Charter school debate, Take 2

It’s happening, after all, from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Yes, it takes place in the Oakland school district administration building, in Hunter Hall, but it’s not being sponsored by OUSD, according to a disclaimer on the news release.

You’ll see the original players, as advertised the first time around

and some new ones, perhaps added to temper the panel: Continue Reading


Oakland Charter Academy principal named to state board of education

Jorge Lopez, a former school dropout who directs the high-performing Oakland Charter Academy (shown here at his middle school in Fruitvale), has been appointed to the California Board of Education.

Lopez is not your typical educrat, if there is such a thing. He’s all about the hard work and humilation approach to schooling, a la Ben Chavis — at least, when it comes to educating poor kids. He says this method would never fly in a more affluent community, nor would it be necessary; in fact, he went the Montessori route for his own preschool-age children.

When I visited the charter academy last fall, Lopez readily acknowledged that the school played mind games with its students in order to motivate them — and that he imposed a daily detention quota on at least one of his teachers (A former teacher had told me that he sometimes had to arbitrarily pick on kids to meet his quota. Lopez confirmed it was true). Continue Reading


Wanted: An Oakland superintendent

Anyone dreaming of an Oakland superintendency had better have their resumes polished and their references lined up. Tomorrow, at long last, the Oakland school board will tell the world that it’s looking for a new leader. Officially.

About time, isn’t it?

In the weeks to come Next week, there will be a series of community meetings Continue Reading


Good news about Oakland kids

Judging from the response I got today to a feature story and video about Oakland’s longstanding Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Fest, I gather that some people are starved for (ooh, I just hate to frame stories in these simplistic terms) “positive” news about youth in Oakland.

photo of Nia Warren by Sean Donnelly/Bay Area News Group

Still wanting inspiration? Here’s some more news of the uplifting variety: Continue Reading


Oakland spellers d-o-m-i-n-a-t-e county bee

Oakland kids took first, second and – yes – third place in Alameda County Spelling Bee over the weekend, nailing the likes of “paraphernalia,” “atherosclerosis,” “supercilious” and “unconscionable.”

photo courtesy of J. K. Keck. Pictured, from left: Emily DeLuna, Chloe Killebrew-Bruehl, Karl Keck and Kaushik Kashi (fourth place winner from Dublin’s Fallon Middle School)

Karl Keck, a fifth grader at Chabot Elementary, withstood an intense, 20-minute final elimination round against second place winner Emily Deluna, a sixth-grader at Alliance Academy, by correctly spelling “septuagenarian” and “exorbitant.” Continue Reading


OUSD vs. O’Connell

DIY court research, anyone? If you want to see the documents for yourself, just click here, then click on the “Case Summary” link and enter this case number: RG09440971

Update: A judge denied the Oakland school district’s request to order a temporary halt to the transfer of funds to charter schools. One reason? The school board might not have the legal authority to file such a lawsuit, since it doesn’t have all of its governing powers back.

The scoop: The Oakland school district has filed suit against State Schools Superintendent Jack O’Connell Continue Reading


How deep is the cut to public schools (really)?

photo by Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

California schools are taking a big cut this year and next, no doubt about it. But by how much? Depends on who you ask.

The California Department of Education says it’s $11.6 billion, total, between this year and next, a figure that’s being used widely in the education world, especially on Pink Friday.

But according to Jennifer Kuhn, a K-12 education analyst for the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, California schools are taking a $5.2 billion hit ($2.4 billion in program cuts this academic year, and $2.8 billion in 2009-10).

That’s a pretty big difference. Continue Reading


Vivaldi and Dvorak come to Roosevelt

photo of 2008 festival courtesy of OUSD

Tomorrow (Thursday) evening, 200 musicians from across the city meet at Oakland’s Roosevelt Middle School to take part in the sixth annual citywide Orchestra festival. Under the direction of guest conductor Maestro Michael Morgan, director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony, the students will play Antonio Vivaldi’s Spring and Antonin Dvorak’s Largo from the New World Symphony.

Admission’s free, if you want to check it out. Here are the details: Continue Reading