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Boundary change fallout at Crocker Highlands

The Oakland school district might study its school attendance boundaries again next year, if the school board approves such a proposal next fall — but the new lines wouldn’t be drawn before the 2013-14 school year, David Montes de Oca, director of OUSD’s Quality Community Schools Development, told dozens of concerned parents yesterday evening at Crocker Highlands Elementary.

At issue, at least most urgently, is Crocker Highlands, which expanded to include some of the area that until now has belonged to nearby Lakeview Elementary School. When Lakeview closes this month, four schools will incorporate its attenance zone: Crocker, Lincoln, Cleveland, and Piedmont Avenue.

Crocker is one of the district’s most sought-after schools; its kindergarten was filling up with neighborhood kids even before the school’s boundaries expanded for the upcoming school year. As a result of the changes, parents say, 18 families who live in the neighborhood were initially denied seats; some were later placed, but the school district has yet to provide the numbers. Now, some parents in the original Crocker boundary area have circulated a petition calling on district leaders to reconsider that adjustment.

Crocker is adding a fourth kindergarten class this year, though that’s considered a one-time “bubble” solution. (Note: I’ve requested information from OUSD for months now about the number of neighborhood kids denied seats at Crocker and other schools; my polite pestering has yet to yield the answers. Still, Montes de Oca vowed to parents he would “push out” such data to the public to help inform their decision-making.)

As I sat in the meeting, it reminded me of a similar gathering at Hillcrest Elementary five years ago. It’s been awhile since I’ve written about parent angst, frustration and confusion over OUSD’s School Options program — specifically, schools with a higher demand among neighborhood families than available kindergarten seats.

For those of you who aren’t already all too familiar with the Options process: In Oakland Unified, families fill out their top school choices by mid-January and receive assignments based on a set of priorities that the school board revised in 2008. Basically: 1) kids with older siblings attending the school, regardless of where they live; 2) kids in the neighborhood without an older brother or sister at the school, selected at random; 3) kids who live near low-performing (Program Improvement) schools; 4) general lottery of all others interested in attending the school.

Families can appeal their placement and be put on a waiting list.

Here are some interesting things I learned at the meeting:

  • Half of OUSD children — 51 percent — attend a school that’s not their local, neighborhood school.
  • About 8-12 schools, including Crocker, are “oversubscribed” — they had more applicants than space for all of the incoming neighborhood kindergartners.
  • Each year at Crocker Highlands, 23 to 30 percent of the children who get into the school end up going elsewhere. This happens at other schools as well, so the district often admits more children than it has room for.
  • About one-quarter of OUSD’s elementary schools have new boundary lines to incorporate the residents who live near the five elementary schools slated for closure at the end of the month — Lazear, Lakeview, Santa Fe, Marshall and Maxwell Park.
  • The district will likely add a “pause” in its school assignment process to take stock of all of the neighborhood families denied seats at their local school. Those families — who’d still have the right to appeal and be put on a waiting list — would have the option of choosing another elementary school within their middle school “megaboundary.” (Right now, unless families know to place that megaboundary school #2 on their list, those spots go to other non-neighborhood kids first.)

When someone asked Montes de Oca if district officials knew that this would happen to Crocker, he gave one of those “yes and no” answers: “What we knew is that there was a potential for any school to be affected by those changes.”

Do you think the district should hire a group to study its attendance boundaries?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nia Lozano

    Hi Katy,

    I was in attendance and have since sent the below message (or a similar msg) to our local school board member and Tony Smith. I recall the answer to the pointed question as to whether the district knew that the school was at full capacity before the expansion of the boundary as a definitive, “yes”. It seemed to take several attempts to pin down the answer, but in the end my understanding was that it was clearly a yes. This boundary expansion was undertaken by the district while other nearby, contiguous, high performing schools did not fill to capacity.

    Letter:

    I am dismayed with OUSD’s decision to extend the boundaries of our local elementary school, Crocker Highlands. In the meeting that I attended last night, it was clearly established that the district knew in advance that this change in the school’s boundaries would create the problem of over-subscription such that families in our attendance area would be forced out of their neighborhood school. I believe that the stress and uncertainty that this has and will create for families throughout this enlarged catchment area will prove to be a grievous error.

    Furthermore, I was dissatisfied with the options presented to the constituents that attended last night’s meeting. The overall sense from the the attendees with whom I spoke is one of mistrust and dismay. While I appreciate Mr. Montes de Oca’s presence, I did not feel that he provided substantive answers to the questions that were being asked. My perception was that despite a verbose style, he said little and skirted many relevant questions.

    I believe that there is a simple but powerful way to address the problem that has been created in our community. It is to reverse the boundary expansion by 50% while you explore and examine the overcrowding issue. There is room to spare at Cleveland Elementary (which took on a smaller portion of the Lakeview attendance area, and is not facing overcrowding) and they could likely accommodate this additional neighborhood. Such a gesture would show empathy towards the disgruntled/displaced families of Crocker Highland, as well as appeal to common sense. In my opinion, this would be a win-win situation. The fact that you have overcrowded one school with plenty of room to spare in the school next door is silly. To allow this to continue would seem nonsensical and inflexible on the part of the district.

    Please think about the message that has been sent to a very active and astute constituency and try to envision a swift, albeit interim, solution. Thank you.

