21

OUSD Board’s Gary Yee candidate for acting superintendent

The Oakland Board of Education will host a press conference on Monday April 22nd to announce Dr. Gary Yee as a candidate for the position of Acting Superintendent in the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). The Board will formally consider the matter during its next Regular Board Meeting on Wednesday, April 24 when a vote will be taken on the replacement for current Superintendent Tony Smith…Read the full announcement here.

7

Update: Tony Smith and AIMS

At 6 p.m. tonight, the OUSD board is expected to speak publicly for the first time about the resignation of schools superintendent Tony Smith last week. There is nothing on the agenda but the board will say a few words and maybe we should expect some public comment.

In the meantime, at 5 p.m., AIPCS teachers will be “laying all details on the table” about efforts to oust AIMS board members Jean Martinez and Nedir Bey.  The teachers have invited parents and the public tonight (at the AIPCS II campus, 171 12th St.) to hear why the two should leave the board — as of tomorrow, Thursday. I can’t get to the rally tonight because of a breaking story and the OUSD board meeting at 6 p.m.

“Our goal is to inform the public, and put pressure on Dr. Jean Martinez and Nedir Bey to resign,” an AIMS teacher wrote in an email about their efforts.

Bey and Martinez are allies of former AIMS Director Ben Chavis, accused of fraud by state auditors. The OUSD board yanked the schools’ charter on March 20.

As long as Martinez and Bey are on the board, the thinking goes, Chavis is not far behind pulling the puppet strings. And as long as that’s the case, AIMS doesn’t stand a chance of keeping its charter. The teachers and other board members blame Bey and Martinez for standing in the way of hiring an outside consultant to get the AIMS finances in order. It was one of the key requirements of the OUSD board and may have cost them the charter.

“In order to bring Chavis down and hold him accountable for his actions we need to remove these two members from our school board,” the teacher wrote.

If the Alameda County Board of Education declines to overturn the OUSD revocation, AIMS can go to the state. That will be playing out in the coming months. But about a 1,000 pupils, their parents and teachers might not know the fate of the charter until summer break.

Bey is the “spiritually adopted” son of Your Black Muslim Baker founder Yusuf Bey. In 1994 Bey (Nedir) was charged with abducting and torturing a man who ran afoul of the bakery. He pleaded no contest to a felony charge of false imprisonment. He launched a failed health care company with more than $1 million in city money he never repaid. He also received public financing for a 2002 run for City Council. He was once a school site council leader at Fruitvale Elementary School. He used his birth name Victor Foster in documents filed to open a public charter school in West Oakland that he later withdrew. BART awarded him a contract for lighting work but had to reverse the decision because Bey had none of the required licensing and bonding.

But I am curious about business and other ties he and Martinez have to Chavis and I’m betting there are some of you who know a bit more.

 

 

36

Tony Smith, on OUSD schools turning into charters

Staff Photojournalist
2011 file photo by Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

At a meeting with principals and other administrators before spring break, Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith apparently said he didn’t care how many of the city’s schools became independently run charters.

After reading the comments a couple of you posted about those remarks, I asked OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint if Smith did, indeed, say something to that effect. He did.

“Basically, the point of those comments was to emphasize that we need to create more good options for children, and that needs to be the focus of our efforts,” Flint said.

He added: “He was just emphasizing that these are Oakland’s kids, and we’re responsible for their success. Our job is to promote the best possible outcomes for kids, and we have to put that ahead of ideology.”

Flint stressed that Smith did not mean that he was giving up on its district schools, or that he preferred one option over another.

I didn’t hear the statement, or its context. I don’t know, for instance, whether the subject came up in response to another question or as part of his prepared remarks. Unless the meeting was recorded, which I doubt, I can’t even provide you with an exact quote of what he said.

Continue Reading

5

A teacher’s perspective on OUSD job showcase

Peter Von Ehrenkrook teaches at Santa Fe Elementary, one of the five Oakland elementary schools slated for closure in June. Below, he gives us his account of event the Oakland school district held on Friday evening for displaced teachers like himself.

The Advisory Matching School Showcase was indeed an opportunity for the displaced elementary school teachers to meet with school representatives. It was also much more, evidently, since there were tables there for charter schools, middle schools, and even high schools.

Some tables had nothing but a sign-in sheet for people who might be interested in the school – no ambassadors or information.

Most tables had one brave and often tired-looking teacher who gamely tried to answer questions posed by displaced teachers (as well as many other adults who were not from the closed schools).

A few schools made the effort to display pictures and stats, leading one student who walked by to ask if it was a science fair. Sankofa Academy displayed data on a portable screen.

On a personal note, I found little information that was not available online, and most of the $250 school ambassadors had no clue what the procedure was from here. The list of openings provided at the door did not match the verbal information offered by ambassadors either, at most sites. They were either hedging when they provided the information to HR, or perhaps dissuading teachers on the spot who did not fit their desired profile.

Continue Reading

88

The Oakland school district might be finished downsizing

Staff Photojournalist
photo by Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

I meant to post this story sooner: OUSD’s school closure process — which was supposed to last for two to three years and shrink the district by 20-30 schools — will likely stop after the first round, when the district is a dozen schools smaller than it was last fall.

District officials say the target changed because they are projecting a balanced budget for 2012-13, one without a structural deficit for the first time in more than a decade. You can find the story through the above link and read up on the district’s latest budget report here. The financial report will be presented at tomorrow night’s 5 p.m. board meeting.

