Another Oakland school boycott

It’s been months, possibly, since the last school walkout in Oakland. For those of you concerned that the city’s young activists were increasingly pushing for change outside of school hours (or inside their respective school campuses), you have nothing to worry about. 

Tomorrow, in observance of May Day, middle and high school students will leave their schools and march to Oakland City Hall to demand passage of the federal DREAM Act — and for an end to “police harrassment and violence against Oakland youth,” according to a news release from BAMN, the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary.

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OUSD police chief cusses out Trib videographer

TUESDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office is not going to file criminal charges against Tyska.

The school district’s police chief, Art Michel, has returned the videotape he confiscated from Tribune photographer Jane Tyska last Friday. Michel accused Tyska of hitting his patrol car with her elbow — and, later, of trying to incite a riot — while she was filming a student demonstration.

Warning: Some of the language in this clip is not exactly family-friendly.


Teachers unpin Obama buttons

You might have seen a story today about teachers at Soquel High School, near Santa Cruz, who agreed not to sport their “Educators for Obama” pins in class.

According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, a parent — a John McCain supporter — complained about the presence of campaign paraphernalia, and the principal of Soquel High asked teachers to take off the pins while they were teaching. They did.

What’s the practice here in Oakland? Continue Reading


Bill to protect journalism teachers clears Assembly

A law that would protect high school and college journalism teachers from being reassigned, fired or otherwise retaliated against because of student speech has passed the Assembly.

This reminds me of one of my first blog posts, last June.

Anyway, here’s the release, sent out Monday:

SACRAMENTO – On a bipartisan 66-5 vote, the California State Assembly today approved legislation to protect high school and college teachers and other employees from retaliation by administrators as a result of student speech, which most often happens when a journalism advisor or professor is disciplined for content in a student newspaper. The bill, which was approved by the Senate in April on a 35-2 vote, only requires a procedural concurrence vote in the Senate before consideration by the Governor.

Senate Bill 1370 by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) follows a 2006 law also authored by Yee which prohibits censorship of student press by administrators and protects students from being disciplined for engaging in speech or press activities.

There have been a number of documented cases throughout the state of journalism advisors being dismissed or reassigned due to student speech. In fact, Senator Yee’s office has learned of cases in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Claremont, Fremont, Novato, Oxnard, Rialto, and Garden Grove. Continue Reading


Extra! Extra! Bringing back student newspapers


From college applications to chlamydia, movie reviews to sports reports, the Oaktown Teen Times covers it all in its January issue — or all that will fit in eight pages.

The publication is part of the Scholastic Journalism Initiative, an attempt to revive high school journalism. The regular student reporters for the Teen Times are from Media, Skyline and Unity high schools, but the initiative is open to all schools. (The Tribune’s Bay Area company prints it for free, and one of my colleagues, Kristin Bender, is a writing coach.)

Lisa Shafer, a former newspaper reporter and a teacher at Fremont Federation’s Media Academy, noted that a number of high schools — including Oakland Tech, Castlemont and McClymonds — no longer have newspapers. Continue Reading


Uniforms at Skyline High School?

irodriguez2.jpgThere has been a rumor spreading around Skyline High School recently. The administration is thinking about enforcing a uniform policy next year, and both students and teachers are doubtful.

I first heard about it through a student in leadership (student council) but didn’t take it seriously until I found out about a staff meeting held to discuss the idea. I don’t have many details about the proposed uniform policy, but I have heard from some teachers that Ms. Green (Skyline’s principal) is not encouraging staff to think about how on earth it would work, but rather if they think it would be a good idea.

Personally, I don’t think uniforms would be all that bad. I would no longer have to think about what to wear in the morning, and as long as they were not too hideous I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Some argue it reduces conflict within the school, makes students more focused, or gives the school a more organized, disciplined appearance.

But in reality, does a simple change of clothes really have this much of an effect? Can it solve all the problems at Skyline?  Continue Reading