The Oakland Ed Week in Review 11/11/23-11/17/23

Welcome back to Oakland Ed Week in Review! This is our weekly roundup of education news from around The Town, state and nation, a Dirk favorite and one of the last blogs he published for Great School Voices. We have a rich edition for you this week, with lots of news from around The Town, the state and the nation: a scary kidnapping scam and protestors shut down the school board meeting in Oakland; students, educators and officials grapple with the Israel-Palestine conflict on campuses across the state (and country); Biden’s new student loan forgiveness plan survives a Republican challenge. Plus a lot, lot more. What did we miss? Hit us up in the comments below. (Photo credit: The Oakland Post) 


Kidnapping phone scams target Oakland school families: Here’s what you need to know
(District spokesperson John) Sasaki says the family, who got the call this week, immediately called the school and learned that their child was safe. The school then notified the district, which alerted the police.
He says there are no patterns of targeting any one school or geographic location in the city. But that it has been mostly elementary school families.
Read the article by Anser Hassan in ABC7

School board president shuts down meeting trying to silence Gaza ceasefire protesters
The Oakland Education Association passed a non-binding resolution Monday night demanding “freedom for Palestine,” a ceasefire and “Israeli de-escalation,” which some fear could lead to more antisemitism at Oakland schools.
The vote – on the heels of similar controversial messages on social media last weekend that causes a massive rift in the community – came after a meeting that lasted about two and a half hours and left most of the Jewish teachers very upset. 
Read the article by Ken Epstein in The Oakland Post

Students at Oakland middle school consume candy that may have contained illicit drugs
A Westlake Middle School student in Oakland is believed to have given their classmates candy that possibly had illicit drugs in it on Monday, the Oakland Unified School District said.
The district said most of those who ate the candy bar only had a “small portion,” but one student ate enough of it that they later reported feeling sick.
Read the article by Jose Fabian in CBA Bay Area

Queer candidate will seek Oakland school board seat in 2024
Acknowledging she is facing a likely insurmountable deficit in winning her special election for a vacant Oakland school board seat, queer education advocate Sasha Ritzie-Hernandez announced Wednesday that she will seek to be elected to it in 2024.
Ritzie-Hernandez remains in second place in the race for the District 5 seat on the governing body for the Oakland Unified School District. She has trailed since election night behind retired educator and principal Jorge Lerma.
Read the article by Matthew S. Bajko in the Bay Area Reporter

The blurred lines of school policing
In 2020, the Black Organizing Project put forth The George Floyd Resolution, a community driven and Black-led resolution that would eliminate Oakland Unified School District’s internal police department.
Read the article and photo slideshow in The Oregonian

The State of California

‘Free Palestine’ is not hate speech, California superintendent says after student’s suspension
The Newport-Mesa Unified School District does not consider the phrase “Free Palestine” to be hate speech, Superintendent Wesley Smith said Tuesday.
Smith, during the Nov. 14 school board meeting, addressed the suspension of a Corona del Mar Middle and High School student, allegedly for saying remarks deemed to be threatening, such as “Free Palestine,” to a classmate, according to social media posts circulating last week.
Read the article by Hanna King in The East Bay Times

California joins small, growing number of states requiring K-12 media literacy
The law will require the state’s Instructional Quality Commission to slowly roll out a curriculum framework on the topic after Jan. 1, 2024, while considering how to incorporate media literacy content into English language arts, math, science, history and social science lessons.
Read the article by Anna Merod in K-12Dive

Grief, fear, and hopes for peace: California college students describe campus climates during Israel-Palestine conflict
Over the past five weeks, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has sparked vigils, sit-ins, walkouts, protests and counter-protests at college campuses throughout California. At some campuses, emotions are high and students are divided — some even experiencing violence, hate speech and fear. Meanwhile, at other campuses, students are gathering to grieve and learn in more peaceful ways.
At CalMatters, student reporters in the College Journalism Network fellowship program have filed the following dispatches about the climates at their campuses.
Read the article by CalMatters student reporters

California cracking down on universities failing to reunite Native American remains with tribes
Four years after Governor Gavin Newsom offered an apology for the state’s historic treatment of Native Americans, Assemblymember James Ramos, who is a Native American, is calling out California universities that are failing to return those remains.
“The Cal State University system has failed to return almost 700,000 Native American remains,” Ramos said in a news conference.
Read the article by Steve Large in CBS Sacramento

UC needs more time to study potential hiring of undocumented students
The University of California needs more time to study whether it can move forward with allowing the hiring of undocumented students for campus jobs, system President Michael Drake said during Thursday’s meeting of the board of regents. Drake’s comments were disappointing to undocumented students who hoped UC would decide this month to begin permitting the hiring.
Read the article by Michael Burke in EdSource

