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Swine flu at school? Probably no need to close

Students with flu symptoms should be immediately sent home from school – or sent to a designated room until they’re picked up.

But except for some rare exceptions, schools should remain open, federal health officials said today. You can read a story about the latest guidelines here.

The Contra Costa health department is setting up vaccination clinics at more than 40 schools this fall for the seasonal flu and, most likely, the swine flu.

Do you think Alameda County should do the same? Continue Reading

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Liquid diet: School officials to fast in protest

A group of school board members, administrators and parents at the Oxnard School District in Ventura County are giving up solid food for seven days in protest of the state budget cuts, according to the Ventury County Star.

They call themselves Solidarity to Achieve and Recover Valued Education, or STARVE.

Do you know anyone in Oakland or Alameda County who has starved themselves for public education? (Skipping lunch to help a struggling student doesn’t count.)

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A “Sotomayor Effect” on Latino schoolkids?

Today, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Hispanic justice on the United States Supreme Court.

Sotomayor is Puerto Rican (born in the states), and she grew up in a housing project in the South Bronx. She was later educated in the Ivy League and served as a federal judge for 17 years.

In an Education Week blog, assistant editor Mary Ann Zehr wondered if this first would trigger – as Sec. of Education Arne Duncan put it — a “Sotomayor Effect.”

No doubt, some Latino youths, and other youths as well, will take note and may pay attention to how working hard in school contributed to her success.

Do you agree?

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A passion for math, science and new ideas

Alanna Reyes is one of 66 teens who spent five weeks immersed in math and science at UC Berkeley this summer. The senior at at Lynbrook High School in San Jose describes her experience at SMASH, an honors program for low-income students. -Katy


courtesy photo

“Is that Relient K? I love that band!” I said to my roommate.

“Yes, it is Relient K. I thought the song fit the weather this week,” she said as she started singing the words. “And on and off, the clouds have fought for control over the sky…”

I looked at the cloudy sky outside of our dormitory window. Even the gloomy day couldn’t dampen my excitement about getting out of the dorm room and meeting the other SMASH scholars before class. It was July, and I was spending five weeks of my summer at UC Berkeley’s campus with more than 60 other high school students.

More than an academic program, SMASH had become a supportive community for me. Not only do SMASH scholars have access to teachers every night during tutorials for two whole hours outside of class, we draw strength and support from other scholars and our Resident Assistants.

Speaking of tutorials, it was time for me to leave the dorm and get to the Tech II tutorial in LeConte Hall. Continue Reading

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It’s that time: Back-to-school giveaways begin

It’s not nearly as bold as the back-to-school strategy that Chicago Public Schools is employing this year, but the Oakland school district’s campaign to encourage timely attendance on Day 1 — Aug. 31 – includes the essentials: free backpacks and school supplies and a chance to register your child for school.

Have little ones? The district is holding two elementary school fairs this Saturday: one from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in West Oakland’s DeFremery Park, and another from noon to 4 p.m. on the other end of the city, at the Arroyo Viejo Recreation Center in East Oakland. If you can’t make those, there’s one from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Family and Community Office, 2111 International Blvd.

For middle and high school families, the big event (co-sponsored by Oakland Natives Give Back and the Oakland Mayor’s Office) is from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23 outside of Oakland City Hall. Continue Reading

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State testing: Which expert has it right?


File photo by Cindi Christi/Bay Area News Group

Academics and other experts debate the merits, pitfalls and politics of standardized testing on a New York Times blog. Below are some excerpts; you can access the responses in full through the above link. In your opinion, who has it right? Who has it wrong?

“Tests covering what students were expected to learn (guided by an agreed-upon curriculum) serve a useful purpose — to provide evidence of student effort, of student learning, of what teachers taught, and of what teachers may have failed to teach.” — Sandra Stotsky

“Test driven, or force-fed, learning can not enrich and promote the traits necessary for life success. Indeed, it is dangerous to focus on raising test scores without reducing school drop out, crime and dependency rates, or improving the quality of the workforce and community life.” — James Comer

Continue Reading

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Why we stay: Reflections of an Oakland teacher

Jill E. Thomas is a fifth-year teacher at Life Academy of Health and Bioscience in Oakland. She wrote this essay on why she and some of her friends have remained in what can be a grueling, anxiety-filled job. -Katy

It’s that time of year when the announcement of a Back To School Sale sends me running to change the radio or TV channel before I have to be reminded that summer is coming to a close. I don’t want to hear about the fall fashion or discounted school supplies; there are still four weeks until the new cohort of ninth graders begin high school and become the focus of my constant attention. I am a fifth-year teacher, and yet I dread the idea of the school year beginning, the exhaustion I will feel after just a few weeks, the sadness that overwhelms me as I learn my students’ stories, and the frustrations I face working in an unjust system.

Why do I dread going back, but make the decision every year to do just that? Continue Reading