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Another big donation to Great Oakland Public Schools PAC

This week’s campaign filings show another major donation to the Great Oakland Public Schools PAC – $49,995 from the California Charter Schools Association. That brings the group’s fundraising total to $184,980 — a staggering amount for local school board races. I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago, when the total was about $123,000.

The GO PAC is supporting three candidates: Jumoke Hinton Hodge in District 3, Rosie Torres in District 5, and James Harris in District 7. It’s supporting neither candidate in District 1.

GO’s director, Jonathan Klein, stressed in a recent letter he posted on an Oakland parents email list that GO is in favor of both charters and traditional public schools, that its staff and board members are Democrats, and that the group is being supported by volunteers from across the city (Policy platform here.):

Folks on this list have also asked questions about our organization’s funding and policy agenda. While these school board races are non-partisan elections and we are a non-partisan organization, everyone on our staff and board are Democrats.

With respect to charter schools. We do not advocate for charter schools over district schools. It always has been our position to work for high quality schools. In our experience, most parents do not make distinctions and neither do we. The vast majority of our organization’s energy is spent working to support OUSD and the implementation of the Thriving Students strategic plan. We do not support for-profit charter schools and are glad to live in a city where these schools do not exist.

Klein also had this to say about the PAC, itself:

We–like many Oakland organizations such as the Ella Baker Center, Sierra Club, and the Oakland Education Association–formed a political action committee to give our members a way to engage in partisan elections. We have received over 200 grassroots contributions — probably at least 95 percent of them are from Democrats. Our 501(c)(4) has received hundreds more grassroots contributions – some as small as $3 from an OUSD parent who attended our District 5 endorsement interviews. There are OUSD teachers who have been giving $50 per month to this work because they know the importance of having a strong school board.

Over the past month, an average of over 60 volunteers per week have been stepping up to support our endorsed candidates. This last week, there were over 100 volunteers engaging in our phone banks and precinct walks.

He added, “We are Oakland parents, teachers, and community members who want to see our public schools thrive.”

What do you make of this contribution? Given that one in every four Oakland public school children attends a charter school this year (including county-approved charters), do you feel it’s time for the board to embrace this option — or to do what it can to hold the line against their continued expansion?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Jim Mordecai

    J.R.

    Thanks for the reference to Columnist Chip Johnson’s rant against OEA; I don’t take the Chronicle.

    Chip Johnson attacked OEA for blocking dollars for OUSD because it wouldn’t accept tying student test scores to teacher evaluations, an Obama Administration demand for Race to the Top bucks.

    There have been many unions across the country in these hard times willing to lay down for the Race to the Top bucks. Chicago wasn’t and I am proud that OEA hasn’t.

    Neither teachers nor students are test scores. Management by body count failed in Viet Nam and management by student test scores will continue to be a failure in America. We are so far the only country fixating in using tests designed for students in such a fashion. Value Added Measurement is popular with Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) that has the ear of the Obama administration on importance of tying test scores to reform public education. The fact that study after study of Value Added Measurement has demonstrated the unreliability of using VAM as part of a teacher evaluation has had some impact because it is presented as being only one part of a teacher’s evaluation.

    Why would anyone want to include an unreliable measurement as any part of a teacher’s evaluation? What? Oh, it’s about the Federal money that Chip Johnson wants OEA to take no matter that taking the money is agreeing to a bad idea that would be unfair to OEA’s members.

    Chip Johnson perhaps should join as a member of Great Oakland Public Schools (G0) organization as what he has in common is GO leadership is also crazy for tying test scores to teacher evaluations. Jonathan Klein, GO’s CEO worked with Michelle Rhee, former State Senator *Gloria Romero DFER’s California representative, and others to defeat AB 5, reform of teacher evaluation, because it didn’t include tying teacher evaluation to student test scores.

    I am surprised that you are not in support of OEA rejecting this Federal money as test scores provides a whole industry that is vested in gaining more and more market share of the education tax dollars.

    Jim Mordecai
    *Note I just saw DFER California Representative Gloria Romero on a T.V. add in support of yes on 32, an attack on unions.

  • J.R.

