Another attendance boundary change?

WEDNESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: The Oakland school board voted unanimously to put this item on the Dec. 12 agenda.


The Oakland school board on Wednesday considers whether to put a motion on the Dec. 12 agenda that would address the oversubscription of students at Crocker Highlands Elementary School. One option would be moving the western boundary from Grand Avenue to Lakeshore.

Approval by Board of Education of a directive to the Superintendent of Schools to report to the Board of Education at its Regular Meeting on December 12, 2012, for its deliberation and possible action, recommended remedies to effectively mitigate the incidence of over-subscription of available kindergarten seats by children residing within the Crocker Highlands Elementary School attendance area including, but not limited to, consideration of moving the school’s western boundary from Grand Avenue to Lakeshore Avenue, as an effective remedy.

What are your thoughts on this?

Katy Murphy

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

  • grand lake parent

    I think this would be a way to make the school even less diverse than it already is. The area between Grand and Lakeshore has many more apartments and provides the opportunity for more different types of kids to attend this fantastic school!

  • Harold

    diversity is a good thing. But the school cannot handle the large area of subscription. You can’t add portables. Or maybe they should knock it down and build a two or three story building, that’ll block out those million dollar views?

  • http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/support-the-crocker-neighborhood/ tara montanez

    The new boundaries created by incorporating the area between Grand and Lakeshore helped to create a situation where 18 neighborhood children were unable to get into Crocker in last Spring’s admittance process. While adding a 4th classroom for this year’s class was a bandaid on the issue, the school is not built to accomodate 4 K classes a year ongoing. The school district has not put any changes into effect to have this be different for next year and something needs to be done so that parents have predictability in what schools their children will be able to attend. At the same time, Cleveland needed to lay off a K teacher a couple weeks ago because this high performing school does not have enough students to fill its classes.

    Tara Montanez
    Mother to Kindergarteners in 2014 and 2016

  • Outraged

    I’m sorry, Grand Lake Parent, but what exactly do you know about Crocker’s diversity? Or are you just assuming it’s not? Crocker IS diverse, but diversity can be a lot of things other than skin color. Not sure why diversity so often boils down to black vs. white. A population can be plenty diverse without applying that simple definition.

    The bottom line is that there aren’t enough spots at Crocker. Period. We do all families and children a disservice if we double the number of families vying for the same number of Kindergarten spots. It will end up causing unnecessary worry and ultimately will do harm to Crocker and OUSD as families drop out of the system (sometimes forever) in order to avoid the uncertainty.

    White, black, brown, green, yellow, red, pink or orange – all are welcome at Crocker….AS LONG AS THERE ARE SEATS AVAILABLE. Let’s focus on the issue.

  • On The Fence

    This could be a reasonable solution for the neighborhood. A boundary at Lakeshore would still be an expansion from the former boundary, but would again give families a reasonable chance of acceptance into their local public school. When the district expanded the boundaries all the way to Grand Ave, many families were turned away from both the old and new attendance area. That is awful for everyone involved. I am glad that OUSD is taking this issue seriously. I am a strong supporter of public schools, and support families who want to attend their neighborhood schools.

  • Nontcair

    A population can be plenty diverse without applying that simple definition.

    Once again we see OUSD affirming a “separate but not equal” policy.

    Once again we see leftists — the most vocal supporters of diversity and so ready to accuse right wingers of racism, objecting to diversity when it threatens their privileges.

    Spare us the mealy-mouth excuses.

    I’ve stated it before around here and I’ll state it again: the government is prohibited from discriminating.

    Every Oakland child should have the *same* chance (for example, via annual lottery) to attend ANY CA public school. No racial, geographic, or economic preferences.

    The only things certain in Oakland are death and taxes. If you want certainty in your child’s education, then look elsewhere.

    If a Lakeview kid gets picked AT-RANDOM to attend Crocker and his mom is willing to drive him over there, he goes.

    Of course that means that a kid who lives across the street from Crocker frequently won’t get picked to go there, though sometimes he’ll get picked for a school in Piedmont.

