It’s about that time – the Oakland Ed Week in Review! Each Friday, we’re gathering key news articles from Oakland and around the state so you stay up-to-date with what’s going on. This was a Dirk favorite and one of the last blogs he published for Great School Voices. This week, there’s an update on the District 4 school board seat, a look at declining enrollment in Oakland public schools, and of course news on the fallout over the College Board’s bowing to right-wing political pressure to shamefully strip down its AP African American Studies course, plus more news from around The Town, the state and the nation. What did we miss? Hit us up in the comments below. (Photo credit: The Los Angeles Times)
OUSD’s abandoned Lake Merritt headquarters is getting a new life
The new facility, which will honor Marcus Foster, OUSD’s first Black superintendent who was assassinated while leaving the building in 1973, is mostly being paid for with public funds. The Oakland City Council approved a $350,000 grant to the coalition last July, and the Oakland Unified School District board included a $15 million allocation for construction of the center in its project list for Measure Y, a $735 million bond that will go towards improving OUSD facilities. The project has also received about half a million dollars from philanthropy.
Learning to read by third grade requires evidence-based instruction, panel says
Ruelvis Alonga is an early literacy tutor for grades K-2 at Oakland Unified School District who also uses the SIPPS curriculum with his students and in conjunction with their teacher. It’s an approach that he admitted might seem tough and boring, but he’s learned to approach students with an encouraging mindset.
“You know what the prize is? The prize is you learn how to read,” he said.
Judge orders review that could overturn controversial Oakland school board race
The election of an Oakland school board candidate who officials say was incorrectly certified the winner could be overturned after an Alameda County judge ordered a partial re-examination of the results.
Judge Brad Seligman has the sole power to rescind the results of the Oakland Unified District 4 school board election in November that was called for winning candidate Nick Resnick, but which county officials later determined should have been won by third-place finisher Mike Hutchinson.
Family mourns victim killed in Oakland gas station shooting
The mass shooting happened just a half-mile away from Unity High School where Mario graduated from. The principal said his heart dropped when he got the Citizen app notification.
“That gas station is just a few blocks away from our school. When you find out who it is, it goes from being a statistic to a person. It’s just devastating,” said William Nee, Unity High School principal.
Oakland’s charter schools face enrollment challenges, too
Some charters have seen rising enrollment despite the pandemic. One of them is Lighthouse Community Charter Schools, which operates three schools—one K-8, one K-11 (that will expand to a K-12 next year), and a high school—all in deep East Oakland. While enrollment is trending upwards, said Lighthouse CEO Rich Harrison, the demographics of the student body are also shifting.
While the combined enrollment at the three schools has risen from 1,404 students in 2019 to 1,563 this year, the percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, one measure of poverty, has also risen from about 81% to 93% over the same time period.
The number of unhoused students attending the schools also increased, from 18 in 2020 to 42 in 2022, after Lighthouse changed its enrollment process to prioritize those students.
The State of California
West Contra Costa Unified virtual academy, with enrollment down 17%, touted as ‘ahead of the curve’
District officials and school board members touted the virtual academy at a school board meeting Wednesday. Board member Mister Phillips, whose daughter attends the virtual academy, said the district was “ahead of the curve” in planning for it prior to the pandemic and that his daughter loves her classes.
Bill would bar schools from withholding outdoor recess or lunch as punishment
Elementary and middle school in California would be required to provide every student an outdoor recess period of at least 30 minutes — weather permitting — and would not be allowed to deny recess as a disciplinary measure under a bill introduced Thursday.
California bill would ban ‘willful defiance’ suspensions in all grades
East Bay State Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, introduced a bill Wednesday that would eliminate suspensions for defying teachers and school staff or disrupting school activities — known as “willful defiance” suspensions — for all public school students by Fall 2024.
Across The Nation
College Board details new AP African American studies class amid criticism over changes
The College Board on Wednesday released details of its first Advanced Placement class on African American studies for high school students, but the course has drawn criticism for changing lessons and texts related to key figures and topics, including the Black queer experience and feminism.
The course recently came under fire from some conservatives and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who responded to a draft version of the course by calling it “indoctrination” that pushed a political agenda — and said his state would ban the course unless changes were made.
Read the article by Alejandra Reyes-Velarde of The Los Angeles Times
Charter School Expansion Faces Tough Fight in New York
The governor’s proposal opens the possibility that the charter sector could expand its foothold in the nation’s largest school system. But charters, which have always faced fierce opposition from teachers’ unions and left-leaning Democrats, face a turbulent road ahead, as the city’s public school system grapples with the loss of thousands of students and some of the dollars that follow them. In New York City, ongoing fights over the sharing of school campuses with charters could further inflame the debate.
Students Lost One-Third of a School Year to Pandemic, Study Finds
Children experienced learning deficits during the Covid pandemic that amounted to about one-third of a school year’s worth of knowledge and skills, according to a new global analysis, and had not recovered from those losses more than two years later.
Learning delays and regressions were most severe in developing countries and among students from low-income backgrounds, researchers said, worsening existing disparities and threatening to follow children into higher education and the work force.