The Oakland Ed Week in Review 2/25/23-3/17/23

The Oakland Ed Week in Review is back! We took a little unplanned two-week break but we’re back now with a beefed up edition of education news articles from Oakland and around the state and nation to help you stay up-to-date with what’s going on. (Oh, yeah, did you catch us on The Daily Show? For real.) This was a Dirk favorite and one of the last blogs he published for Great School Voices. Like we said, lot going on in this edition: the OUSD board is grappling with some self-inflicted budget woes (stop me if you’ve heard this before); free textbooks are under consideration for state community college students; and a recent study shows that students with disabilities and ELL students are under-identified as gifted; 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: Chalkbeat)


After chaotic fight to save Oakland schools, closures again considered

According to recently approved budget adjustments, about one-fifth of the $10 million freed up by the school board’s latest plan would come from potentially merging some of the district’s campuses ahead of the 2024-25 school year.

The March 9 decision signaled a dramatic and sudden change of course by the Oakland school board, which in January had rescinded the planned closures of five schools — the ones remaining on the schedule after Parker and La Escuelita elementary schools closed their doors last year.
Read the article by Shomik Mukhurjee of the East Bay Times

Opinion: Refusal to close Oakland schools threatens progress

“Since moving into state receivership in 2003, the school district has improved fiscal responsibility while serving the needs of our diverse student population. But that progress is threatened by the rigid stance from some vocal advocates that we should not close any schools, even when they are too small to adequately support their students.

As members of the Oakland Board of Education, who have each worked for many years on the ground in schools, we see the constant roller coaster of OUSD’s finances, coupled with chronic low pay, leading to high turnover. That is what truly harms our students.

Advocating for good fiscal stewardship of our district is not a conservative position — it’s a very progressive vision. Persistent racial achievement gaps for our students can only be closed when we fully resource our schools equitably.”
Read the opinion piece by Oakland School Board members Clif Thompson and Sam Davis at The East Bay Times

‘Living in a fantasy world’: Oakland school board rejects budget cuts, leaving fiscal future uncertain

The Oakland school district might be hurtling toward a fiscal cliff after the board failed this week to make budget cuts needed to give teachers raises and ward off a future financial crisis. 

In an unexpected outcome, the board rejected recommended cuts at a Tuesday meeting, including the elimination of dozens of vacant special education teacher and aide positions, as well as future trims to classroom funding. The board, by a slim majority, also rejected the merger over the next two years of five pairs of schools currently co-located on the same campuses. Without the budget cuts, the district currently has no way to pay for salary increases.

Read the article by Jill Tucker in The San Francisco Chronicle 

Judge declares Mike Hutchinson winner of OUSD school board race

Monday’s court decision was somewhat expected after Resnick, who initially contested Hutchinson’s challenge of the election results, resigned from the school board two weeks ago, saying in a statement that a prolonged legal fight isn’t “what’s best for this community and I don’t think that’s going to help get our schools where they need to go.” Resnick, a former teacher and current CEO of a school curriculum company, added that he will continue to be an advocate for improving public schools through other avenues. 

Read the article by Ashley McBride of The Oaklandside

Free tuition pulls thousands of Bay Area college students back to the classroom

Laney is one of four colleges in the Peralta Community College District that is waiving course fees for the 2022-23 academic year — an attempt to not just reduce costs for students, but to get them back into the classroom.

So far, the program has paid off: there are nearly 2,200 more students enrolled in its four campuses this spring compared to last, with a 33% increase in Black students and 22% increase in Latino students.
Listen to the radio story by Elissa Miolene of the San Jose Mercury News

Oakland students are helping to reimagine the Coliseum site
The sustainable urban design academy at Castlemont is one of the college and career education “pathways” in Oakland high schools. Supported by a parcel tax, the pathways expose students to various career fields and offer them opportunities to apply what they learn in class to the real world.

Zaki Crane, one of Jacobson’s students, was responsible for photographing sections of the Coliseum grounds, including the parking lot, the pedestrian bridge, and nearby creek. He noted the lack of recreational activities for young people in the area and said he wants to see a go-kart track or an arcade. Other students suggested job-training centers, affordable housing, and restaurants. Read the article by Ashley McBride of The Oaklandside 

The State of California

Free textbooks? It could soon be a reality at California’s community colleges
California college students spend on average $938 per year on textbooks and materials, according to the California Student Aid Commission’s 2021-2022 Student Expenses and Resources Survey, roughly half of that is on textbooks alone.

One idea under consideration by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office is to fund community colleges to produce their own textbooks. The system must decide how to spend $115 million in state funds set aside to reduce the burden of textbook costs. Every community college will receive $20,000 to design zero-textbook-cost programs and an additional $180,000 to implement them. Some colleges will also get larger, competitive grants.
Read the article by Alyssa Story and Carmen Gonzalez of Cal Matters

San Mateo County school board sues social media giants
The superintendent and school board in San Mateo County this week filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging “the current youth mental health crisis has been made worse by the social media industry’s deployment of artificial intelligence and machine learning to manipulate a youth audience with the goal of keeping children and teens engaged with their products in harmful ways.”

