The Oakland Ed Week in Review 9/2/23-9/8/23

Greetings, and welcome to 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: an on-campus shooting at Skyline High; Steph Curry surprises students at an East Oakland school and announces he’s raising $50 million for Oakland schools; one-third of California students are chronically absent – what are policymakers doing about this?; and another pandemic-related setback: college students are also struggling with basic math; 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)


High school in Oakland to remain closed day after shooting
Officers responded to the school on Skyline Boulevard in the Oakland hills and did not find any shooting victims, but detained people believed to be connected to the shooting and also recovered a firearm, according to police.
“I am grateful that I can tell you everyone on campus is safe and no one was injured,” said Kyla Johnson-Trammell, Superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District.
Read the article by Bay City News in NBC Bay Area

Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s foundation to raise $50 million for Oakland schools
Stephen and Ayesha Curry’s Eat.Learn.Play Foundation has committed to raising $50 million over the next three years to support Oakland Unified School District students, the couple announced Wednesday.
Surrounded by students during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Lockwood STEAM Academy, the Currys unveiled a brand new jungle gym at the East Oakland school—the sixth Oakland campus this year where the foundation has upgraded an outdoor playspace. As students enjoyed their new play area, Stephen Curry signed caps and t-shirts, and took a few shots on the new basketball court.
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside

570 California schools targeted for low vaccination rates
More than half of Oakland Unified’s 48 elementary schools and eight of its schools serving seventh graders are on the audit list for 2022-23. This includes Markham Elementary where 65% of the 66 kindergarten students were not fully vaccinated last school year. The school had the highest percentage of kindergartners in California’s traditional public schools — with over 20 students — who were not fully vaccinated.
Of the 27 Oakland Unified elementary schools on the list, more than 20% of kindergarten students in a dozen schools did not have all the required vaccinations last school year.
Read the article by Diana Lambert, Daniel J. Willis and Yuxuan Xie in EdSource

Oakland’s Castlemont High football players head to LA; some board flight for 1st time
“I’m kind of scared,” Trevaughn Bailey, a Castlemont High football player said early Wednesday morning at Oakland International Airport. “I’ve never been on a plane. I’ve never been in Southern California. I’m excited though.”
He was one of 25 student athletes on the Castlemont Knights football team who traveled to SoCal to face Susan Miller Dorsey Senior High in Los Angeles for what’s being called the “Oakland – Los Angeles Neighborhood Football Classic.”
Read the article by Sharon Song and Greg Grinsell in KTVU 

The State of California

Soaring chronic absenteeism in California schools is at ‘pivotal moment’
In 2021-22, 30% of students in California’s public schools were chronically absent, an all-time high and more than three times the pre-pandemic rate. Advocates fear that unless schools can reverse the trend, so many students will fall behind that they may never catch up.
“This is a crisis, and it’s not going to change until we do everything we can to get kids back in school 100%,” said Heather Hough, director of Policy Analysis for California Education. “What we all fear is that this will become the new normal.… It is hard to overstate the importance of this issue, and it is absolutely a pivotal moment.”
Read the article by Carolyn Jones in CalMatters

Judge blocks Chino Valley policy mandating schools notify parents if students are transgender
A San Bernardino County Superior Court judge on Wednesday ruled the Chino Valley Unified School District must hold off on enforcing its new policy requiring that schools notify parents if students indicate they identify as transgender or gender-nonconforming.
Read the article by Priscella Vega and Hannah Wiley  in The Los Angeles Times

This California school district will pay you to become a teacher. Here’s how it works
Applications for the program opened Jan. 24, and will close next week, Sept. 15. The onus of the program is to recruit former school district students who are pursuing a career in education, using money as an incentive to lure them back to Natomas. The greater statewide initiative also targets retired educators — to get them back in the classroom — to help California battle its teacher shortage.
Read the article by Jacqueline Pinedo in The Sacramento Bee

Across The Nation

College students are still struggling with basic math. Professors blame the pandemic
Colleges across the country are grappling with the same problem as academic setbacks from the pandemic follow students to campus. At many universities, engineering and biology majors are struggling to grasp fractions and exponents. More students are being placed into pre-college math, starting a semester or more behind for their majors, even if they get credit for the lower-level classes.
Colleges largely blame the disruptions of the pandemic, which had an outsize impact on math. Reading scores on the national test known as NAEP plummeted, but math scores fell further, by margins not seen in decades of testing. Other studies find that recovery has been slow.
Read the article by Collin Binkley in The Associated Press 

