What up, Oakland? How are you feeling? It’s been a long week. Here’s the Oakland Ed Week in Review, our weekly roundup of education news articles from Oakland and around the state and nation to help you stay up-to-date with what’s going on. This is a Dirk favorite and one of the last blogs he published for Great School Voices. The news from Oakland this week is all about the OEA strike, with updates from various sources (be sure to check out our roundup of stories we published during the 2019 OEA strike); also, check out news from around the state and the nation. In Los Angeles, there’s a hot debate about the school calendar; and fewer and fewer students are proficient in U.S. history according to national testing data. What did we miss? Hit us up in the comments below. (Photo credit: San Francisco Chronicle)
Oakland teachers strike begins after contract negotiations fail
The Oakland Education Association teachers union began a strike Thursday morning, after seven months of unsuccessful contract negotiations with Oakland Unified School District. The strike is impacting 34,000 OUSD students and comes with three weeks remaining in the school year, which ends May 25.
OEA members began picketing around 7 a.m. in front of the district’s 80 schools, in response to deadlocked negotiations with the district over issues like pay, hours, and other working conditions.
Confusion at center of Oakland teachers strike as both sides refute claims
The Oakland Education Association, or OEA, tweeted Wednesday evening saying that the district has been missing in action at the bargaining table.
Oakland Unified says Central Office staff have been assigned to serve at schools to ensure students are safe. The teacher’s union says OUSD has failed to come to the table in good faith.
Read the article by J.R. Stone and Anser Hassan of ABC 7
OUSD strike: How long could teachers be out?
Oakland teachers took to the picket lines Thursday morning for the first day of an open-ended strike over salaries, class sizes and a long list of demands that ranged from classroom conditions to homeless housing, reparations for Black students and the kind of trees used for landscaping.
Read the article by Jill Tucker and Michael Cabanatuan of The San Francisco Chronicle
‘Our babies should have been in school today:’ Oakland teachers on strike
Lakisha Young, CEO of Oakland REACH parent advocacy group, was not pleased with either side.
“Our babies should have been in school today, and they should be in school tomorrow,” Young said. “We have to stop allowing for our bargaining process to turn into strikes every three years.”
Read the article by Allie Rasmus of KTVU 2
Oakland teachers go on strike
Some parents condemned the strike plans, arguing that children had already missed too much school during the coronavirus pandemic.
“As Oakland district families, we are enraged by this action,” said an online petition signed by 660 people as of Wednesday evening. “Our kids’ education is too important to be used as a pawn by adults who are using bad-faith tactics in (what are supposed to be) good-faith negotiations.”
Read the article by Thomas Fuller and Soumya Karlamangla of The New York Times
What we know about the Oakland teachers strike
OUSD schools will remain open, but they won’t be operating as normal. Principals and other school support staff will be monitoring classes and supervising students who attend. State and federally funded afterschool programs will also be open, but students can only attend them if they went to school during the day. School meals, including breakfast and lunch, will also be available on campuses. Students who do not attend school during a strike will receive an “excused absence,” and the absence will not count toward truancy. For more information, OUSD published a resource guide for families.
Read the article by Ashley McBride of The Oaklandside
Tony Thurmond will mediate negotiations between Oakland teachers and the district
“We are disappointed that the parties could not find an agreement in time to avert a strike,” he said in a prepared statement. “We observed how hard both sides worked and will start immediately working with the parties in a formal mediation capacity. Our goal is to help the parties reach an agreement and to end the strike so that students can return to class as quickly as possible.”
Read the article by Diana Lambert of EdSource
The State of California
Undocumented students qualify for financial aid in California. Why aren’t more of them using it?
Like Mojica, many undocumented students lack accurate information about applying for financial aid or find the process intimidating. California has since 2011 allowed undocumented students to receive financial aid from the state and its public universities if they meet certain eligibility requirements. But students, advocates, and even the California Student Aid Commission itself say the aid application developed under a state law known as the California Dream Act is unnecessarily complex, not enough college staff are trained to advise students about it, and campus departments don’t collaborate well when processing applications. As a result, they say, many undocumented students are missing out on aid for which they qualify.
New bills seek to expand early education in California
Sen. Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, and Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes, D-Colton, have introduced legislation, Senate Bill 380 and Assembly Bill 596, that would raise provider pay as well as lower family costs. SB 380 passed out of the Senate Education Committee this week while AB 596 passed out of the Assembly Education Committee.
Mess with the school calendar and you’re messing with lives: Inside LAUSD’s hot debate
The proposal seemed simple: Change the length of winter vacation in Los Angeles public schools from three weeks to two. Students would have the same number of school days without losing so much learning momentum.
But the school board’s recent decision to alter winter break and all it affects — the rhythm of lives and coveted time off — has provoked outrage and legal action, and also highlighted the important question of when children should be in school, how effectively time is used and how much say parents and teachers should have over it.
Read the article by Howard Blume of The Los Angeles Times
Across The Nation
It’s not just math and reading: U.S. History scores for 8th graders plunge
A growing number of students are falling below even the basic standards set out on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a rigorous national exam administered by the Department of Education. About 40 percent of eighth graders scored “below basic” in U.S. history last year, compared with 34 percent in 2018 and 29 percent in 2014.
Just 13 percent of eighth graders were considered proficient — demonstrating competency over challenging subject matter — down from 18 percent nearly a decade ago.
Read the article by Sarah Vermosh of The New York Times
Are kids more burnt out than their parents?
A new survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children found that 66% of parents said that their child comes home with a “low mental battery” after school and half of them noticed some sort of signs of stress and burnout in their child.
The top signs that were recognized were changes in sleep patterns (44%), changes in appetite (37%), physical complaints such as headaches or stomach aches (35%), decreased interest in activities they once enjoyed (34%), and avoidance of social interactions or activities (33%).
Read the research paper by Talker Research
Swim lessons save lives. Should schools provide them?
As summer draws near, kids are increasingly likely to find themselves in or near the water. To some, this is a much anticipated opportunity for recreation and physical activity. But for those who can’t swim, being around water poses a serious threat of drowning.
Read the article by Elizabeth Heubeck of Education WeekColorado expands translation access for parents of special ed students
Parents and advocates have touted the need for translated documents related to an individualized education plan process, also known as an IEP, which is a lesson plan specifically designed for an individual K-12 student with special needs, such as a child with autism.
To develop an IEP, parents meet with school administrators and teachers on an annual basis. As required by federal law, parents must receive a final draft translated into their preferred language. But education advocates say the final draft comes too late in the process to allow parents to make changes or ask questions about the draft, which can include technical language.
Read the article by Edwin Flores of NBC News
Emergency room visits have risen sharply for young people in mental distress, study finds
Mental health-related visits to emergency rooms by children, teenagers and young adults soared from 2011 to 2020, according to a report published on Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The sharpest increase was for suicide-related visits, which rose fivefold. The findings indicated an “urgent” need for expanded crisis services, according to the team of researchers and physicians who published the report.
Read the article by Matt Richtel of The New York Times