The Oakland Ed Week in Review 9/30/23-10/6/23

It’s hot as hell, grab a glass of lemonade, find some shade and catch up on this week’s education news! That’s right, the Oakland Ed Week in Review is coming at you once again: 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 profile of District 5 school board candidate and longtime educator and education advocate, Jorge Lerma; a union representing 900 SFUSD workers — custodians, food service and clerical workers — goes on strike; more student debt relief coming from the Biden Administration, bringing the total to $127 million in relieved debt since he took office. (Photo credit: The Oaklandside) 


Meet Jorge Lerma, candidate for Oakland school board
In an interview with The Oaklandside, Lerma spoke about the need to bring innovation to schools, develop academic programs in partnership with the community, and be judicious with the school district budget. Lerma views the diversity of Oakland’s student population as a strength, and he would like to see schools incorporate more culturally relevant curriculum to support them. District 5—which includes Fruitvale and surrounding neighborhoods in East Oakland—has some of the district’s highest-performing schools and some of the lowest, Lerma added, and it is his priority to find out why.
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside

‘People are worn out:’ Oakland teachers call for more mental health support
While school districts and the state have rightfully focused attention and resources on student mental health during the pandemic, teacher well-being has arguably been less of a priority—despite chronic understaffing at many schools, which can lead to educators taking on more work while tasked with getting students back on track academically after months of distance learning. Add the stress of violence on school campuses, and you’ve got a recipe for teacher burnout.
Read the article by Ashley McBride in The Oaklandside

Leaders call on California to block controversial solar power proposal
School board officials in Oakland and state leaders want the state to reject the proposal that they say would spike solar costs on rooftops and parking lots and ultimately take money away from Oakland classrooms.
“It’s baffling that anyone would make solar projects more difficult rather than easier at this very urgent time,” Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) board member Sam Davis said.
Read the article by Velena Jones in NBC Bay Area

Student interns on school district tech repair team fixing pupil chromebooks
Oakland public school student interns will begin fixing or replacing school-issued Chromebooks in need of repair at three high school hubs starting Monday, the Oakland Unified School District said.
Read the article by Bay City News

The State of California

Nearly all SFUSD custodians, food service and clerical workers back strike
Nearly all of SIEU 1021’s members voted Tuesday to strike if their demands for higher pay and administrative support are unmet. The union, representing some 900 SFUSD employees, alleges that the district is violating labor laws and has failed to meet their basic demands despite a ‘frustrating year of negotiations.’
Read the article by Allyson Aleksey in The San Francisco Examiner

More students fill out financial aid applications
About 74% of California’s high school seniors in the class of 2023 completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or the California Dream Act Application (CADAA), up from 68% a year ago, according to the California Student Aid Commission.
Read the article by Michael Burke in EdSource

Beyond crayons and circle time: What California transitional kindergarten needs to succeed
“Quality is top of mind for us. Some districts are treating it like a second year of kindergarten, which we know doesn’t work,” said Benjamin Cottingham, with Policy Analysis for California Education, an independent, nonpartisan research center. “To be effective, TK needs to be a play-based, developmentally appropriate course of study.”
Read the article by Carolyn Jones in Cal Matters

Black special needs students struggle in Sacramento schools. A new plan wants to change that
Hay has lived the experience of so many Black parents of children with special needs in the school district: inconsistent instruction, uneven discipline, roadblocks to services and poor communication between teachers and parents Gregory Peters, the Bay Area schools reform leader and executive director of education equity advocacy San Francisco Coalition of Essential Small Schools seeks to change that.
Read the article by Darrell Smith in The Sacramento Bee

New mental health report highlights changes needed to services in Berkeley schools
In the last few years, young people across the country have begun to struggle more acutely with their mental health, and the problem has been devastating in Berkeley, too. Students are more anxious, more likely to avoid school and be chronically absent, according to the report, a trend that began well before the pandemic and has since worsened.
Read the article by Ally Markovich in Berkeleyside

Pew: California metro areas place high on list for Latinos with advanced degrees
The metro areas of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Riverside all place within the top 10. Texas is the only other state with three metro areas on the list.
Read the article by Andrea Flores in The Los Angeles Times

Across The Nation

New Report: School shootings spawned ‘digital dystopia’ of student surveillance
Reeled in by deceptive, fear-based marketing and an influx of federal cash, school leaders have purchased and pervasively deployed student surveillance tools while failing to consider their detrimental consequences to young people’s civil rights, a new ACLU report concludes.
Read the article by Mark Keierleber in The 74million

Biden announces more student debt relief as payments resume after pandemic pause
The Democratic president’s latest step will help 125,000 borrowers by erasing $9 billion in debt through existing relief programs. In total, 3.6 million borrowers will have had $127 billion in debt wiped out since Biden took office.
Read the article by The Associated Press

Math test scores show some recovery from pandemic learning loss; reading scores stagnant
That’s according to recently released results from more than 20 state tests, encompassing millions of students, compiled by Oster and colleagues. The scores offer among the most comprehensive national snapshots of student learning, pointing to some progress but persistent challenges. With just a handful of exceptions, students in 2023 are less likely to be proficient than in 2019, the year before the pandemic jolted American schools and society.
Read the article by Matt Barnum and Kalyn Belsha in USA Today

Rising inflation worsens the ‘teacher pay penalty’
As inflation rose to 8.1% in 2022 — the highest rate since 1981 — “the buying power of teachers took a big hit, and significant future pay increases will be needed to recoup the large loss,” the report said. EPI’s findings come as other research shows low pay may be driving teachers out of the classroom.
Read the article by Anna Merod in K-12 Dive

After losing 4 students to fentanyl, this district launched an anti-overdose campaign
In the aftermath of Rodriguez’s death, his parents started the Forever 15 Project to spread awareness about the dangers of fentanyl poisoning. They participated in the district’s fentanyl awareness campaign, speaking at district schools about the loss of their son, and the dangers of fentanyl. They offered resources and have been a support for students struggling with addiction.
Read the article by Lauren Santucci in Education Week

Students found a blue crayfish near a pond. It might be a new species.
Two students at a Tennessee university were strolling along a pond earlier this year, looking and listening for frogs for a biology class assignment.
But about 30 minutes into their search, Joe Calloway and Breanna Mathes saw something blue digging through the ground on the edge of the pond. Mathes ran toward the animal and picked it up. It was a crayfish, but its color was unlike anything Calloway and Mathes had seen.
Read the article by Kyle Melnick in The Washington Post

Texas forces changes on Latino and Black parents as Legislature debates school choice
The state of Texas has swept into the Houston school district, seized control of some 85 schools, most of which are majority Latino or Black, homogenized teaching and curriculums, remade some schools’ libraries into discipline and study centers, and removed or reassigned teachers and librarians.
Read the article by Suzanne Gamboa in NBC News

New York schools came back from the brink. Now a new crisis looms.
In the coming months, the mayor has said he may force all city agencies to reduce spending by up to 15 percent, citing the costs of caring for the influx of migrants who have overwhelmed the city’s homeless shelter system. The full cuts would shave some $2 billion from the Education Department’s budget.
The cuts would come as billions in federal pandemic stimulus dollars dry up next year, money that helped schools stave off the full consequences of enrollment declines.
Read the article by Troy Closson in The New York Times

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