On Monday, Vernon E. Hal will replace Leon Glaster as the Oakland school district’s chief financial officer. Unlike many of the school system’s top officials, he has deep roots in the school district — as a resident, an OUSD grad and a former district administrator.
Between 1990 and 2000, Hal served in the Oakland school district as controller; assistant superintendent for business services and operations; and associate superintendent for business services, according to information provided by the district.
He was there during the five-week teachers strike of 1996, and left in 2000, the same year former Superintendent Dennis Chaconas came on board. Continue Reading →
Oakland’s search for a permanent superintendent is underway, but Kirsten Vital – an associate superintendent and the district’s Chief of Community Accountability – won’t stick around to see her fourth boss in three years.
Vital has been tapped to run the nearby 10,000-student Alameda school district, replacing retiring Superintendent Ardella Dailey.
I found an interesting column today in the The Root, an online magazine that features black perspectives on the news of the day, about the Obama family’s search for a new school for Sasha and Malia.
The author, Meera Bowman-Johnson, writes:
Most parents struggle with where to send their kids to school. But the decision can be especially agonizing for upwardly mobile black parents. There are worries about low expectations from teachers and peer pressure to value coolness over studiousness. Inevitable accusations of “acting white.” Then there’s an extra pressure to ensure that your children Continue Reading →
Raven Tarrance, a 16-year-old from East Oakland who is serving as a page for the House of Representatives, wrote this essay about watching the presidential election returns in Washington, D.C. with pages representing both parties. -Katy
November 4, 2008: the Election Day that would make history. This was the day that every person, young or old, had the right to let their voice be heard and vote. But the person that made the day so special was Barack Obama, the African American presidential candidate.
My classmates and I watched CNN anxiously while waiting for the results. Obama T-shirts and signs filled the room. As the room overflowed with pages, you could feel the tension rise between the two parties. Harmless teasing turned into candidate bashing. Continue Reading →
David Montes de Oca, Oakland’s charter schools director, was careful to say that his recommendation to deny the charter petition “is not a condemnation of the American Indian Public Charter School model or its schools — far from it.”
Today, I lugged a tall stack of papers out of 1025 Second Avenue. In response to a public records request, the school district released hundreds of documents related to its investigation of payments to the Bryant & Brown law firm (most of which came from construction bond money, for work with facilities projects).
Among them was a letter written by Deborah Cooksey, the district’s general counsel, to Meredith Brown, of Bryant & Brown. It accuses the firm of a number of things, including:
charging OUSD multiple times for the same work ($50,929)
mismanaging a “routine” case with an electrical company by taking it to court, rather than negotiating — and losing ($722,268)
copying and pasting City of Piedmont forms, making minor changes for a Waste Management contract, and billing OUSD $51,000 for the drafting work
refusing to cooperate with the General Counsel’s office
Cooksey also writes that Brown tried to get school board president David Kakishiba to call off the investigation, and that she contacted Gary Yee as well. Continue Reading →
As OUSD tries to recruit more local teaching talent, it’s only fitting that Herman Brown (left), a math teacher at West Oakland’s Cole Middle School, was named an Oakland Teacher of the Year for 2008.
Brown, a 33-year teaching veteran, wasn’t just born and raised in West Oakland; he lives so close to Cole that he walks to work in the morning, Principal Ivory Brooks said.
Brooks said Brown is a mentor to many at the school. “He is really an inspiration to the other teachers,” he said.
Oakland’s other teacher of the year is Karen Pezzetti, who teaches 12th-grade English at Youth Empowerment School in East Oakland. Pezzetti has been teaching for six years, has a master’s degree in education, and still loves her job. Here’s what she wrote about it:
Michelle Rhee, the new chancellor of Washington, D.C.’s public schools, made a name for herself last year by announcing plans to fire 100 central office administrators and close 23 schools. Before her appointment, Rhee had never run a school, herself. But at age 37, she was picked by Mayor Adrian Fenty to reform a low-performing school district legendary for its bureaucracy.
The Washington Post reports today that Rhee has announced that she will bypass union negotiations and impose her own program to fire ineffective teachers if they don’t improve in 90 days.
Teacher evaluations will now be based mainly on test scores and other achievement data, according to the Post story: Continue Reading →
I met Carin Geathers in July at a summer school program at Fruitvale Elementary School. She said she had seen the Trib’s series on rookie teacher Andy Kwok, and jokingly suggested I document her first year as principal of Burckhalter Elementary School — “the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Here’s a short video I made of Geathers on the first day at school. You can find the story here.