On the agenda: ethics and assets

The Oakland school board goes East on Wednesday, convening its regular meeting at the new Phillip Reeder Performing Arts Center (pictured below) on the Castlemont high school campus, 8601 MacArthur Blvd.

Phillip Reeder Performing Arts Center

On the agenda is a recent asset management study (it addresses, among other things, what the district should do with its underutilized space) and a vote that could influence David Kakishiba’s decision to remain on or leave the school board.

Specifically: Continue Reading


Impress your friends with these facts about the Oakland school district’s assets

Lowell campus
Tribune file photo of KIPP students on the Lowell campus by D. Ross Cameron

Until today, when I saw Oakbook’s report on a new OUSD asset management study and checked it out for myself, I didn’t know that:

  • Oakland’s public, non-charter schools can fit almost two times the number of students that they hold right now.
  • The district’s buildings, in all, are 5.8 million square feet, and its property spans 487 acres.
  • The city’s school-age population (5 to 17 years old) is 68,436. Of that number, 2,504 attend public schools outside of Oakland; 1,386 are not in school at all; Continue Reading

Conflict of interest: a big can of worms?

David KakishibaLawyers spent at least an hour last night laying out the facts and explaining the various bodies of law (Government Code 1090, Common Law, Political Reform Act, Board Bylaws) that led to their conclusion that David Kakishiba’s dual roles as Oakland school board member and executive director of the East Bay Asian Youth Center (EBAYC) pose a potential conflict of interest.

EBAYC has received 64 contracts worth $6.5 million and brought 21 grants worth $8.3 million to the school district since 2004, according to the legal analysis. While Kakishiba says he doesn’t take part in the drafting of those contracts or vote on them, the attorneys say that’s not enough to remedy the appearance of — and opportunity for — impropriety, especially since he’s the head of the nonprofit.

Laura Schulkind of the SF-based law firm Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, which reviewed the case, said “the law doesn’t care” if Kakishiba is a noble and ethical public servant — that the laws were written to protect public institutions from nepotism and conflicting economic interests.

It’s not just Kakishiba who faces a potential conflict in the current situation, in her view. For example: What about an OUSD employee who — through no doing of Kakishiba’s — decides to promote a contract with EBAYC, rather than with another organization, in part because he or she thinks it will please the board member (and, maybe, offer job security)?

Enter the “red flag” e-mail. Continue Reading


The Ed Report joins the 21st Century

I’m pleased to announce that my blog now has some very basic functions. The newly installed “Share/Save” button will let you e-mail, tweet or print individual blog entries, among a slew of other social networking options that I’m totally unfamiliar with. (The initial menu gives you only a few choices; you hit the plus button to get to the printer-friendly option.)

Thanks, TheTruthHurts, for the suggestion.

On another technical note: Between noon and 1 p.m. today, we won’t be able to post anything on the blog, as it’s being moved to a different server.


Kakishiba conflict-of-interest ruling, explained

The Oakland school board will hold a special meeting Wednesday to decide whether to accept a legal opinion of the district’s top lawyer: that board member David Kakishiba can’t wear two hats — as executive director of a nonprofit that works in Oakland schools and as a board member — and avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Although the board doesn’t vote until Wednesday it seemed clear, from their questions and comments, that they’ll do what they can to convince Kakishiba to stay. Continue Reading


A new teacher, hanging by a thread

Dan Adiletta is a first-year teacher at Explore College Preparatory Middle School in East Oakland.

So there I am, fighting for control of a classroom against students sloshing knee-deep in disrespect towards each other and towards me, and all the while my observing school coach is clacking dourly on her computer. I know what my lesson and my classroom management is lacking; I need to include greater academic rigor and better routines and instructions to minimize disruptive behavior.

Tomorrow will be better, I say, I’ll work my tail off to make tomorrow better.

I come home late because of a flurry of mandatory meetings and student requests. I was at school an hour and a half early to prep. My lunch break was 20 minutes. I taught five back-to-back classes that were all a grueling struggle. I sit on my couch, my shirt untucked and left eye twitching, with my head in my hands feeling miserably guilty for failing the students whose education is in peril. Continue Reading


In Memory: Skyline mourns loss of math teacher

Jonathan Trinh is a Skyline High School student.

This past weekend the Skyline community endured another devastating loss of a beloved teacher. Mr.  James Delbridge passed away after battling cancer for many years.

Monday morning began with a school-wide notification and touching eulogy by English teacher Mr. Tim Jollymore. Some staff and parents were informed of his passing the day before.

Many students that knew him shed tears as the announcement was made. Teachers were also broken up by the loss. Six substitutes, for instance, were ordered to fill in for teachers that appeared to be absent as a result.

Mr. Delbridge taught math in the Oakland Unified School District for twenty years and was an avid supporter of Skyline. Continue Reading


Too many standards, too little time

Steven Weinberg, a recently retired Oakland middle school teacher, critiques California’s content standards.

Having written previously about ways education has improved in the 40 years since I began teaching, I would like to address one change that I do not believe has been beneficial: the attempt to make “content standards” the basis for everything in education.

The standards movement, which began about 20 years ago, is an effort to improve K-12 education by creating a list of content standards for each course and grade level, telling teachers exactly what needs to be taught and measuring what students have learned using tests built around those standards. California started generating these standards about 12 years ago, and now has content standards and tests for English, Math, Science, and History. These standards list between 40 and 70 things that need to be taught in each subject, each year. With 180 days in a school year, it is clear that this allows only two to four days per standard.

These standards are based on a misconception of what education is. Continue Reading


It’s a teacher!

Who says showers have to be limited to new babies and new couples? From 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday in Rockridge, the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute is throwing a shower for new teachers.

Any newbie from the area’s public or private schools is invited to partake in the oohing, aahing and gifting that will take place at the College Avenue Presbyterian Church, 5951 College Avenue, Oakland, according to the e-mail notice I received. Veteran teachers and local office supply stores have donated books and other classroom materials for the occasion.

Questions? E-mail Bob Houghteling, director of the institute, at bob@ba-tii.org.

photo from WonderMike’s photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons