Saturday: Career Technical Education Expo in Oakland

Laney College is hosting a career tech expo on Saturday, featuring programs from biomanufacturing to culinary arts.

It’s from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 900 Fallon St in Oakland. You can register for the free event and find updates here.


Career and Technical Education Expo


Paying for college: looking for stories

Recently, my colleague Matt Krupnick wrote a story about the ever-rising cost of tuition at California’s state universities. It’s cheaper for a student from a middle-income family to go to Harvard (or other top private colleges) than to CSU East Bay, he found.

Now that many of the acceptance letters have arrived in the mail, another fellow reporter, Sharon Noguchi, is writing about families of high school seniors who are figuring out what they can afford and how to pay for it. She wants to talk to people from Oakland and elsewhere in the East Bay about the choices they’re making to finance a higher education.

TELL US: How you’re preparing for this massive expense?

If you’re in this situation — or know an East Bay family with a college-bound high school senior — I hope you’ll consider sharing your perspective with Sharon. You can reach her at snoguchi@mercurynews.com.


Saturday: Conference for Oakland’s African-American families

Parents can learn about transitional kindergarten, how to advocate for their children, how to help them at home, and what it will take for them to graduate high school and be ready for college at a free Saturday event for African-American families.

The African American Spring Parent Conference, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, is at Bret Harte Middle School, 3700 Coolidge Ave, in the Laurel District.

OUSD’s Office of African-American Male Achievement is hosting the event, which includes breakfast and lunch. You can register here.

In February, OUSD held a similar day of workshops for Latino families, a conference co-sponsored by Educational Coalition for Hispanics in Oakland, and there have been others, as well.

Have you attended a parent workshop recently? Did you find it useful — and in what way?


High school students campaign for free in-state tuition in CA

Monica Mendoza, a 2011 graduate of Oakland’s Life Academy and a student at Hayward’s Chabot College, wrote the below piece about a ballot initiative she helped to write. College for California would make state universities free for most full-time, in-state students. The initiative still needs more than 800,000 signatures to qualify for a future ballot. We just posted this story on the effort — and on volunteer-based ballot initiatives in general.

College for California
photo by Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group

It all started with a lesson that our math teacher Mr. B (Boettner) had given us during the fall semester of our senior year. We’d just finished completing our college applications. The next thing on our minds was how were we going to pay for college? He gave us a lesson on college tuition and how much it had increased throughout the years. It was astounding seeing the huge difference in tuition between the 1970s and now.

I know personally it had me worried. I was worried because my family is low income. Our income is about $12,900, lower than tuition at a UC. I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to pay for everything without having to get loans. I knew my parents were also worried about how they’d be able to help me as well. It was all really scary, especially being the first one in my family to go to college and not having anybody else in my family that I’d be able to look up to or ask for help.

Mr. B had then asked if a couple of students would be interested in being leaders in creating a ballot initiative. Continue Reading


California Dream Act awaits governor’s signature

College-bound California high school students who are in the United States illegally will soon be eligible for taxpayer-funded financial aid if the governor signs AB 131, a bill known as the California Dream Act. (Read the full text of the most recent version of the bill here.)

The New York Times reported that this bill, if passed, would give illegal immigrants more education benefits than any other state. A Sacramento Bee story said the bill is estimated to cost California $23 million to $40 million a year. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, California college students receive about $3.34 billion in state-supported financial aid each year.

Continue Reading


ETS finds cheating took place on AP tests at Skyline

Education Testing Service investigators believe some Skyline High School students cheated on their advanced placement tests, Principal Troy Johnston told families in a letter he sent out this week that details some of the findings (see below).

The Skyline Oracle published a story in June about the ETS’s investigation into possible procedural breaches. In its report, Assistant Principal Marisol Arkin, the school’s testing coordinator, and other school staff downplayed the potential consequences of the inquiry.

“The worst-case scenario is that one or two tests may have to be retaken,” said Ms. Arkin.

Or 30.

Troy Flint, a spokesman for the Oakland school district, said ETS canceled 30 scores on various tests it deemed suspicious; the exams in question were in various subjects administered during a two-week period this spring. Flint said the rest of the results — which were withheld for weeks, pending the investigation — have been or will be released soon.

Continue Reading


Where are they now? Two Oakland high school grads, four years later

Henry Grant, 200620110608__eoak0530henry05~1_GALLERY

Darielle Davis, 2007Davis, 2011

When Henry Grant and Darielle Davis were high school seniors in 2006-07, we wrote about their college aspirations. Grant, then an Oakland High School student and All-City Council president, was looking at private, out-of-state colleges. Davis, valedictorian of EXCEL High School in West Oakland, was headed for UC Berkeley.

This spring, we learned they were about to graduate from college. We caught up with them to hear about their college experiences. They told us how they kept going, despite unexpected, life-changing events, and how they found college-level work. (Both said writing was a major challenge at first.)

You can find Grant’s story here, and Darielle’s story here.


OUSD custodians start scholarship fund

Inspired by the superintendent’s call to action, Oakland school custodians have decided to do their part to help Oakland’s African-American students achieve.

They’ve sold Raiders tickets, organized a talent show and held a raffle to raise scholarship money. So far, they have collected $10,000, which they will award to 11 African American boys and girls on Saturday in West Oakland’s DeFremery Park, said Mark Russ, a custodian at Barack Obama Academy in East Oakland.

It’s the first year of the scholarship fund.

“We all started thinking, `We’re all big sports fans,'” said Russ, who led the effort with his supervisor, Roland Broach. “We just kind of felt like it was something we could do.”

For more information about the initiative, a partnership between the district’s Custodial Services Department and the AFSCME union, call 510-879-8352.


So many students, so few counselors. But a student proposal doesn’t call for more.

The kids who enter Oakland high schools this fall will need to complete the UC/CSU `a to g’ course requirements to graduate in 2015. A major shift, considering that less than half of the district’s 2009 grads had done so.

But a survey by Californians For Justice found that nearly 1 in 4 of students at Oakland High School didn’t know about those requirements, and that 30 percent had never met one-on-one with a counselor. A counselor quoted in the report, “No Knowledge, No College: Oakland Students Rising to the Challenge,” said there were four counselors for more than 1,800 students.

Continue Reading


Close the achievement gap and graduate college. Then what?

Zeus Yiamouyiannis is an Oakland-based learning consultant and former professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Carroll College. He gives us his take on education reform in general and “Waiting for Superman” in particular — and the film-maker’s assertion that 120 million new high-paying jobs await us in 2020.

Zeus Yiamouyiannis (courtesy photo)American Education has a reality problem and a vision problem. If you listen to policy leaders, rescuing U.S. education simply requires closing the ethnic/social class academic achievement gap and becoming first in the world in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). This ostensibly will allow millions of young people to be channeled into the 120+ million future “high skill, high pay jobs” according to the controversial new education reform documentary, Waiting for Superman.

Anticipating this, the Obama administration is funding a “Race to the Top” focusing heavily on STEM education. KIPP charter schools spend three times as much classroom time as average schools on math and science. The more comprehensive charter schools are likewise working to ensure their students both get into college and graduate. All this is laudable on some level, but whose purposes does this serve, and does it reflect lasting actual (or even desirable) trends in the job market?

The Reality Problem
So all you need as a ticket to the good life is a four-year college degree? Tell this rosy myth to all the current, rightfully skeptical twenty-something graduates, saddled with tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars of college debt.   Continue Reading