The Oakland Ed Week in Review 8/19/23-8/25/23

The Oakland Ed Week in Review is back! 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. In this week’s report, the Oakland District 5 school board special election is back on; a lawsuit that accuses California of failing low-income students during remote learning will head to trial; with student loan forgiveness plans sidelined, the Biden Administration launches a student debt plan; plus more news from around The Town, state, and nation. What did we miss? Hit us up in the comments below. (Photo credit: The Oaklandside)


OUSD special election candidates are back on the ballot
A release from city spokesperson Sean Maher on Friday said the question of whether to use the new or old district boundaries did not have significant past precedent. Both candidates only had 46 of 50 required nomination signatures in the old boundaries, but both had all 50 within the new boundaries.
“The City of Oakland does not believe there is a basis for disqualifying the candidates on these grounds.  The City has notified the County Registrar’s Office that the City Clerk has no intention of disqualifying these candidates and the candidates will remain qualified as indicated on the City Clerk’s website,” the release said.
Ballots for the special election will go to residents living within the old district boundaries.
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside

How can Oakland Unified be more efficient? Report lays out plan, including school closures
The firm Public Works LLC analyzed OUSD’s central office departments overseeing areas like academics, special education, English language learner programs, early childhood education, community schools, the office of equity, and research and data. The final report makes nearly 50 recommendations, including consolidating schools, eliminating more than two dozen positions, and creating six new positions.
Read the article by Ashlet McBride in The Oaklandside

The State of California

The case of Cayla J: Judge to decide if California failed low-income students during Covid
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman denied the state’s request to dismiss the case outright earlier this month. There’s no dispute that low-income students of color, in particular, had less access to remote learning during the nine-plus months they learned from home, Seligman wrote in a 12-page ruling. The question that needs answering, he said, is whether the state’s level of response is so insufficient that it violated the children’s right to an equal opportunity for an education under California’s constitution.
Read the article by John Fensterwald in EdSource

Bill to prevent California school textbook bans is in limbo
With no discussion, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to place AB 1078 in the “suspense file,” a procedural limbo for bills that commit the state to spending money. At a later date, the committee could either release the bill from the file and allow it to move forward or keep it in that status, effectively killing it.
Sponsored by Assemblymember Corey Jackson, D-Perris, AB 1078 would require school boards, when adopting learning materials, “to ensure the accurate portrayal of the cultural and racial diversity of our society.”
Read the article by Jeff Horseman in The East Bay Times

Gov. Newsom sends letters to districts about ethnic studies requirement as part of anti-hate campaign
The curriculum focuses on the history, culture, struggle and contributions of African Americans, Native Americans, Asian/Pacific Islander Americans and Latinx Americans. The model curriculum also includes lesson plans on other communities, including Filipino Americans, Jewish Americans, Arab Americans, Sikh Americans, Armenian Americans and others. School districts can adapt the curriculum to reflect the demographics of their community.
Read the article by Diana Lambert in EdSource 

West Contra Costa taps retirees, others to fill teacher vacancies
According to the district’s spokesperson, Elizabeth Sanders, when the school year started on Aug. 15, the district had 99 unfilled teacher vacancies out of about 1,500 certificated positions. Certificated staff are largely teachers, but include counselors, librarians and instructional coaches.
Read the article by Bay City News in KRON4

Attorney General Bonta: Temecula Valley Unified School District’s forced outing policy is detrimental to the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ students
California Attorney General Rob Bonta has criticized the Murrieta Valley school board’s decision Thursday night, Aug. 10, to approve the notifying of parents if their student is transgender.
“I am deeply disturbed to learn another school district has put at risk the safety and privacy of transgender and gender nonconforming students by adopting a forced outing policy,” Bonta said in the Friday, Aug. 11, statement.
Read the news release from California Attorney General Rob Bonta

