Notes from a long and eventful board meeting

Tonight’s — or should I say, last night’s —  5 p.m. Oakland school board meeting went till midnight. I observed so much from my ergonomically incorrect wooden seat:

The NAACP‘s Oakland branch showed up in force to register their concerns about complaints they’d heard from students and alumni about problem teachers, institutional racism and African American students’ opportunities for success at Skyline High (where a transcript review last fall revealed a whole bunch of students who weren’t on track to graduate), McClymonds and Castlemont high schools.

Teachers showed up to voice their support for retired teachers whom the district hired to coach them when they were first starting out. The retired teachers said they were told their services would no longer be needed. Superintendent Tony Smith said he had known nothing about this — and that he wished he had been informed of this development by his staff, rather than at a school board meeting. (Sounded to me like the program would be restored.)

Nikita Mitchell, one of the school board’s student directors, gave a rousing, seemingly extemporaneous end-of-term speech about education in Oakland, the “two Oaklands,” and how she and other students had been saying for years what members of the NAACP reported on Wednesday.

Vernon Hal presented the second reading — and the 12th version — of the superintendent’s budget proposal. The district, he said, would have $3 million less in 2011-12 than it had projected, based on some new information. In light of that change, and the governor’s recent budget veto, board member David Kakishiba backed off his budget adjustments proposal, which would have protected adult education from some further cuts. (The budget is approved next week, on June 29.)

Noel Gallo suggested the board sell the prime piece of real estate upon which the OUSD crumbling old headquarters sits and use that money to pay off the district’s state debt.

The District English Language Advisory Council presented a report — its first in years — detailing concerns about OUSD’s programs for English learners, including reports of children who were enrolled in English-only programs against their parents wishes, as well as schools that don’t offer English language development programs. (More on this and other items later)

Three very different charter schools presented their petitions — with strikingly different reactions from the school board: Urban Montessori, Rocketship Education and Legacies of Excellence. (This, too, deserves its own blog entry.) Legacies of Excellence, whose petitioners said they would seek to enroll children with behavioral challenges into its agricultural-themed middle school in East Oakland, received a warm reception — and, unlike the other two groups, they were not personally insulted by any board members.

Then there was an issue with district contracts, timing and transparency with respect to the Oakland Schools Foundation, which had performed services for schools before their contracts came before the school board.

That’s all I’ve got tonight: news a mile wide and an inch deep.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Jesse James

    Terrific productive meeting!!! So Tony Smith doesn’t know everything and will respond? More reason to go! Beautiful! (I am not being facetious! This is truly a great outcome.)

    I’d rather see construction than agriculture based middle school as it’s more of a moneymaker, but what do I know.

    Now Mr. Smith, “Could we please get principal transfer/demotion/promotion information?”


  • Nextset

    Interesting item about the block of black students not being on track to graduate. Did someone tell them graduation was in the bill of rights?

    We need to make it clear to the kiddies upon entry to the high schools (probably well before that actually) what “failure” is – we need to use the word “failure” a lot – as in “F” on a report card.

    I’ve always said it is wrong to enroll students into classes they are highly likely to fail. And I have no problem with the concept of reasonable predictions of failure based on student inability to handle coursework other students in the same room easily do. Or failure in the pre-reqs to a class. A lot of people have no business in an academic high school.

    End social promotion – Flunk students who fail to manage a low average in classes.

    But create campuses with survey courses, strong basic English/Math and voc/tech/life-skill classes that do not require the cognitive skill academic/solid classes require and let the students and their families help decide where they want to enroll. When the kiddies are handed career ladders at 9th grade and tested for cognitive skills and vocational interests there is a sorting mechanism that Europe has used for a century to devide the herd into appropriate schools where everybody is busy, everybody fits in and everybody is more or less happy.

    This one size fits all secondary education is madness, it cannot work in a diverse population.

    The reason we do have two Oaklands is that the liberals in the name of equality stopped educating the black students. I don’t call a 50% drop rate and the group verbal/math scores we see from those blacks that stay “education”. These bad results are strictly from abandoning the tracking to segregated (by cognition) schools and programs that do work.

