The Oakland Education Week in Review (8/23-8/31)

Our recap of all the Oakland education news fit to link—This week a look at the budget deficits and the painful cuts to sports, stories from our youth on their experiences, an inspiring young Black teacher and his pink slip story, a call for us to come together as a community of schools, the latest Oakland Achieves report, finally an end to for profit charters is on the horizon, opportunities for young women, an advocates guide to special education—all that and more with link below, please read share and get involved.



Best of the Rest


  • Nickel and Diming the District to Death; A Real Fix to OUSD’s Fiscal Problems
    • This month after Alameda County rejected OUSD’s budget, the district put forward a proposal to eliminate up to 340 positions by the end of February. Last year we had cuts at the beginning of the year and mid-year, and now it looks like that same painful cycle all over again.  There is a better way.
    • We need to rethink this, and take bold action to dig ourselves out of the hole, buy ourselves some breathing room and fix some of the structural issues in OUSD. There is a way out.  It is politically perilous, but possible.  However, the window on it may be closing.
  • Growing Up Kareem; Wanting People to See Me
    • With the death of my brother and my parents’ divorce, I grew angry. I started acting out in middle school. I got into fights, stopped caring about grades, it was terrible. There were Fs all over those report cards. I remember one year I got into five fights and I smoked weed damn near daily. I thought the fights, the weed, the skipping class, all of it; would make me feel better. I thought it would make me hurt less. I figured I could sell a little weed and put some money in my pocket. None of those things made me happy. I was still hurting.
    • I know we usually write about something we want to fix in education or at our school, but I just wanted people to be able to see me. I’m not some zonked out weedhead. I’m not a thug. I’m not going to rob you. I’m just trying to figure it out. So if you’re an educator reading this, or the mayor of Oakland, this is me. This is just the beginning of my story. I started off drowning, but now I’m doing the backstroke. It’s still hard, but I am determined to be great. I’m not sure I make all these changes without the young Black male teacher who saw me for me. Mr. Bey was never afraid of me.
  • Dead Poet’s Society, The Oakland Edition, Young Black Gifted and Fired
    • Bey’s students still rave about him. I remember the kids streaming in after school, just wanting to talk to him.  He was one of those authentic teachers, who made school relevant, and also saw and cultivated the genius that all youth have, but mostly he cared.  He loved his kids, and they loved him back.  Sometimes school ain’t about love though, and sometimes the most effective teachers get no love.  They get a pink slip.
  • From Charter-District Wars to a Community of Schools
    • We are calling on Oakland’s educators and community leaders to focus on reimagining and building a citywide system of schools. We are asking leaders to take unprecedented responsibility to meet the needs of all students. All means all. If any city can come together across sectors, district and charter, to create something incredible, it’s us. If you agree, share this on social media. We can move beyond battle ground to common ground on behalf of our students.
  • Oakland Unified schools cancels 10 high school after-school sports programs
    • Other sports include swimming, tennis, girls lacrosse, boys volleyball and golf. The cuts do not affect large programs such as football, basketball or baseball.”I could have a future of playing golf in college. They are taking that away. I won’t be able to put this on my college application anymore,” said Janessa Salazar, captain of Skyline’s girls golf team.
  • Fight Continues Against New Charter Schools in Oakland
    • On a hot day in the middle of summer, 40 Oaklanders—students from 12-18 years old, teachers, OUSD Board members, community groups, and union members—went to Sacramento to urge the State Board of Education (SBE) to vote NO on the proposed new charter school Latitude 37.8.
  • Mandela Hotels: Promises Kept to West Oakland Community
    • The Mandela Hotels Project is in communication with the Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) board members, Jumoke Hinton-Hodge and counsel, to formalize its sponsorship of Ralph Bunche Academy and McClymonds High Schools. “The future belongs to those who are prepared,” said Mr. Arnold. Therefore, the Mandela Hotels’ sponsorship goal is to create employment, education, and future career opportunities in the culinary arts, hospitality and tourism industries.
  • Oakland schools reconsider sports cuts after gender equality concerns
    • Oakland school officials said Saturday they were “re-examining” the decision to eliminate 10 sports at city high schools after it was determined that the cuts hit girls harder than boys and likely leave the district in violation of federal law. The decision to cut the teams — coming two weeks into the school year — appears to violate Title IX, a civil rights statute requiring schools to provide boys and girls an equal opportunity to participate in athletics.
  • (Mis)Understood, The Challenges of Seeking Help
    • School is supposed to be a place where you feel “safe” and “understood” but what happens when you don’t? I don’t feel emotionally safe nor emotionally understood. What are you supposed to do?
  • Will OUSD Leave $175 Million of Facilities Money on the Table
    • You would think that a district on the verge of bankruptcy, that is asking for another bailout, that has hundreds of millions in facility needs, and also cutting current projects, would not squander a hundred and seventy five million dollar state facility bond. But you might be wrong in Oakland.
  • Oakland Unified reconsiders cutting some after school sports programs
    • OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — Just days after announcing the abrupt cancellation of half of its sports programs, the Oakland Unified School District says it’s reconsidering cutting 10 after school sports programs after realizing that the cuts would hit girls harder than boys.
  • New Measures, Similar Results – the Oakland Achieves Report
    • This first of its kind report introduces the new system, provides a snapshot of how Oakland public schools are doing, highlights the inclusion of change in the metrics, and aspires to galvanize action on behalf of children and families.
  • Positive Steps Mentoring Program
    • The Positive Steps Program is a mentoring program for young ladies that focuses on personal growth and development, cultural enrichment, and social development. Positive Steps affords young women, ages 12-17, an opportunity to further recognize their potential for success. Positive Steps Program participants take an active role in a variety of NCBW events and they are recognized for achievement during the annual Madam C.J. Walker Business and Professional Women’s Luncheon. Participants may also receive graduation and matriculation awards and an opportunity to receive one of the Coalition’s Annual Scholarship Awards.
  • Oakland Unified Spent $134,000 on No-Bid Bus Contracts for Its Budget-Strapped Sports Program
    • But the school district’s athletics program itself illustrates how OUSD has failed to implement spending controls, causing deficits and forcing the school board to make numerous and often surprising cuts.
    • According to OUSD records, McWilson’s company began providing bus services to the district beginning in at least January 2016, while he was still a member of the county board of education. But this work didn’t go through the proper contracting procedures. Instead, OUSD staff simply hired McWilson’s company and began paying BATS to transport students to and from games and tournaments.
  • Raiders’ Donation Puts Oakland Unified Closer to Saving 10 Sports
    • “250,000 will go a long way to ensuring that our young people can dedicate themselves on the fields and courts, in the pools, and on the mats this year and beyond,” Johnson-Trammell said. There’s no way to properly thank anyone for such a huge donation, so let me just say from all students, staff and families, we thank the Oakland Raiders, and like us, you will always be OUSD.”
  • The Slides You Need to See from the Oakland Achieves Report
    • We all have a lot of work to do in Oakland, particularly for our most underserved students. And if these numbers show us anything, it is that we need to move beyond the adult disputes that have largely paralyzed the district, and address the large number of under performing schools and underserved students.  And that we need to do things urgently and radically differently.


