Welcome back to the Oakland Ed Week in Review. This is 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. This week: Are you ready for school to start? Oaklandside breaks down why OUSD starts earlier than nearby districts; a look at the teaching crisis from the perspective of a rural, California district; and a look at how Teach for America is pivoting after it placed its smallest number of teachers in schools in 15 years; plus more news from around The Town, state, and nation. What did we miss? Hit us up in the comments below. (Photo credit: KTVU2)
Summer ends soon for 34,000 Oakland kids. Why does school start so early?
Prior to 2018, Oakland Unified School District started school towards the end of August. In those years, the fall semester extended into January, which meant that students didn’t take their fall semester exams until they came back to school after winter break.
It also meant that high schoolers had less instructional time in the spring before Advanced Placement tests, which are scheduled by the College Board and taken on the same dates all across the country, in early May.
Additionally, OUSD teachers are paid on a 10-month schedule. When school started later in August, it meant that although teachers worked in August, they weren’t paid until September.
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside
School districts struggle to fill teacher positions for the new school year
Oakland Unified was still searching for almost 100 teachers, especially bilingual and special education teachers, on July 25, according to The Oaklandside. Oakland Unified starts school Aug. 7.
According to NBC Bay Area, both Alum Rock Union School District and Franklin-McKinley School District in San Jose are still searching for teachers, as well.
NBC reports that there were more than 10,000 teacher vacancies across the state at the end of the 2022 school year, according to the California Commision on Teacher Credentialing.
Read the article by Zaidee Stavely in EdSource
Holy Names University closure could deal another blow to the East Bay’s teacher pipeline
Both Holy Names University and Mills College, which was acquired last year by Northeastern University, operated schools of education that graduated dozens of students each year, many of whom would go on to teach in East Bay schools. The recent loss of both programs means prospective teachers in Oakland will now have to travel outside of the city for their education, to campuses such as CSU Hayward, UC Berkeley, the University of San Francisco, or Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont.
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside
Ca schools get $117M to turn pavement into green space
Fifteen projects for 100 schools statewide were selected on July 12 to receive this first round of Green Schoolyard Grants, including those in the Oakland and San Francisco unified school districts and the Santa Clara County Office of Education. At least 70% of the $117 million will green schools in low-income and disadvantaged communities, which are shown in studies to be as much as 7 degrees Fahrenheit hotter in summer than wealthier areas nearby.
Read the article by Selen Ozturk in SF Gate
Photos: Oakland mural honors late ‘Euphoria’ actor Angus Cloud
Cloud was best known for his big break in the HBO series “Euphoria,” where he starred alongside his former Oakland School for the Arts classmate Zendaya.
“Words are not enough to describe the infinite beauty that is Angus (Conor),” the actress wrote on Instagram Tuesday. “I’m so grateful I got the chance to know him in this life, to call him a brother.”
Read the article by Talia Lee on KTVU2
The State of California
Current rules for student summer lunch programs could be affecting participation
Those meals were given out in drive-through lines, similar to normal food giveaways. People got used to that service and numbers swelled. But at Monday’s lunch service, it looked very different. Ten kids were scheduled for food, but only four actually showed up. And three of those belonged to program volunteer Irais Santana.
The lunch program is sponsored by the USDA, and mid-summer last year they switched back to the pre-pandemic rules, requiring kids to eat the meal at the site during a 30-minute time period. At Monday’s lunch, the kids sat in silence on hard plastic chairs.
Read the article by John Ramos in CBS Bay Area
‘No one is coming to our rescue’: Inside rural California’s alarming teacher shortage
In small, rural districts like Modoc Joint Unified in Alturas, a cattle ranching town of 2,700, being short even a few teachers can send a school spiraling.
At Alturas Elementary School, there are six vacancies — a quarter of the teaching staff.
It has become so difficult to hire and retain educators that administrators have attended hiring fairs not just across California, but also in Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Oregon.