    Jim,
    I don’t like measuring teaching and or learning ability solely by test scores, there should be at least a handful of metrics used. No one ever mentions the grade book, and I think that grade books that list assignments reveal a great deal of information. If you have teachers who do not use grade books or hand back corrected homework, that is a red flag right there. As I have said before in my experience most teachers are fair,good, and or even great, but the systems incentives for excellence are backwards as is the pay and seniority issues. The system is not built for kids to thrive, it is built for the security of the adults free from any kind of expectations. That along with home life is why our kids struggle so badly. As far as unions go they have gone too far(all of them), I have had a construction worker fall off my roof when the fire dept came they had six firemen wheel one gurney(I wouldn’t want these guys trying to lift any bodies out of a fire). These were all older guys(all the younger guys got whacked by budget cuts). Same with the police, all the young guys got thrown under the bus. And when these guys are finally good and ready to retire we wont be able to pay the new guys squat! We are paying so much for the people that are not working, that all the new hires are working for low pay(if we can afford them at all. So yeah, unions cause way more trouble than they solve, and if they truly believed that they are relevant and necessary, the would make dues voluntary. On the day they do that I will back unions 100%!

  • Doug Appel

    Having attended the last three school board meetings, I don’t find this news surprising. I saw parents from several schools (Crocker, Cleveland, Brookfield, Kaiser) and special education speak passionately about their school communities, point to specific administrative errors–and run into a brick wall of bureaucratic double speak. Shout out to Alice Spearman, who engaged directly with parents at Brookfield in an attempt to resolve an issue. But in the other cases, all we heard was the bureaucratic passive voice “mistakes were made.” Faced with this kind of response, parents who can may seek other options. The District needs to overcome the indifference that seems to characterize its dealings with parents and other stakeholders and actually be responsive.

  • Jim Mordecai

    J.R.

    “I don’t like measuring teaching or learning ability soley by test scores…”

    We agree that both teachers and students should ideally be evaluated on a diversity of metrics.

    Perhaps we part company because I believe in banding the use of student test scores on standardized test in any part of a teachers’ evaluation.

    Having been in the U.S. Air Force when Robert McNamara became Secretary of Defense making management by objectives the reform of the day, and having watched the metric of body count become the military’s significant metric of all metrics, I witnessed the harm of that day’s reform when winning the war was defined as increasing the day’s body count.

    I see student test scores as inappropriate metric for evaluating teachers as body count was for evaluating progress in the Vietnam War.

    I am seeking not your support of unions. But, I would welcome your support in resistance to an inappropriate metric, whether that support is 100% or not.

    As you point out in your post there are a multiple of metrics that provide a basis for evaluation of both teachers and students. So why employ a metric that scholars have tested and found to be unreliable?

    Jim Mordecai

  • J.R.

    Jim,
    I grant you, just maybe the testing metric is inappropriate for use as a teaching ability benchmark(especially in certain circumstances,SDC class etc). These evaluation, and metrics would not be an issue if the system was predicated on the basis of achievement and rigor instead of “good enough” and “social promotion”.

  • Jim Mordecai

    J.R.

    The scholarship testing the premise of VAM clearly shows that testing is inappropriate for use as a teaching performance benchmark. And, there has not been a circumstance (SDC class etc.) where using VAM is an appropriate performance benchmark.

    So why are you stuck on maybe?

    Of course metrics would not be an issue if the system were perfect. But, issues such as rigor or social promotion are issues separate from the question of what metric is appropriate for teacher evaluation.

    It doesn’t make any sense to me to justify using an inappropriate metric because the system is not perfect and you will only endorse not using the metric when the system changes the things you want changed.

    Jim Mordecai

  • J.R.

    Jim,
    The good part about the value added model is the fact that the measurement is the child’s own progress(or lack thereof). I am no statistician so this seems common sense to me. When you have children struggling in certain teachers classes year after year(that is a red flag. As you may or may not be aware, is students are placed with weak teachers two years in a row it is a well established recipe for large educational setback of that child or children.

    http://generalhealthtopics.com/bad-teachers-put-students-big-disadvantage-study-finds-1093.html

  • Nontcair

    The “proper metrics” debate is totally *avoidable*.

    If education were 100% privatized nobody would care what “metric” was being used internally. There’d be no doubt about who the good teachers were. They’d be the ones with wait lists.

    However, since public education is 100% *regulated*, every political constituency (the “stakeholders”) needs to have their point-of-view (special interest) addressed in the matter.

    Like every other political solution, whatever comes out it will only make things worse (and cost more).

    The taxpayers can only watch in horror.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BridgetheChasm Charlie at Bridge the Chasm

    J.R.

    I wish I could convince people “weak” teachers are not the problem. They are “a” problem, but in the context of a well run school district, apparent teacher issues would be seen to have minimal effect on results. Whatever it look looks like on the outside, I can tell you from the inside, replacing “weak’ employees is not how business succeeds. It succeeds through leadership which brings the best out of the people who do the work.

    99% of people want to do a good job, from self-respect if nothing else. That can be tapped into in many ways including, treating them as important and listening to and treating seriously what they think would improve the situation. I taught in an Oakland school, the teachers I worked with (a) were not “weak” and (b) knew they could work in a better environment. We didn’t need replacing, we needed focus and committment from the top.

    To all; Think of that when you vote.

  • J.R.

    Charlie,
    All the various weaknesses, waste in the system need to be fixed(which include teacher, and or union issues). The redundancies in federal state and county education departments. Is it really helpful to read a press release from the state superintendent that informs us that there will be cuts if prop.30 does not pass? As far as teachers go, we should have the freedom to keep the teachers who have the right combination of academic and psychological makeup, and commitment geared to being a teacher. In no way shape or form is length of service necessarily have anything to do with these traits. I have witnessed career changers(management professionals who made absolutely fabulous teachers by the time they hit their third year of teaching(some people are born to connect and reach and teach other people,I guess)?

  • http://www.facebook.com/BridgetheChasm Charlie at Bridge the Chasm

    I looked at the study. Much of what happens in education is driven by studies. While usedful and sometimes true in the context of the study, when implemented outside the judgement of those “on the ground”, often lead to actions which do not produce results.

  • J.R.

    Charlie,
    We could just ignore the studies and just focus on whether or not most kids are being well prepared for the rigors of higher academics and life(which is a fairly decent barometer of our education system).We shall see:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/students-lacking-college-_n_1606201.html

    http://www.communitycollegereview.com/articles/442

    http://www.highereducation.org/reports/pa_mixed_signals/index.shtml

    Our kids were being left behind well before “NCLB” ever existed.

  • J.R.
  • Jim Mordecai

    Nonclair:

    If education were…

    I note that J.R. was addressing what is rather than as you are doing speculating as what might be of only…

    Because in the here and now public education is governed by State Education code and that code deals with teacher evaluation, the metric used for that evaluation is what was being discussed.

    I will leave to you the role of seeking debate on what could be, could be.

    As for J.R.’s point that test scores are a child’s test score that is the problem, teachers are being evaluated on someone else’s work.

    And, it is not the work of one student (class size of one is even unusual since the days of George Washington and never achieveable for the masses)but, the average of all the children in a teacher’s class. Scholars have shown that the number for evaluation computed for such an average is an unstable number showing a teacher outstanding one year and failing the next or falling from one extreme to the middle range. The statistical norm is that all scores tend to fall toward the middle range. Also, tests are designed toward a goal and current tests are designed to test student performance and not designed to judge the performance of a teacher.

    Jim Mordecai

  • J.R.

    Jim,
    I suspect that even if unions and districts developed a system of evaluation with common sense metrics that are agreed upon, the union would still cry age discrimination, unlawful termination or whatever…….. The die has been cast, and we are beset with a system of entitlement of sorts. We need to look really hard into cutting the non-teaching portion of the school system or we won’t be able to keep our heads above water. Prop 30 may not pass, and even if it does it will only stem the massive tide of pension obligations for a short time. Mark my words, massive tax hikes will be inevitable at some point. Normal private sector taxpayers will be little more than wage slaves destined to work until death to pay for pension obligations of the state.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BridgetheChasm Charlie at Bridge the Chasm

    J.R.

    I hope you are not being facetious when you write “We could . . . just focus on whether or not most kids are being well prepared for the rigors of higher academics and life(which is a fairly decent barometer of our education system).

    That is exactly how success should be defined for Oakland’s (or any) School District. Meeting it should be the objective.

  • Nontcair

    [prep for the rigors of higher academics and life] is exactly how success should be defined for [public education districts].

    Pretty fuzzy.

    Kids must be forced to attend K-12 so that they .. can go on to even MORE education. That is, they need a:

    BA so that they can go to grad school
    MA to get a doctorate
    Phd to qualify for post-Doc
    etc. and so forth.

    At the end of the process, after they’ve practically bankrupted their parents and hit the rest of us up for a few hundred thou, they’ll end up working for the *government*, where they’ll spend the rest of their “careers” bleeding us dry.