  • For-profit charter schools would be banned under California bill heading to the governor
    • Assembly Bill 406 would change California’s charter school law to prohibit for-profit corporations and for-profit educational management organizations from running the state’s taxpayer-funded and independently run schools — even if the schools themselves are technically nonprofits.
  • Superintendent candidates agree on need to review California’s charter school law
    • The two candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction agree that the time has come to review California’s quarter-century-old charter school law, while disagreeing over how best to handle the impact of charter school growth on the financial health of school districts.
  • Opinion: Time to end the myth about California’s charter schools
    • A hallmark distinguishing California’s charter school movement from other states is that 99 percent of our schools always have operated as nonprofit organizations. But “almost all” isn’t good enough for our remarkable charter school community. For years, we worked to change our state’s law to reflect our deeply held belief that for-profit education has no place in our public education system.

Best of the Rest

  • A Friendly Reminder that Comic Books Still Count as Reading
    • I consistently hear from parents and teachers alike that graphic novels or comics aren’t “real books” or don’t count towards whatever reading goal they’ve created in their minds for their children or students to achieve…As a reader, though, this also stung.
    • Laura Jiménez of Boston University found that graphic novels are important “because of the possibility that a different medium might provide an entry point for struggling readers, challenge gifted readers, and help more students learn.”

Ways You Can Help and Resources

  • An Advocate’s Guide to Transforming Special Education
    • Leaders at every level of the system and the school team believe in the potential of all students, including those with disabilities
    • We know we’ve succeeded when…Leaders hold all staff accountable for having high expectations for students with disabilities and proactively include these students in the classroom. The school team — including teachers, administrators, and instructional support staff — takes responsibility for the success of every student. They make sure all students receive appropriate support to engage in challenging work, and they regularly discuss each student’s progress.


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