Boo! Hiss!

image by Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group-East Bay

I wasn’t at yesterday’s local control ceremony, but I read that a number of teachers — protesting the bargaining impasse — were shouting over the speakers, booing and hissing. (Is hissing particularly popular in the Bay Area/California? My first exposure to this form of protest was in Hayward, over four years ago.)

I often hear that teachers want to be seen — and treated — as professionals, and most would agree that they should be.  Continue Reading


Impasse declared in contract negotiations

UPDATE: The story on yesterday’s local control ceremony, by my colleague Kristin Bender.


Just as State Superintendent Jack O’Connell decided he would return local control to the Oakland school board — and days before Superintendent Tony Smith begins his job (Wednesday) — O’Connell’s appointee announced an impasse in bargaining with the district’s largest union, said Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland Education Association.

Olson-Jones said some school board members were unaware that this had happened. More on this later. I’m headed back to California now.


And the state takeover comes to an end

It’s taken the better part of a decade, but the Oakland school board — not the state superintendent — will finally, once again, call the shots. Tonight, the board approved an agreement to restore local governance to the district, six years after the fiscal crisis and state takeover of 2003.

The transfer will be made official on Monday, two days before Tony Smith assumes the superintendent’s post. Continue Reading


Going to private school: same city, different world

Marcus Garrette, 15, writes about the social and academic challenges he faced when he went from an Oakland public high school to a private school in the 10th grade, and how his outlook shifted during the year. -Katy

When I began school last fall, I thought that it was going to be an amazing year where my friends and I would spend time relaxing while working hard, seeing how we had already completed our first year at Skyline High School and we were now sophomores. I was taking a few advanced classes and the regular required classes, plus I was in the school jazz band and was happy, overall, with my schedule.

As my first week of school progressed, it was feeling similar to last year. I spent a lot of time joking around but getting work done at the same time. I was very content with how things were going. This would change VERY soon and VERY fast.

Towards the end of that first week, a fellow schoolmate from my jazz band walked up to me and told me something that my sister had told her. The schoolmate told me, “Marcus! You’re going to Bentley?!” and I quickly responded with “What? No I’m not,” because at that point, I had no idea what Bentley was. The only other time I had heard that name was in reference to a luxury car. Continue Reading


The big hole in Oakland Unified’s budget

It’s about $18 million, as of now, according to CFO Vernon Hal. And that’s if the state doesn’t cut another penny.

This coming school year, that hole will be filled with a bunch of one-time money: federal stimulus funds, unspent cash from previous years, and other sources that probably won’t be around next June. (No, that doesn’t include the problems uncovered by a private auditing firm this spring — or the $15 million from the state loan that will likely be used to pay for it. That’s not an ongoing expense, hopefully. ) Continue Reading


Oasis charter school to close

Oasis High School, a 5-year-old alternative charter school that serves about 180 teens who have dropped out, been kicked out, or otherwise been displaced from other schools, will close its doors this summer. State Administrator Vincent Matthews decided tonight to close Oasis by not renewing its charter.

“Staff agonized over this decision, as I did,” Matthews said, as teachers and supporters listened in silence. Continue Reading


It pays to be a superintendent

All of this discussion about the pay and benefits for Oakland’s new superintendent spurred me to find out how other top dogs in the Bay Area are compensated. With help from my reporter colleagues, I compiled the below sampling of their pay and perks.

I don’t have all of the benefit totals, and some of these folks might be in for another raise come July 1, but it’ll give you a better idea of what these people are taking home. Any guesses on the top earner? Continue Reading


The Oakland principal shuffle

As I browsed the latest personnel report today, I recognized the names of several appointees from previous roles.

Mary Scott, the ousted principal of Oakland High, will head east to become an assistant principal at Castlemont’s Business Information & Technology School. Lauren Klaffky, an AP under Scott at Oakland High (and a relatively new administrator, according to her Linked In page), is headed up the hill to the Skyline principal’s office.

Anisa Rasheed, who lost her job in 2008 as principal of Paul Robeson School of the Visual & Performing Arts (East Oakland’s Fremont campus), will be an AP at Oakland Tech. Phil Cotty, Continue Reading


Kindergarten enrollments in the hills

I blogged in March about school assignment letters and the spike in neighborhood applications at Oakland’s high-altitude schools.

Well, some people may have just been hedging by applying to their local public school. In some cases, the actual registration numbers at these high-demand schools — while still high — are lower they were back then, or have remained steady. Redwood Heights looks particularly overcrowded, but the 54 children will be split between two and a half classrooms.


Chabot 97 87 Continue Reading