Oakland kids, a school performance, and song of police brutality: Too soon?

This evening, after a small schools presentation at the East Oakland School of the Arts at Castlemont, a small group of students performed two dance routines for the guests, which included school board members, principals, politicians, organizers and foundation representatives.

Considering that four police officers were recently gunned down less than a mile from the high school (and the time it must take to put together a 4-minute dance routine), I’m pretty sure the opening song was chosen before this tragedy.

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Report follows the grass-roots organizers who brought small schools to Oakland

Tribune file photo of Acorn Woodland Elementary School by Alex Molloy

The Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University has spent six years studying a major initiative of the Oakland Community Organizations: to radically change public education in the city’s flatlands neighborhoods by creating small schools. Tonight at Castlemont’s East Oakland School of the Arts (EOSA), researchers discussed the findings. Continue Reading


School renamed Barack Obama Academy

Oakland has become one of the first school districts in the country to name a school after President Barack Obama.

Students from the school formerly known as the Alternative Learning Community applauded and hugged each other tonight after the board voted unanimously to allow the alternative middle school to rename itself “Barack Obama Academy.”

The students were candid Continue Reading


Should Oakland stiffen its grad requirements?

Education Trust-West thinks so, and so does Brad Stam, OUSD’s chief academic officer.

Right now, less than 40 percent of Oakland’s high school seniors graduate with the requirements needed to attend a state university. At some local schools, Ed Trust reports, barely more than half of the classes offered count toward those 15 course requirements, known in the education world as “A to G.”

photo by Alison Yin

There seems to be a movement afoot to adopt those college requirements — a `C’ grade or better on all 15 “A to G” courses — as the new standard for graduating high school in Oakland. Continue Reading


Lessons on violence, guns, police

image by DAN ROSENSTRAUCH/Bay Area News Group

I’m still at a loss for words about what happened on Saturday. What do you say to young children and teenagers about the tragedy — or about their safety, in light of the proliferation of weapons in the community? How has the death of four Oakland police officers affected your students, or your own children?

What questions are they asking?  Continue Reading


Some advice on middle school, from your friendly (elementary school) alumni

photo of Think College Now alumni panel by D. Ross Cameron/Oakland Tribune

There are probably all kinds of fancy ways to describe the transition from elementary school to middle school, but 13-year-old Nhat Tran probably put it best: “a small world to a big world.”

Nhat goes to Roosevelt Middle School now, along with another nearly 700 kids. He says he likes it “OK,” but he sure misses the nurturing cocoon that was his elementary school, Think College Now. Continue Reading


Good news about Oakland kids

Judging from the response I got today to a feature story and video about Oakland’s longstanding Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Fest, I gather that some people are starved for (ooh, I just hate to frame stories in these simplistic terms) “positive” news about youth in Oakland.

photo of Nia Warren by Sean Donnelly/Bay Area News Group

Still wanting inspiration? Here’s some more news of the uplifting variety: Continue Reading


The high school hoops championships are here!

Will Mack’s boys basketball program take state again this year? Maybe its girls team will. Or the Castlemont girls, or the Skyline boys.

photo of last week’s Mack vs. Skyline game by Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group

If you want to come out and support some of Oakland’s student-athletes, Round I of the 2009 CIF State Basketball Championships starts at 7 p.m. tonight, with the McClymonds girls (21-7) at home against Lowell High School (27-4). Continue Reading


Generation Recession

image from buckle1535’s photostream at flickr.com/creativecommons

I saw two stories in the New York Times this weekend about how a prolonged recession might affect children and teenagers — one about how it could shape their ambitions and values in the long-term, as the Great Depression did for those born in the 1920s, and another about how the economy has complicated the college admissions process (for colleges).

Looking for a silver lining? Here’s what the Times story had to say about what some are calling “a students’ market” in college admissions:

Colleges have been in the catbird seat for the past decade or so. As the number of high school students swelled, applications rose, allowing colleges to be more selective. And families benefiting from a flush stock market seemed willing to pay whatever tuition colleges charged. Continue Reading