‘Praying that my health holds out’: Many senior citizens expect to die with college loan debts
The number of people age 60 and older who still have student loan debt has sextupled since 2004, and the amount they owe is up 19-fold, the think tank New America reports; there are now 3.5 million of them, who collectively owe more than $125 billion in student loans.
Read the article by Jon Marcus in The Hechinger Report

We can fight learning loss only with accountability and action
The country is in desperate need of leaders who will speak the truth about what’s happening in our K-12 schools and are willing to make the hard choices to fix it. Simply put: We need to bring some tough love back to American education.
A former New York mayor, Michael Bloomberg, put it well recently when he wrote, “This is a five-alarm fire, but most elected officials aren’t responding or even discussing it. There is no plan from Washington, no joint session of Congress, no Oval Office address. What’s a presidential bully pulpit for, if not this?”
Read the opinion piece by Michael J. Petrilli  in The New York Times

Ban or embrace? Colleges wrestle with A.I.-generated admissions essays.
The personal essay has long been a staple of the application process at elite colleges, not to mention a bane for generations of high school students. Admissions officers have often employed applicants’ essays as a lens into their unique character, pluck, potential and ability to handle adversity. As a result, some former students say they felt tremendous pressure to develop, or at least concoct, a singular personal writing voice.
But new A.I. tools threaten to recast the college application essay as a kind of generic cake mix, which high school students may simply lard or spice up to reflect their own tastes, interests and experiences — casting doubt on the legitimacy of applicants’ writing samples as authentic, individualized admissions yardsticks.
Read the article by Natasha Singer in The New York Times

A few schools mandated masks. Conservatives hit back hard.
In Maryland this week, an elementary school principal mandated several days of mask-wearing for a class of kindergartners after at least four people tested positive for the virus. New York’s governor announced a plan to distribute free N95 and KN95 masks to schools this fall, although the state is not requiring their use. And in Alabama, a junior high school in Sumter County declared in late August that mask-wearing would begin again for everyone — students, staff and visitors.
Even though these campuses are the exception, as few schools require masks, lawmakers and presidential candidates have seized on the issue. A group of Senate Republicans unveiled legislation this week to prohibit federal mask mandates on domestic air travel, public transit and public schools through the end of 2024. On Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) shared a warning in response to the Maryland elementary school action: “If you want to voluntarily wear a mask, fine, but leave our kids the hell alone.” (The school, Rosemary Hills in Silver Spring, boosted security and kept recess indoors because of online backlash earlier the same day.)
Read the article by Hannah Natanson, Fenit Nirappil and Maegan Vazquez in The Washington Post

New effort aims to revamp calculus to keep students in science, technology, engineering fields
Math professor Martin Weissman is rethinking how his university teaches calculus. Over the summer, the professor from the University of California at Santa Cruz spent a week at Harvard to learn how to redesign some of the math courses his institution offers related to life sciences. Right now, they are part of a “leaky pipeline,” Weissman said. Thousands of students go through these courses, he adds, but a lot of them don’t graduate with degrees in those fields.
Read the article by Daniel Mollenkamp in USA Today

4 million have enrolled in Biden’s new student loan repayment plan
A majority of those borrowers have been automatically switched to the Saving on a Valuable Education plan — commonly known as Save — because they were enrolled in an older plan it is replacing, according to the department. Still, the federal agency said it has received nearly 1 million applications for the program since the soft launch of the online form July 30. The department has touted the plan on social media, through a network of advocacy groups, and by direct outreach to nearly 30 million borrowers.
Read the article by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel in The Washington Post

Arizona schools chief cancels $70M in COVID funding to set up tutoring program
State schools chief Tom Horne is canceling millions of dollars in contracts funded by COVID-19 aid that his Democratic predecessor awarded to Arizona education programs in order to funnel the money into a new tutoring program for struggling students. But the tutoring will help only about 10% of the students who are falling behind academically.
Read the article by Gloria Gomez in The74million

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