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Cox Academy charter: denied

Tonight, the Oakland school board voted 5-2 to deny the renewal of Cox Academy — an elementary school in East Oakland that underwent a controversial charter conversion in 2005 during the Randy Ward era — despite its 78-point jump on the 1,000-point Academic Performance Index last year and a room full of parents who spoke in its support.

Typically, charters are renewed for five years. But the district’s charter schools office director, David Montes de Oca, recommended the board grant just a two-year, conditional extension. He said the school was making progress and that he had confidence in its new leader and its teaching staff. Still, he said, he had numerous concerns, including the school’s history of “opaque” management and the fact that its African-American students’ test scores have lagged, falling short of federal test score goals.

“The school is largely an underdeveloped program,” Montes de Oca said. “I remain uneasy.”

Legally, Montes de Oca said, the board would be justified whether or not it approved the charter renewal. But, he said, narrowing the achievement gap at the school “is going to be an uphill battle,” regardless of whether it’s run by a charter group or the district. Given that challenge and the school’s progress, he said, stability could be crucial.

Jumoke Hinton Hodge and Noel Gallo agreed, but their colleagues took a harder line. David Kakishiba recalled the rhetoric at the time of the charter conversion; he said its founders promised huge academic gains and said the school district made too many excuses for failure. Five years later, he said, Cox has yet to meet NCLB targets.

Alice Spearman, who represents the neighborhood where Cox is located, told parents in the audience they had been “sold a bill of goods,” and that the dynamic new principal, Enikia Ford-Morthel — the third leader in five years — wasn’t enough to change her mind.

“The lady’s got energy, yes she do. Like her,” Spearman said. “But something is wrong with this kitchen.”

Karole Brown, whose son is a first-grader at Cox, said she knew the school needed to make some changes, but that she felt the decision was political — and that she felt confident the County Board of Education would approve their appeal.

“”You want your school back, that’s what you told us,” she told Spearman during the meeting.

Brown said parents in the low-income neighborhood have limited options. Reach, the district school that shares the campus with Cox, has an API of 596 out of 1,000, one of the lowest elementary school test scores in the city. (In 2008, Cox’s API was 587.)

Earlier in the evening, the board approved an extension of World Academy, which is also run by the small Education for Change charter management organization. The vote was six yes, one “um-hmm.” Spearman was asked to clarify her vote, and she did. (Yes.)

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://yahoo.com teacherspet

    The district should be taking a very close look at all the schools on the Cox site. Our students deserve better. But, this current process of school and community representatives being forced to attend school board meetings and beg for their schools to remain open needs to change. The school district needs to be more proactive and transparent in its expectations for all Oakland schools, espectially those in need of further support like Cox.

  • Joe Public

    My understanding is that EFC wasn’t concerned about Cox being denied by the district. That’s probably why their CEO didn’t even try to speak on the behalf of the organization’s schools (even the approved one). Apparently there are some connections with the county that they are sure will approve their charter.

    I also agree with teacherspet above. There has to be more oversight but not to just the Cox campus, but of these “non profit” organizations that have these hundreds of thousands and even millions in reserve… but don’t spend it on the kids or schools.

    I wonder if EFC could have spent some of the money that they have built up in their reserves on improving the conditions of Cox starting year 1 versus the late “hail mary” passes of the past year?

  • Jack Spencer

    Hey “Joe Public” your understanding is completely wrong. Besides the fact that the PARENTS speaking out on the schools and are a far better advocate than the CEO. What kind of oversight do you want to see? These people aren’t driving cadillacs, they are paying teachers and expensive health care packages.

    You people should really do your homework before you begin casting spurious allegations.

    Also, considering how big of a financial travesty most schools are on, is hammering the charter for being conservative with their money such a bad thing? They have money to pay their teachers, which is more than a lot can say.

    Alice Spearman is a disrespectful, unprofessional, biased menace. Not just to this charter school, but to anybody. She is an egocentric, small minded bully and needs to be primaried. Oh! That’s right, nobody votes in those elections. It’s a shame, I live in her district and would gladly vote for a challenger.