    Nia Lozano, M.D., M.P.P.

  • Katy Murphy

    He said yes, and then he said something else — what I quoted him as saying. So it seemed to me to be a yes and no answer, but I was a bit confused by it, so who knows?

  • Nia Lozano

    True. It was a confusing and frusterating exchange. One neighbor said it felt like a “filibuster–lots of words, designed to run out the clock, but no substantive responses or solutions”. Other attendees have made similar observations. I agree with them completely.

  • livegreen

    Nia hits it spot on. This is typical bureau-speak: say as much as possible while saying as little as possible. That might seem contradictory but not to those of us who’ve been at OUSD presentations. Principals and Rexo’s are good at it too. They only get better as they go further up the administrative totem poll.

    They obviously give courses for this in grad school.

  • Harold

    hmm… the Superintendent is a part of this schools community and somehow the district didn’t know they were over-subscribed?

  • livegreen

    “About one-quarter of OUSD’s elementary schools have new boundary lines to incorporate the residents who live near the five elementary schools slated for closure at the end of the month — Lazear, Lakeview, Santa Fe, Marshall and Maxwell Park.”

    Your original post does not appear to show 1/4 of all OUSD schools being impacted. Am I right?

    If so, where are the other proposed maps? And is OUSD going to share this with the public, or get it approved by the Board with a minimum of public disclosure?

  • Katy Murphy

    Hmm, I don’t think anything’s changed. Did you see fewer than 15 schools with adjusted lines? That’s about one-fourth of all elementary schools (not all k-12 schools) in OUSD.

  • Crocker Parent

    The format was David talking, then telling people that he would first take ALL the questions at once and answer them afterwards. He then proceeded to somehow spend two hours not answering any of them (at least to my satisfaction). I was actually laughing out load by the end of the meeting. What a waste of time. More than two hours and nothing of substance said at all.

  • http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/support-the-crocker-neighborhood/ Tara Montanez

    Thanks for your post, Katy, It seems to me as if there should be a short and longer term solution. First, as is obvious in the petition and stated by Nia above, it does not make sense to add additional areas to an oversubscribed school when there is adequate room in Cleveland. Though as the school board has stated, they know that this still won’t address the issue completely. As was mentioned in the meeting by many parents – we have a baby boom going on that will affect later years. OUSD doesn’t seem to have the forsight to predict a future outcome and it sure would be easier to point that finger at some outside agency who would make the hard choices of districting for them. I work in the business world and companies do this all the time by bringing in external consultants.

    In response to your question about attendance numbers,
    Here is an email I received from David Kakishiba with some of the statistics from the original Crocker class before the 4th classroom was added:

    From: David Kakishiba
    Date: Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 9:11 AM
    Subject: Re: Crocker Rejections
    To: Tara Moynihan

    Hi Tara,

    I apologize for my delayed response . . .

    1. A total of 113 Kindergarten applications were received of which: 94 reside in the old Crocker Highlands attendance area; 15 reside in the current Crocker Highlands attendance area; and 4 are siblings of current Crocker Highlands students, but reside outside the current Crocker Highlands attendance area.

    2. 91 of these applicants received a placement letter for Crocker Highlands of which: 77 reside in the old attendance area; 10 reside in the current attendance area; and 4 are siblings of current Crocker students, but reside outside the current area.

    3. Currently, there are three Kindergarten classrooms at Crocker and each are designed to serve 24 students or a total of 72 students.

    4. Based on past years experience, between 20% and 25% of those 91 applicants receiving a Crocker placement letter will not choose to attend Crocker by the start of the school year. Consequently, the current number of 91 applicants is expected to reduce to 72.

  • Wishful Thinking

    The Crocker meeting was incredibly frustrating to sit through. In addition to all the previous comments, I was particularly incensed by David’s intimation that b/c Crocker had a burgeoning problem with oversubscription that it seemed to be ok to expand the boundaries, knowing that the problem would get worse. Being oversubscribed by a few children versus intentionally creating a situation and being off target by an entire classroom does not lend any confidence in leadership by those responsible for this fiasco.

    Speaking of leadership, was it odd that board member David Kakishiba quietly sat in the back of the room and was not introduced until someone questioned community representation in the decision making? Another question came up about legal recourse. I suspect OUSD will get their ducks in order in the student assignment office when this happens again, as it appears that the options process was not handled appropriately for families this year as David suggested. This was also the ONLY concession I heard from him the entire presentation.

    There was a woman at the meeting who questioned the need to waste money (which OUSD does not have) on a study when they already have data. It is possible that by the time they finish such a study, the data may not be relevant or valid. With regard to Crocker, I suspect there will be a number of families looking to take advantage of the new boundaries by renting in the highly dense new catchment area, ensuring sibling priority and then moving out.

    We have a kindergartener starting in the fall and another one starting in 2015. Given that a significant number of kindergarteners coming from the new catchment area starting this year have siblings, families from the original boundaries, many of whom moved in years ago anticipating sending their children to Crocker, will be in a difficult situation over the next few years, if not longer. I am waiting for ACT II of this tragedy to unfold when come next year, the outcome everyone expected this year occurs again, with no additional kindergarten class added.

