On vacation

The Education Report is sort of on vacation this week (though you’ve been keeping it going in your discussion about Oakland High). I’m out of town, so my posts will be few and far between. I’ll be back on Monday. See you then.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Dionicia Ramos

    Hi Katy,

    You wrote a story on the former President of Chile that was published on May 5th. It was during a visit to the Oakland International School. The story came with some photos that we hope to use in our academic publication. We are working on a tight deadline so it would be great if you could contact me when we return. We would of course credit the photographer (whose contact information I could not find in the contact list).
    Thank you

  • susan

    With so many educators and educrats whom post on this blog- I am surprised, (or maybe I should not be) that no one has mentioned the case against the Californa School Board Association (CSBA) whose Executive , Scott Plotkin, was being paid over half a million dollars from public funds and cashing out public funded credir cards at casinos! All this while he is suing the state for lack of funding….Yeah thats right taxpaying folks…we will pay for the lawsuit as well!

    What does this organization produce? How much did Oakland Unified pay them these past years? Typical of of unions or associations, they make their monies of our backs at the expense our pockets for little work!

    I recall an exchange that shared a comment from ms. Spearman, an OUSD Board member, who stated bluntly that a charter school , denied by OUSD, had ” …greased the palms of the [Alameda]county to approve their charter.”

    So this is where these board members learn their ways huh? Or at least they learn that such greasing of the palms is acceptable and the norm. Yep, good old fashion Americanm politics-alive and well!

    I bet that OUSD Board members are so greased with special interest muck that the BP oil slick pales in comparison!

  • Pepe

    Susan, while I am not exactly a strong supporter of our board, I do believe that “special interest” money generally stays at the state level–textbook companies, assessment companies, and unions throw a lot of money around in state politics.

    Your comment (and this Plotkin debacle)to me brings up more of an oversight issue–who is making sure that board members are not misusing valuable district funds? At this point, it seems that the only people calling out the disgusting spending of money are journalists who stumble onto a story…

    Here’s a link to the story:


  • Chauncey

    The Plotkin story is just business as usual for the political machine. Could you imagine the Washington scene? man we are just suckers. Thats the whole point though,that I have brought up over and over.

    School reform is needed, but argued against by the Plotkins of the world of unions and associations cause they will shift the dollars and they will not be able to get that casino money any longer!

    We sit and criticize other countries about the cronyism and cartels right- well these associations, unions etc are cartels as well.

    Hell yes they kill-follow those kids who sit in the ghetto schooled classes with no hope, low expectations and excuses! No diplomas or education but plenty of bullets and incarceration!

    They should make these peole live in ghettos. Could you imagine this guy living here on 88th?

    He couldnt survive- funny thing is his organization trains boards how to govern those same people!

    Taxpayers should seek to destroy and not support these associations. I will personally write a letter to Mr. tony Smith and Mr. Gallo to state that I do not want my tax dollars going to the CSBA casino hustles. Others should do the same.

  • Chauncey


    I know you are on vacation but damn the OUSD Bond measure on the ballot is big news to me. Why should we, those who have kids in charter schools, have to pay the full share of the added tax (if it passes) when our schools will recieve only part of the rate?

    Thats like me changing a dollar for 85cents. How does this make sens?

    Nah- OUSD should have a tax payer revolt on those fools. I cant believe their that politically deranged! Mr. Gallo was right-only that next year will be worse!

  • Jim Mordecai


    The Board bowed to pressure to include corporate charter schools with a 15% cut of the parcel tax revenue because the Board feared that without the help of charter schools supporters their measure won’t pass.

    The Board also bowed to corporate forces by putting on the ballot regressive flat $195 per parcel tax request, rather than 10 cent per square foot parcel tax request that would be progressive with the larger land owners paying more than the smallest.

    Some corporate charter supporters will like the free ride provided by current laws. The last Measure G election cost the District approximately 150,000. When the Board provided around $3 million of the approximately $20 million $195 per parcel will raise, it had no ability to collect from the 30 or more charter schools that will share in that $3 million for overhead costs.

    And, if the Board’s measure passes, the Board will have to pay out each year $350,000 that Alameda County charges to collect parcel tax for the District and desposit revenue into the District’s account.

    And, the District has to pay overhead cost to desposit $3 million revenue into each charter schools’ account. All of these charges have to be picked up by the District and not the individual charter schools.

    Each year corporate charter schools will get $3 million that cost the charter schools nothing but cost the District a hit of $500,000 and a bit more.

    The Board’s measure is for 10 years and if cost of Alameda County’s collection does not go up, then in ten years of collections Alameda County will have been paid a fee of $3 million and the charter schools will have gained a pure $30 million in parcel tax revenue.

    Even if the measure fails the District must pay at least $150,000 for being placed on the November ballot. Another cost was the cost of two surveys and political advice pushing the price to be on the ballot for the District around $200,000 and the corporate charter schools without a legal obligation to pay one dollar of the $200,000.

    Seems like there is a need to pass a law that makes charter schools that receive parcel tax revenue responsible for the overhead costs of both parcel tax election and for overhead costs of collection revenue when a parcel tax measure benefiting charter schools passes.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Tommy D.


