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Big meeting in Oakland Unified to discuss grim budget outlook

Gov. Jerry Brown has given up on getting a tax extension on the June ballot. Now what?

No official budget projections had been released as of this afternoon, but two Oakland school board members said today that they have been told California school districts might face cuts of $800 to $850 per student — when most schools in Alameda County have budgeted for a per-student loss of $349. The California School Boards Association posted this budget alert, explaining what an all-cuts budget would mean, given the remaining deficit of $15.4 billion.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Oakland school board holds a special meeting to plan for the 2011-12 budget and to give Superintendent Tony Smith direction on how to close a budget gap that could be $18 million larger than expected, said school board member David Kakishiba, who is drafting an agenda for the meeting.

His question: “With these additional cutbacks from the state, do we move that cut to the school sites or do it a different way?”

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Announcing … the Title I awards

This just in from the California Department of Education:

Academic achievement awards for 209 schools that serve large numbers of poor children and are closing the achievement gap. (Criteria explained here.) There are fourteen awardees in Oakland — 10 district elementary schools, four charter schools — and two in Berkeley. They were selected from the 6,000-plus schools statewide that participate in the Title I program for low-income students.

Last year, there were just six in Oakland and one in Berkeley to earn this distinction.

Here’s the list of East Bay awardees:

BERKELEY UNIFIED
Jefferson Elementary
Washington Elementary

OAKLAND UNIFIED
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Oakland’s pink slip imprint, by school

Luc DeArmey, a pink-slipped teacher at Futures Elementary in East Oakland.The Oakland school district has ranked its schools based on how deeply they were hit by the 657 potential layoff notices sent to its teaching staff.

This spreadsheet, created by OUSD, also includes the turnover at each school between 2007 and 2010, the API gains during that period, the percentage of students who are African-American or Latino, and the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced price meals.

The top five are (or were) small schools that opened between 2003 and 2007, many of them with new teaching staffs: Continue Reading

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AFT president visits East Bay, defends union rights

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. (photo courtesy of the AFT)American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten came to the Bay Area today. I heard her on KQED this morning and again tonight, at a Commonwealth Club event in Lafayette.

Weingarten appeared in the “Waiting for Superman” documentary about the state of public education in the country; UC Berkeley Professor Bruce Fuller, who moderated this evening’s talk, joked that the audience might remember her as the “evildoer who resists all reforms presented in public policy circles.”

Weingarten’s central message was — no surprise, given what’s been happening in Wisconsin — in defense of collective bargaining. While it’s perceived to be an adversarial process, she said, it doesn’t have to be. Continue Reading

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Oakland students stand up for their pink-slipped teachers

Edna Brewer petition

Pictured above (left to right): E’Niyah Wilson, Lia DelVecchio and XueYong Liu.

These three girls at Oakland’s Edna Brewer Middle School have decided to highlight the effect that all of the budget and staffing uncertainty is having on their school. The petition they wrote says nothing about seniority rules, experienced vs. young staff, or who was exempted from the pink slip list and who wasn’t. Just that they care about their teachers, that their teachers care about them, and that they don’t want to lose them.

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Oakland teachers union leaders consider a one-day strike

UPDATE: No strike on April 4. Betty Olson-Jones said the executive board determined there was too little time. She said they’ll be organizing actions before, during and after school to oppose cuts and defend collective bargaining.

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The AFL-CIO has called a national day of action April 4 in response to the curtailing of Wisconsin public workers’ collective bargaining rights and similar efforts in other states.

Later this afternoon, the Oakland teachers union’s leadership meets to decide how to show its solidarity with unions across the United States. While there is a range of ideas, some members of the Oakland Education Association’s executive board are calling for a one-day strike, said Betty Olson-Jones, president of the Oakland Education Association.

Technically, the OEA executive board could call a strike today. Continue Reading

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A celebration of peace and harmony in Oakland

Parents at Manzanita Community School and Manzanita SEED organized an event today to celebrate their community, call for peace and welcome the area’s community police officers. Here are some clips of the neighborhood walk, which began on East 27th Street and 26th Avenue in East Oakland. (Note: In the confusion of the moment, I neglected to get the name of the teacher and guitar player who provides the soundtrack! Anyone?)