The companies include YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok, along with the companies that own them. The Bay Area lawsuit is similar to one filed in Seattle this year.
Read the article by Betty Marquez Rosales of EdSource 

As California student housing crisis deepens, solutions face roadblocks at UC and elsewhere

Litigation blocking student housing projects, a potential delay in state funding and escalating construction and labor costs are posing formidable challenges to easing what students say is one of their most pressing needs. An estimated 417,000 students lack stable places to sleep, according to surveys conducted across the three systems, representing about 5% of undergraduates at the University of California, 10% at California State University and 20% at California Community Colleges.

At the same time, student activists say, their housing needs are growing as inflation drives up rents and competition increases for apartments, particularly in the expensive communities where many UC campuses are, including Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, La Jolla, Westwood and Berkeley.
Read the story by Kristina Wantabe of the Los Angeles Times

Editorial: California lawmakers try again to deceive voters

The payments are typically hundreds of dollars a year for homeowners and more for larger commercial properties. The charges last for three or four decades. It’s like committing to make a portion of the payments on a mortgage. Landlords often pass on the cost to tenants, so renters feel the pain as well.

The cost is what local government officials want to hide. They know that more voters are likely to support the measures if they don’t know the price tags. Although state law requires the ballot wording to include the cost, officials, guided by campaign consultants and mischievous government attorneys, have devised wording to obfuscate.
Read the opinion piece by The Mercury News and East Bay Time Editorial Staffs

Los Angeles school district workers to go on a 3-day strike
Cafeteria workers, bus drivers and other workers for the Los Angeles Unified School District will go on a three-day strike next week, and their union says tens of thousands of teachers have vowed not to cross picket lines.

The strike at the country’s second-largest school district is scheduled from next Tuesday through Thursday, the Service Employees International Union Local 99 said. The SEIU said in a statement that the teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, which represents around 30,000 teachers, has promised not to cross picket lines.
Read the article by Phil Helsel of NBC News

New bill would give homeless high school seniors $1,000 a month
Amid a spike in homelessness, California lawmakers recently proposed a bill that would grant $1,000 a month of guaranteed income to homeless high school seniors. 

Senate Bill 333, introduced by state Sen. Dave Cortese, D-San Jose, would provide the funds through a guaranteed income pilot program called Success, Opportunity, & Academic Resilience.
Read the article by Karen D’Souza of EdSource

Across The Nation

Editorial: I train future teachers. Gun violence has them on edge.
Much of my work centers on helping teachers find the power to imagine what is possible amid constraints instead of focusing on what they can’t do. Together, we work to find space to dream of what could be as a way to transform education from the inside out. Right now, though, everything we are doing feels colored by either real violence or the fear of it. My students want change; we all do. We want to know that if we are going to commit our lives to this work that those in power are committed to making it safe. Safety does not mean teachers coming to school armed. Safety means not having to think about guns at all while you work with your students.”
Read the opinion piece by Deena Gumina in Chalkbeat

English learners and students with disabilities under-identified as gifted
Researchers found that English learners and students with disabilities are identified as gifted and talented at rates equal to one-eighth to one-sixth of their representation in the overall student population.

However, they also found that in states where schools were required to have formal plans for gifted services, they were 10 percentage points more likely to offer services to English learners and students with disabilities. When states conducted audits to make sure schools were offering services, schools were 23 percentage points more likely to offer gifted services to these students.
Read the article by Zaidee Stavely of EdSource

School District Sued Over Handling of Student’s Pledge of Allegiance Protest

Under federal law and South Carolina law, no one can be forced to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Marissa, who is Black, said that she had stopped reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in third grade because she did not believe that its message of “liberty and justice for all” was applied equitably in the United States.
Read the article by Amanda Holpuch in The New York Times 

How NYC’s school bus delays help drive chronic absenteeism and missed learning for students with disabilities

About 150,000 students in New York City rely on the city’s yellow buses to get to school each day, and 43% of them are students with disabilities. Many of those students are guaranteed bus service in their individualized education programs, or IEPs, legal documents that outline services and accommodations. 

Yet parents and caregivers across the city say the long-standing problem of delayed, overcrowded, or missing buses is contributing to chronic absenteeism in schools and causing students to miss out on hours of instruction. They say the problem has only gotten worse amid a major shortage of bus drivers. About 300 yellow school bus driver positions in New York City were unfilled as of December.
Read the article by Amanda Geduld of Chalkbeat 

Minority males benefit from having a consistent academic coach, study finds
Full-time students who had the same academic coach during their time at community college were 10% more likely to complete their studies, Inside Higher Ed reported.

The three-year study involved 11 North Carolina community colleges and found that technology-enabled academic success coaching closed equity gaps. The study by Watermark Insights found that minority male students fared better by having the same success coach over four terms.
Read the article by EdSource staff

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