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.
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.
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
It’s been a good year for everyone at the Oakland School for the Arts, the charter school that Jerry Brown built. First, they move out of a parking lot and into a fancy new building. Now, the California Department of Education is honoring their school as “distinguished.”
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.
Still wanting inspiration? Here’s some more news of the uplifting variety: Continue Reading
photo of 2008 festival courtesy of OUSD
Tomorrow (Thursday) evening, 200 musicians from across the city meet at Oakland’s Roosevelt Middle School to take part in the sixth annual citywide Orchestra festival. Under the direction of guest conductor Maestro Michael Morgan, director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony, the students will play Antonio Vivaldi’s Spring and Antonin Dvorak’s Largo from the New World Symphony.
Admission’s free, if you want to check it out. Here are the details: Continue Reading
Despite the district’s financial cutbacks, music is still playing in Oakland schools — many of them, anyway. Some middle and high school music directors have managed to squeeze lunchtime jazz clubs or after-school programs into a hectic schedule of chorus, string and concert band, said Westlake Middle School teacher Randy Porter.
If you like jazz and are looking for some recession-friendly entertainment Continue Reading
Joaquin Alvarado, one of the Claremont Middle School parents who managed to convert a run-of-the-mill computer room into a high-tech media lab — and a basic word processing class into a 3-D animation elective — doesn’t have much love for the school district’s central office.
In an interview this week, Alvarado said Second Avenue had been more of a hindrance than a help. For one thing, because of a new board policy introduced in the middle of the semester, the people contracted to teach Claremont’s animation class (and many other contractors, for that matter) weren’t getting paid. The PTA had to cut these teachers a check so that they wouldn’t up and leave, as others did. It’s supposedly been fixed.
OK, so central office bureaucracy is hardly a new story line. But what about that staff presentation about turning Claremont into a “school of choice for North Oakland families?” Wouldn’t this new media focus potentially further that goal? Continue Reading
I stopped by Oakland Technical High School this week to interview its advanced drama students/playwrights about a play they perform tomorrow and Friday nights. It’s called “Oakland Inside Out: Portrait of a City,” and it’s a series of monologues based on dozens of interviews the actors recorded with Oaklanders.
Kajitani, who developed “The Rappin’-Mathematician” curriculum, is in the running for National Teacher of the Year.
Here’s the inner-city-school-turnaround story behind it, as told on his Web site:
Alex Kajitani was a struggling new teacher at a tough, inner-city school in San Diego. As the students came in each day unable to remember simple math concepts from the day before, yet singing every word to the new rap song on the radio, he realized he needed a new approach. Fed up with the students coming in rapping lyrics about violence, drug use, and mistreating women, he began to perform rap songs about the math he was teaching. Continue Reading