Across The Nation

Teacher shortages have gotten worse. Here’s how schools are coping.
Research published Wednesday shows that teacher shortages are worsening in several states, and it was not a pandemic aberration. Instead, it seems to be part of a worrisome trend: Teachers are leaving the classroom at higher rates, and the pool of candidates is not big enough to replace them.
Tuan Nguyen, a Kansas State University education professor, last year set out with two colleagues to collect statewide data on teacher shortages. They counted more than 36,500 vacancies in 37 states and Washington, D.C., for the 2021-2022 school year. Wednesday, they published updated data and found that teacher shortages had grown 35 percent among that group, to more than 49,000 vacancies.
Read the article by Moriah Balingit in The Washington Post

Biden launches ‘Saving on a valuable education’ to ease student loan burden: How to apply
Through the plan, called Saving on A Valuable Education (SAVE), participating borrowers could see their payments cut in half, while some will see their amounts zero out.
Borrowers can begin enrolling at as of Tuesday. Those who participated in the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan, the previous iteration of this option that generally capped payments at 10% of borrowers’ monthly discretionary income, will be automatically enrolled.
Read the article by Alia Wong in USA Today

What happened when an Ohio school district rushed to integrate classrooms
Three years later, data suggested some early success. Shaker’s experience would show both the promise of integrating academic tracks, but also its perils — and the high risks that come when major decisions are implemented without community buy-in.
Would Shaker again be a leader in the quest for racial equity, or a cautionary tale?
Yes, and yes.
Read the article by Laura Meckler in The Washington Post

Five of Little Rock Nine on Arkansas’ attempt to erase Black history
Now five of the Little Rock Nine are speaking out, in the post below, about actions taken by Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) and the state legislature to restrict what students can learn about Black history. The Sanders administration said recently that the state would not give credit for the Advanced Placement African American studies because it violates a state law that bans lessons that “indoctrinate students with ideologies.” The law is similar to those in other Republican-led states that take aim at teaching about race, systemic racism and other issues.
Read the opinion piece by Valerie Straus in The Washington Post

Black history is under attack across US from AP African American Studies to ‘Ruby Bridges
Opportunities such as these to learn a more inclusive version of the country’s history are, after decades of advocacy and activism, becoming more common in the nation’s public schools. And already, they’re being stamped out.
Republican political leaders in all but a few states (44 total) have since 2021 proposed legislation or policies restricting lessons about race and racism in the United States – what many inaccurately decry as a graduate-level framework called “critical race theory.” As of June, 18 states had such laws on the books, according to an Education Week analysis.
Read the article by Alia Wong in USA Today

Plagued by teacher shortages, some states turn to fast-track credentialing
Virginia is just the latest state to turn to for-profit teacher certification companies in an urgent effort to recruit and train more teachers. The states hope the new paths to certification will help ease the shortages, but critics argue those who take the programs are not as well trained as traditionally credentialed teachers and will do a disservice to young students.
States have other options to address the teacher shortage, including lowering standards to try to bring in more recruits.
Read the article by Elaine S. Povich in The74

On Women’s Equality Day, there’s still no gender parity in K-12 schools
Pay discrepancies, glass ceilings, and limited workplace accommodations for pregnancy, breastfeeding, and menopause can all be barriers that female educators face. Some of those barriers are starting to lessen with new federal and state laws, while others remain persistent.
Women’s Equality Day, on Aug. 26, celebrates the suffragette movement of the 19th and 20th centuries and the ongoing work to secure and expand equal rights today. It’s also a moment to reflect on what more needs to be done to achieve gender equality in all facets of society.
Read the opinion piece by Madeline Will in Education Week

Gen Z’s declining college interest persists — even among middle schoolers
A new YPulse report found two in five Gen Z students agreed with the statement: “The pandemic has made me less interested in pursuing higher education.”
Middle school students, generally 11 to 13 years old, not only contribute to the trend but also lead the view that work experience is more valuable.
That attitude has translated into an 8% decline in college enrollment from 2019 to 2022, showing how attending college is no longer a given for Gen Z.
Read the article by Joshua Bay in The74

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