  • Nontcair

    prep’d to hit life’s curve balls.

    How exactly is public education supposed to accomplish this?

    It works to make the kids more dependent on the government and more obedient subjects.

  • Jim Mordecai

    J.R.

    “I suspect that even if unions and districts developed a system of with common sense metrics that are agreed upon, the union would still cry …”

    The process of determining metrics on teacher evaluation at the district level is called collective bargaining. But, it is the state’s education code that determines the framework for that bargaining. Common sense on the issue of what goes into teacher evaluation may or may not be part of what takes place at a bargaining table as teacher evaluation is only one of many items bargained not least being teacher compensation.

    The clash of ideas in regard to teacher evaluation; and specifically the appropriateness of the metric of student test scores used for teacher evaluation, plays out as a contest to directly and indirectly influence the state legislature.

    Both the don’t-use student-test scores and the use-student-test-scores groups try to win public opinion to their side. So far the issue has not attracted wide public notice.

    However there are national groups such as the right wing group ALEC trying to influence state legislatures with ALEC model legislation that tie student test scores to teacher evaluation.

    Within the Democratic Party there is a group called Democrats for Educational Reform (DFER) that like ALEC also lobbies for tying teacher evaluation to student test scores.

    In Oakland, Great Oakland Public Schools (GO) leadership worked with Michelle Rhee, DFER’s California representative ex-State Senator Gloria Romero and others, for the defeat of AB 5, a new teacher evaluation law, because AB 5 didn’t require tying teacher evaluations to student test scores.

    Historically, the focus on student test scores advanced with the Bush/Kennedy Title I reform named no child left behind or NCLB.

    In practice NCLB met no child left behind untested and was part of a standards movement bridge to national testing. Student test scores in math and reading were the basis of comparing school test scores and those schools not making passing grade for two years in a row were labeled a failure.

    NCLB was followed by the Obama administration Race to The Top (RTTT)offering money for helping low performing schools. But as a requirement of receiving the RTTT money states were required to have, or pass, laws tying teacher evaluations to student test scores.

    Politics will determine metrics used to evaluate teachers. My hope is that the scholarly research showing that use of student test scores for teacher evaluation will not be discounted in the process of coming to that political decision.

    Jim Mordecai

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2012/02/three-handy-pages-with-facts-about.html Sharon

    It isn’t just in Oakland where unprecedented amounts of big money have been poured into the campaigns of pro-corporate ed reform school board candidates. Here are a few examples of the public school privatization money iceberg:

    In NJ: “… four wealthy Californians and one wealthy Coloradan – heavy hitters in the tech, financial, and health care sectors – have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a slate of candidates running for the school board in Perth Amboy, a city of 50,000 with a majority Hispanic population.” (NOTE: Arthur Rock, the SF billionaire who donated $49K to GO’s PAC is one of the CA contributors @ $8K).
    http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2012/11/how-to-buy-school-board-3000-miles-away.html

    In CT: “… Corporate reformers and privatizers have poured record amounts of campaign cash into Bridgeport, Connecticut, to persuade voters to turn control over their schools to the mayor.”
    http://dianeravitch.net/2012/11/02/big-to-convince-bridgeport-voters-to-abandon-democracy/

    In New Orleans: “One of the city’s leading charter advocates, Sarah Newell Usdin, is the recipient of more than $110,000, way more than her opponents.”
    http://dianeravitch.net/2012/11/04/outside-cash-flooding-into-new-orleans-school-board-race/

    In Santa Clara County: “With an unprecedented surge of cash from charter schools and their high-tech backers, normally low-profile school board campaigns have morphed into big-bucks contests to elect charter-friendly candidates and defeat their challengers.”
    http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_21896419/pac-money-floods-local-school-board-races

    A small but increasingly wealthy group of plutocrats are in the process of grabbing full control of public education systems across the country. So submit to our new masters’ astronomical wealth and overwhelming power, my fellow Americans. Our neo-feudal lords demand that we kowtow. Chris Hedges explains it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfLL8ZACwKU

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2012/02/three-handy-pages-with-facts-about.html Sharon

    One more story from Minneapolis where a rephormy former Teach For America candidate who just moved into his district in May has has raised seven times as much as his opponent, setting a fundraising record.
    http://www.startribune.com/politics/statelocal/177047761.html?refer=y

    The very unusual phenomenon happening in Oakland this year is not occurring in isolation.