    Alright , alright, Mordecai- your talk downs and political circle talk. A great strategy:
    A few things

    “Corporate charters”? How much money does OUSD get from corporations? 49Million from Gates and zilch!!!

    If charter schools are corps, than OUSD is a mega corps (how many charter schools pay lobby groups by comparison to the districts in the state?)

    1. How much does OUSD collect from charters regardless of the a bond?
    2. Is it true OUSD also gets to keep money for special ed, and also charges charters for speacial ed to the tune of about 75k per school?
    3. OUSD decides to put the ballots out, not charter schools right? So of course they should pay right? Or if charters put out a ballot measure (they will one day) OUSD should get 15% and charter 85%?Be carefull for precedents!
    4. Is it true that OUSD facilties are leaed to cgharters schools which is in fact an example of how districts double dip the state…

    For example….the distirct orginally buys the building with taxpayer monies….the lease the building to a public charter schools (yes charter schools are public schools)monies go????….then the charter schools must pay to rehab a building, that was already paid for by my dollars in the first place?

    4.Bottom line is you are talking about MY DOLLARS. You insinuate as its OUSD’s mney-not taxpayers. THATS THE PROBLEM!

    5. So charter pareents must pay 100%, but get 15% back? This is good?

    6. How much of the measure G money went to OUSD Board member orgs and Bayces?

    The ballot measure will not pass cause people do not believe in the system anymore (your bullhorns aint that big a deal any longer)!

    I am sick of the slants and political talk from the staus quo establishment who have ruined american education.

    Good schools for good kids and no union !

    What is the overhead for a miseducated child? Priceless

    You know, at least charters have some production (way more than OUSD)!

  • http://dailycensored.com/2010/08/01/public-education-under-attack-by-the-san-jose-mercury-news/ Adam Bessie

    I read your report published in the San Jose Mercury News, and have posted an article pointing out that you neglected to note the strong conservative ideological stance of the American Enterprise Institute. Leaving this out did your readers a major disservice, in an otherwise compelling and important article.


    Thank you for your time.
    Adam Bessie

  • Steven Weinberg

    Adam, I agree that the strong ideological stance of the American Enterprise Institute needed to be pointed out, especially when the Policy Analysis for California Education was identified as a nonpartisan research center.
    What interested me most in the article was the revelation that two Alameda County Teachers of the Year left Oakland for other districts (one became a Teacher of the Year after leaving). I have watched far too many great teachers leave our district because of our low pay and poor working conditions. And for those who want to pretend that teacher unions are led by poor teachers, note that one of these Teachers of the Year was a union leader and strike organizer.

  • Josiah Harris

    Ms. Murphy

    Your slanted view of Califonia Public school education is becoming more and more evident. It appears to me that you indeed forgot how to shield your personal biases and many of the lessons journalism school espouses. Ms. Murphy , you may have evolved into a blogger instead of reporter- and this quite frankly makes your stories irrelevant. You are merely an intergral part of the establishment.

    The fast evolving field of media is falling into this blogging opinionated pit and the losers are the public who in what little time they have , being so busy earning the money which is being taxed more and more,to pay for the stories which you so personally aspouse for, read articles to view an unbiased story however,…well that seems to be falling by the wayside.

    Truth be told Ms. Murphy, it is happening all over the nation and world for that matter. Its terrible, because most americans are pawns at the mercy of the 2 part war-which you have so clearly involved your jouranlistic views and authority in.

    Your article seems to me, as irresponsible one way slanted reporting and is indicative of your future in the field of journalism.

  • Gordon Danning

    For crying out loud, people, the article cites numerous academic sources, not just the AEI.

    What IS problematic is that the article cites a STUDENT for the “fact” that “access to one of [Oakland High’s] computers [sic – I assume it means computer labs] is limited.” That is simply not true. And to quote a 16-yr-old re: students being less engaged than “before” – well, before what? How long could a 16-yr-old have possibly been at a high school? And, certainly there must be better measures of student engagement than a student’s opinion.

    PS: By the way, the student apparently belongs to a group which is definitely on the left, so so much for the piece being a mouthpiece for the right.

  • Hot R

    This was a terrific and important article. Thank God the Trib still covers the travesty of Oakland education. Murphy correctly points out that the trend is to attack the teacher unions who cannot have it both ways – guaranteed pay raises, seniority and small class sizes. Times have changed and the public simply won’t fund it after 20 years of attacks on education, blaming everyone BUT the parents and poor socio-economic conditions for all the problems of our youth. Like it or not, “most” people believe the school system is bloated and unresponsive to change and blame seniority, high paid administrators and unions. The recent publicity about the casino losses of a union official as well as Elihu Harris and his buddies running the Peralta system into the ground is further evidence of this. Can anyone really deny that this is true?

    The two recently filed lawsuits are necessary to overturn the apple cart and pay teachers a fair wage, lengthen, not shorten the school year, go to a “value added” merit pay system for extraordinary teachers, equalize pay throughout the state, and give extra (combat?) pay for those teachers willing to work in lower socio-economic areas. And by the way, wny should any administrator make more than a teacher or even twice as much?