  • Filly

    Just as all (most) teachers have their students interests in mind and most workers have their customers in mind, administrators and corporate management tend to be more interested in power trips, looking good, and their quotas/goals/API. Witness the fact that during any teacher meeting at OUSD, we teachers are reminded that there is a budget crisis and we can’t be served food, yet administrators who make (on average) $100,000+ a year are served breakfast and lunch. (By the way, as a 20 year veteran with 4 credentials I make $65k. A new principal (with 3 years experience and 2 credentials starts at about 97k for a large elementary and it goes up from there.) take a look at Tony Smith’s generous salary/benefit/perk package. I think it’s fair to look at costs. I think teachers are hearty enduring souls. Administrators, not so much. I think it’s perfectly valid to follow the money trail. Don’t be so naive. By the way, where is Tony Smith? Is he so busy he can’t meet with his rank and file. Can he bother to communicate with us once in a while? I’ve heard not a peep!

  • Filly

    I apologize for not proofreading–please excuse my capitalization and punctuation errors.

  • TheTruthHurts

    I agree with teacherspet. We need some standards.

    Filly, I thought most administrators are former teachers. Am I wrong about that?

  • Filly

    Some were only in the classroom for a couple of years, some leave teaching because they can’t handle it anymore and become principals. One principal told she became one so she could tell people what to do. (Nice, uh?) The superintendent has NO teaching or site administrative experience. Maybe that’s why he’s so timid.

  • Filly

    Gee, I really need to proofread. I apologize again!

    Also, some leave teaching and become principals because they can’t handle being in the classroom any more, or they never could handle it. Principals are supervised but again it’s all about test scores not teacher support and best practices. There’s so much talking about supporting teaching but not much action. I know some schools have wonderful active principals who were great teachers and are invested in coaching and improving teaching practices. Sadly, I’ve never had them as supervisors.

  • chauncey

    Hey charters- I warned all of you in the past…Its payback time. Only Aspire and corporations as such will be safe!

    When will OUSD be held to the same standards as charters?

    Look at Kansas City… One day!

  • Mr. Thoughts

    I think the biggest disappointment with this entire process and issue is that it is not about these kids.

    Some interesting statistics to consider:

    Cox Elementary API Scores 2001-2004 (Before EFC):

    2001- 448
    2002- 559
    2003- 571
    2004- 534

    Cox Elemntary API Scores 2005-2009 (WITH EFC):

    2005- 581
    2006- 556
    2007- 609
    2008- 587
    2009- 665

    In both the defense of Oakland Unified and EFC, there were up years and down years and a lot of factors that go into the influx. However, from 2001-2004 Cox Academy never scored above 600 while under the direction of Oakland Unified.

    Now, this is where I beleive things start to become troubling. Reach Academy which shares its campus with Cox and is run by Oakland Unified:

    2009- 596
    2008- 567
    2007- 490
    2006- 600 (had a smaller set of students tested than years before and the State of CA noted that)

    It is quite evident that Cox and EFC has continually outperformed Reach,as well as, made significant improvements in the last year alone (78pt jump).

    Furthermore, when looking at the over all schools in trouble in the Oakland Unified School District, you start to wonder why would they want to take over another school??:

    Total Schools Underperfoming in Oakland Unified: 70
    Total Elemntary Schools Underperforming in Oakland Unfified: 43…. Over 50%

