For those of you who fought for more school funding and are resting easy after the passage of Prop 30: You might be planning a backyard barbecue or some spring cleaning this weekend but not the annual Ride for a Reason bike to Sacramento, whose organizers would like to remind you that it’s not over ’til it’s over. The group takes off from Oakland Saturday at sunrise to advocate for additional state funding and to raise money for enrichment programs in four North Oakland schools: Claremont Middle, Oakland Technical High, Emerson Elementary, and Oakland International High.
More money? Yes, say the riders, in order for California to get to the national average in state funding per student. California would need three times the revenue expected under Prop 30 to reach the national average, according to the California Budget Project. Ride for a Reason didn’t mention Gov. Jerry Brown’s Local Control Funding Formula.
CBP just released its analysis of the proposal, which changes the way school districts are funded by giving districts with low-income and ESL K-12 pupils extra money.
Our regional education reporter Theresa Harrington wrote about it here in February and will have an update story soon. It’s too early to apply specifics to OUSD because state lawmakers are still dueling, armed with separate bills. My take is that they fear even the hint of losing money for their district (which is not what the local formula does) or letting another district get a cent more then theirs.
Brown’s proposal is weak on oversight and accountability for local school boards who would be in charge of spending the extra money on the low-income and English learning students based on “what makes most sense” based on local needs, Steven Bliss of the CBP said during a call-in this morning. His organization favors the proposal but conceded there are “issues and problems with the accountability piece.” The he local school board comes up with an accountability plan spelling out how the money would be used to address specific issues. The plan gets vetted before board members vote to adopt along with the district budget. The budget and local funding formula align are supposed to align. In the case of OUSD, the Alameda County Board of Education would decide whether they do. But the governor’s proposal does not specific what to do if they do not align and doesn’t go far enough to make sure local school boards are doing a good job prioritizing and spending.
The second catch is the money. Where is the additional $15 million going to come from? Theresa’s story will explain the short-term answer. But as far as the long term answer, the proposal depends on economic growth. The Ride for a Reason cyclists might be pedaling to Sacramento for a few more years before the plan is fully funded.
As for Saturday: Most riders will depart Oakland near sunrise and arrive in Sacramento in the afternoon for a 4:30 p.m. rally on the north steps of the Capitol building. State Superintendent of Education, Tom Torlakson, is the featured speaker.
High school newspapers, ready to be distributed (not at Castlemont) from elizasizzle’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons.
Student journalism in Oakland has popped up at yet another high school. At Castlemont High, students have launched an online site with a wonderfully old-school newspaper name, the Castle Crier.
AP English language students are the publication’s first reporters. Guided by teacher Marguerite Sheffer, they post updates three or four times a week. This winter, the Crier will have its first print edition.
Today, we can read all about John Lynch, the new principal of the newly consolidated school, an ethnic studies partnership with San Francisco State, and what it’s like to be an Asian-American at Castlemont. Not to mention an exclusive interview with Castlemont’s Freshman Princess, photographed in a Raiders hat and Holy Names University sweatshirt. Continue Reading →
Stacey Smith is an Oakland school district parent and volunteer who has served on the District GATE Advisory Committee, the school board’s Special Committee on School Based Management, and the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education. What she writes about does not reflect the view of any group.
“State should expect more of students with disabilities, say federal officials”
That’s the headline from a front-page San Francisco Chronicle story about how California schools have lowered academic expectations for special education students statewide by over-using the simplified California Modified Assessment (CMA) rather than using the regular California Standard Tests (CST).
The CMAs and CSTs are two standardized tests California students in grades 3-11 take annually. The U.S. Department of Education has expressed concern that California uses the CMAs more than twice as often as recommended by federal guidelines. According to the feds, the rate of special education students taking the CMAs should be 2 percent of the total student population and only 20 percent of the special education population.
How is OUSD doing? In 2011-12, Oakland reported that 7 percent of the district’s population enrolled in grades 3-11 took the CMAs for English Language Arts (ELA), more than three times the expected rate.
On the 20th day of school, Oakland’s district schools counted about 36,260 students. That’s 1,750 fewer kids than there were a year ago, a drop of 4.6 percent, according to 2012-13 enrollment figures recently released by OUSD.
Multiply that loss by $5,000, a rough estimate of general-purpose, per-student state funding (otherwise known as the revenue limit), and you are approaching $9 million. OUSD will have that much less to spend in 2013-14, in addition to any statewide trigger cuts and reduced special-purpose money, according to that crude calculation.
So much for the district’s optimistic projections. What’s more, this year’s drop follows several years of relatively flat enrollment. The school system experienced a crippling loss of students in the early to mid 2000s, a major factor in its infamous fiscal meltdown, but the trend began to level out a few years years ago.
The two most apparent factors influencing this sudden development are last year’s school closures and this year’s charter school openings — though as I’ve reported, Oakland’s school-age population (5-17) dwindled by 20 percent between 2000 and 2010.
The Oakland school board on Wednesday considers whether to put a motion on the Dec. 12 agenda that would address the oversubscription of students at Crocker Highlands Elementary School. One option would be moving the western boundary from Grand Avenue to Lakeshore.
Approval by Board of Education of a directive to the Superintendent of Schools to report to the Board of Education at its Regular Meeting on December 12, 2012, for its deliberation and possible action, recommended remedies to effectively mitigate the incidence of over-subscription of available kindergarten seats by children residing within the Crocker Highlands Elementary School attendance area including, but not limited to, consideration of moving the school’s western boundary from Grand Avenue to Lakeshore Avenue, as an effective remedy.
A recent statewide poll released by The California Endowment, a health foundation that promotes nutritious school lunches, found that 82 percent of students and 91 percent of parents surveyed support the latest changes in school lunch nutrition standards, overall. The changes include a greater variety of produce, more whole grains, portion size guidelines and calorie limits.
After hearing summarized arguments for and against calorie restriction, about 64 percent of students and 56 percent parents said they thought the calorie limits should continue, the California Endowment reported.
Students who made headlines with this music video parody, “We Are Hungry,” seem to feel differently. They argue that active students, especially those who play sports, simply need more fuel. (Some student-athletes at Berkeley High told me the same thing a few years ago, when I was doing a profile on Ann Cooper, who transformed the district’s lunch offerings.)