Only two schools in California and 250 in the United States won the 2010 National Title I Distinguished School Award for closing the achievement gap, and one of them is right here in Oakland: Manzanita SEED.
I wrote about the Spanish-English immersion elementary school in September. Its API has risen by 190 points in the last two years, and now it’s 842 out of a possible 1,000.
About 85 percent of the students at the diverse school come from low-income homes, and about half enter kindergarten as English learners; their reading and math proficiency scores are at or above the school’s average.
At Manzanita SEED, which opened in 2005 and shares a campus with Manzanita Community School, half of the school day is taught in English, and half is taught in Spanish. Unlike a traditional bilingual program, in which English learners are sometimes in class with other English learners, the classrooms are integrated. And children with special needs learn side by side with general education students.
So at the celebration today, it was only fitting that the sing-alongs included “Somewhere over the rainbow,” “Paz y Libertad,” the African-American spiritual “This little light of mine,” and “Rio” — and that a fifth-grader and a teacher stood on the stage, signing all of the lyrics.
Superintendent Tony Smith said this school is what he hoped the future of Oakland Unified would look like. “This is a school that honors children by expecting them to be great academically and socially,” he said. “This is an incredible place.”
Ironically, just as the school is being recognized nationally, its principal is grappling with the prospect of deep budget cuts. Nothing is certain, but district administrators have asked the principals to prepare budgets reflecting cuts of up to 15 percent (though that was last year, before the governor’s budget proposal). For Manzanita SEED, that would barely leave funds to cover the classroom teachers, let alone art, counseling, collaboration time for teachers and extra help for struggling students.
“We were already doing it with very little,” Principal Katherine Carter said. She added, “It’s forcing us to go after private funding.”
You can find the full story here.