Read the article by Hailey Branson-Potts in The Los Angeles Times
Across The Nation
Oklahoma parents begin legal fight against first publicly-funded Catholic school in the US
The case, filed Monday in Oklahoma County District Court, kicks off likely years of litigation to examine the possibility of publicly funded religious schools, starting with St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual School.
The Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee, a non-partisan public school advocacy group, joins nine other parents, faith leaders and public education advocates in filing the lawsuit. They contend a Catholic charter school would contradict state law and asked a district judge to block St. Isidore of Seville from opening and receiving state funds.
Read the article by Nuria Martinez-Keel in USA Today
These NYC teens overcame school refusal and made it to graduation
Several families like Michael’s who overcame serious aversions to attending class — often referred to as school refusal — and made it to graduation told Chalkbeat they had to be determined and vigilant, navigating school mental health systems that are struggling to address worsening student needs since the pandemic without enough resources or updated guidance to meet this unprecedented moment.
Even before the pandemic, about 2 to 5% of children nationwide avoided school. Now, several social workers told Chalkbeat they are dealing with more extreme cases of school refusal than ever before, fueled in part by an alarming rise in suicidal ideation among city teens and contributing to a chronic absenteeism rate in New York City that hit 41% in the 2021-22 school year.
Read the article by Amy Zimmer in Chalkbeat
The FCC Will Now Offer $75 Off Your Home Internet If You Qualify
Today the FCC announced a measure to offer $75 a month off of home internet services for qualifying customers in high-cost areas through the Affordable Connectivity Program as directed by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Infrastructure Act).
This is for customers who qualify for the program but can demonstrate that the standard $30 monthly benefit would cause them to experience “particularized economic hardship.”
Read the article by Luke Bouma in Cord Cutters News
Alpha Phi Alpha’s move out of Florida could be the first of many Black organizations
Statewide policies under Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis prompted the nation’s oldest Black fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, to pull its 2025 convention out of the state as a form of protest. But now, the group’s president, Willis L. Lonzer III, said he thinks his fraternity’s decision may galvanize other Black organizations to ditch Florida for their major events, particularly after the approval of a new educational curriculum that includes points indicating that some Black people benefited from slavery.
Read the article by Curtis Bunn in NBC News
Once a big player, Teach For America tries to regain its footing
Last year, TFA placed its smallest number of first-year teachers in schools in at least 15 years—about half as many as in 2019 and about a quarter of the size of its nearly 6,000-member incoming class a decade ago. The nonprofit also had significant staffing reductions this year, and has stopped placing new teachers in about a dozen of the communities it serves.
TFA leaders say the organization is undergoing a broader transformation amid a challenging moment for education and the teacher pipeline, which has shrunk dramatically over the last decade. This summer, CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard wrote that despite the “hard choices” made, TFA is recommitting to its goal to improve student outcomes and inspire a new generation of teachers.
Read the article by Madeline Will in Education Week
Military academies are next target for affirmative action opponents
Edward Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, announced the launch of a website called WestPointNotFair that aims to gather information from applicants who were rejected by the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy. All three of those military institutions have considered race alongside numerous other factors, including academic credentials and leadership qualities, in their competitive admissions.
Read the article by Nick Anderson in The Washington Post
State takeovers of ‘failing’ schools are increasing. Do they help students?
On June 1, the TEA took over Houston’s school district, removing the superintendent and elected board. Critics say it’s an effort by a Republican governor to impose his preferred policies, including more charter schools, on the state’s largest city, whose mayor is a Democrat and whose population is two-thirds Black or Latino. In other districts where state-appointed boards have taken over, academic outcomes haven’t improved. Now red-state governors increasingly use the takeovers to undermine the political power of cities, particularly those governed by Black and Hispanic leaders, according to some education experts.
Supporters of takeovers say they help jolt failing school systems into better performance. Backers of the takeover of Houston Independent School District say it’s needed to improve performance in a few schools with a history of poor academic outcomes.
Read the article by Steven Yoder in The Washington Post