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Notes from a long and eventful board meeting

Tonight’s — or should I say, last night’s —  5 p.m. Oakland school board meeting went till midnight. I observed so much from my ergonomically incorrect wooden seat:

The NAACP‘s Oakland branch showed up in force to register their concerns about complaints they’d heard from students and alumni about problem teachers, institutional racism and African American students’ opportunities for success at Skyline High (where a transcript review last fall revealed a whole bunch of students who weren’t on track to graduate), McClymonds and Castlemont high schools.

Teachers showed up to voice their support for retired teachers whom the district hired to coach them when they were first starting out. The retired teachers said they were told their services would no longer be needed. Superintendent Tony Smith said he had known nothing about this — and that he wished he had been informed of this development by his staff, rather than at a school board meeting. (Sounded to me like the program would be restored.)

Nikita Mitchell, one of the school board’s student directors, gave a rousing, seemingly extemporaneous end-of-term speech about education in Oakland, the “two Oaklands,” and how she and other students had been saying for years what members of the NAACP reported on Wednesday.

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This Saturday: a chance to weigh in on the plan for Oakland schools

If you have an opinion on the superintendent’s “Full Service Community Schools” vision, if you’re not quite sure what it means, or if you want to offer your feedback before a plan is etched in stone, you might want to check out an upcoming conference at the Cesar Chavez Education Center in Fruitvale.

The Youth and Family Conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at 2825 International Boulevard, in the new building that houses Think College Now and International Community School.

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Meet Oakland’s new director for African American male achievement

Chris ChatmonLast night, Superintendent Tony Smith announced he had chosen Chris Chatmon, of 100 Black Men, for a new role in the Oakland public school system: executive director for African American male achievement, a position funded by private donors.

It will be Chatmon’s task to change the trajectory of the city’s black boys.

Let’s take the Class of 2008, the most recent data available from the California Department of Education. Continue Reading