    And the schools are far more segregated now than then.

  • Jesse James

    I meant a career in construction is more economically rewarding.

  • Mary Hill

    …And who helps keep students on track to graduate? Let’s see…could it be…COUNSELORS?!!! Now perhaps people can see why it is so important not to keep cutting the number of these OUSD professionals who are key players in the success of secondary students.

  • Katy Murphy

    I’ll write more (and learn more) about this proposed charter middle school later, but it sounded like the model was designed with the children’s social and emotional well-being in mind, in addition to the possibility of sparking their interest in an agricultural or culinary-related field (and in their education, in general). The Legacies charter school team said it planned recruit students who had already given up on school, or who were already at risk of dropping out.

    When I interviewed education historian and author Diane Ravitch last year about charter schools, she said this is how the movement started — to help school districts educate the hardest-to-reach kids through innovative methods.

    It was clear Oakland school board members viewed the other two charter proposals presented last night, by contrast, as direct competition.

  • Jesse James

    By the way, the reason I want to leave my present school is because, to me, it is so representative of the two Oaklands. African American students have been forgotten in the big drive to raise test scores. It is only because of the school’s progam improvement status that black students test score difference was even discussed. Again, I haven’t been able to transfer to a high need school this spring because of my top salary. I frequently consider leaving OUSD because I feel complicit in the under/miseducation of blacks at my school. So even at the elementary school level and at one, probably more, school site, there are two Oaklands.

  • J.R.

    “The reason we do have two Oaklands is that the liberals in the name of equality stopped educating the black students”.

    The real reason for two oaklands is that we have built a system that enables and encourages irresponsible people to procreate. We kept kicking the financial can down the road, and now here we are near the end of that road. People who couldn’t(or wouldn’t) think ahead were and are raising and mentoring and modeling for kids. The big problem is what is being modeled to the kids? FAILURE,FAILURE,FAILURE, generations of it!

  • Can’t believe it

    actually I think there are 3 or 4 Oaklands all divided along ethnic, economic, and geographical lines. years of white flight and brain drain by parents who show they don’t believe in what OUSD is selling has created this problem.

    but the difference between the two major private high schools, O’Dowd, and Head Royce, and any other high school in Oakland is so far and so deep as to rival the Grand Canyon in its majesty. How ironic that many of the kids at the private high schools are from Oakland. Unfortunately there is also a huge difference between Oakland high schools and Alameda and Piedmont schools too…

    What’s to be done? Create a Lowell HS equivalent as a start to stop the brain drain. it will need at least two elite middle school feeders….Make the students take a test to get in.
    I agree that there is no way administrators should have kids scheduled in classes which would not give them enough credits to graduate. And his was done BEFORE they cut counselors….

  • Zinnia

    Yes, counselors are the scapegoats here for so many administrative problems.
    Update on counselor status:
    According to contract OUSD has to maintain 700/1 ratio. Sites can close positions at will, so there are leftover counselors.
    There will be 3 counselors each at OHigh and Tech, both having lost 1 counselor position in this go-round. As for middle schools, only Montera, Edna Brewer and Roosevelt will have 1 PPS counselor position each. The remaining counselors have been consolidated and will be the “suitcase counselors” supervised by the College and Career Readiness Office.
    Forgive me if there are errors here, but this is the best info I have.

  • Gordon Danning

    So, people are upset that Skyline had “a whole lot of kids who were not on track to graduate.” And,somehow, that is the District’s fault, even though:

    1) The District very clearly publishes the graduation requirements;

    2) Said requirements are not very difficult to understand — they are little more than a list of classes, a 2.0 GPA, a senior project, and the CAHSEE; and

    3) The District (or, most teachers) make it ludicrously easy to pass most classes.

    So, if a student is not on track to graduate, then 99% of the time, he or she deserves not to be on track to graduate.

