Principal Search 2009

As promised, here’s the list of Oakland schools that will have new principals in the fall — well, as of now — that I requested from the district office, along with a personnel report from mid-May that has some more information. Please feel free to fill in the gaps.

Crocker Highlands (Beth Rhine)
Joaquin Miller
Martin Luther King
New Maxwell Park
Redwood Heights (Sara Stone)
Sankofa Continue Reading


Middle school boys mobilize to keep their coach

Sports4Kids, the nonprofit that runs activities during recess and after school at more than 30 Oakland schools, has decided to pull out of middle schools and focus solely on elementary schools.

A group of eighth-graders at Ascend, a K-8 school in Fruitvale, were concerned about what this would mean for the younger students. They got together and wrote a petition to keep “Coach Josh” next year. One of those students, Jose Jauregui, wrote this piece about why they did it. -Katy

The new depression, it’s hard and confusing even for kids. Oakland, like most of California, is poor and losing money.

It’s understandable why Sports4Kids would have need to leave middle schools. Continue Reading


Gang prevention at a young age

Photo of Jakell Watts, 12, as he graduated from OPD’s gang-prevention program. By Jane Tyska/Staff

I’ve probably interviewed more than a thousand people in the last seven years. A handful of those conversations, details and faces have stuck with me, as others have faded away. A long conversation I had this month with a group of fifth-grade boys about bullying and gangs, I’m very sure, will be one of those.

When I asked these boys what they learned in their gang-prevention program for a story published today, they responded with statements like: “that gangs are bad,” and “gangs can get you killed.”

But you must have known that already, I said. What did you learn?

They looked at each other, then at me. But they hadn’t known that, they said. Continue Reading


So much for innovation

Much of the Oakland school district’s one-time federal stimulus cash — $10.1 million in stabilization funds and about $5 million (half) of the influx of special education money — will simply help to backfill the latest cutbacks expected from the state for this school year and next, Oakland’s CFO, Vernon Hal, reported tonight.

Hal said the federal money was “initially targeted for innovation,” but that plans have changed. He says he’s preparing for an additional $8 million drop in state revenue (about $225 per student) for the current school year alone, which ends June 30. (See his presentation here.)

“With 6 weeks to go, there’s nothing left to do but to backfill those resources,” Hal told the school board tonight.

Here’s the upshot of his presentation: Continue Reading


Tragedy on the schools beat

I subscribe to an email group in which education reporters from around the country share their knowledge of topics typically associated with schools coverage: academic programs, policies, research reports, school finances, testing and No Child Left Behind.

On days like today, it feels like I should have a different job title.

This morning, I met with the family of a Josue Lopez-Gil, a 13-year-old middle school student at Roots Academy  who was shot and killed last night — possibly, by another 13-year-old boy. Continue Reading


The struggle to leave family problems at home

Guadalupe Rodriguez is an eighth-grade student at Westlake Middle School. She wrote the following piece about challenges at home that sometimes distract students from their school work. -Katy

Hi everyone, this is my first time blogging so I hope you all enjoy my writing.

My first blog I chose to write is about family problems and how they affect teens in school. Teachers talk about how bad their students are, but why don’t they look more at the causes? Teens have problems just like adults and it’s harder for us to handle. Some kids have to do so much at home they can’t do their homework. Others have so much on their minds during school it’s impossible for them to think.

Continue Reading


And Oakland’s next schools chief is…

Tony Smith.

UPDATE: You can find the full story about his selection here.

Board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge said the board spent hours deliberating about the finalists and that, after 10:30 p.m., it finally took a unanimous vote to tap Smith for the post.

“We’re really proud that the superintendent search taught us how to be a team,” Hinton Hodge said, describing the end of the intense meeting as “a love fest.”

“I think he’s willing to take risks around some of our big issues,” she said, referring to the district’s achievement gap and other challenges. Continue Reading