    Piedmont Avenue Elementary
    Westlake Middle
    Carter Middle
    Havenscourt Middle
    King Estates Middle
    Madison Middle
    King (Martin Luther Jr.) Elementary
    Burbank Elementary
    Skyline Senior High
    Laurel Elementary
    Santa Fe Elementary
    Sequoia Elementary
    Harte (Bret) Middle
    Claremont Middle
    Prescott Elementary
    Roosevelt Middle
    Arts (Alternative)
    Glenview Elementary
    Emerson Elementary
    La Escuelita Elementary
    Oakland Senior High
    Hawthorne Year-Round Elementary
    Page 2 of 102
    County District Sschool
    Oakland Unified Golden Gate Elementary
    Garfield Year-Round Elementary
    Fruitvale Elementary
    Franklin Year-Round Elementary
    Far West (Cont.)
    Street Academy (Alter)
    East Bay Conservation Corps Charter
    Castlemont Senior High
    Toler Heights Elementary
    McClymonds Senior High
    Jefferson Year-Round Elementary
    Oakland Technical Senior High
    Allendale Elementary
    Bella Vista Elementary
    Brookfield Village Elementary
    Burckhalter Elementary
    Cole Elementary
    Foster Middle
    Cox Elementary
    Sherman (Elisabeth) Elementary
    Fremont Senior High
    Maxwell Park Elementary
    Lowell Middle
    Hoover Elementary
    Simmons (Calvin) Middle
    Frick Middle
    Elmhurst Middle
    Whittier Elementary
    Webster Academy (K-6)
    Washington Elementary
    Sobrante Park Elementary
    Highland Elementary
    Parker Elementary
    Mann (Horace) Elementary
    Markham Elementary
    Manzanita Elementary
    Page 3 of 102
    County District Sschool
    Oakland Unified Longfellow Elementary
    Lockwood Elementary
    Lazear Elementary
    Lakeview Elementary
    Lafayette Elementary
    Swett (John) Elementary
    Marshall Elementary
    Brewer (Edna) Middle
    Oakland Charter Academy

    So my question now becomes, WHY? Why would Oakland Unified want this school back?

    Ok- we all know why…

    But, if for one minute had they stopped and looked at the real information in front of them and not the $$ behind the closed door, then I think we would have seen a different outcome.

    I hope that this situation continues to play out over the coming weeks. More than anything, I hope more people take note of the process that has unfolded over the last few weeks,and people start to see that at the end of the day, these decisions, effects these kids and their futures.

    One last note- I am starting to think Ms. Spearman may need to attend one of Cox Academy’s classes to learn proper English and also some appropriate behavior.

  • district employee

    Filly,

    The base salary for a Principal with the credentials you describe is $78K. Maybe it’s $97K if you include benefits, but your $65K doesn’t include benefits, so lets compare apples.

    You may not be served food at work because your Principal has prioritized other expenditures at the school site, like pencils or translators or any number of things. If you’d like to encourage your Principal to re-prioritize food, I’m sure your faculty council or school site council would be willing to consider that proposal. While meals were commonly found at administrative meetings a few years ago, they are far more restricted now – maybe a few bagels and coffee at a 7am meeting or some sandwiches when a meeting goes until 8p.

    I don’t see a lot of benefit to children that comes from pitting teachers against administrators. I think we’re all in the same boat here, trying to do a lot with a little.

  • Harold

    @Cauncey, you said “When will OUSD be held to the same standards as charters?”

    my reply – when will charters take all children? When will Oakland charters take in special education students (severely handicapped, etc.)? When will charters become NCLB compliant?

  • Harold

    @District Employee, you said “I don’t see a lot of benefit to children that comes from pitting teachers against administrators. I think we’re all in the same boat here, trying to do a lot with a little.”

    When i don’t see any administrators crossing picket lines, then maybe i’ll feel we are all in the same boat.

  • Cranky Teacher

    Mr. Thoughts, while I think all your play with numbers is actually nearly meaningless, I will point out that even by the rules of the comparison you set up, the logic does not hold:

    Cox 2007: 609
    Cox 2009: 665
    ————-
    Improvement: +56

    Reach 2007: 490
    Reach 2009: 596
    —————-
    Improvement +106

    And the reason I say these numbers are meaningless are they are MEASURING TEST SCORES FROM DIFFERENT SETS OF CHILDREN — both between schools and between years.

    Even if the tests were valid indicators of learning (they’re not), and even if students actually tried their best (they don’t), we are comparing different sets of students as if they were all the same lump of play-doh.