    Frankly, it is a waste of the Board’s time to worry about there being too few kids on track to graduate; the real problem is that there are too many kids who graduate despite learning (and, more important, doing) very little. How many times has a kid who has done almost no work asked me, “Why am I failing? I come every day.” Golly, where could an Oakland kid POSSIBLY have gotten the idea that he or she can pass a class simply by showing up?

  • Annoyed

    @ I Can’t Believe It

    “years of white flight and brain drain by parents who show they don’t believe in what OUSD is selling has created this problem.”

    Why is it that families that are forced to make different choices, either moving from Oakland or choosing private or charter schools, are blamed for the demise of Oakland public schools?

    The failing schools came first. Then families started to leave. White flight has turned into a brown/black flight. I know just as many minority parents who are leaving or scraping together enough to provide a better education through private schooling. I chose to give the public schools a try for my child. After six years in the game I would never fault a parent who chooses a different path. I do get annoyed when people place the blame of our failing schools on the backs of those families who made different choices for their kids.

  • Livegreen

    Yes, I believe the 3rd Charter had a Culinary emphasis, and the agricultural/garden component was in support of that. BTW, these can be watched on Comcast Channel 27. Also the Board went into closed session at 12am, so continued. Long sessions like this one make me think the Boardmembers are earning their small income.

    It would still be nice if Tony Smith gives a portion of his back. Especially as I doubt he’s in it just for the money. But others might disagree…

  • Livegreen

    Re. Budget there was a long debate (a lot longer than Dir. Gallo’s proposal) about Director Kakishiba’s proposal to raid the Reserve Fund, moving one third of it (or 1% of the 3% of the budget) from Reserve to pay for High School educational programs.

    He also proposed the alternative raiding Middle School electives for the same purpose (correct me if I’m wrong).

    Several Directors did not like one proposal or the other, and the State representative (title?) nixed the whole idea. They spent a hella long time on these points…Dir. Kakishiba withdrew his proposals and said it was mostly an attempt to get Tony Smith’s attention.

  • Sherry

    I am a Substitute Teacher with OUSD and I worked as a Math Teacher in a long term vacancy at Frick Middle School. When it came time to assign midterm grades for the class, over half of e students were indeed failing. I gave the grades to the students and there was an outcry from the failing ones. The previous teacher of the class took the grade roster, telling me that he knew the kids and they did “B” work and changed most of the failing students’ grades to passing. I was utterly shocked at this act, which was also supported by the principal and vice-principal. Needless to say, my authority as teacher was instantly eroded causing the classroom to erupt with behavior issues. I also was extremely saddened that administrators would prefer to socially promote kids who did not know grade level content rather than taking time to really intervene and bring them up to grade level. Tell the NAACP that it is their own African American administrators who are actually promoting institutional racism.

  • Yastrzemski

    @Sherry…it happens all over the District, I’ve been a sub for 7 years and have seen it many times. A VP wanted to “review” the math tests at another middle school, after seeing a large amount of failing grades. I was only there a week and could not believe that some of the kids had their grades “scaled” up over 40 points to a “D”, when there were actual legit scores over 85. I’m not sure of the racial make-up of the failing students, but one young AA 7th grader finished his test in 10 minutes. When he handed me the scantron sheet with the answers bubbled in, he had choosen “C” for every answer….FYI….scaled to pass by the VP. So sad!

  • Steven Weinberg

    Sherry, how long ago did this happen? It doesn’t sound like my experiences with the current principal and vice-principal, and I don’t recall any recent long term math subs at Frick.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Your statement is using the word “raiding Middle School electives is a word that, I feel, is off the mark.

    Director Kakishiba in calling for the compliance with the language of Measure G that restricts expenditures to specific purposes is not raiding as the District should have been in compliance all along.

    The language of Measure G limits use of Measure G money to courses that help students qualify for college. If the middle school electives are not fulfilling A-G requirement then they are not an expenditure in compliant with Measure G language.

    Beyond the legal compliance issue, the Board always raids one program to pay for another when revenue drops but prioritizing is what that process is called.

