the charter management organization which sponsors Monarch Academy (the other recipient of the award). In addition, you’ll see that the Rogers Foundation gave Lighthouse Community Charter School $50,000 in 2006, 2005, and 2004, and $250,000 in 2003.

    By the way, the Aspire Public Schools organization has a very strong charter school presence in Oakland. In addition to Monarch, it also manages Wilson (Lionel) College Prep, Millsmont and Millsmont Secondary Academies, Berkley Maynard Academy, and California College Prep Academy.

    In 2006, the Rogers Foundation gave Aspire $65,000 for Millsmont. It also gave them $30,000 in 2005 (Wilson and Millsmont), and $25,000 in 2004 (for Monarch).

    Other 2006 Oakland charter school direct beneficiaries of the foundation’s largess include the EC Reems Academy of Technology and Arts ($10,000), Envision Academy ($10,000), Oakland KIPP Bridge College Prep ($20,000), Oakland School for the Arts ($10,000), and Oasis High School ($10,000). Adding Aspire and Lighthouse donations brings the grand total for direct charter school donations to $175,000 for 2006. Charter schools teach about 17% of OUSD’s kids.

    The Rogers Foundation gives a lot of money away to a variety of schools, but not directly to too many of the standard OUSD type, most certainly because few-to-nobody at the regular school sites has the gobs of time or know-how to write grants, nor are they “connected.” The foundation, however, did give the Oakland Small Schools Foundation money for literacy programs at four sites: $10,000 for BIT/Castlemont, $20,000 for Think College Now Elementary, $10,000 for ASCEND, and $10,000 for EXCEL). That year they also gave $10,000 to Oakland Tech’s PTSA, $10,000 to Life Academy, and $5,000 to Sequoia. The total given directly to OUSD’s non-charter schools was $75,000. Non-charter schools teach about 83% of OUSD’s kids.

    The foundation does give to organizations that connect with OUSD. In 2006, the Oakland Small Schools Foundation received $30,000 for “general support,” HEROES (OUSD’s volunteer office) got $10,000, and the Marcus A. Foster Educational Institute got $40,000 (for something called the OUSD Board of Education project).

    By the way, Brian Rogers was quite involved with Expect Success! when it was going strong. That’s the Oakland redesign “initiative” created by the Broad folks that O’Connell sent here in 2003.

    This research and summary took about three hours of my morning, and it was all fascinating to learn. I am certainly aware that I might not be making any friends today. I strongly doubt that any of these people have ever attended Oakland’s public schools, or have experienced them as you and I have, up close and over time.

  • Jose, Former Student


    Thanks, I reviewed the star test results of Lighthouse charter high school. They have very low test scores and someone is giving them an award. This seems strang to me.

