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Archive for November, 2011

California weighs the hefty cost of NCLB relief

Staff Photojournalist

This fall, frustrated by the glacial pace of Congress in rewriting the decade-old No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Department of Education decided to go around it. The administration announced that until the law was revamped, it would grant states temporary relief from some of the act’s key provisions — such as the requirement for all students to be on track in reading and math by 2014 — if they agreed to adopt a set of school reforms.

But acquiring such relief could cost the state of California and its school districts well over $2 billion, even after potential savings are taken into account, California Department of Education staffers told the State Board of Education at a meeting today (For more detail on the CDE’s estimates, go to Item 5 on the previous link and open the Addendum document. The figures are listed on a chart on pages 8-14).

As I reported in September:

If California does apply for a waiver, it will have to rewrite a 40-year-old law that governs how teachers are evaluated in a way that satisfies the U.S. Department of Education’s standards. It will have to create a new accountability system that rewards the state’s best schools and helps the ones that are struggling the most, as well as schools with low graduation rates and the highest test score gaps between students of different backgrounds. It will also need to put in place new, national teaching standards designed to better prepare students for life after high school.

Some board members and public speakers said they were afraid California schools would go to great lengths and expense to receive a temporary waiver only to face a new set of rules when Congress finally reauthorizes the law. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 9th, 2011
Under: NCLB | 25 Comments »

Next step for families affected by Oakland’s school closures

Staff Photojournalist

As they come to terms with the upcoming closure of their schools, families from Oakland’s Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe elementary schools must now decide where to send their children next fall.

Typically, OUSD (and prospective OUSD) families submit their top school picks — mostly for kindergarten, sixth and ninth grades — by Jan. 15. The hundreds of children affected by upcoming school closures will make their choices earlier and will receive their placements by Dec. 19, according to this letter from OUSD.

In other words, they have first dibs on the open seats in grades 1 to 5.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, November 7th, 2011
Under: elementary schools, families, school closures | 20 Comments »

Kids, families join Oakland’s general strike

Staff Photojournalist

I’ve been holed up in the Tribune’s downtown `command center’ since before sunrise, taking information from reporters out in the field, but they tell me people of all ages have taken part in today’s demonstrations.

Here’s a report from Dana Hull, who lives in Oakland and writes for the Mercury News: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
Under: strike, students | 41 Comments »

Student-journalists covering the protest

Skyline Oracle reporters are out on the street, covering the general strike. You can follow their Twitter updates here.

Soon, I’ll have photos of a protest at OUSD’s headquarters on Second Avenue.

Posted on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
Under: strike, students | 4 Comments »

Oakland schools and Wednesday’s general strike

Staff Photojournalist

I’ll be blogging about the general strike for the Tribune tomorrow, and I’d love to hear how the day is shaping up for staff and families in the city’s schools. If you think of it, send me an email (, message me on Facebook ( or post a comment below with your plans, thoughts and stories.

If you’ll be posting photos and updates on Twitter, send me your name so I can follow you! Mine is @katymurphy.

Here’s what I have so far:

  • All district-run schools will remain open tomorrow.
  • OUSD has gotten 268 requests for substitute teachers, compared to 24 for last Wednesday. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
Under: OEA, strike, students, teachers | 19 Comments »