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Oakland teen journalists get noticed

The April issue of National Edition, a collection of high school journalism by the American Society of News Editors, features 26 pieces. Four of them – hard news, sports and a movie review — were written by Oakland high school students.

These young Oaklanders covered the shooting of four Oakland police officers, the suspension of Skyline High School principal Al Sye, the induction of Rickey Henderson, an Oakland Tech alum, into the baseball Hall of Fame, and a review of the movie “Watchmen.”

(Isabel Rodriguez-Vega, one of the student-bloggers for The Education Report, co-authored the story about Sye.)

You should check out the stories when you have a chance.

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

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College applicants feel the economic crunch

Diamond Broussard is a senior at Skyline High School in Oakland.

In light of our economic crisis, many college applicants, including myself, are feeling the burn. Students have been turned away from schools or wait-listed due to preservation or lack of funds by colleges. More students are applying to their own state colleges and others than ever before. The effects of these events have left many students undecided or unsure about their futures.

I found myself in oblivion when I realized just how much the economic crisis would affect college acceptances. I applied to about 13 schools. Though my GPA is average, my credentials are great, so I knew that I’d have a shot at the top state schools. I felt as though my chances were even better when two of these state schools sent me a supplement to find out more about me. So when I was rejected by them both, I was confused. Why? That was the one question on my mind. Continue Reading

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Good news about Oakland’s graduation rate?

Well, sort of. Remember the researchers who came out with that report four years ago calling Oakland and Los Angeles “dropout factories” because they graduated fewer than half of their students? That report basically said that California was masking its terrible dropout problem with lousy math, and suggested a new formula to calculate how many students made it from ninth grade to graduation in four years.

By this same formula, Oakland’s four-year graduation rate for the Class of 2005 was about 50.5 percent, about nine percentage points higher than it was for the Class of 1995 Continue Reading

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Study: Exit exam hurts girls and minorities

Researchers with Stanford University’s Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice found that the graduation rates of girls and non-white students have plummeted as a result of California’s high school exit exam requirement.

Looking at four California school districts, researchers analyzed the graduation rates and other data for kids who tested poorly (in the bottom fourth of all students) on standardized reading and math tests that they took earlier, in the eighth and ninth grades.

The study compared what happened to those low-performing students in the Class of 2005 — before the new graduation requirement took effect — with similar students at the same schools in the classes of 2006 and 2007. 

Continue Reading

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A film about gender, featuring Oakland kids

The documentary film Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up features eight former Metwest High School students and other Bay Area youth. It’s being shown at film festivals around the country, but its East Bay premiere is at 7 p.m. Thursday evening at Oakland’s Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave.


photos courtesy of GroundSpark

The hour-long documentary, which is part of an educational campaign about such issues as gender bias and health, delves into deeply ingrained gender expectations, and the lengths to which some will go to avoid being labeled as gay (and why). Continue Reading

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The Case of the Mysterious Bottom Line: Solved

About six years into the state takeover, the Oakland school district finally knows how much money it really has — or, in this case, how much it doesn’t have.

A team of fiscal sleuths, which the school board hired last May, spent months trying to reconcile various accounts (Read more here).

Their findings? The district has $5.6 million less in its general fund than it thought. There’s also a $9 million deficiency in the payroll liability account, bringing the grand total to $14.6 million. Continue Reading

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A safety net, unraveling before our eyes


photo of a final communications class at Lifelong Medical Care’s adult day care center by D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group

Today marks the end of hundreds of adult education programs for seniors and the disabled — in Oakland, alone. Across the state, classes that once provided a source of needed stimulation for the elderly are falling by the wayside. Continue Reading

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Study offers solution to Oakland’s crime rate: graduation

Extrapolating from research on the effect of high school graduation on incarceration, researchers from the California Dropout Research Project present us with a bold guesstimate: If Oakland cut its dropout rate in half, the city would have 805 fewer homicides and aggravated assaults each year.

The report also projects that the drop in dropout rate would give the city an extra $144 million in “lifetime economic benefits.” You can find the one-page city profile here, and info for 16 other cities including Berkeley and San Francisco here.

Oakland’s dropout rate, according to the latest estimates by the California Department of Education, is about 36 percent. What would it take to cut that in half?

image from kimberlyfaye’s site on flickr.com/creativecommons