    The state lets the District take library money and gives it the flexibility to pay for any program and the NAACP points out that Castlemont does not have a library or librarian. Money that bought adult education program has been “flexed” to pay for cuts to early childhood and K-12 programs being underfunded by the state.

    Not a pretty picture.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Jim Mordecai


    Did you file a grievance according to Article 9 of the OEA/OUSD contract?


    “9.3.3 Teachers shall have the responsibility for determing grades for students in the Oakland Unified School District in accordance with the standards for grading as established by District policy. Such grades shall not be changed except as permitted in Section 49066 of the Education Code.”

    Jim Mordecai

  • Sherry


    No, I did not file a grievance. I had no idea substitutes could do so. This behavior on the part of the administration was apparently deeply entrenched. I was also threatened by a student of the class who told me he was a gang member. The principal had a ‘talk’ with the student. Later I learned proper protocol is to work with police in identifying actual gang members.The school’s culture has an element of ‘Afrocentrism’ that serves to hinder students. When I worked there, kids were referred to as ‘Kings’ and ‘Queens’. I have seen their current website and see this still occurs. It appears that all of these elements serve to hinder African American students in academic success. My point is that it is not white institutional racism as asserted by the NAACP at the board meeting, but the leaders of the school themselves creating a dysfunctional system that is failing African American students.

  • livegreen

    Thanks Jim for the clarification. So how do Middle School electives not help students qualify for College? For example, if there are not enough advanced courses for kids who need it then they won’t be as prepared (or stimulated for that matter) for College level admission or courses.

    I get your and the NAACP’s points about Castlemont not having a library. That also seems a big lack for a community oriented school (goal of the St.Plan). Is that under M-G too, or just an example?

    This all fits into the theme of more needs than money that’s available. Either way the District needs to make priorities, and I would agree with Jody London, Noel Gallo, Alice Spearman and some others that Middle School is such a priority and the 3% budget reserve should not be used (for the reasons they mentioned).

  • livegreen

    Which reminds me, when is OUSD Administration going to contribute some of their high salaries to educational programs in need? & if they aren’t willing to do it, why isn’t the School Board looking into it?

    Many School Board Directors claim it’s for the kids, including when it comes to teachers, but when it comes to Administration they’re not even looking into the compensation issue…

  • Jim Mordecai


    “So how do Middle School electives not help students qualify for College?”

    My view is while I believe a range of electives may help students a physical education elective would not be an A-G qualified course. And, I can’t find language in Measure G that says directly a purpose of Measure G revenue is to fund Middle School electives.

    In fact in the voter pamphlet of 2008 the “Impartial Analysis from Alameda County Counsel stated “… these tax funds are proposed by the District primarily to be used to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and to maintain the following: courses that help students qualify for college…”
    Measure G 2008 Education Parcel Tax Measure — Oakland Unified School District (2/3 Approval Required)
    Pass: 87837 / 79.40% Yes votes …… 22789 / 20.60% No votes

    “To attract and retain highly qualified teachers, maintain courses that help students qualify for college, maintain up-to-date textbooks and instructional materials, keep class sizes small, continue after-school academic programs, maintain school libraries, and provide programs, including arts and music, that enhance student achievement, shall Oakland Unified School district, without increasing he current rate, continue to levy its education special tax of $195 per parcel, commencing July 1, 2009, exempting low-income taxpayers, and with all money benefiting Oakland schools?”

    Measure G is limited to about $20 million a year and can’t be used to meet all of the District’s needs.

    Funding Castlemont library was not a priority last year as funding middle school electives was.

    Jim Mordecai

  • livegreen

    Let’s look at it also from the other side of the mirror: What are some examples of MS electives? Why has the Discrict deemed them important? How much money are we talking about?

    BTW, couldn’t the District also use Facilities Bond money to give Castlement a library?

  • Jim Mordecai


    According to District documents for the 09-10 school year total budget was $1,000,000, Measure G Program 1598 Middle School Electives: “To provide middle school students opportunities to take enrichment classes during the school day that match their interests and challenge them as well as prepare them for high school and beyond.”

