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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

25

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.

Continue Reading

5

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

18

Oakland’s newest California Distinguished School

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.”


photo by Laura A. Oda/Oakland Tribune

In all, the state education department bestowed this award upon 261 middle and high schools (about 11 percent of the 2,400 in California). OSA was the only Oakland winner this year. Continue Reading

1

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

4

Vivaldi and Dvorak come to Roosevelt

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

1

Tomorrow, a free night of jazz


photo courtesy of Eric Swihart

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

6

Innovation in OUSD, despite OUSD


photo by Ray Chavez/Tribune staff

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

9

A play about “all of Oakland,” written by teenagers


photo by D. Ross Cameron/Tribune

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.

There’s a story about it in today’s Trib, which has the particulars about the shows. Here is the official postcard, although it might be hard to read: Continue Reading

3

Math raps: the next edu-fad?

Who says music is disappearing from public schools? Well maybe it is, but at least Alex Kajitani’s middle school kids in Escondido, Calif. are learning to bust a rhyme in math class.

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