Teachers union, district hit another wall

In their final offer to the union’s bargaining team — which was rejected and called “unconscionable” by the union — district administrators offered teachers an unchanged salary schedule (no cuts, no increases) and said they wouldn’t cut elementary school teachers’ prep periods, according to union President Betty Olson-Jones.

Both sides say they want to avoid a strike, but they can’t even seem to agree on whether mediation has ended or whether they can discuss what I just wrote about (you can find the full story here). Continue Reading


Oakland’s chilly classrooms

UPDATE: Craig Gordon says the heat is back on in his classroom.

thermometerIt’s cold outside — and, for a number of Oakland kids and teachers, it’s cold inside, too.

As the frost advisory continues, some Oakland schools or classrooms are without heat. “My kids are sitting here with blue lips, shivering, freezing,” said Corrin Haskell, a fourth-grade teacher at Brookfield Elementary School.

Craig Gordon, a teacher at Paul Robeson High School (Fremont campus) in East Oakland, sent me some photos of his room, including one of a student warming his hands over an LED projector.

“Don’t be fooled by the toasty 58 degrees showing on my thermometer,” he wrote. “My room is several degrees warmer than most, because I have lots of windows collecting southern and western rays.”


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Former Oakland school board member dies at 34

Jason HodgeJason Hodge, the youngest person to win a seat on the Oakland school board, died unexpectedly yesterday at age 34. His cause of death was unavailable.

Hodge, a 1992 Skyline High School graduate, was first elected to the board in 1996 at age 21 and served two terms. He later became the public information officer for Vallejo City Unified.

You can read the Tribune story about him here.


More of OUSD’s small schools might close in 2010

District staff are recommending that Explore Middle School, a small school that opened in East Oakland in 2004, close at the end of the year.

Also on the 2010 closure list are two schools that were scheduled to close a year or two down the road, following a lengthy phase out: BEST High School (McClymonds campus in West Oakland) and Paul Robeson School of Visual and Performing Arts (Fremont campus in East Oakland).

Staff didn’t come out with a definitive recommendation for Martin Luther King Jr. and Lafayette elementary schools in West Oakland Continue Reading


A sped up phase-out at McClymonds

mcclymondsSoon, the McClymonds high school campus will have just one small high school, instead of two.

District staff is recommending that BEST High School close in June — a year earlier than planned, Chief Academic Officer Brad Stam told a crowd gathered at the McClymonds cafeteria tonight.

Stam said it would be unfair to BEST students and too costly for the school district to keep it open next year with just a few dozen students, and that this year’s juniors (the youngest class at BEST) will likely attend EXCEL, the other high school, next fall. This year, the school district is providing a subsidy of about $330,000, Stam said.

EXCEL’s enrollment has dwindled to less than 250, and just 65 juniors and seniors attend BEST, according to a recent districtwide data report. In 2004-05, the year before McClymonds split into two schools as part of the Gates-funded small schools reform, 761 kids went to the West Oakland high school, according to data from the California Department of Education. Continue Reading


Edu-wonk alert! New Web site on high school graduation and higher education in California

high school graduation
photo by Anda Chu/Staff

A new Web site that went live today has no shortage of stats and pretty charts about California youth and higher education: high school graduation trends, completion of a-g requirements in high school, by gender; college enrollment trends; community college completion rates for degree-seekers, etc.

Measuring Success, Making Progress — as the site is called — is funded by the Hewlett Foundation.

What do you make of the information? Does any of it surprise you?

I was struck by the dropoff in the 12th grade between the number of kids who enrolled as seniors and those who received a diploma. ( This was among group of kids whose enrollment was tracked since they were seventh-graders in 2002.)


Survey: Oakland principals like to control their own budgets

THURSDAY UPDATE: You can find the memo here.

A survey of Oakland principals by a local advocacy group found support for the district’s unorthodox, largely decentralized school budgeting system, known as RBB; it also found that one-third of the principals surveyed didn’t feel prepared or equipped to run their entire school budget, as they’re expected to do.

A memo to the superintendent and school board, which contains the survey results and recommendations, was led by Think College Now Principal David Silver and Esperanza (at Stonehurst) Principal Sondra Aguilera. It was staffed by Great Oakland Public Schools, a coalition that supports greater school autonomy, so I would have been surprised if the survey found that principals disliked the model. About half of the OUSD principals completed the survey.

Here is a summary of the findings, straight from the memo: Continue Reading