    You Crocker parents are just trying to use your political influence to get the government to practice a form of REDLINING.

  • Adams Point Mama

    When would this change take place? If the meeting to consider it isn’t until December 12, then it would have to be for the incoming class of 2014, as the 2013 Options Process will have already opened before December 12. And where would this area be ceded to? Piedmont Avenue?

  • On The Fence

    Outraged writes about the problem with too many children vying for too few seats, “It will end up causing unnecessary worry and ultimately will do harm to Crocker and OUSD as families drop out of the system (sometimes forever) in order to avoid the uncertainty.”

    I agree 100%. Most families want to avoid stress and uncertainty when possible, and many will opt out of a district that makes their neighborhood school choice too onerous or difficult to attend. OUSD is wise to address this issue as (I think it is safe to say) that a child is more likely to attend a public middle or high school if they enter their public school in elementary. This has been the case for Edna Brewer which has seen a steady influx of children from the local feeder schools, including Crocker and Cleveland. This type of public school momentum should be fostered, not hindered.

  • Observer

    OUSD does not give a damn about keeping the kind of families that fret and worry enough about their kids education that they either move to a neighborhood with a good school, viligantly stay on top of the options process to get into a good school out of their neighborhood and the worst the worst thing you can do is squawk to keep a good school good. These parents are viewed as tiresome time suckers. They will tell them, ad naseum and to their faces, that they cannot concern themselves with patents who are lucky enough to be able to advocate for their kids when so many aren’t so lucky.

    The attrition of involved patents seems to matter not at all. These are the families that believe in public education, will support it throughout their lives and teach their children to do the same. They will make sure their children are prepared and do everything in their power to see them graduate, yet no only is there no effort to retain these families, they bend over backwards to appear that they disdain them, those “uppity parents” as a popular principal publicly referenced.

  • J.R.

    Speaking as a homeowner and taxpayer, you are absolutely correct. OUSD wants our money(taxes and so forth), but they don’t want to acknowledge our concerns. OUSD is are so concerned with income redistribution, equity and so forth that they are alienating the very residents that they must have in their corner if we all wish to prosper.

  • Grand lake parent

    What I know about diversity at Crocker is what I observe as a parent there. It is a wonderful school, but I have been surprised by the lack of diversity in the student body – economic among other types of diversity. I think the children and families would benefit from more of a mix.

  • Yazstremski

    Grand Lake Parent: As a parent at Crocker for the last 12 years, I have no idea what you are talking about, Crocker is very diverse, in ALL ways…and again, you are off-topic.
    This is important because there is NO MORE ROOM in the building.
    Crocker had to do this before, add a 4th Kindergarten, and it was OK for the following 3 years…when that group of students moved to 1st, 2nd then 3rd grade…then the problems started when those 4 classes were divided into 2 4th grades…classes had 40+ kids in them and it was a disaster.
    Families left in droves that year, some for private schools, others to Piedmont or thru the Caldecott tunnel.
    The district needs to address this BEFORE the options process that begins after the new year (not December, as someone posted).
    Doesn’t it bother anyone that Cleveland had to LOSE a K teacher, when students could have just as easily gone to that school instead of Crocker. ALL of the schools that the Lakeview familes were re-directed to are much better schools…Crocker, Cleveland, Lincoln and Piedmont Ave. Any choice would have been a step-up.
    Nontcair…you endless blather is generally ridiculous, however I’m not going to listen to you when you insult an active group of parents that you know nothing about.
    Seriously, stop repeating the same stupid statement over and over again.

  • Nontcair

    If I had moved into the section at risk of being redlined in order to send my kids to that school, I would be calling a lawyer.

    Hey, Lakeshore-area parents! You could probably find an activist lawyer willing to take your case FOR FREE because of the exposure he’d receive for turning this into a Supreme Court TEST CASE.

    Ultimately, OUSD might offer you a financial settlement large enough for your kid to attend private school for several years.

    Make that call!

    Where does “your” district board member — you know the one, the shnook whose name appears on those gawdy yardsigns who claims to care about so much about your kids, stand on this?

