The Oakland Ed Week in Review 10/14/23-10/20/23

It’s time for 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: Oakland students hold a forum for District 5 school board candidates; the state testing data is in and the results are flat — improvement is stagnant and the same proficiency gaps are not budging; 9 out of 10 school districts across the country are struggling to hire teachers, which makes you wonder who’s not struggling?; plus more news from around The Town, state, and nation. What did we miss? Hit us up in the comments below.  (Photo credit: The East Bay Times) 


OUSD District 5 school board candidates meet young voters for Q&A
The Fremont High event, co-hosted by the Oakland Youth Vote coalition and other student-led organizations, educated youth about the voting system. After a Q&A session with the candidates facilitated by student organizers, attendees asked the candidates about their plans to address mental health issues among students and teachers, youth homelessness, school safety, school lunch quality, school closures and other concerns.
Read the article by Meg Tanaka in Oakland North

Oakland students grill school board candidates at youth-led forum
One student in the audience asked how the candidates would work to avoid future teacher strikes. In the last four years, the Oakland Education Association has gone on strike three times. This year, teachers held a strike for seven days.
Lerma argued that avoiding strikes will require being prudent with the budget to ensure there’s enough money to pay teachers and other staff well, and room for future wage increases. Ritzie-Hernandez likewise said that paying competitive wages and improving working conditions are what will retain teachers and avoid future strikes.
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside

OUSD is staring down tough budget decisions
With declining attendance and enrollment rates, a hefty new contract with teachers, rising costs elsewhere, and county and state officials closely monitoring their every move, district leaders are faced with charting a path forward to not only make ends meet, but achieve a level of financial sustainability that OUSD hasn’t seen in a long time.
To get there, the board will almost certainly need to accept one or more of several controversial cost-saving options like closing or merging schools, reducing funding for school sites, and reorganizing the district’s central office. The board recently began discussing its financial priorities, and has until the end of October to submit a list of budget adjustments to the Alameda County Office of Education.
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside

Controversial rule could make installing solar panels costlier
OUSD began installing solar and battery storage at 16 school sites as part of their Solar Initiative Project in the beginning of the year. This adds to their already existing solar units at several other school sites. The district hopes to achieve “grid neutrality” by 2030, meaning it generates just as much energy from its own solar panels as it consumes from the grid. But if the new CPUC proposal is approved, it could create a significant barrier to that goal. And it might discourage other school districts from doing the same.
Read and listen to the article by Callie Rhoades in The Oaklandside

Bay Area students stage walkouts protesting Israel-Hamas war
The Oakland Unified School District confirmed that three of their schools participated. Students also participated at Berkeley High School. Berkeley High freshman Ella Howard described over 200 students filling Berkeley’s Civic Center Park, a public green space adjacent to the school.
Read the article by Bay City News

The State of California

Flat test scores leave California far behind pre-Covid levels of achievement
There was a slight improvement in math while English language arts declined a smidgeon, and the wide proficiency gap between Black and Latino students and whites and Asians showed little change.
Only 34.6% of students met or exceeded standards on the Smarter Balanced math test in 2023, which is 1.2 percentage points higher than a year ago. In 2019, the year before the pandemic, 39.8% of all students were at grade level. Only 16.9% of Black students, 22.7% of Latino students, and 9.9% of English learners were at grade level in 2023.
Read the article by John Fensterwald and Daniel J. Willis in EdSource

Newsom’s veto enables charters to remain close to the communities they serve
Had this bill passed, charter schools would have faced the unfair burden of increased borrowing rates for facilities in high-needs communities, or it could have even made access to financing untenable. In Oakland specifically, the district Bonta represents, charter schools, unfortunately, do not have access to high-quality, safe and equitable facilities, and require access to these bonds for long-term community investment.
Read the opinion piece by Rich Harrison in EdSource

Bay Area campuses rife with tension over the Israel-Hamas war
It has grown so contentious that two University of California, Berkeley, professors from opposites sides of the conflict felt compelled to plead with students on a campus that was the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement to stop the harassment.
Read the article by Elissa Miolene in The East Bay Times

Credentialing commission could change the way California tests teachers
Thee California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is considering whether the state should continue to use educator assessments customized for the state, adopt assessments given in other states, use a combination of both, or do something else.
Read the article by Kristen Hwang in Cal Matters

Cursive handwriting to be taught in California schools
The new law will require teachers to implement some instruction regarding cursive handwriting from first through sixth grade instead of requiring educators to teach it during a specific grade, according to the law’s text.
Read the article by Iman Palm in KTLA

Official charged with embezzling more than $14 million from California school district
Prosecutors say from August 2022 to July 2023 alone, Contreras embezzled more than $4 million, using the money to pay $1.9 million to American Express, to withdraw $325,000 in cash from ATMs, to transfer more than $130,000 to a person he would later marry and to purchase a BMW SUV.
Read the article by Sean Emery in The East Bay Times

Judge bars California school district from outing transgender students to parents
A San Bernardino Superior Court judge Thursday, Oct. 19, granted a state-requested preliminary injunction that prevents the Chino Valley Unified School District from implementing portions of its parental notification policy.
Read the article by Jordan Darling in The East Bay Times

Across The Nation

‘The Center Still Holds’: In exit interview, charter leader Nina Rees reflects on the shifting politics of school choice
”The education reform debates are no longer as central as they used to be, with the pandemic shifting attention to other priorities. The Democratic and Republican parties are fraying and the opposite ends are getting more airtime, but the reality is that the center still holds. It’s in the center where policy is made.“
Read the article by Linda Jacobson in The 74million

Teacher shortages continue to plague US: 86% of public schools struggle to hire educators
Nearly 9 in 10 public school districts struggled to hire teachers heading into the school year, and many potential hires were deterred by low salaries. The detail is one of many that emerged Tuesday from the National Center for Education Statistics’ monthly survey of public schools. The federal agency, a data-collecting arm of the Education Department, surveyed more than 1,300 K-12 schools in mid-August, providing a glimpse into how the 2023-24 school year is shaping up.
Read the article by Zachary Schermele in USA Today

Scrolls were illegible for 2,000 years. A college student read one with AI.
The text message he received at the party included an image from one of the scrolls. Farritor sat down in a corner to review the picture and uploaded it to his AI program before returning to the party. When he was walking back to his dorm room around 1 a.m., Farritor pulled out his phone from his pocket and was shocked at what he saw. His AI program had detected about a dozen letters from the image.
Read the article by Kyle Melnick in The Washington Post

For children’s books on LGBTQ, race, Scholastic had a solution. Librarians weren’t happy
Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, is separating some books with LGBTQ themes and discussions of race in a special book fair collection, which elementary schools can opt into – or out of.
It’s not going over well.
Read the article by Zachary Schermele in USA Today

What are the most educated cities in the U.S.? Top 100 cities ranked
As a result, the most educated cities in the U.S. are primed to produce more innovation and tax revenue. This attracts companies looking for educated workers, which in turn leads to an even higher concentration of highly educated individuals. So what are the most educated cities in the U.S.?
Read the article by Genevieve Carlton Ph.D., and Veronica Freemanr in Forbes

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