P.S. Some have asked whether, in light of this development, OUSD will once again use adult education funding for adult education. California school districts are now — at least, for the time being — allowed to use the once-protected funding stream for any purpose, and many have spent it on k-12 programs. OUSD eliminated its large high school diploma program and its adult ESL classes, with the exception of Family Literacy, among others. I’ve submitted your queries; so far, however, I’ve heard no talk about rebuilding adult ed.

Two related school closure issues:

- On March 28, the school board discusses what to do with the closed school buildings. OUSD spokesman Troy Flint said the district is considering moving the offices (including the Family and Community Office) now located on 2111 International to Lakeview Elementary, one of the five elementary schools slated to close in June.

UPDATE: Flint initially thought the future use of Lakeview and other closed school buildings was on the March 28 agenda, but it’s not. I’ll let you know when I find out more.

- Flint also confirmed what some have posted here on this blog: oversubscription of the high-performing Crocker Highlands Elementary School. Continue Reading

90

Posted: Oakland’s new high school teaching positions

OUSD is hiring an unspecified number of teachers (a.k.a. “teacher leaders” or “Acceleration High School: Teachers On Special Assignment”) to work an 11-month year at Castlemont, Fremont and McClymonds high school campuses. The jobs, which were posted on EdJoin.org late this afternoon, are open to candidates at other schools and even those outside of OUSD.

As most of you know, teachers already at the three high schools need to apply as well, if they wish to stay at their schools. (Unlike other candidates, they don’t need to submit letters of recommendation or resume — just the Ed Join form and a letter of introduction — and they will be guaranteed an interview, district staffers told teachers at Castlemont this week.)

The application window starts today and ends on March 30. Teachers will be hired on a rolling basis, said Brigitte Marshall, OUSD’s HR director.

The job description is mighty long. You can find the one for Castlemont here, and I’ve pasted it below. (I bolded the headers to make it easier to read.)

I’m curious: How many of these duties do you — and, from what you can tell — most of your colleagues do already? Which are less common? Which, in your mind, are the most (and/or least) important?

Do you plan to apply for one of these jobs? Why? I wonder what percentage of the schools’ existing faculties will choose to, and if this opportunity will draw many teachers from other schools.

 

Oakland Unified School District
Acceleration High School: TSA

Job Description Continue Reading

12

OUSD board considers charter school conversions tonight

UPDATE: The OUSD board voted 6-0 (board member Alice Spearman wasn’t present) to approve the charter conversions of both ASCEND and Learning Without Limits. You can find the full story here.

As a result of the higher-than-normal facilities rate the schools will pay OUSD to remain in their buildings ($2.50 per square foot, compared to $1.35 per square foot), their per-student contributions to the state debt, and the services the schools plan to buy from the district as part of a services agreement, OUSD expects to lose about $48,000 after it’s all said and done, down from the original $826,350 projected just a few weeks ago. (Note: OUSD will lose $4.5 million in state revenue from the conversion, but $3.67 million in costs will be eliminated, bringing the difference to $826,350.)

*******************************************************************************

In January, Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith recommended that the school board reject efforts by ASCEND and Learning Without Limits elementary schools to secede from the district and operate as independent charter schools. The board did just that.

Then, last month, the two schools submitted revised applications — and the district administration is asking the board to approve them this evening.

Why the reversal? Last month, ASCEND and Learning Without Limits principals said the district was interested in what they called a “partnership charter.” We should learn more tonight at a special meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. You can find the petitions and the recommendations for ASCEND here and Learning Without Limits here.

If the Oakland school board approves the charter petitions, the schools’ leaders say they will stop their appeal to the Alameda County Board of Education, which is scheduled to hold a hearing next week. If the county approved the charter school petitions, the county — not the Oakland school district — would oversee the schools.

What should the OUSD board do?

68

For some Oakland teachers, a job re-application

As we reported on Saturday night, teachers on Oakland’s Fremont and Castlemont campuses and at McClymonds High School have recently learned that if they want to stay at their schools they will have to reapply. And soon.

The Oakland school district administration says it will replace the current, 10-month teaching positions with an 11-month (204-day) job with a different job description entitled “Accelerated TSA,” for teacher-on-special-assignment.

Fremont and Castlemont are undergoing a second major transformation, as the small schools on each campus merge back into one. McClymonds already merged, in 2010, but OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint said Mack was included in the plan because it, along with Fremont and Castlemont, is one of “the three highest-need schools in historically under-served neighborhoods.”

Flint said the change will allow the district to “hand pick”  teachers that are willing to fulfill the new role, which is designed to improve student achievement at those schools. The job description is likely to include such requirements as submitting weekly lesson plans and using data to inform instruction — things that many teachers already do, but that aren’t necessarily mandatory, he said.

Teachers in the new positions would be paid at the same rate they are now; with the additional time, he said, the average teacher would earn roughly $4,000 more per year.

Continue Reading

22

“Mutual matching” off the table in Oakland

There will be no mutual matching in OUSD this spring. Without the support it needed from the Oakland Education Association, the OUSD administration says it’s run out of time to reach an agreement with union leaders and implement changes to its teacher transfer policies for the upcoming school year.

There will be some changes for the 50-plus teachers displaced by school closure and other circumstances — such as time to visit some prospective schools — but their seniority rights remain fully in place. Which means that principals at the receiving schools won’t really be hiring them. Vacancies that open after May 1 will be subject to a review panel, OEA President Betty Olson-Jones said.

Do you think this is the best outcome for the district and/or its teachers? Do you think it’s something the district should consider in the future?