For the first time in 15 years, the federal government has rewritten the rules for what must — and can’t — be served in its public school lunchrooms. Meanwhile, some OUSD staff, parents and local organizations are formulating some plans of their own, which they presented at the last school board meeting.
It was well into the evening, and some of us joked about having to sit through the presentation on an empty stomach. It later dawned on me how remarkable that was: the thought of cafeteria food inducing an appetite, rather than ruining it!
Although the presentation coincided with the new federal standards, it wasn’t focused on compliance. (Speaking of compliance, you’ll find more information about the new USDA rules here.) Instead, we heard about ideas to radically change the system so that children who rely on subsidized meals — and those who buy their lunches — will be healthier and more focused in class.
The recommendations included cooking classes for food service workers; new recipes inspired by global culinary traditions; organic produce from local farmers; kitchen and equipment upgrades that would allow 60 percent of all food to be made from scratch and the rest to be minimally processed; a new model for delivering semi-prepared food to schools without kitchens, and spaces that could be leased in the evenings to local vendors or others in the community.
And, of course, no central kitchen would be complete without an organic farm. Continue Reading →
photos by Roy Manzanares, courtesy of Oakland Unified
Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith’s vision of full-service community schools is taking shape on some campuses, thanks to a school-based health center initiative that has picked up steam (and millions of dollars in funding) since 2008.
Oakland Unified’s 12th health center opened this week, at the 1,900-student Skyline High School. The Native American Health Center (NAHC) will operate services at the clinic. The renovated portable building includes two medical exam rooms, a laboratory and three confidential consultation rooms.
By Friday, all Oakland Unified students in grades 7 to 12 must show proof that their Tdap, or whooping cough, vaccinations are up to date — or be turned away from school, as required by a new state law.
Since the spring, nurses have given shots to thousands of kids who’ve provided parental consent forms, said Joanna Locke, director of health and wellness for the Oakland school district. This morning, the district set up a clinic on East Oakland’s Fremont high school campus (pictured above).
Still, as of Sept. 16, the district’s latest count, 14 percent of the students in those grades — about 2,000 — either still needed the shot or hadn’t provided the paperwork proving that they had gotten it.
If you know someone who needs help with this, they should call their doctor or the Immunization Assistance Project at (510) 267-3230. They can also visit http://www.acphd.org for a list of immunization clinics.
As an education writer, I like the summer — and not because I get to file all my stories poolside (though that’s not a bad idea…). I like it because it sometimes gives me a break from breaking news, which means I get to work on projects.
I have a few up my sleeve, and I’m especially excited about one of them: a print and multimedia series about the summer, itself.
On Saturday, the Oakland school board is scheduled to vote on the superintendent’s five-year strategic plan — the product of 14 task forces and, according to the document, some 350 task force and community meetings.
The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the board room at 1025 Second Ave. It’s supposed to run about two hours.
How did you take part in the process? Does this document reflect your ideas for improving OUSD? What will it take for this plan to materialize?
The news report this morning was about shivering students at Frick Middle School.
But the Oakland school district’s temperature problems are much broader and more chronic. About 65 OUSD schools and offices reported heat outages this week, after returning from Thanksgiving break on Monday. More than half of the problems had yet to be fully resolved as of this afternoon, according to this district log.
When Superintendent Tony Smith was appointed to his post in 2009, his supporters said they expected he would restore interest, support and outside funding to the Oakland school district.
This fall — until today — the district endured some heartbreak on the funding front. Oakland lost its bid for the U.S. Department of Education’s Promise Neighborhoods planning grant in September (despite accolades from the secretary of education just weeks before). And the district’s November parcel tax election was defeated by about 700 votes, less than one percentage point.
But this morning, the district announced it had received a $7.5 million gift from Kaiser Permanente. It is the largest corporate donation yet to support Smith’s vision for Oakland’s schools, district spokesman Troy Flint said.
The money won’t solve the district’s structural deficit or guard against deep mid-year budget cuts. But $7.5 million is still $7.5 million.
West Oakland may not have a full-service grocery store (that’s another story), but it does have another produce stand. Here are some photos we took on Tuesday at Hoover Elementary School’s new weekly market.
The Oakland school district and the East Bay Asian Youth Center opened two more stands this week — at Hoover in West Oakland and Global Family and Learning Without Limits in East Oakland — bringing the total to 12. They plan to expand the number to 25 by September. Glenview Elementary has one too, run by parent and community volunteers.
These mini farmer’s markets are open to the public, as well. Here’s the schedule: Continue Reading →
The playground at Roosevelt Middle School in East Oakland didn’t always have a smooth surface, planter boxes, or a shiny new playing field. You can probably imagine what it looked like.
It was transformed by the Oakland Schoolyards Initiative, a partnership between the East Bay Asian Youth Center, The Unity Council and the Oakland school district. Roosevelt’s new principal, Cliff Hong (a former teacher and assistant principal at Edna Brewer Middle School), sent me a photo of its unveiling today.
The outdoor spaces of Garfield Elementary, Urban Promise Academy and the Manzanita schools have undergone similar transformations through the schoolyards initiative. Next on the list? Continue Reading →