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Another Oakland school boycott

It’s been months, possibly, since the last school walkout in Oakland. For those of you concerned that the city’s young activists were increasingly pushing for change outside of school hours (or inside their respective school campuses), you have nothing to worry about. 

Tomorrow, in observance of May Day, middle and high school students will leave their schools and march to Oakland City Hall to demand passage of the federal DREAM Act – and for an end to “police harrassment and violence against Oakland youth,” according to a news release from BAMN, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.

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The science of hand washing

I actually found a science experiment on the subject (in addition to numerous hand washing songs that, frankly, I wouldn’t recommend).

Has anyone used vegetable oil — or something called GloGerm — to show kids all the hot water, soap and scrubbing that it takes to free their hands of germs?

Sounds like a timely science lesson to me…

Here’s a story my colleague Kim Wetzel wrote on the flu virus and a document outlining the procedures schools should follow (from the California Department of Education). The state health department wants schools with even one case of it to close.

image from NickNguyen’s photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons

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Prop. 1A: Why teachers aren’t all falling in line


photo by Laura A. Oda/Oakland Tribune

One of the six ballot measures in California’s May 19 special election would restore $9.3 billion to schools. But even if the public supports that proposition – titled 1B – it won’t fly unless another measure, Prop. 1A, wins too.

The California Teachers Association is backing both measures. So why did the Oakland Education Association, which belongs to the CTA, break ranks? Why did the California School Boards Association –which endorsed 1B, on principle, but not 1A – and the California Federation of Teachers do the same?

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Decision Time: hard choices and free knickknacks

Isabel Rodriguez-Vega is a senior at Skyline High School in Oakland.

College acceptance and decision time is much more exciting than the application process. Suddenly the tables have turned, and the colleges that you desperately tried to win over are now hoping you will choose them over the others. They start sending an endless amount of letters telling you how great they are and sometimes attempt to woo you with gifts. I’ve actually received a T-shirt and luggage tag from two schools.

But when it really comes down to decision time all this stuff is useless in helping to make your decision. Continue Reading

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National math and reading scores rise

In fact, the average 2008 math scores for 9- and 13-year-olds on the National Assessment of Educational Progress are higher than they have been since 1973, according to data released in The Nation’s Report Card.

The average reading scores of 9-year-old black, white and Latino students across the United States also reached a new high. The reading scores for the other two age groups tested — 13 and 17 — have improved since 2004. Continue Reading

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New Census data on college degree, earnings


photo by Dai Sugano, Bay Area News Group

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau (source: Current Population Survey) found that workers with bachelor’s degrees, on average, earn $26,000 a year more than workers with only high school diplomas. It also found that a greater percentage of adults graduated from high school and college in 2008 than they did 10 years earlier.

You can see the breakdowns by race in the summary, as well as a link to the data tables, here. I wonder how many of those surveyed last year still have a job.

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Swine flu reported in Southern Calif.

UPDATE: OUSD spokesman Troy Flint confirmed late Friday afternoon that no cases had been reported to the school district.

Schools, libraries and museums in Mexico have closed because of an outbreak of swine flu that has killed dozens of people. So far six cases have been reported in California — mostly in the San Diego area. I haven’t heard of any in the Bay Area.


Associated Press photo, Mexico City

If, like me, you hadn’t heard of this virus before this outbreak, here are some facts about it from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It apparently spreads from human to human like the common flu — and, according to the CDC, you don’t catch it from eating pork.

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Whereas, we want our power back

On Monday, the Oakland school board will issue a resolution to support Assemblymember Sandre Swanson‘s latest attempt to end the state takeover. AB 791 would require State Superintendent Jack O’Connell to restore the last two areas of local governance — academic policy and finances — to the OUSD board by January 4 July 1, 2010. 

In December, state auditors gave OUSD high enough ratings for O’Connell to cut the district loose, but he has yet to make a move. It’s been almost six years since the takeover.

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Do states need common education standards?

Lately, there’s been a big push to put all 50 states on the same page with regard to what’s taught — and tested — in schools.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee holds a hearing on the subject. The hearing is described, in a press advisory, as an opportunity to “examine how states can better prepare their students to compete in a global economy by using internationally benchmarked common standards.”

What do you make of this movement? What potential advantages do you see, and what pitfalls?

The witnesses for next week’s hearing, listed below, include the co-founder of KIPP and the AFT President:

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