  • livegreen

    Mr. Kakishiba does not care about all your middle & upper class problems. He cares about equity & the bigger problems in both the flatlands and where he has programs for his non-profit (like Bella Vista, Roosevelt & O-High).

    That is where is heart lies, that is where his money comes from, and if he had wanted to be involved he would have been an integral part of the meeting.

  • Super

    I had a different take on the meeting overall and I think some of the positions shared in these comments are unfair.

    First, I thought David did an excellent job of responding in a transparent manner to the general purpose of the meeting and to the numerous questions laid out in the initial open-floor session and the ad hoc questions posed thereafter. I think much of the frustration referenced in this forum has a good deal to do with the fact that David did not present an OUSD position that would amount to a reversal of the District’s policy. Anything short of that, the participants would leave unsatisfied.

    Second, I think we’re failing to understand – or attempt to understand – the bigger picture from OUSD’s perspective. In the specific case of school closures (across OUSD) and an obvious mission toward sustainability (i.e. don’t let the state take over the district again), OUSD is making bold moves that must have, at its heart, a an objective of attaining greater enrollment across the entire District while keeping expenditures at least even and probably lower less (substantially?). More students means more money. Taken a step further, more households in better school districts means greater property value which translates into a stronger tax base. I’d bet that’s part of the vision.

    Third, the threat of a lawsuit not only seems counter-productive, but even foolhardy. We should be attempting to reach a resolution in cooperation with OUSD, not threatening to sue it. Besides, on what grounds would a lawsuit exist? Are students being denied access to a school? We can complain about the policy but that doesn’t mean the policy has been illegally determined and enforced. Before we threaten OUSD with a lawsuit, research should be done on whether a case even exists. Doing so without understanding only serves to widen the divide between the community and the administrators. Somebody even asked David what legal recourse we had as a community. Why ask that? That’s a bit like asking the fox where we should hide the keys to the chicken coop.

    Finally, the meeting was scheduled from 6:30 to 8:00. It ended at 8:30 and David made himself available for more Q&A after the meeting. To expect him to respond to every question asked of him during the “open floor” is unrealistic given there were probably 30 or more unique questions asked of him. And when he did attempt to answer many of these questions, his responses were quickly overwhelmed by additional questions and “points of clarification” that, in fact, were new questions.

    I left the meeting pretty sure not much would happen in the near future. I’d warn all of us to be careful what we wish for. We can push OUSD to redraw the lines across the entire district – something it is considering seriously – but with that comes no guarantee that homes in Crocker for the past 25 years will be districted to Crocker. Take a look at a map. There are many Glenview Elementary homes that are closer to Crocker than the majority of the homes currently in the district. You ask for change, you may get change but not the kind you like.

    Katy, had I known you were in the audience, I would have introduced myself and said hello. I appreciate the work you do here. It’s a huge community service.

  • On The Fence

    Super,

    Back in November you responded to the original proposed boundary change by stating something to the effect of, “No complaints here. Very pleased”. You also said that that you did not anticipate there to be much of an effect on Crocker families initially. You were wrong. The impact to the families and our community has been quite significant. And, I would guess by your presence at the meeting and your assessment of the ‘transparent’ fashion with which you believe David spoke, that you are in fact just happy for your family’s good fortune at now being placed in the expanded neighborhood, displaced families be darned. Their plight means nothing to you since you’re, “very pleased”. Whose take on this did you say was unfair?

    The community would and has welcomed any family so long as there is space. There was no space! We were full to capacity before the boundary change. The grudge has never been with the parents or children of the annexed area. The grudge is squarely against the district that created this very forseeable mess.

  • Super

    Fence,

    Of course we were very pleased. Our previous option was Lakeview. We have a reasonable expectation of OUSD to improve the services that we support as a taxpayer. Why wouldn’t we support a change that gave us a better option for our children, whether Crocker, Cleveland or elsewhere? Seems ridiculous even having to point that out.

    I agree that what’s developed since November in the Crocker community has been disappointing.

    My assessment of the meeting remains.

  • AC Mom

    I have a child that attends Cleveland school, and let me tell you that Cleveland has no additional space either. So, while I agree that the situation at Crocker is frustrating, the insinuation that Cleveland has space to accomodate the share of students that are now slated to go to Crocker is false.

  • OUSD Parent

    It seems that the strong schools are full so I guess OUSD must work to raise the standards at the other elementary schools so there isn’t so much pressure on these communities that have higher performing schools. I was wondering if Cleveland could absorb some of the overflow but if they at capacity then that won’t work.

    AC Mom, I’m curious to hear what you think Cleveland does right to make it a strong elementary school. Is there something that can be done by other schools to help them raise their standards and make them more desirable for families? Test scores are important but that’s not the only thing. At the hills schools there is a ridiculous amount of fundraising and grant writing that takes place to provide funds for additional services (librarian, pe, music, etc.). I’m sure it’s the same at Crocker. What about Cleveland? What makes it a strong and special part of your community?

    I’m just trying to think of how to take the heat off of the better performing schools by making the other schools competitive. And this goes for middle schools too. If OUSD wants to stop families from leaving the district at middle school then it needs to make the middle schools stronger. Just cramming more kids into Montera and Edna Brewer isn’t going to solve the problem.

