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Archive for April, 2009

A weight problem at age 4

Here is some news that might make you want to hold the birthday cake: Nearly one in five 4-year-old kids is obese, according to a public health study published in the April issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The obesity rates reported in the study, based on height/weight ratios, are particularly high for Native American children (31 percent). I don’t believe the paper is posted online yet, but you can read a research brief here.

image from two stout monks’ photostream at

Posted on Wednesday, April 8th, 2009
Under: families, health, preschool | No Comments »

A feel-good program that works

In these tough economic times (or maybe before, for all I know), Oakland school board members are quick to tell us that they can’t make decisions based on what “feels good.” 

Well, a study released today by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis tells us that one program used in Oakland – Experience Corps, a school tutoring program with volunteers older than 55 – does more than that.

Tribune file photo by Diana Diroy

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
Under: achievement gap, Algebra/Math, elementary schools, students | 9 Comments »

Strike that: Adult ed is no longer on board agenda

After a request from AFT local president Ana Turetsky, the state administrator agreed to strike the adult education presentation from tomorrow night’s agenda and hold the discussion about the state budget impact sometime after spring break.

The postponement will allow for more public participation, but I’d be surprised if it delays or otherwise alters the deep cuts to adult ed programs. Many of the classes are scheduled to end on Friday, and the agenda item looks like an informational report on the impact of permanent cuts (and fiscal policy changes) on adult education, statewide.

Posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2009
Under: enrollment, families, finances, OUSD central office, School board news, students, teachers, the arts | 4 Comments »

On spring break, it’s business as usual for OUSD board

This Wednesday may fall right in the middle of spring break, and on the first night of Passover, but the Oakland school board plans to meet anyway.

A couple of major issues appear on this week’s agenda, including details of dramatic adult school cutbacks and the closure of some of the school district’s preschool classrooms and programs.

Given the timing of the meeting, I wonder how many people will be there make it. You can find the full agenda here, the adult school presentation Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, April 6th, 2009
Under: enrollment, families, finances, health, OUSD central office, preschool, School board news, students, teachers, the arts | 7 Comments »

Superintendent search: Who will fit the profile?

Based on input from the hastily scheduled superintendent search forums (I went to one at Westlake Middle School with about 10 people, including the school principal), the search firm Ray & Associates created a profile of the ideal candidate, which the Oakland school board approved this week.

You can find the complete document, which touts Oakland’s assets  — diversity, weather, professional sports, even the zoo – here. Candidates have until April 21 to turn in their applications for this $275,000-plus-benefits job (which, strangely enough, might seem like a deal after paying two executives $250,000 apiece.)

The characteristics sound pretty generic, actually. Do you agree that the profile (below) describes the sort of leader/superhuman Oakland needs? What would you add?

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Posted on Friday, April 3rd, 2009
Under: leadership changes, local control, OUSD central office | 11 Comments »

Oakland kids, a school performance, and song of police brutality: Too soon?

This evening, after a small schools presentation at the East Oakland School of the Arts at Castlemont, a small group of students performed two dance routines for the guests, which included school board members, principals, politicians, organizers and foundation representatives.

Considering that four police officers were recently gunned down less than a mile from the high school (and the time it must take to put together a 4-minute dance routine), I’m pretty sure the opening song was chosen before this tragedy.

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Posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Under: high schools, teens, the arts | 25 Comments »

Report follows the grass-roots organizers who brought small schools to Oakland

Tribune file photo of Acorn Woodland Elementary School by Alex Molloy

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University has spent six years studying a major initiative of the Oakland Community Organizations: to radically change public education in the city’s flatlands neighborhoods by creating small schools. Tonight at Castlemont’s East Oakland School of the Arts (EOSA), researchers discussed the findings. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Under: achievement gap, curriculum, families, initiatives, parents, safety and discipline, school reform, small schools, students, teachers, teens, the arts | 5 Comments »

Should Johnny repeat a grade? No, says OUSD.

Last month, I stumbled upon a memo addressed to all elementary school principals, strongly advising them not to retain kids in the same grade for a second year – particularly kindergartners, English learners and special education students (unless that is part of their education plan).

“First off, the research is clear; retention does not work,” it says.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Under: curriculum, elementary schools, English learners, families, kindergarten, OUSD central office, students, teachers | 39 Comments »

Oakland’s newest California Distinguished School

It’s been a good year for everyone at the Oakland School for the Arts, the charter school that Jerry Brown built. First, they move out of a parking lot and into a fancy new building. Now, the California Department of Education is honoring their school as “distinguished.”

photo by Laura A. Oda/Oakland Tribune

In all, the state education department bestowed this award upon 261 middle and high schools (about 11 percent of the 2,400 in California). OSA was the only Oakland winner this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
Under: charter schools, curriculum, high schools, middle schools, the arts | 18 Comments »

Duncan: Big $$, if you’re willing to change the “status quo”

In this Washington Post interview, our new United States Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, talks about how the Obama administration plans to further its school reform agenda.

Of the $100 billion earmarked for schools in the federal stimulus package, Duncan says, the government has about $5 billion in discretionary funds. With that “unprecedented” amount of money, he said, “We’re gonna work exclusively with those states and those districts that are really willing to challenge the status quo and get dramatically better.”

I forgot to mention earlier that Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
Under: achievement gap, finances, people, politics, students, test scores | 2 Comments »