  • Nontcair

    Actually, we need *more* money in politics.

    Establishment candidates almost always have a LARGE advantage raising campaign funds. The exceptions generally being rich guys who can self-finance and (to a lesser extent) celebrities like athletes and movie stars.

    In Minneapolis you have an unknown newcomer looking to expand charter schools. It is only fair that he can raise a relatively large sum of money from the special interests who he fronts for.

    If challengers can’t take their message directly to the People at election time, how else are they supposed to overcome the political high ground held by the status quo?

    ABOLISH campaign finance laws.

    In states where such regs are not *entirely* unconstitutional, they have a distinction of being 180 degrees at-odds with constitutional guarentees of free speech.

    Campaign finance arguments aside, once again we see members of the big government coalition fighting amongst themselves over the spoils of war (education-related tax dollars).

    As government grows bigger and BIGGER the spoils become even LARGER.

    Is it any wonder that political campaigns grow continuously more *expensive* with each cycle?

  • Trish Gorham

    Whether or not any one of you consider GOPS an advocate of charter schools, the California Charter Schools Association certainly does to the tune of $49,995.

    GOPS lauds the 200 grassroots donors (in and outside of Oakland) that created a $184,980.00 PAC.

    OEA’s 2400 in the trenches donors voluntarily contribute $5.00 a year. Our PAC will catch up in about 15 years.

    From Citizen’s United, to the Koch Brothers buying the election of the Wake County, North Carolina school board, to Proposition 32 trying to silence the unions, the influence of outside, corporate money in elections should always be subject to inquiry.

  • OUSD Teacher (that came from TFA)

    Katy,

    Thank you for reporting on this. In addition to concerns around the huge contributions, and where they are coming from, I wonder if you could tell us more about the make-up of GO Public Schools. They claim to be a coalition of parents, teachers, principals, and community leaders. I know that Jonathan Klein, used to head up TFA in the Bay Area, and I know that many of the active staff and volunteers are TFA too. I’d be curious to know the percentage of staff and members that are TFA. I’d like to know the percentage of staff and members that are teachers that did not come from alternative certification routes (like TFA or OTF), but actually got training to be a teacher through a traditional program that has student teaching, etc. I’d like to know the percentage of staff and members that are parents, and particularly parents of children in OUSD schools. What percentage of all this fundraising comes from parents?

  • oaklandedlandscape

    I suggest that all of the energy that goes into these comments be spent working to improve schools. You can blame charters, TFA, CCSA, rebublicans, walmart, the tea party freakshow, and/or R. Murdoch all day long. These organizations did not cause the downfall of OUSD. Parents do not care what kind of schools their children attend. They simply want the best option, and hope that it is free. Any parents does. OUSD is losing enrollment due to many factors. Parents are fed up. Low performing schools and a system that is crippled by OEA and archaic thinking about education. It is very sad day for all students in OUSD schools. Just look at the leadership. Unfortunately, OEA leadership doesn’t represent membership. That too will change over time. There are many great teachers in Oakland that leave because of OEA.

    This conversation is sad, but it does shine a light on the lack of responsibility that people are willing to take for failing schools. Be part of the solution or get out of the way.

  • Trish Gorham

    @74 The absurd idea that many teachers leave Oakland because of the OEA cannot go unchallenged. Please give your source on that.

    And while you imply that the blame game does not speak to our immediate issues, you make no such distinction when blaming the organization that, at its core, aims for equity and stability for ALL educators and ALL students.

    Efforts to separate teachers from their leadership is an old saw that has been tried across the country but somehow ignores the fact that the leaders are the teachers, elected by the teachers. And while any group of 2400 individuals do not always agree on everything, those 2400 OEA members are part of the solution EVERY day.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Oaklandedlandscape:

    “There are many great teachers in Oakland that leave because of OEA.”

    But, I know many great teachers in OEA that are elected leaders of OEA.

    However these many “great teachers” that you know that leave because of OEA did not because of any other factors?

    Are you saying they don’t leave because of poor working conditions, lack of support from their principal, frustration over an administration that doesn’t get paychecks correct, constant teacher bashing in the media, administration that take $50,000 from the general fund to pay consultant to help get a new charter school started, administration that hasn’t provided teachers with a pay raise in four years, etc.

    Do you think these “great teachers” you know demonstrated their dedication to making Oakland public schools “great” by leaving?

