From cradle to college? Maybe not in CA.

preschoolGov. Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget would decimate the Oakland school district’s early childhood education programs, Chief Financial Officer Vernon Hal told the school board tonight.

We’re talking about a $16 $13 million cut for Oakland Unified’s childhood development centers — at least 80 70 percent of the current, $17.9 million pre-k budget — and 170-180 jobs lost. That would bring the district’s total deficit to almost $100 million, and its total full-time position cuts to 630. (Note: Updated figures from OUSD on June 7.)

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For hungry kids, teachers chip in for takeout

school lunch trays. image from back_garage's photostream at flickr.com/creativecommonsWe all know how common it is for teachers to dip into their own bank accounts to buy classroom supplies. How about buying takeout for kids when the school lunch isn’t served?

A group of Tilden Elementary School teachers wrote to tell me about a memo they received this morning (dated yesterday) from their principal, informing them that “as of today,” lunch would not be served to the preschoolers.

It turns out that the newly enforced lunch policy, which came from the district (via state guidelines), is only supposed to apply to preschool children whose program lasts less than two hours. But some of the children in Tilden’s Pre-K program are there for five hours, so today — amid the confusion and apparent lack of notice — the teachers chipped in for a pizza.

Here’s the memo:

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Tilden update: Can one shuttered school save another from closing?


Tribune file photo by Sean Donnelly

For well over a year, parents from Oakland’s Tilden School have cajoled, grilled and held district administrators to task about the future of the unique program, which serves children — many of them, with special needs — in preschool through third grade.

Tilden will close in June. Still, those behind the dogged effort to keep elements of the program alive have scored a substantial victory: a new preschool and special needs diagnostic center at the nearby Burbank campus. Most of Tilden’s students are in preschool. Continue Reading


A weight problem at age 4

Here is some news that might make you want to hold the birthday cake: Nearly one in five 4-year-old kids is obese, according to a public health study published in the April issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The obesity rates reported in the study, based on height/weight ratios, are particularly high for Native American children (31 percent). I don’t believe the paper is posted online yet, but you can read a research brief here.

image from two stout monks’ photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons


On spring break, it’s business as usual for OUSD board

This Wednesday may fall right in the middle of spring break, and on the first night of Passover, but the Oakland school board plans to meet anyway.

A couple of major issues appear on this week’s agenda, including details of dramatic adult school cutbacks and the closure of some of the school district’s preschool classrooms and programs.

Given the timing of the meeting, I wonder how many people will be there make it. You can find the full agenda here, the adult school presentation Continue Reading


Tilden: another ed experiment cut short?

photo of Tilden classroom by Sean Donnelly/Oakland Tribune

Tilden School is a fascinating study in special education — and, more broadly, in promising and potentially short-lived Oakland school district experiments. You can find today’s Tribune story here.

Tonight, the board is expected to vote to close the 125-student elementary school (a plan that might entail relocating its students to one of six different schools) at the end of the 2009-10 year because of facilities and enrollment concerns. It was originally slated to close this June, but parents quickly organized and pushed for another year to craft a stronger plan with more community input, which two board subcommittees approved.

One of the school’s biggest challenges Continue Reading


The middle class “preschool pinch”

A national study by the preschool advocacy group Pre-K Now found that hundreds of thousands of middle-income families across the country can’t afford preschool, and that the situation’s only worsening with the economic crisis.

According to the Associated Press story on the report:

A middle-class family of four in Massachusetts needs to earn $94,500 a year to afford rent, food, health care and pre-k – $50,000 more than the state pre-k program’s eligibility threshold. That means nearly 32,000 of the state’s 3- and 4-year-olds are caught in the middle. Continue Reading