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  • Brian Rogers

    Dear Sharon –

    Thank you very much for your overview of the giving of the Rogers Family Foundation. I just wanted to fill in a few of the spots that you left out about our giving in 2006 because I do not feel that you gave a full account of our support of OUSD students, teachers and schools.
    In addition to the grants that you mentioned, you failed to mention the $50,000 grant that we made to the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools in order to help coach OUSD teachers and principals – professional development resources that help support OUSD teachers and principals. You declined to mention the $5,000 grant to Earth Team which works with OUSD students to help do service projects that clean up our parks and recreation areas here in Oakland. You failed to mention the $15,000 and $10,000 grants that went to CollegeWorks and College Track, two programs that work with over 300 OUSD students in their efforts to be the first in their families to got to college. You also forgot the $15,000 grant that we made to the Seneneca Center which works with OUSD to serve the district’s special education students. Another ommission was the $10,000 grant to BUILD which works with OUSD students in entreprenuership programs during and after school at many of the OUSD high schools. Same with Aim High which works with over 200 OUSD students during the summer – helping them stay current with their studies over the summer. There is also the grant to Girls Inc. for their 3 literacy programs at 3 of the lowest performing OUSD sites that work with over 100 K-3 young readers – you did not mention that grant. There was also the $10,000 to Safe Passages, the group that works with OUSD to do conflict resolution and case management in OUSD middle schools. Or how about the grant to the Positive Coaching Alliance which gave free workshops to OUSD athletes and coaches. We gave $10,000 to the Oakland Parents Literacy Project – they organize Family Reading Nights at all the OUSD elementary schools. You also failed to mention the $112,500 grant to the Chabot Space and Science Center which helped them not only design a science program for Kindergarten – 4th grade students but also allowed Chabot to bus OUSD children to the center. Same goes for the Oakland Zoo Zoomobile that we supported in order to bring animals to OUSD schools. We also made two grants of $10,000 to Donorschoose – a wonderful program that allows you to fund projects that teachers post on the web. All $20,000 went to teacher projects in Oakland.
    We gave $15,000 to UC Maritime so that 30 OUSD students could take part in a summer time academic enrichment class. We supported programs such as Prescott Circus Clowns, Girls on the Run and the Oakland Library PASS program which operate after school programs on OUSD campuses. You failed to mention the $10,000 we gave to the National Foundation for Teaching Entreprenuership that went toward training for OUSD teachers. Same for the $15,000 that we gave to Industy Initiatives for Science and Math Education – scholarhips for OUSD math and science teachers to have summer time interships at places like UCSF, Lawrence Livermore Lab and UC Berkeley, gaining valuable experience to bring back to OUSD classrooms. This is just a partial list of some of the grants that we made that had an impact on OUSD students in 2006.

    See, I think where you are missing the point, Sharon, is that we are a foundation that supports all Oakland children. We do not make a distinction about where children go to school – we support charter, private and traditional public schools – our distinction is about quality and about supporting programs that are helping children to succeed. All of the schools and programs that we have chosen to support are high quality programs that are showing that they have an positive impact on children. I would kindly ask you to not publically question my integrity or the integrity of our foundation. Instead of taking 3 hours of your time looking up the tax records of our foundation, take some time to call up some of the schools and programs that we support – take some time to visit them. Walk some of the halls and talk to some of the leaders of these programs. I guarantee that you will be impressed with the quality of the program, the dedication of the leader and the focused accountibility around ensuring the academic success of the children that they serve.

    And Jose – the same goes for you – you have an open invitaiton to visit Lighthouse Community Charter School – a school that we have chosen to support not only because of test scores (Lighthouse API scores have been going up every year that they have been operating, including a 75 point increase last year), but because they have a team of dedicated teachers, dedicated family members, outstanding leadership and a focus on every single individual student that they serve.

  • Katy Murphy

    So, in light of my (accidental) omission of the school district and charter school partners and philanthropic foundations, I asked Michael Gross, of the Effective Practice Incentive Community, what percentage of these cash bonuses came from the U.S. Department of Ed’s Teacher Incentive Fund, vs. other sources.

    Here’s what he said:

    “Thanks for your inquiry. The EPIC program is funded primarily by the US Department of Education’s Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), along with grants from individuals and foundations. For the awards announced on March 5th, our second cohort of charter awardees, 77.1 percent of the funding comes from TIF and 12.9 percent comes from our philanthropic funders. Over the first two cohorts of EPIC charter awardees, 89.6
    percent comes from TIF and 10.4 percent comes from our philanthropic funders. Per the TIF grant regulations, EPIC must increase the amount of non-TIF funding for these awards each consecutive year.

    “I also noticed a comment on your blog about Lighthouse Charter school that incorrectly implied the EPIC model was based on the percentage of students meeting or exceeding proficiency in a given year. To clarify, the EPIC model uses state test results in reading and math to measure the impact of a school on its students over time. Whereas traditional
    achievement models measure schools based on the percentage of students meeting or exceeding proficiency benchmarks in a given year, the EPIC
    model, designed by Mathematica Policy Research, measures the progress students make from one year to the next, independent of proficiency targets.”