    Do you thinking that these great teachers by bailing on working within the democratic structure of OEA to change the leadership sustained their greatness?

    I believe you are mistaking “sad” for frustration over others not defining “great” in the same way that you see great and thereby are resistant to you trying to impose your definition of Great Oakland Public School.

    Yes, the current OEA leadership doesn’t see tying student test scores to members evaluation is the road to greatness nor growing Oakland charter schools anything but a negative for the students of Oakland. And, OEA sees the road to great public schools is by funding them and not defunding them as failure for Proposition 30 will accomplish and Superintendent Smith has accomplished by not funding the classroom in the lawfully required 55% of the budget.

    I feel troubled by your argument: “Parents do not care what kind of schools their children attend. They simply want the best option, and hope that it is free.”

    This is the argument that says that parents don’t care if the governance of charter schools are corrupt or democratic as long as their kid gets into college. This also the argument that privatization of public education doesn’t matter.

    But, privatization of public education is not free; if it comes at the cost of destroying education for the public and by the public.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nontcair

    Incarceration of street thugs comes at the cost of destroying violent crime perpetrated upon the public by the public.

    And government *is* corruption.

  • Jim Mordecai

    This is in response to posting 32 by Mac Tafolla, Policy Director of Great Oakland Public Schools, private non-profit corporation posting #32 whose posting in turn was responding to my comments asserting that his organization supports TYING TEACHER EVALUATION to student test scores; and worked in cooperation with like-minded organizations, and individuals, that find unacceptable a teacher evaluation bill that does not include student test scores as a component.

    I accept as accurate that GOPS CEO Jonathan Klein didn’t testify in person regarding his organization’s opposition to AB 5.

    But, the leaders of GO were certainly on the public record as critical of AB 5 for a host of reasons, but TYING STUDENT TEST SCORES TO TEACHER EVALUATION was one of the organization’s values reflected in the that letter to the Committee evaluating AB 5.

    And, a number of papers lead to their reporting on AB 5 was about the opposition’s to AB 5′s focus on AB 5 NOT TYING STUDENT TEST SCORES TO TEACHER EVALUATIONS!

    CTA, NEA and AFT are all on record as for multiple measures for evaluation of teachers. Even the Chicago strike was not over the termination of student test scores as one factor in a teacher’s evaluation, but part of the strike was over resistance to increasing the amount of weight that student test scores should have in a teacher’s evaluation.

    As a delegate in the past to both CTA and NEA policy bodies, I have unsuccessfully sought to establish as union policy that student standardized test scores have zero weight in evaluation of teachers.

    Scholarly study after scholarly have found that test scores of students is unacceptably and an unreliable number for evaluation of a teachers’ performance. It is the unreliability of such data that is the reason I argue that student test scores should have zero, and only zero weight, in evaluation of a teacher’s performance.

    My fear is that the decision to place a number based on student standardized test scores as part of a teacher evaluation will be used ignoring best practice and the research that looked at the reliability of such a number.

    However, the power of political lobbies could determine making such a unreliable number part of a teacher’s evaluation.

    I don’t take lightly GOPS, Michelle Rhee’s Students First, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) and other such organizations flexing their political might for a number to evaluate teachers based on student standardized test scores.

    But, I don’t feel might makes right. And, I will continue to lobby my union to back away from a policy of bending to the management by test score forces.

    My view on GOPS’s teacher evaluation policy is that GOPS, like the policy positions of CTA, NEA and AFT, bend to management by student standardized test scores allowing unreliable number into the evaluation of teachers.

    “We believe that student test scores on state assessments are relevant to talking about teacher effectiveness, but not reliable enough to be the sole or even predominate basis for measuring teacher effectiveness.”

    What does that GOPS policy language mean? It means that one year a teacher is assigned a class that busts the test and the next year the same teacher using the same practices must hold talks about her ineffectiveness.

    My experience as a classroom teacher working in Title I schools from their origin with the Johnson administration’s War on Poverty was placing women of poverty in schools as instructional assistants was a jobs program. Over the years at Title I schools was always a focus on how to improve standardized test scores, part of the Federal accountability program.

    But, over time it was the ncrease in jobs for the poor, such as jobs provided in schools for single women with children working as instructional assistants, one of the hardest groups to move out of poverty, that were hugely successful; and lead to many of these women and their children moving out of poverty simply by the jobs they gained. These jobs at the local schools rovided both new income and benefits in helping these women of poverty to raise their children.