  • Crocker Parent

    I may be mistaken, but I believe Cleaveland filled up through the options process. Meaning that there was space after the initial enrollment process and children from outside the boundaries were then admitted to fill the school. I think the Crocker families originally slated for Cleveland were assigned at that point. I believe Crocker is the only school already fully subscribed and enrolled with kids from within the neighborhood boundaries (at least for the past few years). I think this is what a lot of Crocker families are upset about. That there was no reason to expand the boundaries and intentionally OVER subscribe the school, when there was space in the other affected schools. If there was no other choice, and all the schools were also already filled with neighborhood kids and everyone had to stretch a little, it would be a different story.

  • On the Fence

    AC Mom,

    Per Mr. Montes de Oca, Cleveland Elementary does have excess capacity. What he explained is that the school does not fill up with siblings and neighborhood families, which are the groups that have first priority. So, if I understood his explanation correctly, after all siblings and neighborhood students are admitted, the school still has room. This year they had room for 18 families from the Crocker district, and probably more spaces for students from other districts/neighborhoods as well. Yes, Cleveland eventually fills, but only after opening remaining spots to families who opt into Cleveland from out of neighborhood. The school is not at capacity with neighboorhood families and siblings of current students, so there is space per OUSD.

  • AC Mom

    I think that we are using the same term to mean two different things…By excess capacity I mean that Cleveland is fully enrolled with a teacher to student ratios exceeding that of Crocker (20:1 versus 21:1, 2010-2011 data). According to OUSD, the Cleveland catchment area has fewer families with school aged children than does Crocker, and as a result was ranked far higher on the school closures priorities list than (at least I think was deserved)several other sites that had fewer students or didn’t perform as well on state tests. Katy posted the school closure analyses on this board last year. However, as more families have moved into the area, this trend is starting to change.

    My concern is that teacher to student ratios not be increased any more than they have already. Cleveland has a higher percentage of students that qualify for free and reduced price lunch and are English Language Learners than does Crocker. It is my opinion that any increase to the schools total enrollment would lower the quality of learning for Cleveland students.

    In response to OUSD Parent, Cleveland has not been able to raise funding comparable to the hills schools. As I already mentioned, Cleveland has a large number of families that are at the poverty level and so our fundraising is relatively low. What Cleveland does have is parents who are willing to volunteer their time to support the school, highly trained and experienced teachers, and parents and staff who are committed to ensuring that each child has a solid education.

  • Yazstremski

    AC Mom: The student to teacher ratios that you refer to are incorrect. The district decides this, not the individual schools. K-3 can have a teacher to student ratio UP to 1:27. And, Crocker does not currently have a 20:1 ratio in the 3 Kinder classess, and it didn’t have it last year OR the year before. This is the 4th year that Crocker has had 20+ in each of its 3 kinder classes.
    The Crocker staff and principal have come up with a short-term solution that enables the Crocker families within the new catchment area to attend Crocker next year.
    Perhaps the 2 communities should meet and try to offer up a solution to the problem that benefits BOTH campuses. Each has a parent group with a lot of resources (not just money). I’m sure the displaced families reading this would not like to hear about the negative effect you feel their presence would create at Cleveland.

  • AC Mom

    Yazstremski:

    I am fully aware that the district decides the ratios. Likewise, Cleveland has had more than 20 students in its K classes. My data comes from the school SARC reports which may be accessed herehttp://publicportal.ousd.k12.ca.us/19941091174536337/site/default.asp Crocker had 377 children in 2010-2011 and 19 (18 fully credentialed and 1 not fully credentialed) teaching staff. Cleveland has 360 students and 17 staff (all fully credentialed).

    As to meeting, I don’t think there is a need to meet. It seems that Crocker parents are the ones circulating petitions and threatening a lawsuit. The problem is not the willingness of Cleveland to accept new families. As it has already been pointed out, many are from outside of “the neighborhood”. Whatever solution OUSD decides should not increase total enrollment as higher teacher to student ratios would likely have a negative affect on student learning.

  • Crocker Parent

    Our kinder class at Crocker was 24. 23-24 seems to be the norm in the lower grades. That info is incorrect.

  • On The Fence

    AC Mom,

    There is a ton of concern among the families of Crocker, but let me assure you that I have never heard a single person ever say or wish for another school community to face the situation that OUSD has created for us. I can honestly say that I would not want to relieve the overcrowding of Crocker by creating overcrowding at Cleveland or elsewhere. The situation that we face is untenable and unfair, and to engage in efforts that would harm other schools would be unconscionable. That is not the nature of the efforts to rectify Crocker’s overcrowding. If there is space in neighboring schools, let’s make sure that the Lakeview attendance area is divided to take advantage of those open seats.

  • Yazstremski

    AC Mom:
    Oh I’m sure that is what it says…please do not rely on OUSD stats… because we all know how accurate the district is at counting.
    I was responding to your opinion that “more students would lower the quality of learning for Cleveland’s students”. Since your school is not the only one affected and does not have the only parent community that is upset, it is pointless to assign blame where it clearly does not belong.
    The Crocker parents are trying to avoid a bigger problem and are being pro-active. The numbers of students in OUSD is going to continue to fall, more schools will close and the class sizes will increase everywhere. The Cleveland community should join Crockers’, so that next year your school is not overcrowded. Crocker is looking for an equitable division of the former Lakeview attendance area and as a member of the community that will be affected, you should offer support.

