Welcome back to 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 a lot going on in Oakland: some good news (for a change) on the budget, grad rates, and a nice story on student musicians at Oakland International; in state news, a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for students will not come to pass; 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)
Oakland Tech students hold walkout to honor Tyre Nichols
The action was supported by Youth vs. Apocalypse, a climate justice group, Anti-Police Terror Project, and CURYJ, an organization working against mass incarceration.
“I’m Black and I live in America. I’m doing this to advocate for myself, and for Black youth and their voices,” said Tonica Coulter, a junior at Castlemont High School. “I’m also tired of hearing stories of another Black person dying in the streets. It makes me sad and I’m tired of it.”
Oakland graduation rates are up. School leaders say career education is one reason why
In 2022, nearly 75% of OUSD high school students graduated, an increase of almost 3% over the previous year, and up 10% since the 2014-2015 school year. The graduation rate for Black students rose even more—from 61% during the 2014-2015 school year to nearly 82% last year. Black boys specifically made a significant leap in one year, from 68% graduating in 2021 to 78% in 2022. But, as Johnson-Trammell told the crowd on Thursday, the work isn’t finished until 100% of students are graduating each year.
School leaders are also working towards a goal of having 100% of OUSD high school students enrolled in a pathway. Pathway enrollment across OUSD schools rose from about 48% in 2014 to nearly 88% in 2021.
Latest OUSD audit shows progress but steep budget challenges remain
A district financial audit, conducted by the firm Eide Bailly LLP, revealed that OUSD is making progress towards becoming more financially responsible, according to a presentation to the board on Wednesday. The audit examined the district’s internal financial controls and procedures for the fiscal year that ended in June 2022. While the report showed fewer errors than previous audits, there is still room for the district to improve on things like tracking staff vacation accruals, accurately recording student attendance and absences, and internal communication between departments like payroll and human resources.
State board tells OUSD school closures violated labor law
The PERB report says the decision to close or merge 11 schools violated the Educational Employee Relations Act — which establishes collective bargaining in California public schools and community colleges — because it was made “without providing notice and the opportunity to bargain the effects of that decision with the Oakland Education Association.”
Bilingual students do better on tests than native English speakers. Why?
Some district leaders and advocates for English learners celebrate this achievement as a sign that districts are preparing English learners well. Some researchers, however, say it is a sign that the bar for students to be considered proficient in English is too high.
“It’s kind of like a chicken-and-egg situation,” said Nicole Knight, executive director of English language learner and multilingual achievement for Oakland Unified School District. “Are they performing so well because they’ve demonstrated that they’re performing at grade level, or are they performing so well because they’ve hit a critical point that accelerates their learning?”
In Oakland, music is helping immigrant students connect at school
In a school where students from across the globe speak a total of 32 languages, this unique program isn’t about understanding the lyrics. It’s about building a community through music.
Over the next few minutes, Ricky Cuadra, an 11th-grader from Nicaragua, sits beside the bright blue drum set. Carlos Roberto Cuz Bol, a 9th-grader from Guatemala, grabs a guitar. And Edwin Corto Tule, an 11th-grader from Mexico, picks up a black bass.
The State of California
California quietly abandons COVID-19 vaccine mandate for school kids
With the pandemic emergency quickly winding down, California officials appear to have quietly backed away from plans to require COVID-19 vaccinations for K-12 school students, a move that avoids the prospect of barring tens of thousands of unvaccinated children from the classroom.
The shift comes 14 months after Gov. Gavin Newsom visited a San Francisco middle school to declare plans to make California the first state to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for its more than 6 million students.
West Contra Costa Unified, teachers union to enter fact-finding; strike could follow
The union already held a strike authorization vote in December, with more than 90% of United Teachers of Richond’s membership taking part and 97.3% voting in favor of a strike.
Zabala said the soonest the union could legally go on strike would be the first week of March, though he hopes the parties can reach a settlement before it comes to that.
California’s schools need to adapt to the state’s budget woes
California policymakers should also allocate any remaining federal funding for pandemic relief to tutoring services and programs that allow local school leaders the most discretion over how to use the money to help students. As of Sept. 30, 2022, California schools had spent just over 43 percent of the $21.5 billion federal stimulus funds allocated to the state’s school districts and charter schools during the pandemic. School districts need to ensure they don’t create new costs that outlast federal funding set to dry up. Schools must be shrewd about whether or not to add new staff. Many school districts aren’t in a financial position to make new hires due to their declining student populations.
How parent tutors can unlock reading for kids
About 3 in 5 third graders in California don’t meet state standards in reading and writing. To try to help more kids learn to read, some districts are shifting their strategies. In Oakland, parents and other family members have taken a frontline position as literacy tutors. What’s the advantage of using family members as tutors? And how can they help boost children’s reading skills?
About 152,000 California school-age children unaccounted for, research shows
An estimated 152,000 school-age children expected to be in California classrooms are unaccounted for in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new research, an indication of the lingering disruption affecting students, their families and schools.
Despite sex abuse allegations, former California high school coaches continue to work with children, young women
Crichlow, Taylor and current Ganesha High School girls basketball head coach Vincent Spirlin have continued to work with young women despite being accused by seven women in the past three years of either having sex with underage female Pomona High School students during the 1990s or witnessing other coaches sexually abusing students and not reporting the abuse, a Southern California News Group investigation has found.
Across The Nation
The pandemic missing: Thousands of kids didn’t return to school
An analysis by The Associated Press, Stanford University’s Big Local News project and Stanford education professor Thomas Dee found an estimated 240,000 students in 21 states whose absences could not be accounted for. These students didn’t move out of state, and they didn’t sign up for private school or home-school, according to publicly available data.In short, they’re missing.
Read the article by The Associated Press