    But, over time, these jobs for the poor single women with children were shifted to middle class women with pre-service AA degrees leaving the women of the poor behind and out of jobs and benefits to help raise healthy children.

    And, the women hired during the Johnson administration without AA degrees and special talents such as the ability to speak a language in demand, these women were shown the door.

    Meanwhile, the women managing to hang on without degrees found their hours cut and left without any benefits if they were not lucky enough to hold onto a full time position.

    Many of the women that pulled themselves out of poverty by working in local schools, and their children, are the ones that are currently underwater with their American dream houses or been foreclosed.

    My point is that of course standardize test data should be considered and talked about, but the forces outside of a local school and its teachers will often have more to do with the outcome on standardized tests and more importantly the outcome in the lives of former students.

    Test data will continue to reflect a students zip code with always a few exceptions that are statistical outliers.

    And, such data should have a value of zero when it comes to performance of teachers.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Len Raphael

    Revisiting this blog after many months. On most issues positions seem to have hardened among the frequent posters, but also seems to be a tiny bit of common ground on some value for standardized tests.

    Is there any common agreement that OUSD HQ administrative and maybe independent consultant costs are excessive?

    i can’t get excited about the role of concentrated donors to OUSD campaigns because

    a. compared to general City elections, the OUSD elections seem to have attracted at least some countervailing donors. To be sure, would have to wait for the Dec 31 final campaign reports to see the dollars vs the expenditures.

    b. i know a few things about multi millionaires because I have quite a few as clients. To assume that their main motive when contributing to political causes is to increase their income or wealth is not accurate. Many of them are just doing what they might have done if they weren’t wealthy, but didn’t feel they could afford to. Then there are others who never donated when less wealthy and still don’t.

    c. at the current rate of creation, when do we reach 50/50 charter/ousd public schools here?

    d. pardon my ignorance, but is there any charter high schools here?

    The intensity of the opinions might just look divisive to people in the fray, but to us residents who work on general City policy issues, you have succeeded in forcing your elected officials and bureaucrats to at least attempt to face issues and data. I suppose your secret sauce is a combo of jobs at stake plus the shared belief that schools can be improved. In contrast, resident expectations for other city services other thna libraries, is abysmally low.

  • Jim Mordecai

    Len:

    Information on charter schools can be obtained from a site maintained by former Oakland School Parent Sharon Higgins at her blog: The Perimeter Primate. Below is her listing of the location of Oakland’s 40 charters including 7 high school programs that I counted.

    Jim Mordecai

    From The Perimeter Primate blog:

    For the 2012-2013 school year, Oakland will have 40 active charter schools.

    1. Eleven of those charter schools are at sites where an OUSD school has been closed or forced out.

    100 Black Men of the Bay Area Community School at 3400 Malcolm Ave. is at the original site of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School (closed June 2012).
    World Academy (K-3) & Achieve Academy (4-5) at 1700 28th Ave. are at the original site of Hawthorne Elementary School (closed June 2005).
    The ASCEND charter school at 3709 East 12th St. is remaining at the original site of ASCEND Elementary School (closed June 2012). This is a new OUSD “partnership charter school” conversion.
    Berkley Maynard Academy at 6200 San Pablo Ave. is at the original site of Golden Gate Elementary School (closed June 2005).
    Urban Montessori Charter School at 5328 Brann St. is at the original site of Sherman Elementary School (closed August 2007). Note: OUSD’s Melrose Leadership Academy had occupied the Sherman site until Summer 2012 but its new campus is on the site of Maxwell Park Elementary School (closed June 2012).
    Oakland Military Institute at 3877 Lusk St. is at the original site of Longfellow Elementary School (closed June 2004).
    Bay Area Technology School at 8251 Fontaine St. is at the original site of King Estates Middle School (closed June 2005). Note: this is a new location. “BayTech” and a small OUSD school had been sharing the original site of Verdese Carter Middle School (closed June 2006).
    Learning Without Limits charter school at 2035 40th Ave. is remaining at the original site of Learning Without Limits (closed June 2012), a site that was originally Jefferson Elementary School (closed June 2009). This is a new OUSD “partnership charter school” conversion.
    Lazear Charter Academy at 824 29th Ave. (a county-approved charter school conversion) is remaining at its site of Lazear Elementary School (closed June 2012).
    Community School for Creative Education @ 2111 International Boulevard (the former site of Life Academy which was forced to move to another campus in 2008, purportedly because of earthquake concerns).