    “Measure G funding provides opportunities for every middle school student to take classes that broaden their studies as well as tap into their aspirations. Selections range from physical education enrichments to music and the arts and foreign language.”

    “The program serves all 16 middle schools and all grade levels (6th, 7th, and 8th).”

    Overlooking the priority for expenditure of this $1 million during this time of program reductions, mentioning physical education a non-A-G requirement makes my point that this program is not compliant with the language of Measure G that only authorizes Measure G tax money be spent on “maintain courses that help students qualify for college…” Physical education does not “help students qualify for college and since the administration did not educate administrators that only A-G courses qualified the District needs to identify what middle school courses qualified as A-G that received Measure G money and return the part of the $1 million that did not qualify as an A-G course to be used for other programs authorized by the Measure G ballot language.

    I am not holding my breath that the administration will own up to misspending any of this $1 million even when their own document shows they spend part of the Measure G money on physical education. The auditor for 08-09 Measure E expenditures looked all around and couldn’t find $1.00 misspent. Want a bet OUSD will go with the same audit firm?

    Jim Mordecai

    Jim Mordecai

  • livegreen

    Jim, According to the M-G excerpts u gave in #22: “continue after-school academic programs, maintain school libraries, and provide programs, including arts and music, that enhance student achievement,” just about all middle school programs are possible.

    The language is written generally enough to “provide programs…that enhance student achievement.”

  • Jim Mordecai


    I didn’t align middle school electives to the purpose that the administration took as its justification.

    And, I agree that a stronger case could be made for the $1 million dollars in tax money being spent on “programs that enhance student achievement”. Although it is a bit of stretch to include physical education as enhancing “student achievement”.

    And, it is hard to justify none A-G classes during these hard times with $1 million might be spent in another way clearly focused on college eligibility.

    Perhaps some of the voters that voted for Measure G in 2008 read the voter pamphlet statement of the County Counsel: “…tax funds are proposed by the District primarily to be used to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and to maintain the following: courses that help students qualify for college, …, music and arts programs…

    While the summary by the County Counsel is not as loose as the language in the text is surely had an influence on the voters thinking they were rightly or wrongly voting for a narrow list of purposes as this quote from the text would reinforce the idea of a narrow list of purposes: “Specific Purposes. All of the purposes named in the measure shall constitute the specific purposes of the 2008 Education Parcel Tax, and proceeds of the tax shall be applied only for such purposes.”

    I am fully for the voters supporting middle school electives. But, OUSD (or any governmental body) should not, in my opinion, get away with asking for money for one purpose and using it for another purpose.

    And, during this time of continuing cuts, electives by definition seem to me not to be a priority by the nature of their name alone.

    Jim Mordecai

  • livegreen

    Jim, Further observations:
    –Measures are often written in a general manner which include both some specifics and some general phrases, exactly as and for the reasons we’re discussing. Same with the language and opinion of the County Counsel or whoever writes the words in the voter pamphlet (I’d love to know the politics behind that part, but we can guess them).
    –Re. the tie-in between physical education and “student achievement”, I understand your point, and at the same time could see an argument for young men burning off some of their steam on the ball field instead of in the classroom (or on the blacktop for the many schools that have no field). In addition there’ve been many positive benefits to the mind and brain function tied to physical exercise. (I’m no expert, I’ve only heard this on NPR, so don’t take my word for it).

    –To counter my own argument, I see a lot of physical education classes where the students are only participating by a slow stroll on the dotted lines of the tarmac. In those instances I would agree with either your argument or the counter (I’ve stated above) the link seems secondary.

    –Likewise OFCY (Kids First) funding instituted gardens at many schools, without necessarily having an academic tie in. If there’s no academic teaching around the garden, how can this be considered an OFCY enrichment program? Well, I guess maybe some kids will get there greens and get an education about eating greens at home that will help them both learn and be more healthy and thus have brains and bodies that are more academically inclined.