  • Ms. J.

    In fact, K classes can go to 27; 1-3 can go to 30. This is not something I know from reading district statistics; these are the actual numbers from Bella Vista School, across Park Blvd from Cleveland, this past year.

    As a teacher who has experienced classes ranging from 17 to 30 kids, I can state with certainty that the higher classes have a very negative impact on student learning.

    It seems very unlikely that the district will reduce class sizes anywhere now that they’ve begun to increase at several district schools, given how much money can be saved by cutting teachers. And while I believe that classes in the lower grades decrease markedly in effectiveness (and happiness!) above 24 kids and don’t wish larger classes on any school, I also wonder how it is possible for a district to claim equity when some schools serve kids in classes of 30 while others still maintain the 20 to 1 ratio.

  • ASadReminder

    I just want to point out that the children we are speaking of (crowding our relatively wealthy schools) have completely lost their school, their ‘place’ where their identity, their connections, their loving relationships with teachers and adults has been broken off. although i have sympathy for all who are being displaced, i think it would be wise to keep perspective on what is actually going on in our community. And connected to that is a larger political and social perspective on public education, causing us to pit ourselves against one another instead of joining together. These children and families are not the culprit here.

  • On the Fence

    Let it be said again and again, this is not an issue of excluding families from wealthy areas. If only there were more seats, but there are not. This is an issue of not enough seats, and a district dividing up the Lakeview district such that some schools were oversubscribed while other high performing local schools have space to spare.

    We are also not speaking of a large number of families who had already formed an institutional bond with the former Lakeview Elementary. This is largely an issue of incoming kindergarteners, many of whom were from families like the poster above who did not view Lakeview favorably. Children who had attended Lakeview Elementary were absorbed and welcomed into the various affected schools with very little stretch, if any, as should be.

    The crowding starting next year will affect not only Crocker families from the original boundary, but also many, many families from the newly annexed area. They too will face a slimmer and slimmer chance to attend Crocker Elementary. Heaven forbid families begin to rent or buy with the thought to vie for a spot at Crocker. That may be a gamble that some are willing to take, but my risk averse nature makes me anxious for all the families involved. Families on Kenmore will face the same uncertainty as families on Sunnyhills. All displaced families in the enlarged area (former Lakeview and original Crocker) will then have first dibs at Cleveland and other mega boundary schools IF there is space. However, if they do not choose those schools or there is not space, all these families face the general options lottery. Remember, all families who are displaced from Crocker will be LAST on the list for spots at schools outside the mega boundary. That is because they will now belong to a high performing school district (Crocker). All students from PI schools will have dibs on spots at Peralta, Sequoia, Chabot, Montclair, etc, before them. That is the uncertainty that faces all the families. Unless a solution is reached, there will be added stress for all of the families involved.

  • AH

    Ms. J, which schools do you think maintain the 20:1 ratio? I don’t know of any, especially the sought-after schools. OUSD fills every slot they can.

  • starshaped

    20 to 1 classes are suppose to be in effect at any school that has a certain grant whose name escapes me at the moment. However, that doesn’t mean that those rules are being followed. As a Kindergarten teacher, I have 25 students in my class, as do my three fellow Kinder teachers. I know for a fact that some schools have more than the contract limit of 27. This kind of thing is going to continue unless the parents push back because honestly, the teachers are not being listened to.

  • Crocker Resident

    We bought our home in Crocker Highlands years before we had our child because we were told CH was a sure thing and we would be able to attend. After the Superintendant approved the OUSD closings, I was still told that we would get in. We did not. I’m curious. Does Mr. Smith, whose children attend Crocker Highlands and will therefore be guaranteed spots according to the rules of enrollment, have any regret about the number of local families, who are paying astronomical property taxes, who were denied entry? Our child was placed in an East Oakland school. It’s a 25 minute drive from our home, and it’s not an acceptable “alternative.” When Mr. Smith okayed the closures, did he know that the OUSD headquarters would be relocated to Lakeview Elementary? I have spoken to many families. Some got in. Others are scrambling to find private schools. The closures have been a debacle. We are personally affected. Many other families are in a similar position. And to clarify what others have reported, I have heard so many contradictions, so much misinformation. I would like the school board and especially Tony Smith to tell us clearly and precisely what was expected. He has made a mess. I deeply resent paying thousands of dollars in property taxes on top of private school tuition.

    Shame on you. What a mess for all of us who are living with this ” informed” decision. And I do feel for the families that have considered CH Elementary their home. How many children will be crammed into a class? Adding an additional K is short sighted… Sounds like yet another “interim” solution. Hoping that everyone involved with OUSD speaks up. And speaks loudly.

  • Nontcair

    A few comments above were represented to have been submitted by parents who purchased homes in Crocker with the expectation of being able to send their kid(s) to “good” public schools.

    You people get NO sympathy from me.

    Poor people pay taxes too. They have EVERY right to expect that their kids will receive a public education at least as nondreadful as the ones that rich kids get.

    How many of you are leftists who claim to be big supporters of “diversity”? Well, here’s your chance to PROVE IT. My experience with folks like you is that diversity matters so long as it’s not YOUR child who’s being (negatively) impacted by it.