    2. Four of those charter schools have been collocated with an OUSD school.

    LPS College Park (Grade 10-12, phasing out) & LPS Oakland R & D (Grade 9, new) at 8601 MacArthur Blvd., Bldg. 100 are collocating with Castlemont High School (in its former science wing).
    Cox Academy at 9860 Sunnyside St. is collocating with Reach Academy on the site originally occupied by E. Morris Cox Elementary School (closed June 2005).
    KIPP Bridge Charter School @ 991 14th St. is collocating with West Oakland Middle School at the original site of Lowell Middle School (closed June 2006).

    3. Four of the charter schools rent property from companies owned by Ben Chavis, former director of the American Indian Public School (this was presented in the FCMAT audit released in June 2012 (2.54 MB pdf).

    American Indian Public Charter School at 3637 Magee Ave. pays $20,684/month to American Delivery Systems (owned by Ben Chavis).
    American Indian Public Charter School II at 171 12th St. pays $21,000/month to Lumbee Holdings (owned by Ben Chavis).
    American Indian Public High School at 3637 Magee Ave. (using adjacent property at 3626-28 35th Ave.) pays $20,280/month to American Delivery Systems (owned by Ben Chavis)
    Oakland Unity High School at 6038 Brann St. sublets its site for $12,500/month from American Delivery Systems which leases it for an unknown amount from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, the owner.

    4. Five charter schools are at sites where a religious school has been closed.

    College Academy at 8030 Atherton St. is at the original site of St. Benedict School (closed ?)
    Millsmont Academy at 3200 62nd Ave. is at the original site of St. Cyril’s School (closed June 2004)
    Monarch Academy at 1445 101st Ave. is at the original site of St. Louis Bertrand School (closed June 1999)
    Conservatory of Vocal/Instrumental Arts (“COVA”) at 3800 Mountain Blvd. is at the site previously occupied by Golden Gate Academy (Seventh-day Adventist).
    E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts at 8425 MacArthur Blvd. is part of the E.C. Reems complex (church, apartments, services); site of the former Hope Academy.

    5. Two charter schools are in historical buildings in downtown Oakland

    Envision Academy of Arts & Technology at 1515 Webster St. is in the former Oakland YWCA Building (on National Register of Historic Places). This school was originally called Urban Renaissance School of Arts & Technology; it was located at 967 Stanford Ave.
    Oakland School for the Arts at 530 18th St. (Fox Oakland Theatre)

    6. Two charter schools are in brand new buildings

    Golden State College Preparatory Academy at 1009 66th Ave. is on a site previously used for manufacturing and warehousing.
    Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy at 400 105th Ave.; previous use of property is unknown.

    7. The rest of the charter schools (12) occupy an assortment of properties.

    ARISE High School at 3301 East 12th St. is in a public building (Ste. 205 of the César E. Chávez Branch Library building).
    Civicorps Academy (Grade 12+) at 101 Myrtle St. (previous use unknown)
    East Oakland Leadership Academy at 2614 Seminary Ave. (storefront)
    East Oakland Leadership Academy High at 2607 Seminary Ave. (storefront)
    ERES Academy at 1936 Courtland Ave. (took over site of failed charter school (Delores Huerta Learning Academy, closed June 2009)
    Lighthouse Community Charter High School and Lighthouse Community Charter School at 444 Hegenberger Rd. occupy a converted R&D building.
    North Oakland Community Charter School at 1000 42nd St. (unknown previous use; shares site with Destiny Arts Center?)
    Oakland Charter Academy at 3001 International Ave. (unknown previous use)
    Oakland Charter High School at 345 12th St. (in building previously occupied by Lighthouse Community Charter School)
    Vincent Academy at 1911 Union St. (in building previously occupied by Architectural Glass & Aluminum Co, Inc.)
    Yu Ming Charter School at 321 10th St. (in building occupied by Shoong Family Chinese Cultural Center, “the premier Chinese school in Oakland,” since 1953).

  • Len Raphael

    Jim, thank you.

    is there a summary of the parochial school situation? How many students enrolled, demographics, changes from 10 and five years ago?

  • Jim Mordecai

    Len:

    I have no information about parochial schools. But, I believe the growth of charter schools has put added stress on parochial schools and is assoicated in my mind with the closing of parochial schools in recent years, not only in Oakland, but many other urban areas across the country.

    Jim Mordecai