    And besides, the all-knowing East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF) gave a matching grant for it, they have a ton of money and knowledgeable people behind them, so they must know something…

    This is where the language in all these Measures gradually deteriorates from direct intent to grey matter. And since most of it is spent appropriately (including most Middle School programs) the question becomes where do we draw the line and do we fight against the small % of programs that fall under that line.

    I have some bigger issues with the District, so I won’t. But if you do it seems like you and Mr. Kakishiba should concentrate on the physical education, not all middle school electives/enrichment…

  • Wonderin’


    Can you give an update on the prognosis for Adult Ed? You wrote “board member David Kakishiba backed off his budget adjustments proposal, which would have protected adult education from some further cuts.” I’m wondering if you can add any more to that?

    I’m a supporter of adult education, and I’m hoping that somehow it survives, but I have to say that comment makes me think it may well be entirely eliminated at this point.

  • livegreen

    To remind folks, you can watch the Board Meetings (including rebroadcasts) on Comcast Channel 27, or you can go to the OUSD website, under the Governing Board’s section, then under Legislative Info Center, next to the Agenda’s, and find the video. Link:


  • Steven Weinberg

    Do other people have problems trying to watch the Board Meetings on AT and T U-verse? I get the picture, but the volume is too soft to understand, even at full volume for the TV set. Some other KDOL shows work fine.

  • Marcia

    In response to Steven Weinberg, yes, I had that same problem on AT&T with the volume. (It’s also much more cumbersome to get there than with Comcast.) Surprisingly though, the volume was fine on the Friday night replay, which I decided I should check out after reading Katie’s interesting report.

  • Teaches at Oak land School

    Gordon in Post # 10 has hit the nail on the head. I observed a second-year teacher this year who attempted to teach her 11th grade students how to write an essay. First she was hampered by the fact that a large number of the students wouldn’t actually read the book. About half the class came late on a daily basis and then talked across rows to their friends while she was attempting to teach. One girl spent most of the year with earbuds in, others had cellphones out texting. She scaffolded the heck out of her lessons and was one of the best teachers I have seen but even then I could see she was not getting the results she hoped for. Some of the kids once asked me to read their writing and they were not able to make simple, coherent sentences. After reading the papers, she realized she had to teach them basic English, such as subject-verb agreement.
    How is these kids made it to 11th-grade, often with near 4.0s, and they still don’t know the different between he do and he does or how to write a thesis sentence? I’ll tell you how-they were promoted every year by teachers who were afraid to fail too many students for fear they would be told by the principal they weren’t teaching their students. There is absolutely no burden placed on the students to do their work and to do it well. They turn in sloppy, half-assed work and are given a pat on the back and a B. Even when their GPAs are under 2.0 in middle schools, they are passed up to high school. The kids at Skyline who didn’t have the credits to graduate have themselves to blame for flunking the courses they needed to graduate. It is not that they didn’t take them, it is that they didn’t pass and that is really hard to do if they put in even a modicum of effort.
    We need a Lowell-type High School where the kids have to take a test to get in and where they have to perform or get kicked out and sent to a regular high school where they don’t’ have to work.

  • Can’t believe it

    wow- hit it on the head Teach at Oakland School – how do kids get to 11th grade and cannot write a basic essay?

    Katy what is the percentage of students from OUSD high schools who must take remediation classes once they get into state colleges or UCs? This is a document each school district gets. It basically indicates that the high school did not do it’s job, regardless of the student’s admission to a CSU or a UC.

  • seenitbefore

    Wait a minute! It’s not the “teachers” who are socially promoting these kids through the system! We have this argument all the time. Teachers, myself included, are doing everything within our power to remediate and alert parents and administration when students are not producing grade level work. We are told “point blank” by our Principal that “it is the policy of OUSD that no middle school student be retained”.

    Thus…. when the 6th, 7th or 8th grade student realizes that they need not complete work in any subject, can skate through with a 0.0 GPA….. (yes…. 0.0, an F in every single class for the entire year) and STILL be promoted to the next grade…….. they simply stop trying. And there is NOTHING that the teachers can do about it.

