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Wanted: Oakland student-bloggers

After sharing their insights with us during the last year and a half, bloggers Jesse Dutton-Kenny, Isabel Rodriguez-Vega and Diamond Broussard are graduating from high school on Friday. I’d like to publicly thank them for their work – and for weathering the (sometimes friendly, sometimes biting) public commentary with grace.

This means, of course, that I’m looking for new Oakland high school student-bloggers. Teachers too.

If you like to write and you would like to share your perspective on going to school and/or growing up in Oakland — or if you know someone who does – please email me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

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Oakland school district hires San Francisco attorney for top legal post

Jacqueline Minor, a former deputy city attorney from across the bay, will soon take charge of the Oakland school district’s legal department. Minor will fill the void left by Deborah Cooksey’s departure in January (shortly after the district filed a lawsuit in federal court against an Oakland law firm, alleging racketeering). 

In 2001, SF Weekly reported that Minor tried to put a stop to an illegal meeting of — get this — San Francisco’s Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, which was formed to increase public access to government.

Here’s what the district put out about Minor’s appointment and her legal background: Continue Reading

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Two choices

Leo Jerald, a sophomore at Fremont Federation’s Media Academy, won a $500 scholarship for this essay in a statewide contest.

I am a young black male growing up in East Oakland. Where I come from, black males are given two choices in life, either school or selling narcotics. This may seem like an easy choice for you, but when your family is hungry and you are the man of the house, you can’t bring a school book home for dinner.

Continue Reading

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Do schools treat teachers like “widgets?”

The New Teacher Project thinks so. The teacher quality research and advocacy group based in Brooklyn, NY, criticizes the way in which teachers are evaluated in a new report titled “The Widget Effect.”

Researchers analyzed the evaluations of teachers in about a dozen districts, from Chicago, Ill., to Little Rock, Ark. They concluded, among other things, that rookie teachers receive little support, that ineffective teachers with tenure are rarely dismissed for poor performance, and that “… on paper, almost every teacher is a great teacher…”

You can find the report here.

Here’s an excerpt: Continue Reading

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Sustenance in the classroom

Kathryn Fishman-Weaver, a special education teacher at ASCEND school in Fruitvale, wrote this piece about a recipe writing project her students recently completed. -Katy


photo courtesy of Kathryn Fishman-Weaver

My grandmother used to tell me a Jewish proverb that “worries go down better with soup.” It’s 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. I am talking to my student Isaiah’s grandmother. I am worried about a bureaucratic decision that I think is under-serving students. Just as my own grandmother would have done, Isaiah’s grandma starts baking for me.

In my multicultural classroom, our common love of food is often a point of connection. In fact some of my sweetest memories as a teacher are of eating with my students and their families: Christian’s mom’s surprise strawberry chalkboard cake; cooking Thanksgiving lunch with my students in our community kitchen, slurping up melting popsicles on the play yard with 20-plus extended family members at a spring party; sipping creamy chocolate with seven-year-olds on the morning of Day of the Dead; an eclectic gratitude potluck that included spaghetti, fried chicken, banana bread, enchiladas, the best flautas ever, and orange soda.

Just as I bring apples and honey to share with my students each Rosh Hoshana, I also bring to the classroom a passion for the written word. Our most recent writing project, a cookbook, combines these two forms of sustenance. Continue Reading