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At two-way immersion school, math class is in Spanish

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 at 9:11 pm in Algebra/Math, elementary schools.

You might have noticed, when glancing through Oakland schools’ latest test scores, that one made a 106-point jump on the API. That was Manzanita SEED, a two-way language immersion elementary school that opened in 2005 on the old Manzanita campus (East 27th Street between 23rd Avenue and Fruitvale Avenue).

Two years ago, its API was 652. Now it’s 842. In a single year, the school went from 44 percent proficiency in math to 73 percent proficiency. You can find a story about SEED’s trajectory here, and in the paper tomorrow.

When I called the school to see if I could visit a math class, Principal Katherine Carter suggested I visit one that’s taught in Spanish. From kindergarten through third grade, SEED students learn math in Spanish; about half of its students are native Spanish speakers, and the other half speak English or another language at home.

Here’s a glimpse into the third-grade classroom of Ana Ferrus-Garcia:

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  • Bob Mandel

    In addition to providing funds to charter schools which cream the best students and push out lower achieving ones, sending them back into the public schools which have the legal responsibility to try to educate everyone, the proposed new Parcel Tax is regressive. In a time of Depression and massive unemployment, this tax places a disproportionately heavy burden on low-income homeowners. Whether you own a $1,000,000 property in the hills or a $75,000 home in the flatlands you still pay the same flat rate. Hardly “equitable.” In contrast, Alameda has a split role tax that taxes business and corporate wealth more heavily. The sponsors of Measure L chose to go regressive knowing full well that a condition for OEA support was that the tax be progressive.
    No accident that Arne Duncan comes to town to celebrate the Oakland USD Administration when it sponsors a Parcel Tax that not only will subsidize his favorites—charters—but will do so by taxing those with low income proportionately far more heavily than those at the top. While many teachers and members of other OUSD unions hope the new Parcel Tax on top of the old will provide job security and a raise, at this very moment class sizes are growing, programs are being cut, and the Admin is demonstrating in advance of the Measure L vote that it will spend the money again precisely as it sees fit.

  • ousd funemployed

    Is this the same Bob Mandel who is on the OEA executive board? Didn’t OEA take a neutral position on the parcel tax?

    I wondered how long it would take the union to realize that by remaining neutral, they’d have nothing to shout about. Apparently not very long.

    The public will be all-to-happy to vote against this tax, especially with the union remaining “neutral.” This is an interesting strategy for representing the best interests of your fellow teachers. I’m sure they didn’t want that raise anyway.

    Any guesses on how long it takes for the first District school to have its teachers push for a charter conversion?

  • The real issue

    Hi Bob,
    Care to provide hard proof about your allegations? Or is this simply an excuse for the public school failure?
    Charter schools have high performing students because some of them move students up multiple grade levels in a few years. Families and students are happy because they are supported and educated at a level that many OUSD schools cannot provide. These newly high performing students stay at charters because they appreciate the education they get.

  • oakland teach

    While reading the article I noticed that Manzanita SEED write their own curriculum. Last year the teachers at my school were told that we were required to follow ousd curriculum.
    Before last year we were able to get out of PI from our hard work as a school and by doing much like Manzanita Seed, with long hours and teaching autonomy. Last year our scores dropped.
    My question is, are teachers required to teach ousd curriculum? Also, we are also being told when during the day we have to teach each subject. Is this valid?

  • Oakland Teacher

    1. Seed is a small school, not a charter. Why did this article lead into a discussion on charters or the parcel tax? Please, let’s save discussions of those for another thread.

    2. This article is about a single school’s success, a school where teachers are treated like professionals and have autonomy in their classrooms, something OEA has long supported.

    3. The principal discusses how having a stable and experienced staff has led the school to classroom success. This is something the union has long supported: reducing teacher turnover. Clearly she is giving teachers the support (emotional and structural, although not financial) they need.

    4. If there was any possible concern to be expressed, it might be over whether small schools such as Seed will be able to financially sustain themselves over time once the foundation (e.g. Gates) funds dry up. In this case, I really hope the answer is yes! Congratulations to all the staff and families that have helped this school to succeed.

  • TheTruthHurts

    [Going off topic because Mr. Mandel posted in the wrong article]
    @Post #3. Mr. Mandel is a conspiracy theorist. He couldn’t be bothered with facts that prove anything – only a few basic facts and then enough conjecture to fill in the blanks. There is nothing new here. This has been going on for years.

    There is always a reason to explain away anything positive as a trick of the “enemy.” Every good idea is a trojan horse waiting to attack from within. But, Mr. Mandel in his infinite all-knowing wisdom is here to protect us with the “truth.” Thanks Mr. Mandel. We sure couldn’t make decisions on our own without such wise guidance.

    If the Oakland voters are so clueless about how to research information, gain perspective and make good decisions, I wonder how that happened???

    I don’t buy it and it’s an insult to teachers to suggest otherwise. What does he have that none of the rest of the voters have?

    [Back on topic]
    I think the entire dual-immersion idea is awesome and glad Oakland parents have this alternative without having to pay an arm and a leg. There are great things in Oakland and this is probably one of them.

  • oakteach

    Thank you Oakland Teacher for bringing it back. Finally we get an opportunity to discuss how to replicate the success of a public school in our backyard, and the thread is hijacked. Figures.
    I was hoping this would bring up the subject of dual immersion in general, which almost all reputable research supports as both having a positive effect on performance in ALL subjects and facilitating learning in ELA if the home language is different.
    And it seems like the direction Oakland as a district, California as a state, and the US as a “global economy” should be moving towards (with multiple options for the language based on local needs and preferences). Take a look at the top 10 best countries for public education, and almost all of their students are at least bilingual (I think 3 languages are standard in Switzerland and maybe Hong Kong as well).

    We should be capitalizing on the globalization of our own country, rather than demonizing immigration. Pitiful. But then again, we’re still quibbling over bubble tests and scrambling over what should be essential funding in a “Race to the Top.” So not a lot of space for progression.

  • east oakland teacher

    Hi, I’m a colleague and friend of Bob’s – just want to make absolutely clear that Manzanita Seed is a small autonomous OUSD school with actively pro-union OEA teachers, *not* a charter. The small autonomous school movement came in response to grassroots demands by flatland parents to have excellent small schools in their neighborhood without having to go the charter route – in part because charters are non-union, but also because they wanted to push for large-scale reform within the district, rather than creating only a couple of better schools outside of it. It’s clear from many of the excellent small schools that have been created, that this was a successful reform, although as the print version of the article mentions, it is a reform that is very much in danger as budget cuts spread and small schools are threatened with being consolidated back into big ones. Part of the small autonomous school reform was some flexibility in curriculum – this has also been very successful. Also thanks Katy for the shout-out in the article to Manzanita Community, another excellent school that is seeing big gains on the same campus as Seed.

  • Bob Mandel

    I inadvertently posted #1 above here when I meant it to be a response to the article on the Parcel Tax. I appreciate East Oakland Teacher’s clarification about Manzanita Seed, a clarification made necessary by my mistake in posting here.

    I invite all those who challenged the assertions in my initial piece on charters to read the posting which I sent to the Parcel Tax thread.