    The numbers are valid only as general indicators charted over time, yet we run around making huge claims based on statistically insignificant variations and false comparisons.

    But then, what can we expect in a society that doesn’t particularly value education for poor children in the first place?

  • Paul Warner

    Look, all I want to know is who that incoherent jackass with the bowtie is. He seems to have a definite agenda and has designated himself the critic of all charters, but his endless bleating is a major distraction from actual issues and doesn’t seem to be even be related to the issue at hand. I’d sooner listen to paint peel then hear another diatribe of his enemies list.

    I suppose that is the problem with public forums though. I think hell would be sitting in a room and being forced to listen to him and Spearman prattle on talking at each other. “um-hmm.”

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Harold, your statement goes both ways. When you CHOOSE to strike you are separating yourself. To then attack people who don’t separate themselves with you seems disingenuous.

    It seems silly when everyone acknowledges that most Oakland employees from the bottom to just under the top, are underpaid for what they do. The fact that some would choose to deal with the situation differently certainly doesn’t change what boat they’re in. Maybe they’ve been watching the news and they see what’s going on around them across the state.

    Wait to you see parents who have been furloughed, fired and foreclosed come out of pocket for childcare on 4/22. I’m sure for many, solidarity only goes so far.

  • Harold

    @TheTruthHurts – there’s management and there’s labor. We are not on the same team PERIOD!

    Since its public record – we all know that there are too many “administrators” in OUSD. Cut the fat. Families, parents, guardians, etc., are our allies. They will side with Teachers over the bloated OUSD administrative staff, every time, in my opinion.

  • Harold

    While everyone was getting raises and bonuses, during the Bush administration … we were told to wait. The district under state control DID NOT lessen our debt to the state (incompetence).

    Administrators and the Board of Ed. got raises. Well now, we are not waiting anymore. That is the choice we had to make.

  • Makes Sense to Me

    Cranky,

    The best way to compare these two schools is to compare there genesis and where they are now.

    The founding of both schools were starkly different.
    Reach began from scratch, starting with a kindergarten class the first year, then adding a new grade-level each subsequent year, and now service students k – 5. Most students at Reach have only known the Reach model of education. The teachers who decided to work there (from the start and after) joined on because they believed in the philosophy of the small school model. Both of these factors should have allowed for a more rapid rate of success. Officially, there have been two principals at Reach in the past 4 years. If you speak to teachers and community members they may tell you that more than 4 people have been running that school in the past 4 years.

    EFC-Cox on the other hand inherited students who had been taught in the dysfunctional system of E. Morris Cox. Bad habits had to be relearned, students who had poor educational experiences has to be retaught. EFC-Cox also inherited a cohort of dysfunctional teachers from E. Morris Cox (I believe that none of the original teachers have been there for at least a year now). The present staff has had little turnover and is responsible for the recent gains.

    In 2007 Reach was listed in the SF Chronicle as one of the lowest performing schools in the Bay Area. They had nowhere to go but up. The teachers and parents at Reach work hard at providing the Reach students with a solid education. The problem is that Reach now, as it did when it was part of E. Morris Cox, continues to suffer from a lack of support from the district. Where’s Ms. Spearman been? Isn’t this site in her district?

    One of the biggest differences between EFC at Cox and Reach, is the level of support and attention provided by their central offices. This is why EFC should have had it’s charter renewed as Mr. Montes de Oca suggested.

    OUSD is broken, and until it is fixed charter organizations and small schools should be given a chance to provide more effective opportunities for the children in Oakland.

  • J.R.

    It’s a shame that all we hear is “what’s in it for me” or “picket line this – picket line that”. I ask you “what about the kids”, shouldn’t they come first in any discussion of any issue at hand? We pay 9K-10K per child to educate them(250-300K per class)where are the results, and where does the money get squandered? It’s more than enough if you use the money wisely.Right now what really hurts is that we are terminating a lot of young, highly motivated, energetic, caring(highly trained NCLB compliant) teachers solely because of seniority, not competence.Our kids are getting the shaft and they will suffer for it.