L.A. schools settle with student barred from promoting plant-based milk
Gov. Gavin Newsom last month signed Assembly Bill 873, which requires the state to add media literacy to curriculum frameworks for English language arts, science, math and history-social studies, rolling out gradually beginning next year. Instead of a stand-alone class, the topic will be woven into existing classes and lessons throughout the school year.
“I’ve seen the impact that misinformation has had in the real world — how it affects the way people vote, whether they accept the outcomes of elections, try to overthrow our democracy,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Marc Berman, a Democrat from Menlo Park. “This is about making sure our young people have the skills they need to navigate this landscape.”
Read the article by Laura Reiley in The Washington Post

Across The Nation

Republicans tried to squash Biden’s new student loan repayment plan. They failed.
The Democrat-controlled Senate voted mostly along party lines in a 49-50 vote to stave off the latest challenge to Biden’s new income-driven payback option known as “Saving on A Valuable Education,” or SAVE. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, who is openly flirting with a presidential bid after saying he won’t seek reelection, was the only Democrat to vote with the GOP.
Read the article by Zachary Schermele in USA Today

First Civil Rights data since COVID reveals racial divide in advanced classes
About 2.9 million high school students took at least one Advanced Placement course in the 2020-21 school year, according to the latest federal data measuring access to educational opportunity. But Black and Latino students were significantly underrepresented in those college-level math and science courses.
And schools in which at least 75% of students are Black and Latino offer fewer math, science and computer science courses than those with a low-minority population.
Read the article by Linda Jacobson in The74million

Students’ grades may not signal actual achievement, study cautions
The findings provide fuel for concerns that the pandemic led to grade inflation, which misleads parents about just how much their kids have learned. Such concerns come as districts around the country offer tutoring to students—often on a voluntary basis—to help recover from interrupted learning. Parents may not see the need to pursue those interventions if their students’ grades don’t accurately reflect their stalled academic performance, said authors of the analysis.
Read the article by Evie Blad in Education Week

Fall college data shows big gains — and jarring freshmen declines
Despite undergraduate enrollment gains for the first time since the pandemic began, a new report shows jarring declines among traditional freshmen.
Overall college enrollment surged by 2.1 percent in fall 2023 compared to last year’s decrease of 0.9 percent, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
ReadListen to the article by Joshua Bay in The74million

Student school board members want a seat at the table, not just a pat on the back
For senior Ben Kolendo, the frustration started when members of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, school board voted to limit his ability to participate in meetings as a student representative, a position he’s held since his freshman year.
Read the article by Evie Blad in Education Week

As high school exit exams disappear across the US, are American grads ready for college?
The pattern caps off a years-long trend that has only accelerated since the pandemic forced many schools to reevaluate their relationships with high-stakes testing. It represents another controversial ripple effect of the pandemic on the lives of American students, specifically on standardized exams, which have long been criticized for being disproportionately beneficial to more affluent, white families.
Yet the fresh questions about how to fairly measure student achievement are swirling at a time when students and their parents report feeling increasingly underprepared for college.
Read the article by Zachary Schermele in USA Today

What’s latest on student loan forgiveness plan? One huge question looms for Biden’s panel
The Education Department on Monday released a student debt relief proposal that would target four categories of borrowers: those with federal student loan balances that exceed the original borrowed amount; those with loans that entered into repayment 25 years ago or more; those with loans for career training programs that led to “unreasonable debt loads or provided insufficient earnings”; and those who are eligible for forgiveness under other repayment plans but have not applied for it.
Read the article by Alia Wong and Zachary Schermele in USA Today

It’s time to choose a public kindergarten for our daughter. Here’s how we decided where to apply.
No longer was this decision hypothetical, now that we had actual kids, with unique personalities, strengths, and challenges. No one knows your kids better than you do, and where you choose to send them to school is one of the most personal decisions you’ll ever make. We’d make the right decision, wouldn’t we?
Read the opinion piece by Matt Impink in Chalkbeat

Column: What kind of terrible parent pays their child to get an A? (Well, me)
Two weeks ago, I had a brainstorm: money. Couldn’t hurt, right? So I texted her: “I will give you 20 bucks if you get a B. [Smiley face emoji]”
“OMG,” she replied. “40 for an A!”
I admit: As a parent, this was not my finest hour.
Also, I was pretty sure she’d never get an A.
Read the opinion piece by Robin Acbarian in The Los Angeles Times

What do you think?

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