    I’ve been on my soapbox about this for over 10 years….. THIS is why Oakland kids dropout when they reach high school and are NOT passed on any longer. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out! Stop social promotion immediately and I guarantee that you will see immediate improvement in student achievement.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @can’t believe it in post #8. Thanks for providing a constructive possible solution instead of the normal complaining and blaming for which this blog is so well known.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Social promotion was eliminated by State Education code. The District got the memo and put on the books standards based promotion policy but during the State take-over promotion policy was dropped. Oakland has not had a written policy on promotion since. Its graduation policy is still in place.

    I don’t think standards based policy is a good idea. But, I don’t feel it is a good thing for the District to go for years without a promotion policy just because I disagree with the state legislature’s policy.

    Many times I have informed the Board that they no longer have a written policy on promotion but nothing has happened. I take that to mean that the District cannot yet read the law and follow it.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    I have said it before and I’ll say it again.

    These are not “schools” OUSD is running, they know it, I know it and the fleeing families of Oakland know it.

    (See post #32)

    When conditions in the “schools” are as openly wrong as this, it’s not a school, it’s a failure factory. One that seems to process blacks for the most part.

    It too bad bright but not rich black students have no real school to go to, except maybe the Charters. When OUSD finished processing them these students are so damaged their chances of recovery for a decent entry into military, industrial or higher education career are poor beyond what would have occurred if they’d just been homeschooled. They’ve no time to catch up to kids from real schools.

    Too bad. Maybe their parents should flee Oakland/California also.

    I had dinner recently with a recent black graduate of Cal State who went to HS in Marin County. I was informed that anyone in that high school who didn’t perform to (at least minimal) college prep level was transferred out to a continuation school. They were given F’s and either they would leave or would be transferred. Which is what I remember in my East Bay Public High School back in the day. Nice to know Some districts still know how to run a school. You don’t tolerate F students, you get rid of them. They go to a lesser school where they no longer get F’s because they finally fit in.

    The reason Oakland “Schools” are such a joke is that the district is unwilling to impose discipline and unwilling to segregate the students into programs suitable for the different students for fear of running afowl of the “we are all equal” PC nonsense.

    So the district pretends to flog all the students together in the same classes and campuses as if that will make dull students bright. The result is no functioning schools at all while immigrants manage to educate themselves anyway.


    Brave New World.

  • J.R.

    SIB posted,
    “Wait a minute! It’s not the “teachers” who are socially promoting these kids through the system”!

    Some teachers are active willing participants in this social promotion sham, and some are passive participants. Not too long ago teachers were stating that they needed “tenure protection” to be able to advocate for the children without fear of backlash, well what’s happening here. A good friend of mine(a 4 year temp elementary teacher in another district)has time and again talked to parents of her struggling students and insisted on close monitoring of work at home and a host of other remedies, the parents complained and weren’t happy, but this teacher did her job anyway. By the end of the year the kids were actually able to pass the class barely. This teacher has been teacher has been told numerous times by veteran teachers that she grades too hard, and she replies that she had extensive training in the use of rubrics and grading. She is adamant that most if not all kids can and will rise to the level of work and expectations should be high. In her 4 years every single class she had has performed on par with the best school classes in the district. The parents and kids really disagree with her in the beginning but are so thankful for her and love her by the time school ends. We need more teacher to do their jobs just like this, and the amazing thing is she can be let go with no explanation at any time, but she rocks the boat anyway. She has courage and conviction and it shows.

  • livegreen

    Thanks you all for this fruitful discussion on Promotions. What Jim clarifies in #36 is disappointing (both from the Admin & the Board). What Nextet says is an interesting question, though in Oakland would probably be met with cries of racism in Oakland but might also lead to part of the downward spiral in expectations (that in turn prolong low graduation rates from underperforming students, and lead to the loss of proficient & advanced students, both regardless of race).

    Nextet, out of curiosity, in Marin or elsewhere, how is graduating from a continuation school distinguished from other schools, especially for colleges?