  • Filly

    District Employee: Chuckle. I don’t want food. (Food is restricted at district teacher trainings, but apparently not at administrator meetings.) I think it’s a waste of money. I was pointing out that there’s a lot of waste, especially at the administrative level. We were able to fund 2 field trips by cutting out the light snacks served at meetings at our very small school. Think what could happen if food was really cut at all meetings! Even the school board & staffers get a fully catered hot meal at their meetings. Just think of the money we could save and use for the real purpose of school–educating kids!!!

  • Chauncey

    Harold-NCLB Compiant? Yeah-lets leave the worst schools stay open with no scrutiny, and while charter schools get attackec and closed withn 5 years due to federal bureucracy! Typical old insitutional think sir.

    I dont care what you say, OUSD is bad. Charters be ready there is an agends rolled out and Harold and all those union, old guard education believers are a comin!!

  • Jim Mordecai

    I believe the CEO of Education for Change (EFC) is still on leave as an administrator for OUSD. That fact shows the special relationship behind the converting of Cox and Hawthorne to corporate properties.

    The Perimeter Primate Dec. 17, 2009 blog provides research on the salary of Kevin Wooldridge and other EFC administrators. With the School Board not renewing EFC’s charter, at the close of the year EFC’s CEO Wooldridge will have a District of two schools on the same campus–Perhaps Toni Smith will now suffer from workload envy with over a hundred schools and little more than twice CEO Wooldridge’s salary.

    From Perimeter Primate:

    “Charter management organizations are structured much like school districts. Controlling the schools are top managers and a non-elected board of directors, with sometimes an advisory board. EFC, with only three elementary schools so far, is like a “mini-district.” The CEO holds a position similar to OUSD’s superintendent.

    Salaries and benefits (from EFC’s available 990s, EIN 20-2204424, from NCCS). The other expenses our tax dollars are paying for (legal fees, computer support, architects, etc.) are listed in the 990s.

    CEO

    2005 – $174,586
    2006 – $189,437
    2007 – $194, 850
    VP/Chief Operating Officer

    2005 – $148,398
    2006 – $147,317
    2007 – na
    Chief Academic Officer

    2005 – $120,000
    2006 – $137,478
    2007 – $140,725
    Controller

    2005 – na
    2006 – $109,124
    2007 – $128,981
    Site Director

    2005 – $110,000
    2006 – $124,487
    2007 – $127,735
    Top principal (one of three)

    2005 – $107,198
    2006 – $110,956
    2007 – $113,663”

    The original plan made sense because there were as many as 14 OUSD schools that potentially could be converted to charters and having such a top heavy administration might not be so bad with the fantastic results they believed they could achieve. Two schools and less than dramatic results do not justify the above EFC corporation’s payroll. It was State Administrator Randy Ward’s use of the undemocratic power of the State that made this conversion of 3,000 OUSD students to an EFC charter school possible. This conversion was not example of charter school choice.

    Jim Mordecai

  • In Defense of Public Education

    As some one familiar with the situation at Reach/Cox, I would just like to say, comparing the two schools is essentially comparing apples to oranges. First of all, the two schools enroll different populations (Cox-65% Latino, 27% African American, 8% other; Reach-34% Latino, 55% African American, 11% other).

    Second of all, Cox has expelled students on several occasions for behavior issues, who then immediately enrolled at Reach. It seems once again that charter schools are able to exclude difficult students who public schools MUST include.

    Third, Cox seems to have superior financial resources. Reach teachers have literally gone “dumpster diving” to rescue materials that still have life in them that Cox teachers had thrown away.