  • Wishful Thinking

    And now back to our regularly scheduled discussion….

    Last year, the boundary changes were approved in January right before the options process deadline. Hopefully, if the Board does the right thing, this will impact those entering in 2013.

    This situation should never have occurred and exposes the incompetence of those making decisions for our children and community. Yazstremski is correct. As a kindergarten parent, we have already looked at the numbers and are very concerned about how this will play out in a couple of years. Other parents have expressed the same sentiment. Families will leave because they can and have the means to do so.

    OUSD may not care, but as Observer notes, they should be supportive of a community that made Crocker what it is today. The grass roots efforts of those families should be lauded which resulted in many more families moving in and choosing to send kids to their NEIGHBORHOOD PUBLIC school. What happened last year felt like a slap in the face.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Wishful Thinking:

    My view is you should be wishing for another Superintendent that is more than what dreams are wished for.

    Problem you touch on more than about boundry changes, but the low standard of administrative competency that is demanded of the Board’s Superintendent Smith. On issue after issue there is a failure to leave up to words: oversight of Measure G $20 million a year parcel tax, school closure, Special Ed short fall, administration of QEIA funds, negotiated voluntary resolution plan and again boundary changes. The incompetency is in the details.

    But, the man talk is sooo good it is hard for folks to hold him accountable for implementing his plans.

    Jim Mordecai

  • A coding error

    Jim,thank you, right on target about our collective amnesia.
    As he leaves (let’s see what the new board members bring with them), let’s hope for somebody to clean up after him and do away with the cronies, inherited and added (in my modest view, the real burden of this district).

    Just waiting to see how one decision to patch up here, screws up there. Just a matter of time.

  • Adams Point Mama

    A Coding Error:

    Is Tony Smith leaving? I hadn’t heard anything about that.

  • MJ

    Yazstremski and others:

    The Options process begins in December; it has been that way for the past couple of years, at the least. Forms may be turned in to schools or the Assignment Office beginning in December; the deadline will be sometime in January. Parents will begin touring schools next month.

  • Katy Murphy

    I haven’t heard that either. I read that as a hypothetical scenario.

  • Yazstremski

    MJ – I was responding to clarify that a December 12th meeting would still allow the incoming Kinder class of 2013 to be included in the boundary change.
    I’ve helped out in the Placement Office with Sue Woerle before and nothing is decided until the end of January.

  • Nontcair

    Feedback from the “petition”:

    The Lakeview school was one of if not the worst rated in Oakland, Crocker is #1. If kids originally being sent to Lakeview get sent to Cleveland or other neighboring schools, it will be a major upgrade from where they were supposed to go

    Well isn’t that parent just the *dearest* person you’d ever expect to meet?!

  • Nontcair

    Here’s another kind-hearted petitioner:

    .. people living in the district added from Lakeview (unless they just moved this year) did not buy or move to that area expecting to be able to go to Crocker. This is a reason we purchased our home where we did and adds to the premium of homes in our neighborhood.

    You Crocker parents are real pieces of work. Shame on you.

    If I were the petition-site’s owner I would be embarrassed to see such elitist comments on my site.

  • Yazstremski

    Nontcair – jealous much? You’d love to live there, so you need to tear down those who are successful and have earned it.
    Shame on you for hiding behind an anonymous blog, you are obviously so desperate for attention…you are on every thread, saying the same thing, just to get some kind of response.
    The only person who should be embarassed is you, get a life, or better yet, get into a school to volunteer and do some good instead of spreading so much negativity and hate.

  • Hair On Fire Mad

    Comments #21 and #22 are unreal.

    Nontcair, keep it coming.

    This is the 1% here.

  • Nontcair


  • Denver

    The opening-day kindergarten class at Crocker, based on numbers, would have only required three kindergarten classes.

