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Reducing the dropout rate: the economic argument

The D.C.-based advocacy group Alliance for Excellent Education has come out with a new report that estimates the San Francisco-Oakland metro area would gain $8 million in tax revenues and generate 350 jobs by cutting its high school dropout rate in half.

You can read the Bay Area report, which estimates additional earnings (and spending on houses and vehicles) for African American, Latino, Native American and Asian graduates, here.

The methodology assumes everyone with a high school diploma will pursue a college degree and/or work from age 18 to 70, which is not a given in this economy. But for what it’s worth, the authors say the estimated benefits are “conservative.”

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Suburban mom reports substandard ACT administration at West Oakland high school

Sharon Fingold’s family lives in Los Altos, but by the time her son registered for the June 12 ACT, the only testing center available was McClymonds High School in West Oakland.

Fingold figured the administration of the college entrance exam at McClymonds would be no different than it was for the SATs and ACTs her children had taken in more affluent areas, such as Los Altos and Palo Alto. Afterward, she was so concerned about what her son and other students experienced that she wrote me (and the ACT) about it.

She outlined the problems in greater detail, but here’s how she summarized what happened: Continue Reading

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Public education in CA: Calling for your forecast

Save our Schools rally in Livermore. (Bay Area News Group file photo)

I’m working on a project about school funding levels in California and what will happen — to class sizes, to teacher pay, to labor relations, to the quality of education – if the downward trend continues.

As usual, I could use your help.

I’m looking at how these cuts will hit some students harder than others, depending on where they live and what their needs are, especially in the lower grades.

I also wonder to what extent the more draconian reductions we’re seeing this year (kindergarten classes of 30 in some East Bay districts, such as Hayward, San Lorenzo and Mt. Diablo) will keep even more middle-class families in California from using the public schools. If that happens, the public school system could become even more segregated. Continue Reading

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Oakland youth and the Oscar Grant verdict

A jury could begin deliberations this afternoon or tomorrow in the Mehserle murder trial, and there’s been much talk (some have called it hype) about what the reaction in Oakland will be, especially if the former BART police officer is acquitted. Youth UpRising is doing its part to keep the peace producing the above video and organizing an event at 5 p.m. on the day of the verdict, whenever that is. (Flier below.)

Heard of other activities? Continue Reading

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Tony Smith’s first anniversary in OUSD

Tony Smith, Oakland school district superintendent. File photo by Anda Chu.

Tony Smith, Oakland’s superintendent of schools, hits the one-year mark today. We have a story about his first year in today’s Trib.

How would you grade his leadership so far? Now that he has a year behind him, what do you hope he accomplishes in the next 12 months? Or in the next few years, if he stays that long?