  • Nextset

    Why does it seem odd that a man would buy a house in a bad school district thinking that his child would surely go to a “good” school within the bad district – and nothing is going to happen to upset that pipe dream?

    Oh Well! I doubt that’s working in Los Angeles either.

    As far as poor people having all these rights… Good luck with that way of thinking also. People who go around thinking that way are usually – shocked!!! Better not be poor.

    It would be nice if OUSD were run the way it used to be with a variety of campuses and tracks one could vie for. That way a bright poor child could get an education. Like in SFUSD with Lowell High. But OUSD changed and it was decided to ruin it for everybody in the name of equality. All can be equally poorly educated or something like that.

    Brave New World.

  • On the Fence

    The crux of the issue is that Tony Smith over-subscribed Crocker Highlands Elementary, while leaving other very high performing neighborhood schools under-subscribed.

    Crocker is a good school, but it was already at capacity with neighborhood kids. Cleveland, which boasts the SAME high ratings (10,4) and similarly great API, was left with capacity to take more kids. Lincoln was another of the schools that was slotted to take Lakeview district families. It boasts a (10,10!) rating, and it would be interesting to know if it enrolls to capacity with siblings and neighborhood kids, or just after opening to the options lottery.

    In any case, there was no reason for Tony Smith to wreak havoc on the families that live in the Crocker Elementary district. It was unfair to the all families in the whole entire enlarged area who will now always be fighting for the too few spots in their neighborhood school.

    As for Crocker Resident, I hope that you’ll consider joining your neighbors who are working on efforts to reverse this debacle.

  • J.R.

    This whole liberal idea of diversity(with school choice) hasn’t turned out so well(very contradictory as a matter of fact). From years back,some people didn’t want to invest the time and sweat equity to make their neighborhood schools function well(parent participation and all that)and naturally the schools floundered and failed. Years later school choice and busing were tried, and these perceived “good schools” could only accommodate so many kids. Poor schools were concurrently losing enrollment to alternatives. The big problem is that people want success handed to them, but every neighborhood school should be good(and would be) with parent participation. People don’t want to work for things anymore(no work ethic)just entitlement attitudes, and would rather do gastric bypass or lap-band than exercise and eat sensibly. This culture is severely damaged, and there is no going back.

  • Nontcair

    The OUSD policy of school assignment based on “priority” — common to many districts — is just another example of public education as a *political* institution.

    “Priority” is generally a euphemism (legal cover) for institutionalizing “separate but NOT equal” (discrimination).

  • J.R.

    Non,
    Taxpayers give all children,facilities,teachers, and books. What we cannot give them is parental support and the innate drive to succeed. It all boils down to personal responsibility and persistence, and to borrow from another poster:

    Ann Says:
    June 15th, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Our son attends Lincoln Elementary in Oakland. Our score was 961. for the second year in a row, with 10/10! There’s a lot of homework- 4 pages a night for his kindergarten plus any work he didn’t finish in class. What they do is work hard and it shows, so don’t dismiss all of Oakland’s schools as failures.

    It takes hard work, and there is no easy substitute for that.

  • SF2OAK

    First I’d like to thank Katy for this blog. Second as my name indicates I’m a newcomer to oakland. I came without child but now have one. I was also quite pleased when Lakeview my neighborhood school closed – it seemed dismal to me in terms of API & other stats and right on a freeway, so there was no way I would have sent my child there. Now I find it almost incomprehensible that OUSD has not anticipated the fallout from the closure-how can you increase the catchment of a full school with minimal or no impact (Crocker)? As far as I can tell Tony Smith is not really interested in middle/upper class kids, they will do fine in his opinion, and he is probably right. For me I’ll probably bail on OUSD, maybe there’s a charter or a private school or I’ll move or homeschool. I do think the petitioner who wants status quo ante is absolutely wrong. On my street which is not in the old Crocker boundary has many kids that go to Crocker, imagine that, and the school is what it is. Furthermore when you bought into the Crocker district there was no guarantee that things would remain the same, no such thing as a “sure thing”- I’d like to see the paper from OUSD that guaranteed you anything – that is a total crock. Any expectation you had is false. Finally OUSD seems to be a mess, not sure i want to be in that ring.

  • Nontcair

    Taxpayers give rich public schools AP courses, superior facilities and staff, and intellectually enriching diversions like Debate Club. Taxpayers give poor public schools “culturally sensitive” instruction, metal detectors, and intellectually destructive diversions like football.

    Why do politicians pump money into physically dangerous and totally incompetent and awful public schools in poor neighborhoods? The answer reminds me of the joke(?) I used hear about why the US fed the Russian Army: it was to keep them all from moving to Californa. Likewise, the policians need a vehicle to keep poor, “undesirable” kids from overwhelming the enrollments of “good” public schools in rich neighborhoods.

    So spare me that patronizing, GOP baloney about how all schools are receiving the same amount “per student”, that critics seek equality of outcomes, and so forth.

    BTW. If the parental factor is paramount then why do we keep taking more and more money (in taxes) from parents and redistributing it to pay for non-parental involvements like full-day kindergarten, teacher salaries, Ritalin, and forth.

  • Nontcair

    ‘SF2OAK’ states that it will “probably bail” on OUSD. What options exist for poor OUSD (often single) parents? Why must they content themselves with sending their kids to catastrophic public schools?