    Let’s not assume a direct comparison of schools is necessarily valid in this situation…

    Finally, “Teacherspet” the district IS taking a close look at this situation. Reach has had a MUCH needed change in leadership this year, and after being ignored by the district for several years, is finally receiving a minimal level of support and attention. I would expect that test scores will reflect this over the next few years…

  • B. Frank

    So let me understand this Joe Public, you think that building a reserve to weather tough financial times is irresponsible? So are you currently working in OUSD’s department of finance or were you one of the people responsible for creating the past disasters?
    I think it would benefit OUSD to close all of the Education for Change schools because clearly the people who work there need to take over the management of OUSD’s finances.
    I would like to beg the city and district to not televise board meetings. I’m sitting in front of my television horrified, amused and flabbergasted. The level of mental imbalance, rudeness, hostility and ignorance is incomprehensible. Do you really think any family would be motivated to send their children to public schools in this city unless they have no other option after view these spectacles you call board meetings? There is no better way to encourage families to flee the district than flaunting rudeness, crudeness, self centered adult oriented political decision making and ignorance in public.
    Director London is currently on screen talking about bringing in additional funds through philanthropy. Do you not see the ignorance that surrounds you? Did you just not vote to close a school because you were so concerned about lack of achievement, while seeming to be completely uninterested in where those students will attend school in the future? Do you want those students to go to REACH? Do you really care where they go? If so please put out a public announcement where those students who are now attending Cox should go. In addition, please look at the four schools clustered around 98th and Bancroft. If the newspaper is correct OUSD operates three of the four schools. Enough has been said about REACH. The other two OUSD schools are on the list of the state’s worst schools. Director London, are you getting a clue now? Are you going to transport the students to your daughter’s school in a very different neighborhood?
    Director Gallo is right. PEOPLE ARE FED UP WITH OUSD! Only people who want to throw away their money would donate a penny.
    Director Kakishiba is removing himself because of his relationship East Bay Asian Youth Center. Let’s get real, the fix is in!!!!!! How much does he make? SCAM! SCAM! SCAM!
    The phone rings, oh, it’s someone wanting to talk about the meeting on TV. She’s fascinated by the board member who chest bumps teachers…. oh no, Director Spearman, I guess the chest bumping is just the tip of the iceberg! Of course, the way you behave on TV probably pales in comparison to……..
    Is Dobbins the one who forms special relationships with female high school students?
    I could go on for days about this stellar group. Lord help us all.

  • Joe Public

    B. Frank I don’t see anything wrong with building and maintaining a reserve, but its the “self-preservation” that gets to me. Jim’s post above about the top heaviness of EFC is incredible although baed on some quick research there is at least one glaring number difference:.

    According to the SARC’S on EFC’s website there are only about 1225 total students on its three campuses…not 3000.

    My rough math computes that there is at least a $600K administrative charter management office overhead on an annual basis not including its “support staff”. For fun and giggles let’s throw in the site administrators of at least three principals (I’m assuming 3 unless the CMO administrators do some of that) and we easily get close to or over that $1 million mark.

    Maybe its just me, but it sure sounds like a lot of money to “administrate” three schools with approximately 1225 students.

    At the end of the day is this about kids, school choice and/or scoring high on state tests, or is this a glaring example NCLB’s true meaning…No Corporation Left Behind through the privatization of public funds into the hands of “non-profit” entities?

    I digress…

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    Katy: Did you catch that comment above by Paul Warner March 12th, 2010 at 12:19 pm? Is it acceptable to use the work “…jack—…” on this blog?

  • B. Frank

    Exactly Joe Public, it’s about kids, and choice. The families who live next to Cox and REACH can currently choose between the two schools. I know which one is better because I visited both with my sister when she was choosing a school for my niece and nephew. There is clear difference between the two schools and I’m not only talking about which has higher scores. No child in my family will ever go to REACH!

    Please don’t judge all African Americans by the buffoon on the school board who says she’s working for her community. Believe it or not African Americans and Hispanics are quite capable of choosing which school we should send our children to. I would like to know the real reasons the board taking away a clearly better choice from our community. Yes Kakishiba, London, Dobbins and Yee, we don’t all operate on the same level as your colleague A. Spearman. Can you not put a muzzle on her and make the student director a voting member?

