Tribune forum on March 29: Join us!

On Thursday, March 29, the Oakland Tribune is holding a public forum to delve into the issue that has elicited more than 150 comments on this blog: the Oakland school district’s decision to create a new teaching position on three of its high school campuses, and to require even current teachers to apply for the job if they want to stay.

I’ll be moderating the panel discussion. We’ll have a Q & A section at the end, so bring your insights and questions. You’re also welcome to post them here, if you can’t make it. I hope to see you there!

WHEN: 3:30 to 5:15 p.m. Thursday, March 29
WHERE: 81st Avenue branch of the Oakland Public Library, 1021 81st Ave. (at Rudsdale)
CONFIRMED PANELISTS: Superintendent Tony Smith; Oakland Education Association President Betty Olson-Jones; Castlemont (EOSA) teacher Timothy Bremner; Fremont (Media Academy) teacher Howard Ruffner; Fremont (Media Academy) student Diego Garcia

Katy Murphy

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

  • oakteach

    NICE. Can you tape it for the folks who can’t make it?

  • Katy Murphy

    We’ll be live-streaming the forum, and I imagine we’d post the archive video too. I’ll check.

  • Peach

    This might be a chance for the panelists to address how TSAs, instead of 10 mo teachers, will deliver a strong education to students.

    Has anyone been asked to represent McClymonds? Will parents be on the panel? Will there be female teachers and students on the panel? Lastly, will anyone be there to give the principal’s POV?

    It is apparent that making current teachers reapply for their positions is a breach of the contract.

    What needs to be explored is how all this fighting and fussing is going to help students, given that the few remaining co-curricular and extra curricular activities are being eleminiated at the three high schools. Up til now there are no plans to add any new academic content.

    When the small schools were introduced, enthusiastic, caring mostly inexperienced teachers worked long hours mentoring interns, developing curriculum, and building school culture as best they could. Few, if any, are still with OUSD – they burned out or opted out.

    The supposed “unacceptable” situations at these schools are the result of the tinkerings of the same reform team. Again, students will be left with incomplete institutions. By state and federal law, OUSD is supposed to invest time on students’ education rather than on fighting for the political agendas of outside billionaires.

    We all look forward to hearing about the plans around educating students rather than statements demonizing dedicated teachers who are fulfilling their end of the contract.

  • Katy Murphy

    If only I was gifted enough to manage a 90-minute panel discussion with 20 people… But in all seriousness, it was tough to narrow it down to five or six panelists. Because we know they can’t possibly represent all of the perspectives and backgrounds from these three high schools, we plan to leave ample time for audience participation. As it is, the panelists will have only a few minutes to speak anyway.

    I invited Kevin Taylor, Mack’s principal. It’s possible he will join us, though he had another meeting at that time.

  • makeitgoaway

    Katy- ask some of these questions…

    Have you determined that longer hours are the only way to address the problems of inner city education?

    Would you consider a boarding school model like the Harlem Children’s Zone?

    where else has this worked? why do you think it will work here?

    what specific measurement data will you have to see to determine if this is a success?

    Why are you confident you have chosen the best principal and administrative staff to oversee this, given their past levels of failure?

    is the Union reaction (against) what you anticipated?

    If this works, will you export this model to other struggling schools?

  • Katy Murphy

    Thanks for sending those along!

  • Catherine

    Katy: I have read how “self-esteem” “love” “kindness” “culturally responsive” and other buzz words. I would like to know from the panelists, specifically Tony Smith and Betty Olson-Jones how those things or traditional teaching with traditional teachers is going to add to the number of high school students, specifically minority high school students who are able to pass the high school exit exam.

    I have not seen any planning on how to take students from the skill set they have NOW through at least one full grade level of learning in a school year. In some cases the students are so far behind that they would have to compact two or more years in each school subject to pass the exit exam. What are the plans?

  • Nextset

    Catherine: Good Post.

    The answer is of course that there are no plans. There is no expectancy that the “behind” kids will survive in the Brave New World. And the Educrats take no responsibility for that fact. As far as they are concerned it’s the “parent(s)” fault. This is a basic (emotional?) self-protection mode for the Educrats.

    It’s not that they’re evil, it’s just that they feel no responsibility for what happens to any of these kids. It’s just a paycheck.

    This is why as presently constituted, the public schools will not change – they will only deteriorate further. If the teachers don’t like it they should quit and take a better job elsewhere.

    Think of it as evolution in action.

  • Nextset

    Catherine: The important thing you point out is the use of the palliative words as part of the de-facto mission statement of these “schools”.

    The black children are thought of as less than real people. That’s how I characterize the treatment the urban schools give them. Think of it as a triage situation where they are written off as hopeless. What do you do in triage for the people you write off as going to die anyway? Palliative treatment. You make them as comfortable as you can but don’t fix anything. You certainly don’t waste treatment that might “hurt”.

    Thus the overriding concern for ““self-esteem” “love” “kindness” “culturally responsive” and other buzz words.” Actions speak louder than words. Educrats want to kill ’em with kindness – since they are thought of as dead anyway. It’s just better that way.

    So no discipline and no corrective actions on them. That might hurt, you know.

    You don’t see such loving concern for the Korean immigrants – or the Jewish kids, or any other group assigned to the success groups.

    Perhaps the black students were much better off in segregated schools run by black returning military faculty and admin. Like Dunbar High… See how much babying they handed out.

    Brave New World.

  • Katy Murphy

    UPDATE: I’m hearing there is a small chance we won’t be able to live-stream Thursday’s forum. I hope that’s not the case, but wanted to give you all a heads up, just in case!

    I’ll keep you posted.

  • Carla Kennedy

    I am a teacher at McClymonds High School. LAST WEEK, I expressed an interest in being a part of the panel. However, organizers have seen fit to exclude McClymonds from the conversation (yet again). It is our position that if we cannot be a part of the conversation, then we should be left out of the plan! If Tony Smith were truly interested in hearing from ALL affected schools/teachers/students, then he would insist that there be representation from the THREE CAMPUSES where he is IMPOSING the TSA position. Further, this is EXTREME shortsightedness on behalf of the organizers. We feel disrespected and ignored. Unfortunately, it is not a surprise that McClymonds has been left out, we have come to expect such treatment. However, we WILL NEVER ACCEPT IT!! Right the wrong.

  • Katy Murphy

    Hi Carla,

    Did you write me? If so, I completely missed that. We had no intention of excluding Mack from the discussion. Your principal was one of the first people I invited, though I have yet to hear back from him. Some folks from the alumni association plan to join us too. Please come and participate!

  • Katy Murphy

    I’ve just received confirmation that Kevin Taylor, Mack’s principal, will be on the panel. So McClymonds will be represented!