    What’s with those rich Crocker Highlands parents who complain about needing to scramble to find their kids a good school — GASP! Maybe even have to pay private school tuition — because somehow their child didn’t get assigned to the good public school in their home’s zip code? When did “good” public schools become the nearly *sole* prerogative of the 1%?

    Why do we permit the government to operate a few “good” schools for the convenience of rich parents (subsidized by the rest of us) who get to deduct their property taxes on their Schedule A’s, while simultaneously allowing it to operate many, MANY times more totally HORRIBLE public schools, funded by regressive, *nondeductible*, high sales taxes paid by poor people?

    There’s never an Occupy Protest around when you need one.

  • J.R.

    Non wrote ,
    “So spare me that patronizing, GOP baloney about how all schools are receiving the same amount “per student”

    First of all, nearly all politicians are next to worthless just handing out other people’s money. Secondly Oakland as a district gets better funding per child than most districts in N.California. Resources have historically never been used very well here:

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/name-em-and-shame-em/Content?oid=1069272

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/ebx/oakland-unified-has-too-many-schools/Content?oid=1725235

    http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2011/09/07/a-closer-look-at-spending-and-test-scores-in-east-bay-schools/#comments

    As far as income re-distribution, that philosophy is wrong and ruinous

    http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-298.html

    There are a few notable sayings that I like very much, one is paraphrasing “A government that can do anything “FOR” you, can do anything “TO” you”. “The fact that even the very poor can vote is both a strength and a weakness in this country”.

  • J.R.

    Non,
    The 1% is all relative, for instance in Chicago(where teachers have polled they will vote to strike for 30% raises),many of those same teachers are in the 1% with their six figure salaries. Go figure that one. Some people are overpaid, some are underpaid, fact of life( it’s just the way things are.

  • Nontcair

    The concerns expressed by some Crocker Highlanders about local enrollment overflow due to public school closures in a less affluent side of town, are totally outrageous.

    We ALL pay taxes to support the schools. Our kids have *every* right to go to *any* school in the district. It’s highly offensive that parents who live in the neighborhood (or once did) get first priority in sending their kids to Crocker Elementary.

    We all pay to support public streets. When are the Crockers going to complain about, say, Lakeviewers riding their bicycles along Mandana? After all, shouldn’t neighborhood residents receive first priority when deciding who gets to use the roads? Why don’t we just establish strict quotas on the number of non-Crockers who can legally park their cars there for more than 30 minutes? For that matter, shouldn’t

    Lakeviewers get first priority on weekend admission to Fairyland?

    Downtowners get first priority on best selling, new releases on loan at the Main Library?

    etc and so forth.

    *All* Oakland parents who desire to send their kid to Crocker Elementary (or any particular school) should have an equal shot at getting him in. If that means the lottery # of a kid who has lived next door to the school for 10+ years might not get picked, so be it.

    And for those of you who bought a residence in some neighborhood to increase (guarentee?) your kid’s chance of getting into a “good” local public school, I say “STOP asking the government for special treatment!”

  • http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/support-the-crocker-neighborhood/ Tara Montanez

    Nontclair – I don’t think you are aware of the current policy of enrollment for OUSD – the policy is that neighborhood children (for every school – not just Crocker) have priority for schools. The priorities as have been listed in the original post above by Katy, are:
    Basically: 1) kids with older siblings attending the school, regardless of where they live; 2) kids in the neighborhood without an older brother or sister at the school, selected at random; 3) kids who live near low-performing (Program Improvement) schools; 4) general lottery of all others interested in attending the school. Many of us specifically moved from San Francisco where they have a lottery as you mention to Oakland and specifically Crocker Highlands because there are no assurances of what school children will go to.
    Those in Crocker are not asking for special treatment – we are asking that the OUSD follow the rules they have set and when our school is over enrolled, not add on additional areas that bring our school to a full classroom over capacity when other schools have room to take in other children. All 18 of the children from the previous Crocker boundaries were sent to Cleveland – why isn’t that the school that has been added to the new boundaries? It has fantastic test scores, is close by and seems to have space available. As for special treatment – special funding and grants are given for underperforming schools of which Crocker gets none. The school has become great as has been mentioned by many above specifically by the local Crocker community involvement and investment.

  • Super

    It’s a shame that this discussion has devolved into polar extremes with little to no discussion about realistic policy options to resolve the issue. On one hand, there’s a petition that essentially demands OUSD to reverse its decision taken earlier this year to expand the district. A petition, I might add, that has been edited at least twice since being made available for “signature” (e.g. the original petition called for a reversal of OUSD’s sibling policy). On the other, we have a call for all schools to be made available to all OUSD kids. As if that’s going to happen. Completely unrealistic, never mind a terrible policy.

    The community needs to evaluate real options that can address the problem. What might these be? There are several good ideas discussed in this blog, in these and other comments, in our community meetings. So what might these policy options be?

    1. Expand Crocker to accommodate more students. If one of Oakland’s objectives is to get more students into its schools, it must provide us with an alternative. Those of us with some means will go elsewhere if our option is not good.

    2. Change the priority rules so that families that rent in a district are lower priority than families that own in a district. Priority should go to the taxpayer. What impact would this have on enrollment?I I don’t know but might be worth looking into.