  • Yastrzemski

    I was going to ask the same thing. Is graduating from a career technical program and earning a HS diploma the same as completing all of the A-G requirements for the CSU and UC schools with your HS diploma?
    Does OUSD count those students with the non-traditional diploma as “graduates”?

  • Nextset

    I believe the continuation students can get diplomas from those schools although many don’t because of inability to do even the lesser coursework of a continuation/alternative school. It’s up to them and their families if they graduate and we really need to stop throwing extra money after them. If they don’t graduate they can go or a GED later, from prison even, or do adult school wherever that is. A JC perhaps.

    Many students just can’t graduate because of mental problems including cognitive problems or worse. Too bad, so sad. That’s life.

    You don’t hand out diplomas for racial balance or to make the recipient feel good. It was earned or it wasn’t.

  • http://www.ousd.k12.ca.us Troy Flint

    @Steven – You asked: “Do other people have problems trying to watch the Board Meetings on AT and T U-verse? I get the picture, but the volume is too soft to understand, even at full volume for the TV set. Some other KDOL shows work fine.”

    Unfortunately, yes. This persists because KDOL is unable to monitor the quality of the signal AT&T broadcasts to UVerse customers. While KDOL monitors its broadcasts signal to all cable providers, AT&T is unwilling to provide KDOL with a “return” or “on-air” signal which would allow us to address issues like the one you cited.

    We encourage you to contact AT&T if you experience a low quality signal in the future. The hope is that a critical mass of complaints might prompt them to change their policy.

    This, and other grievances, such as the use of different technology than traditional cable service providers and the refusal to list public access stations on the same channel as those other cable providers, has resulted in class action litigation and Congressional Subcommittee Hearings examining the experience of Public Education & Government (PEG) access channels.

    Here’s a link that provides more information: http://www.dra.ca.gov/DRA/Telecom/hot/ATTs+U-verse+PEG.htm

  • Steven Weinberg

    Thank you for this information Troy. Now that I know it is not just my set I will lodge another complaint with AT and T and consider switching back to ComCast.

  • Continuation school grad

    I went to high school in Lafayette in the late 80’s and was indeed transferred out to a continuation school when I repededly got low grades (c’s and d’s mostly, not f’s.) As far as I know there isn’t anything different about my diploma than if I had graduated from the “regular” school.

  • Debora

    @Teaches at Oak Land School – He do – He does starts in elementary school when teachers write “Read for content only” across all writing and reports as my daughter’s third grade and fourth grade teacher did. It goes on in middle school where our neighbor went to Brewer and was on the Honor Roll six consecutive semesters and never had the written or oral grammar corrected and speaks what she hears at home and with friends.

    In the case of the neighbor – father paid a teacher to tutor on school grounds $55 per hour. Student is enrolled in a charter school which requires summer school and is there nearly nine hours per day to catch up on writing, math and building the background knowledge to be able to achieve at ninth grade levels.

    @Gordon Danning – there are students who need help and should not have to pay the tutoring fee to learn the material. I agree that the information to graduate is EXTREMELY clear. I also agree that many students who drag themselves over the threshold to classes have been trained that they will be promoted / graduate just by showing up. If a student has been able to do this throughout elementary and middle school it is plausible that they could think the same thing for high school. Perhaps we should have students and parents initial a statement that says that unlike elementary and middle school you must earn the right to a high school diploma under the following conditions: XXXX and list them. Parents/guardians should have to initial the stsements every year and the form that shows the progress toward graduation. If at the end of the freshman year 30% of the core requirements are not met (30 vs 25 to account for required vs elective courses) an 18 point font statement must be initialed stsing the student is on the path to failure to graduate. The 18 point font is consistent with other types of strong disclosure language.

    To others who are having problems with charter high schools zapping money from the system – for the first time in the nine year OUSD school career a school is making sure this African-American students knows how to complete grade level work, speak and write standard academic English and think critically to connect the learning from one subject to other subjects.