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Funding, by popularity contest

Here’s another election story for you:

Oakland International High School is one of 15 finalists nationwide competing for money from Microsoft. If you vote for the North Oakland school (early and often), it might win funding for music and technology equipment.

People can vote once per day through Sunday for their five favorites. The school with the most votes wins $100,000. Three others win $50,000 each. Oakland International is the only California school among the 15 finalists.

This sort of popularity contest seems to be everywhere lately. Through mass emails or Facebook posts, people I know are asking their friends and acquaintances to vote for their firms, for their organizations — even for a cute baby picture. Maybe it’s American Idol-inspired. Maybe it’s good publicity for the companies that are sponsoring these contests.

Whatever the reasons behind it, the results of this contest might help equip Oakland International, a school for recent immigrants and refugees, with what the state of California hasn’t.

Katy Murphy

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

  • http://www.skylinehs.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=77763&type=u&rn=6808095 David Orphal

    “Maybe it’s American Idol-inspired. Maybe it’s good publicity for the companies that are sponsoring these contests.”

    Maybe it’s a way to get the name and contact information for hundreds of thousands of people that can then be sold to advertisers.

  • Katy Murphy

    Brave New — Wait, where’s Nextset?

  • Nextset

    I’m right here. You called?

  • Katy Murphy

    I was about to steal your line, but I caught myself.

  • Nextset

    Just looked at the link to the school. It’s a “alternative” Public School that is apparently restricted (or insinuates it is) to “immigrants” and “refugees”. Good for them.

    Yes this is a Brave New World thing. Rather than drop in a melting pot – and have an experience (public high school) common to typical Americans, these students can segregate themselves, avoid the local Negroes or anybody else home grown – even if they are in thier ability/performance band, and associate (and mate?) with their own. And they can get public funds to do it with. Is this a great country or what?

    It is what it is. It’s inevitable. It’s no different than Irish kids going to Catholic School (Irish dominated, not Mexican), and every other segment of the population walling itself (it’s kids) off so they won’t “associate” with undesirables.

    This is what Brown vs Board of Education has led to. Not what the court claimed would happen.

    For the record, I’d prefer a set of public schools segregated by ability & performance regardless of race/ethnicity – with budgets not being equal, but the states being allowed to decide how much to spend on which level of education. Ditch Digger U could terminate at 8th grade, for example.

    At least that way you would have to shared experience within the various bands of ability.

    What’s going on here is balkanization. Not a good way to keep a nation together. You won’t end up a college prep student, you will be a “immigrant” college prep student, etc.

    All Your Life.

    And you will never associate with the mainstream of your ability band. Not at this rate.

    Brave New World.

  • Gordon Danning

    I dont know whether it is Balkanization, but I really wonder whether it serves the students. There have been many students at Oakland High who started out in Sheltered English classes and who ended up in AP classes. I have had a few very sharp 10th graders over the years who had just arrived in this country a couple of years earlier. Yet, I just checked the College Board’s website, and Oakland International has no registered AP classes. Are kids there being deprived of opportunity?

  • Nextset

    It probably served the students as much or more as HBCs such as Howard and Morehouse College does or used to.

    Racially segregated schools protect minority students from competition (which they aren’t up to) and cultural pressures to change. Also – and more importantly for the “Elite” HBCs, they can have discipline which the minority students couldn’t take well in white or mainstream schools. Examples of this were shown in the Bill Cosby produced “Different World” TV series which was based on Spellman College (black female college) of Atlanta.

    All this has changed, of course, with mainstreaming of minority college students. The HBCs are now effectively limited to the weaker (and unassimilated?) black students. Having lost their reputation for the cream of the crop they now face a downward spiral of scores, discipline, performance and collapsing student loan payment rates. They only survive because of annual waivers for student loan eligibility (their graduates default at a rate that would disqualify any white school from student loan eligibility). Presumably those waivers will end when the Tea Party comes to power in the US.

    So back to the segregated immigrant public school in Oakland. Like any segregated school they are more comfortable for their clients. That comfort level is toxic since the students get so comfortable they don’t change into something that can survive mainstreaming. Is there a happy medium? Maybe. Maybe not. Good luck to all.

    They’re going to need it in the Brave New World.

    Oh, by the way, the US anti-discrimination laws are on the way out in large and small ways. No way around that. As the State/Federal government collapses – in large and small ways (economic decline) it’s ability to force people to do what is against their self interests declines with it. In order for minorities of any stripe to make it in the Brave New World they have to have something of value to trade – to be wanted. Black unemployment is a great example of this process at work.

    Think of it this way. In the Brave New World, like isolates itself with like, from birth, and in every conceivable way (stores, school, sex, housing, jobs, etc.) This occurs on a “voluntary” basis (ie Welfare Ghetto dwellers don’t (want to) buy Costco Memberships or pay the Annual Fee for the Amex Platinum Card. They do however spend plenty on what they do want (narcotics, cigarettes, toys, rap music, entertainment, etc.)

    Mr. Danning, I suspect you believe people can isolate themselves by going to such a segregated school but then change and mainstream later. Like much else, it’s a matter of odds and percentages. Not likely in my view.

    I went to East Bay Catholic grade Schools with Asian, Irish, Italian, Mexican, Black and Other White students. It was however Irish & Italian dominated. The students were from both blue collar and professional families, and the uniforms kept everybody appearing equal. We were cognitively similar with an acceptable range of smart and less smart. No dulls. I think it was a good start for the time and place. I envision academic public schools being the same way. If the public districts offered the choice of a competitive school even bright poor people could have what I had in the East Bay with Catholic Grade School and Public High School.

  • Cranky Teacher

    It is also a sign of the desperation schools and teachers are to find funds and the lengths they’ll go to beg for them.

    Excuse me, I have to go tend to my DonorsChoose begging station and see if I can lure in another corporation eager to pimp me out for some good pub…