  • On The Fence

    In response to Wishful, Jim, and Coding, it really feels like our superintendent leaves a royal mess wherever he turns. I hear grumblings about it on this blog and there’s ample evidence of all of the recent mishaps under his direction. However, I have not heard of an actual discussion about how he is doing, or a polling of constituents on his perceived job performance. He seems to be able to deflect most negative attention all the while creating the next fiasco. I sure hope that he will rectify this problem with oversubscription at Crocker, and break his silence on the issue. Anyone know if he will be present at the board meeting when this is discussed?

  • Adams Point Mama

    On the Fence — this was exactly my point on the election thread — why aren’t any of the school board candidates (at least in District 3) talking about what they’ll do to rectify the colossal failures of the past year?

  • Wishful Thinking

    From what I understand, Tony Smith and David Montes de Oca will not be at the meeting. I can’t imagine that he will break his silence on this issue. The June meeting would have been as good as any opportunity to do that and address the community. Instead, he sent an individual who talks a lot but says very little.

  • Katy Murphy

    WEDNESDAY NIGHT UPDATE: After listening to the concerns of Crocker Highlands parents (and City Councilmember Pat Kernighan), the Oakland school board voted unanimously to put this issue on the Dec. 12 agenda.

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    Crocker just needs to wait it out and do what other school districts do, send the new enrollees to other schools. Enrollment drops. Transiency in OUSD is very high. Bite the bullet like the rest of us.

    Jim…thanks again, true dat.

  • Nontcair

    Piddle, twiddle, and resolve.

    #24, thx. I know. Totally offensive.

  • Rumor Has It

    Wow, I have to say that I attended the board meeting tonight and I was nearly brought to tears on several occasions by the impassioned pleas of the families who spoke up for their community. This is what grass roots efforts sound like to me. See if you can catch the recorded meeting if you did not get to see it live. This sure wasn’t the 1% from where I was sitting in the audience. This put the ‘unity’ back in commUNITY if you ask me!

  • Observer


    Yes, just be complacent droves, keep your head down and accept your lashings. After all, schools like the East Oakland school where this teacher works aren’t “lucky” enough to have strong, well educated and resourceful parents like Crocket. So parents at Crocker (and Kaiser, Cleveland, Peralta, etc.) need to just stand down from a district that had the most overpaid administrators per capita AND the most underpaid teachers and put up with the crap like the less fortunate do. You either need to sit and watch your child’s moderately sound education that you dearly subsidize erode because that’s “only fair” ( dismantling good schools in the name of fairness is part of OUSDs strategic plan as if a child in East Oakland will really benefit from the destruction of another child’s school) or get the F out because you are statistically insignificant, you don’t matter at all.

  • On The Fence

    The data have been clear on this issue, Crocker Highlands has attracted more and more children from the neighborhood and the school has succeeded in retaining the entering children through fifth grade. The trend has been clear and the data backs up this assertion. Therefore, it makes no sense to tell the community to just suck it up and wait until things eventually change. Nonsense. The responsible thing for the board to do is address this issue and work with the community to change it. Moreover, this is not the result of an organic fluctuation in the neighborhood composition, but was the result of a radical expansion to the boundary. Many thanks to the board for their unanimous vote and for Katie for keeping on top of this news.

  • J.R.

    You keep on advocating for your kids(they only go through their primary education once so make sure it’s done right), and don’t let any prima-donna admins stand in your way. Keep those people who are in charge collective “feet to the fire”. If you pay a multitude of different taxes and fee’s in this city and state to subsidize others, you should at the very least be heard and acknowledged. I don’t live anywhere near any hills, but I don’t begrudge anyone who works hard and or smart. I pity those that do, and I think people need to visit Mexico and or Bangladesh and see what real poverty is. Those government don’t just hand people money for doing nothing like here where people are fortunate to be American citizens.

  • Nontcair

    Folks who live close to that Crocker school are entitled to, besides their kids having reserved Crocker School seats:

    their own diamond lane on local byways
    reserved parking on the streets in front of their homes
    reserved (and exclusive) play/field time at the local park

    And of course, without having to pay extra for the privileges.

    Just wait til we hear the expectations of residents who live along Claremont.

    Anyone for a reserved seat at Boalt?

