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Weinberg: Extra money makes a huge difference in student outcomes

Steven Weinberg, a retired Oakland teacher and Education Report contributor, makes a case for the Proposition 30 tax initiative on the November ballot.

Steven WeinbergDoes providing schools with more money lead to improvements in student achievement?

The experience of Oakland middle schools over the last three years shows that it does.

Several years ago four Oakland middle schools with test scores in the lowest 20 percent of state schools received multiyear grants of $900 per student to reduce class sizes and fund other improvements. The grants were not given to all schools in the lowest 20 percent because the state wanted to be able to compare differences in improvement between those schools that received the extra money and those that did not.

After three years the differences in Oakland’s middle schools are dramatic. Continue Reading

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Another facilities bond measure for Oakland schools?

Should the Oakland school district float a $475 million facilities bond measure in the November election? The Oakland school board might decide to do so on Wednesday night.

Here’s the short version of the possible ballot language that the school board will consider. Unlike a parcel tax, it would need just 55 percent of the vote to pass:

To repair, replace or construct restrooms, old plumbing, sewers, lighting, heating, portable classrooms, electrical systems, roofs, to address dry rot, and to bring existing buildings up to current safety standards; upgrade technology, science and computer labs; renovate,construct and equip classrooms; and improve energy efficiency; shall the Oakland Unified School District issue $475 million in bonds, with independent citizen oversight, no money for pensions or benefits, and all money for Oakland public schools.

That shortened version doesn’t mention community kitchens, though those are part of the project list in the full measure.

Here are the specific schools and campuses mentioned in the draft: Continue Reading