    3. What about a temporary reciprocity agreement with Crocker? School closures are unusual circumstances, so an unusual temporary policy that allows Crocker and Cleveland to partner and to plan enrollment for the next 3 years might be a good idea. OUSD could evaluate and respond to what occurs within the two districts with more flexibility.

    Even before the expanded catchment was added to the Crocker district, Crocker Elementary was going to be overenrolled this year and the likelihood that children would be assigned to neighboring districts was high. This is not ideal but a reality. Depending on the direction taken, the new Crocker district might be able to accommodate all students in a year, two or three. It’s really all about compromise at this point. So what can be done so both sides can walk away with a “win?”

    A final point. Screw Occupy Oakland. That movement is a scourge on the city and an embarrassment at the national level. There is absolutely no good coming out of that movement and the costs are taking away support that could be used to make Oakland even better than it is. Happy to feel that’s probably not news to most on this blog.

  • Nontcair

    As you observed, KM conveniently provided OUSD’s school assignment policy (OSAP). It’s pretty straightforward.

    SEPARATE BUT EQUAL.

    In reality OSAP is a socio-economic policy.

    When did modern-day public education — instituted under the guiding, progressive principle that all kids deserve (have a right?) to acquire the basic skills necessary to function in our free society — become a social engineering project?

    Again, you Crockers whose kids won’t be “properly” assigned get NO sympathy from me. The fact that you were able to outbid less wealthy parents for purchase of a pricey home in a neighborhood with a “good” public school means that the second, third, fourth, etc highest bidders were forced to find alternatives to the miserable public schools in the neighborhoods which they could afford.

    Welcome to their club.

    If Cleveland is such a fantastic school then what’s wrong with YOUR OWN KIDS being assigned to it?

    Special grants for underperforming schools. Really.

  • Yazstremski

    Nontclair: Are you reading the same responses as the rest of us? No one is saying that one family “deserves” more than another.

    Repeatedly on this blog, people have commented about the lack of neighborhood schools. The families at Lakeview are upset about losing their community…the teachers and adults that have formed bonds and relationships with the children. All 3 of the schools that will accept the Lakeview students are better schools (Crocker, Cleveland, Lincoln).

    Why is their concern about those bonds and attachments less than the Crocker families? Are you suggesting that kids currently enrolled in Crocker give up their spots? Not going to happen.

    The sibling policy exists so this does NOT happen. Incoming families with no other children at Crocker are the ones being reassigned to Cleveland. The issue to many of these families is that they could walk to Crocker, its their neighborhood school.

    Crocker did not have room…its just that simple, and Cleveland did have room for the overflow. No one at Crocker wants to turn away anyone…which is why the solution this year, a 4th Kindergarten class came DIRECTLY from the Crocker community, staff and principal.

    If you are so determined to get angry at homeowners…how about all of the people that bought houses that DO NOT use Crocker. There are dozens and dozens of families that send their children to expensive private schools and live across the street from Crocker. Why should THEY get to live there…they should move out and let people who would send their kids to Crocker live there.

    Oh no, that sounds stupid…people have the right to LIVE where they want, send their children to a private school if they choose to and NOT support the fantastic neighborhood school right in front of them. They pay their taxes and support the schools anyway.

  • AC Mom

    I can only say, wow, just wow! People really do reveal their true selves on this blog. As has been mentioned many times before, this blog performs an invaluable public service. Based upon the comments that I have read, the uproar seems equally motivated (some would say more) by classroom size as it is by class. I think many parents would welcome the opportunity to have a broad policy discussion regarding the appropriate (or most desirable) teacher to student ratio at K-5 sites, and I would gladly participate.

  • Nontcair

    Hasn’t anyone heard of Prop 209? Let me remind you:

    The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race .. in the operation of .. public education ..

    Discriminate? Who, us? Oh, heaven’s no! We’re REDLINING.

    In fact, kids currently at Crocker *should* give up “their” spots. The same way that AC Transit riders give up “their” seats when the bus reaches their stop (or the end of its daily route/operation). The way that parkers in Montclair Village must give up “their” spots after two hours.

    By “give up”, I mean that ALL kids who seek assignment to an oversubscribed public school should have to enter a lottery; EVERY year, if need be.

  • OUSD Parent

    @Nontcair, That has been tried in other urban areas. Placing children outside of neighborhood schools in an attempt to level the playing field. It hasn’t worked. Not for the rich kids and not for the poor kids either. I still believe that OUSD needs to strengthen all of its schools so families don’t want to look outside of their own neighborhood. It’s a lot easier and to get mad at “the rich” than to tackle the problems within the district. My kids don’t go to Crocker. I don’t know any Crocker families. I can’t imagine that they are as evil as you make them out to be in your posts. I think your anger is justified but misplaced.

  • J.R.

    Non,
    Once again, you want people to just surrender their “just due” in the name of equity. I don’t know any residents of the hills either, but people generally deserve what they work for(I myself make less than the average teacher)I am not going to moan about that(most teacher deserve it), and some deserve much more. People who work hard to provide the best for their children are not evil, they are being good and responsible parents. The people who are productive make it possible to have the relatively high standard of living here in the USA. They are not evil as a group although some might be on an individual basis. Your anger is misplaced, you should be angry at people who cannot take care of themselves and yet they reproduce(that is child abuse)which is reason to be upset.