The Oakland Ed Week in Review 8/26/23-9/1/23

We’re back with 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. This week, a racist bomb threat is called into Chabot Elementary; Measure QQ could finally be moving ahead, three years after Oakland voters approved lowering the voting age to 16 for school board elections; and there is a big difference with how well parents think their children are performing in reading and math with how they’re actually doing; 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)


Racist emails, bomb threat at Oakland school follow weekend playdate
The bomb threat came in before the start of school, so only 30 students and staff were on campus.
Ausmus said the threat was emailed to the school’s principal.
“I will say that the email had some racial undertones in it. And we’re currently investigating that right now. We have asked the FBI, and they’re going to come in and assist us with this investigation,” Ausmus said.
The police captain would not go into detail about whom the email targeted.
KTVU has learned the school’s principal and a second staffer were targeted by bomb threats. Oakland police also checked their homes.
Read the article by Henry Lee and staff in KTVU

Parents remain concerned as bomb threat investigation continues at Oakland elementary school
The district told NBC Bay Area that around 80 to 90% of student came back. But some parents say they still don’t feel safe bringing their kids back to campus.
Lenore went to her son’s fifth grade class Wednesday in hopes of ease his mind after Tuesday’s threats and evacuation. But she said that despite the school led discussions addressing the issue and increased security, her son ultimately decided to go home.
“He is at that age now where he understands racism, understands what that feels like. So, he didn’t want to stay,” she said.
Read the article by Valena Jones in NBC Bay Area

Oakland youth could vote in school board elections as early as 2024
Three years after Oakland voters approved a measure lowering the voting age to 16 for school board elections, not a single vote has been cast by someone under 18. That could change in 2024, with Alameda County and city officials now moving forward with plans to implement the law.
Ever since Measure QQ passed with the support of two-thirds of voters in 2020, a coalition of youth organizations backing the measure has been pressuring the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to make changes to its electoral system required to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in their district’s school board races, but to no avail. Youth organizers were disappointed when the changes weren’t made for them to vote in the 2022 school board races.
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside

East Oakland school still waiting for OUSD to release money for building fixes
Over the past couple of months, OUSD has been in negotiations with the leadership at Cox and Education for Change over the terms of the lease. But some Cox families and staff believe the district is holding up the process because Cox is a charter school.
“You need to fix the benches on the playground because they are wobbly and someone could break their arm. The ground of our playground breaks when we step on it and it needs to be fixed,” said Carter Ycoy-Walton, a fourth grader at the school, during last week’s school board meeting. “It makes me feel mad and angry that you don’t give us the money to fix our playground.”
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside

Ethnic studies isn’t required until 2025. So why is it already a mainstay at these Bay Area high schools?
The San Francisco and Oakland Unified school districts were the earliest here to adopt the discipline, rolling it out in 2015 and 2016 respectively. It’s already mandated in the state’s largest districts, including Los Angeles, Fresno and San Diego Unified. And from the 2015-16 academic year until the 2018-19 one, the number of students enrolled in ethnic studies courses jumped by 150% statewide.
Read the article by Elissa Miolene in The San Jose Mercury News 

The State of California

Jerry Brown, out of retirement, urges Napa County to approve charter school
Speaking assertively with a touch of combativeness, the long-time charter school supporter told the board that Mayacamas would be good for the families it would serve and Napa Unified, which had rejected the proposal. “Charters and the unified school districts should not be at loggerheads. They should work together,” he said. “This charter, despite the opposition of the school district, is really good for that district. It’ll make them better by the innovations that Mayacamas can undergo.”
“It’s incredible that this enthusiasm to start a new school with all the opposition, all the pressure at this time of widespread disillusionment,” he said, reminding the board that he had started a charter school as mayor of Oakland in the early 2000s on an appeal to the State Board of Education after its rejection by the Oakland Unified school board.
Read the article by John Fensterwald in EdSource

10 California metros among 20 costliest places to raise a child
Here’s the list, with the estimated cost per child per year …
1. Ann Arbor, Michigan ($30,354).
2. San Francisco ($30,062).
3. San Jose ($28,943).
4. Kalamazoo-Portage, Michigan ($28,758).
5. Barnstable, Massachusetts ($28,708).
6. Boston ($28,639).
7. Trenton, New Jersey ($27,395).
8. Santa Cruz ($27,098).
9. Detroit ($26,475).
10. Boulder, Colorado ($26,271).
11. Napa ($25,840).
12. Santa Rosa ($25,673).
13. Ventura County ($25,412).
14. San Diego ($25,138).
15. Los Angeles-Orange County ($24,941).
16. Worcester, Massachusetts ($24,752).
17. New York ($24,723).
18. Santa Maria-Santa Barbara ($24,710).
19. Pittsfield, Massachusetts ($24,595).
20. San Luis Obispo ($24,007).
Read the article in The Los Angeles Daily News