    I know being white or Asian has provided the four you with privileges you clearly don’t want everyone to have. But please tell us if your child’s school was being closed, removing it as an option for you while a worse one was staying open, what reaction would the four of you have? Answer this question honestly and return a little creditability to you rhetoric. Rest assured this question will asked of you in public.

    By the way I would like to which schools Kakishiba’s group works with and what they have accomplished other than providing him with a paycheck.

    Joe Public, if you want to talk about NCLB, which school should be closed first, the one with a score of 665 or the one which is more than 65 points lower? If this weren’t about politics the answer would be clear. An by the way, have you read the list that schools that Oakland should close if they are going to provide a consistent standard? It’s massive.

    I have no idea what staffing is needed to manage benefits, accounts payable, attendance reporting and all the other things I probably wouldn’t think of even if I spent the rest of the night thinking about it. That said, I would bet you don’t either. How much does OUSD spend for all of that?!

  • lbreal

    In Defense of Public Education, since you are so familiar with the situation, why aren’t you explaining why there is a difference in the racial balance at REACH and Cox? You had a team on people who were paid to plan and develop a program from scratch. What a luxury! You all chose not to begin your school with a bilingual program and you didn’t understand that you would be less appealing to Spanish speaking families?!

    What does your statement about the difference if racial make up imply?

    OUSD has gotten mega money from Gates, Broad and other sources. OUSD continues to waste and squander it’s resources. Are you then saying other schools, districts and organizations should be punished for OUSD’s lack of ability to manage and leverage funding? Or should they just be criticized for making their funding visible at the site level in terms of resources?

    You also stated that REACH had been ignored in the past and now is receiving a minimum level of support. It sounds like MUCH MORE OVERSIGHT IS NEEDED IN OUSD! Surely those of you calling for more oversight for other schools are not suggesting that OUSD is in a position to call for it let alone provide it!

    Cox has received students that have been put out from REACH and other schools. Explain that please!

    Oh, just out of curiosity, did Alice Spearman ask members of your staff and community if they wanted to “step outside” when she met with them? It would be interesting to know if that was special behavior reserved for us.

  • inquiring minds

    Ms. Murphy,this is a request for you. I understand that Cambridge Education did a review of OUSD and its schools in the not too distance past. It seems that these reports have been hidden and staff and board members are acting as if there was never a review. Can you force the district to make the Cambridge report or reports available to the public please?! I’m sure they must have been paid for with public funds. I guess it’s possible they were paid for with some of the millions and millions of dollars the foundations have so foolishly invested in OUSD. I would assume that the freedom of the information would make it impossible for the district to refuse to make them available to the public.

    Mr. Dobbins, Ms. London, Mr.Yee and Mr. Kakishiba are you so irresponsible that you have not read the reports? Are you the reason that they are being hidden? Are you throwing stones from house not of glass, but of smoke and mirrors?

    We will rise and rise again, until the lambs become lions.

  • Just a Resident

    Is it just me or have I missed something in this “conversation”? Did anyone read the report on the Cox Charter? There are not many school in Oakland that are making the grade, charter or public. So when the time comes for an evlauation should there be a sacred cow? I do believe there is freedom of speech in this country, so why when there are other’s who do not espouse to “your” belief’s, there has to be a villian? If all this energy were given to ensuring that all public education were there to serve our children, then we would not have this discussion.
    What I have witnessed in my years following the state of education in this city, Ms. Spearman’s message has been the same for over 20+ years, which is more than I have heard from many, “Mediocrcy is not an Option” pulic or charter schools. That is why she was re-elected for her second term.
    Katy, I have read this blog since the beginning, this non tolerance is just too much, it is so sad that this is what life has come to in supposedly decent conversation,this is the last time I will read this blog. Some of you need to GET A LIFE!

  • Teacher

    Yes, please research Cambridge. That firm came to our school and the feedback was a joke. But if I knew how much the district had paid that firm, I would not be laughing.