  • Angelica Jongco

    First, I want to commend every parent who takes the time to advocate passionately for his or her child’s education. Our family bought a home on Lakeshore this past year with the hope that our daughter will attend Crocker, her father’s grade school, one day. While the boundary reconsideration is disappointing and may move us out of the attendance district, the bigger disappointment is that families must fight so hard for limited kindergarten spots in a handful of high quality schools. Hopefully we all can agree that every child should have the right to attend a quality neighborhood school, regardless of his or her parents’ ability to buy into the right neighborhood. Unfortunately, the Oakland we live in doesn’t provide every child that opportunity.

    The Crocker dilemma is in part an unintended consequence of last year’s ill-managed school closure process. Parents and students at Lakeview and other closed schools protested passionately to keep their neighborhood schools open. Maybe if the focus had been on how to improve quality at all of our schools and these schools had been kept open, we would not be facing this uproar. In any case, I hope that the former Lakeview students’ ability to attend a good school near to their homes will be considered in any resolution as these families have already endured a great deal of uncertainty. My understanding is that a main reason why Lazear reopened as a charter school is because those students were not provided viable school options near their homes.

    As a sidenote, a challenge of neighborhood schools is that to the extent that our neighborhoods are stratified by race, ethnicity, and income, we have ended up with schools with very different mixes of diversity – whether measured by race, income, or language status. A quick look at the School Accountability Report Cards for Crocker, Lakeview and Cleveland show 3 schools very close in proximity but with starkly different demographics:
    Socioeconomically disadvantaged students – Crocker 9%, Lakeview 60.6%, Cleveland 55%; white students – Crocker 53.3%, Lakeview 1.6%, Cleveland 9.7%; English learners – Crocker 4%, Lakeview 24.6%, Cleveland 56.1%.

  • livegreen

    Aside from Noncair (Nextet?) I urge people to be reasonable. Yes OUSD & TS (Tony Smith)’s underlings made mistakes. I’m sure he did not make the decision himself — that is, he didn’t sit there and redraw the maps and compare it to the attendance data himself. Undoubtedly they had an employee or a contractor do it. & they’re paying for it — big time.

    They in turn need to judge whether that one mistake by a subordinate is a pattern or an aboration. If it is one or a first mistake, that employee or person needs a chance to prove if it is the exception or the rule. & not get fired if its the exception.

    I would add that Dr. Smith & the Board have listened: they’re working on a sustainable solution for the Crocker boundary. So if they listened, are their sins to b forgiven? Or is every Administrator to b fired the second they make a mistake? Or, with thousands of students and hundreds of schools, two or three mistakes?

    The learning curve is essential. Be it with our students, our teachers, our administration, or…ourselves.

    The alternatives are either, on the one hand, a new administrator every year and chaos; or on the other a never ending retrenchment that never responds to Democracy and attracts corruption.

    So far TS and the Board have responded to both Kaiser and Crocker families and made changes. To the Kaiser and Crocker families I ask, what’s wrong with that? Is that not Democracy in action? Is their positive response or NOT positive?

    Or should they fry in hell for acknowledging their mistakes? Which we have generously pointed out to them, & they have responded by listening?

    PS. I genuinely hope they respond to Cleveland and Bella Vista families and their complaints in a similar responsive ( if not reactionary) manner.

  • Jim Mordecai


    Granted, he without sin cast the first stone. But, as to your point whether there is a pattern found, I believe I have found a pattern and the pattern is Tony Smith isn’t an effective administrator.

    Oversight of parcel tax Measure G, keeping the dollars directed to the classroom above 55% of the budget, administering QEIA monies, addressing million dollar special education budgeting error, providing $50,000 of OUSD money to grow targeted charter school, problems with process of school closure, are all challenges that the highest paid administrator in the Bay should have been expected to do a better job. Not a perfect job, but a better job.

    And, if Kaiser, Crocker, Cleveland and Bella Vista families’ complaints are not responded to by the Smith Administration and the Board, these families need to work to replace both the Board and Superintendent Smith. Such action is part of self-government.