  • Gordon Danning

    Hot R:

    Administrators make more than teachers because: 1)They work 12 months, not 10; and 2) Supply and demand. No one would take the job if it didn’t pay more (I am speaking of on-site administrators). Being a school-site administrator is an awful, thankless job.

  • Hot R

    You’re right. No one would take the job. You’re not teaching your administrating. But how useful are they really? Charter schools have more money because they lose an administrative level. That proves they are not necessary. Oakland has always been a prime example of too many administrators who may work 12 months, but at half the pace and twice the salary of a good classroom teacher. Working 2 more months for a failing school district does not justify the pay scale.

  • Gordon Danning

    Hot R:

    Are you talking on-site administrators, or downtown administrators? On-site administrators certainly don’t make twice what a teacher makes – its more like an additional 15K – 20K, compared to a teacher with similar experience (tho the district might be pretty desperate for administrators; it seems like they are hiring administrators with less teaching experience than used to be the norm).

    I can’t speak of other schools, but Oakland High has 4 administrators, including the principal, for 1700 students, 80+ teachers, probably 50 additional adults, etc. They must evaluate teachers, supervise sports and after school events, deal with discipline, deal with conflicts, complaints and inquires involving students, parents, and employees, handle all sorts of paperwork, attend various meetings, handle state testing, etc, etc, etc. We would be better off with more administrators, frankly.

  • Oakland Teacher

    While I have mixed feelings about the proposed parcel tax, I want to comment on the following complaint made by posters #5 and #7:

    “So charter parents must pay 100%, but get 15% back? This is good?”

    As a civilized society, we are expected to contribute to that which benefits society as a whole, not only that which personally benefits us. If every person who does not have any school age children or their children attend private school votes against every single education parcel tax, where would we be? #7 complains about only receiving 15% of the money; there are many, many families who would not “receive” any of the money. Along that same line of thinking, should people in the hills vote against any public safety measures, because they may not be really affected by crime? Should people who buy all their books vote against library measures? I really hate to think that we are becoming a society who is incapable of thinking about anyone but ourselves, and can only gauge societal value by personal gain. While there may be valid reasons for not supporting the proposed parcel tax, that rationale is not one of them.

  • Gordon Danning

    Oakland Teacher:

    Well said.

    Also, it seems to me that #5 and #7 have their math wrong. Charter parents are not paying 100% of the bill; if, say, 20% of Oakland kids are in charter schools, then at most their parents can be said to be paying 20% of the bill. IF there is an equity question re: the tax, then it relates to the number of kids educated by the district and by charters, versus the amount of money each gets.

  • Hot R

    Sorry Oak Teach – it’s too late. The recent vote against the school parcel tax in Alameda showed that we are indeed becoming a society “like that.” Most of the arguments against the parcel tax in the blogs and letters to the editor suggested that “those” people (parents with children in public school) should pay and not burden the rest of “us.” They also sent letters to our two weekly papers which attacked Alameda for its high administrative costs (among lowest in the state), poor test scores (a lie) lazy teachers who make too much from their pension funds (yipes that is really inaccurate) and high legal costs (because the District is in court defending itself against lawsuit challenging the legality of the parcel tax). Inotherwords, if they can do that to a good to excellent school system like Alameda’s what will they do to the Oakland parcel tax? In the end Alameda’s parcel tax lost by 1% of the vote. But the opponent’s strategy was clear. Through enough “stuff” against the wall and something is bound to stick – especially in an anti-education climate that our public officials have created over the last 20 years.

  • Chauncey

    Charter school parents pay 100% of their share of parcel taxes on their individual statements. Our kids dont go to OUSD and recieve 15% of the revenue? Hell yes it does not add up-thats what I am saying!

    I got my damn tax bill. Perhaps you dont own a home Gordon-I do and my kids go to charters.

    You old district minded folks talk similar to school boards- money is endless! Maybe because it is not your money, and you do not know how desperation of ghetto project feels like?

    I think American Ed will implode- too many people who cannot think outside the box when it comes to spending.

  • Oakland Teacher

    I own a home in Oakland and pay property taxes. I certainly know that my money is not endless. I would not be able to be a homeowner except that I had another career (that required less education and paid far more money) before becoming a teacher (which I feel is my real calling). I will continue to pay (100%) for and vote for taxes that benefit my community. My next door neighbors (whose children are adults) vote for and pay for city and school taxes that don’t personally benefit them. It is sad that so many people who opt out of public education (through charters or private school) become haters of everything connected with public schools. No, they are not perfect by any stretch, but neither are they evil incarnate (nor the teachers who teach in them). I can’t imagine what it would feel like to carry around so much hate all the time toward an entire group of people. Sad!

  • J.R.

    Oakland Teacher,
    School taxes actually do benefit everyone, good schools raise the property values of homes and neighborhoods, that is why it is imperative that we insist upon both parental responsibility and the ability to keep the best teachers. This is not about hate, this is part of mature responsibility to upcoming generations of children.Good schools don’t just happen, it takes good teachers and good parents and good administrative leadership working together. We can’t afford slackers any more(parents or teachers).