  • Proud EFC Parent

    As an EFC parent I want to say EFC has my full support. I have seen the hard work and dedication to improvement. My son is in third grade and I love his teacher and the staff. My son is safe and well cared for at school. He is receiving an excellent education. I am an involved parent and have always been. I know that makes a big difference. At monthly grade level parent meetings we all have the opportunity to find out what our kids are learning each month. Each time the principal has a teacher actually give us a sample lesson. All parents are encouraged to participate and the meetings are held in both English and Spanish. The Home Office team is always at the school. I have had the opportunity to meet and talk with them all. I know when they go into classrooms the kids don’t even turn around because they are so used to them being there. I was struck by the Reach teacher who said they are finally starting to get minimal support. It made me so thankful to have my son where he is. I will be one of the many parents fighting so EFC continues!

  • AC Mom

    Mr. Thoughts:

    Could you please post a link to the site where you found the data on underperforming OUSD schools? Thanks.

  • Inquiring Minds

    Ms Murphy,
    It seems there are more than a few of us who want the OUSD Cambridge Report to come to light. Someone left a gift in my mailbox this morning. It is a copy of the Cambridge report dated July 2009. It is quite damning of the district! Would you like a copy or have you already seen it?

  • Cranky Teacher

    Cambridge Education is just a private company that charges districts to tell them what they already know.

    At our school, they came for a day then made a bunch of recommendations that aren’t allowed under CA. ed code or our union contract, such as giving department chairs evaluation authority, etc. It was just a drive-by eval with a prepared list of prescriptions.

    People need to have a higher standard for data and analysis — it is not all of equal quality or thoughtfulness.

  • Inquiring Minds

    Cranky Teacher

    Why does OUSD use Cambridge to evaluate charters without publishing their own results? It seems very unfair. Have you read the Cambridge report about OUSD?

  • Ree Leeved

    5 years ago my school (now retired) was targeted as one of the 12 charters. Many were interested in the charter movement but none wanted to work for the CEO. After listening to Mr. Montes and the OUSD school board I know that the 10 schools that stayed with OUSD made the right decision.

  • Joe Public

    In the money driven business of education–Cambridge has established themselves as the leading “accepted” voice. The true business side of education opening itself to any entrepreneur has flourished under NCLB. Every district and charter organization is tripping over itself to get the word form the Cambridge “oracles”. I’d wager that Cox has a Cambridge report also.

    I’m looking for angel investors to help me start some sort of school business. I want to feed at the trough too. Any takers?

  • Steven Weinberg

    Cambridge had contracts totaling $471,542 to review 33 regular schools and 13 charters. One contract specified $56,000 for 288 hours of work, or $194.44 per hour. All of this is available on the district website, click on Governing Board then Legislation and search for Cambridge.

    “Consultants: If you can’t be part of the solution there is money to be made by prolonging the problem.” (Despair, Inc., makers of great posters.)

  • TimeForChange

    What isn’t REACH in Program Improvement? The AYP scores are unacceptable and somehow, REACH has continued to evade PI status.

  • Havehadenough

    In response to TimeForChange:
    Because it is in OUSD!!!

  • TimeForChange

    Well, something is fishy when a school like REACH isn’t even on the state intervention list. I don’t know if it was a true oversight or if someone made a deal with state officials to ignore REACH’s poor academic performance. It’s wrong.

  • Steven Weinberg

    Reach probably avoided the state’s list of unperforming schools because it has shown 100 points of API growth in the last two years. Normally the state looks at 5 years of growth, but apparently it does not count years in which a school has fewer than 100 students tested, so 2007, when Reach had a 108 point drop did not count against it since it had only 42 students counting for API in 2007 and only 19 the year before.
    This is another piece of evidence for why formula driven systems do not work. Reach made its greatest gains in the year they added fourth graders. This is no surprise to anyone who has made a study of California CST results. The fourth grade test always produces higher scores than the tests for other elementary grades. Either the bar for fourth grade is too low, or the bars for the other grades are too high. Given the defects of these tests, we should not base any decisions based solely on the results they generate.