    Jim Mordecai

  • A coding error

    Not to beat a dead a dead horse even more, Jim explained the pattern very clearly.
    Livegreen, your benevolence is an understandable perspective. May it be useful to balance our conversations.
    However, facts are facts.
    Who took responsibility for the SpEd $8,000,000? Anybody fired? Is Vernon Hal still looking for somebody that didn’t show up as directed the day they were presenting the fiasco? Smith was not there.
    After more than three years in office, how much more learning curve?
    Families are leaving the district. Financial chaos follows because they are not attracted or seduced by the Full Service sermon, which was meant to counter the district’s historical ills. Wrong projections, blatant improvisation. Do you really see this as a first, or second, or third mismanagement? For real? I am surprised, I see you in this blog often, as often as to know better. I see similar thoughts in top tier administrators.
    What is most laughable is that “TS” and his negligent tight Roman cohort of cronies think that this criticism is to be expected because they are heroically fighting to change people’s minds and beliefs, it’s part of their messianic quest that they ruffle feathers and that those who leave the district, were simply not committed enough to their utmost good. Everything is expendable and rationalized for their supreme mission. What a bunch of malarkey.

  • Jim Mordecai

    A Coding Error:

    I think the current error of over a generation of governance is illustrated by the NCLB example by 2014 100% are going to meet the targeted standard.

    Your reference to “messianic quest” gets the coding correct. In Oakland Superintendent Smith is going to reverse the structural racism–reflected in the District’s suspension of male Black students–according to the OCR 5-year resolution plan. His other plans will get all students above average.

    Superintendent Smith is beloved for his plans and highly paid too.

    However, his title is not complete. His actions, as oppose to his plans, have earned Superintendent Smith a more complete title: Dr. Anthony “Don Quixote” Smith.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    OUSD’s school assignment policy, the details of which must be pretty common in urban school districts around the country, violates the California State Constitution.

    If expecting the government to follow the constitution is the hallmark of unreasonableness, then I plead guilty.

    At least some public school districts in this state assign based on some sort of lottery; SFUSD comes to mind. A government-sponsored, school assignment lottery should not automatically be deemed constitutional, but at least reliance upon the element of chance is a good place to start.

    OUSD’s policy relies *entirely* on the element of POLITICS.

    Here’s a suggestion: OUSD can sell lottery tickets to its sought after schools (like Crocker) at $5,000 per. The first 200 (or whatever a school’s capacity) numbers drawn get in. Using my figure, that’s a quick, cool $1M for the district. For *each* school.

    No more bake sales.

    And what’s with this “give the TS administration more time ..” baloney? Once again we public school kids being used as cannon fodder, and taxpayers as deep pockets.

  • Nontcair

    #1) The (sponsor of) *every* child who goes to public school should have to pay a user fee (tuition). $15,000 per kid PER YEAR sounds about right; no sibling discount.

    #2) We need a Prop 13-A, wherein property taxes get SLASHED. We need to dramatically reduce property assessments and not let the government compensate by upping the tax rate. Don’t vote for any candidate for County Assessor who won’t pledge to work to reduce assessments by AT LEAST 90%.

    The “less government” approach would save Crocker neighborhood parents alone *thousands* of dollars each year. Money they could use to purchase new Benz’ or (gasp!) even to afford private school for their spawn.

  • Nextset

    Childish thoughts.

  • Nontcair

    There’s nothing to stop the Board from moving the boundary so as to disqualify anyone living within a one mile radius of the school.

    Once again we see politicians drawing lines on a map for political purposes.

    Once again we see the brain-dead ridiculing someone else’s ideas.

  • Jessica Stewart

    Hey all – the GO Public Schools YouTube channel has some clips pulled from the OUSD meeting DVD where this was discussed in case it’s helpful for those who could not be there. http://www.youtube.com/user/gopublicschools

    In particular, these two videos are from the Crocker discussion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvknLZgErZg&list=UUrixN3WawBymWBABRNaasdQ&index=1&feature=plcp and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8VusYLYqQSU&list=UUrixN3WawBymWBABRNaasdQ&index=2&feature=plcp.