West Contra Costa Unified sees fewer teacher vacancies than start of last year, but still dozens
The district is still short 36 elementary teachers, despite hiring 69 for the 2023-24 school year, according to Johnson’s presentation. The district has 21 teacher vacancies for middle and high schools, despite hiring 57 for the school year.
The district also has 18 special education teacher vacancies this year, Johnson said.
The district is still in great need of paraprofessionals. Johnson’s presentation showed 204 paraprofessional vacancies. The district is contracting with an outside agency to fill those vacancies until the district is able to hire more staff.
Read the article by Ali Tadayon in EdSource

Across The Nation

Many American parents have no idea how their kids are doing in school
Many American parents would be shocked to know where their kids were actually achieving. Nationally, 90% of parents think their children are reading and doing math at or above grade level. In fact, 26% of eighth graders are proficient or above in math and 31% are proficient or above in English, according to Learning Heroes, an organization that collects data and creates resources to improve parent-teacher relationships.
What’s worse, 80% of parents say they are confident they understand how their child is achieving academically, and more than three-quarters say they feel their kids are prepared to enter and succeed at college and in the workplace. They don’t seem to know there’s a problem. Which means they won’t see any reason to try and help, by securing support at school or accessing tutoring services that may be available.
Read the article by Jenny Anderson in Time Magazine 

What you need to know about Biden’s new student loan repayment plan
Chief among them is President Biden’s new income-driven repayment plan — Saving on a Valuable Education plan, commonly known as SAVE — which ties monthly payments to earnings and family size. The White House estimates the plan could save the typical borrower $1,000 a year on payments because it reduces the amount of income used to calculate monthly bills.
So how does it work? Here’s some information that could help you decide whether SAVE is right for you.
Read the article by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel in The Washington Post

After losing their homes, Lahaina parents try to save their school community
Ms. Kohler and many other Lahaina parents believe the focus should be on reopening those campuses and ensuring that they are safe. They do not want their children to ride the bus for 45 minutes each way on a road that they say is often closed because of car accidents or other hazards. Some also doubt the school system’s ability to run buses efficiently.
“As far as the younger kids go, we, as parents, want to keep them real close right now,” Ms. Kohler said. “They’ve been through the fire five years ago, they’ve been through Covid and now they’re going through all of our houses burning down.”
Read the article by Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs in The New York Times

To make progress in reading, we need to monitor it differently
Reading tests claim to measure general skills like making inferences or finding the main idea of a text, using passages on topics students may or may not be familiar with. But research has shown that the more you know about the topic you’re reading about, the better your comprehension. Standardized tests—including those used to determine reading levels—don’t take account of that. And yet these measures are routinely used to guide instruction and determine what individual students are or are not capable of doing.
Read the opinion piece by Natalie Wexler in Forbes

Three views of pandemic learning loss and recovery
ids around the country are still suffering academically from the pandemic. But more than three years after schools shut down, it’s hard to understand exactly how much ground students have lost and which children now need the most attention.
Three new reports offer some insights.  All three were produced by for-profit companies that sell assessments to schools. Unlike annual state tests, these interim assessments are administered at least twice a year and help track student progress, or learning, during the year. These companies may have a business motive in sounding an alarm to sell more of their product, but the reports are produced by well-regarded education statisticians.
Read the article by Jill Barshay in The Hechinger Report

The Christian home-schooler who made ‘parental rights’ a GOP rallying cry
Now, speaking on a confidential conference call to a secretive group of Christian millionaires seeking, in the words of one member, to “take down the education system as we know it today,” Farris made the same points he had made in courtrooms since the 1980s. Public schools were indoctrinating children with a secular worldview that amounted to a godless religion, he said.
The solution: lawsuits alleging that schools’ teachings about gender identity and race are unconstitutional, leading to a Supreme Court decision that would mandate the right of parents to claim billions of tax dollars for private education or home schooling.
Read the article by Emma Brown and Peter Jamison The Washington PostAmerican classrooms need more educators. Can virtual teachers step in to bridge the gap?
Yet, with lots of schools unable to hire certain teachers, virtual instruction in the form of remote educators like Pomeroy has grown in popularity. Students gather in-person and learn from a teacher far away, typically alongside a second adult who helps manage the classroom and handle everything from technological glitches to rowdy behavior.
Read the article by Alia Wong in USA Today

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