The Oakland Ed Week in Review 4/20/24-4/26/24 

It’s time for the Oakland Ed Week in Review!  

We’re back with our roundup of education news from around The Town, the Bay Area, state, and nation for your weekend reading. This is a Dirk favorite and one of the last blogs he published for Great School Voices.  

Here’s what’s been going on: 

Here in Oakland |  Young singers from East Oakland shine at the second annual East Oakland Vocal Festival, where over 100 students showcased their talents, aiming to revive choral programs and emphasize the significance of arts education, with founder Keenan Foster emphasizing the transformative power of music in academic success.

In the Greater Bay Area |  Teachers union at Downtown College Prep (DCP) charter school expresses no confidence in CEO due to budget cuts and campus closure, raising concerns about transparency and community engagement, while Vallejo residents appeal ELITE Charter School’s expansion, highlighting the balance between education and community interests in local decision-making.

Throughout the State of California |  California debates substituting Algebra 2 with data science for high school graduation, potentially disadvantaging Black and Latino students, while controversies over literacy instruction in teacher preparation programs and internet subsidy cuts impact education equity and student well-being statewide.

Across the Nation |  Colleges nationwide are contending with FAFSA delays, implementing provisional aid packages or prioritizing accuracy, as an uptick in IDEA special education services sparks discussions on supporting individuals with disabilities. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Supreme Court mulls over the constitutionality of public funds backing religious education. Additionally, K-12 school administrators underscore staffing shortages as a significant hurdle, while political divisions influence varying education policies among states. Despite improvements in school staffing, fiscal apprehensions persist as districts confront potential financial strains.

What did we miss?  Hit us up in the comments below: 


Young singers take center stage in second annual East Oakland Vocal Festival

What Happened: Over 100 East Oakland students participated in the second annual East Oakland Vocal Festival, showcasing their vocal skills.

Why It Matters: The festival aimed to revive choral programs in Oakland schools and highlight the importance of arts education.

Notable Quote:  Keenan Foster, founder of Town Business Inc., said, “Music and the arts have saved my life… I’ve seen how with music, you do better in chemistry and science and reading.”

By Ashley McBride for The Oaklandside

OAKLAND REACH INITIATIVE:  Supporting AB 2222: CA Kids Read

What’s Happening: The Oakland REACH is urging endorsement of a bill requiring evidence-based reading materials and teacher training (CA Kids Read – AB 2222) focused on tackling the state’s early literacy crisis

Why it Matters: The bill aims to mitigate and improve literacy by equipping teachers and students with critical & effective research based tools & resources.

Links: Short Bill ExplainerPolicy BriefPetition.

Department of Modern Languages hosts Hispanic Career Day at local high school

What Happened:  The Department of Modern Languages organized a bilingual Career Day at Pontiac High School to guide English-learning Hispanic students towards various career paths.

Why it Matters:  The event provides career guidance and promotes bilingualism among Hispanic students, fostering inclusivity and enhancing opportunities for their future.

Notable Quote: “We make students aware of the opportunity for them to become bilingual professionals.” – Adolfo Campoy-Cubillo, director of the Spanish program at OU.

By Adrian Jimenez Morales for The Oakland Post

The Bay Area

Unionized teachers at San Jose charter school vote no confidence in CEO over budget slashes and school shutdown

What’s Happening: Teachers union at Downtown College Prep (DCP) charter school voted no confidence in CEO due to budget cuts and closure of a high school campus.

Why it Matters: The decision to close a school due to budget deficit disrupts hundreds of students and teachers, raising concerns about transparency and respect for the affected community.

Notable Quote: SBEU Co-President Sal Williams criticizes the lack of community involvement: “Traditional public schools take…(longer) to close, with a process built in to engage the community…”

By Molly Gibbs for East Bay Times

Vallejo Community Members Appeal Major Use Permit for ELITE Charter School Expansion

What’s Happening: Vallejo residents appeal the approval of ELITE Charter School’s downtown expansion, citing concerns about land use and potential impacts on the community.

Why it Matters: The appeal highlights the delicate balance between educational growth and community interests in local decision-making processes.

Notable Quote: “To characterize these children as criminals before they’ve even graduated from high school, that’s when I had to really take a look and I was kind of lost as to where we were as a city and as a community to where I couldn’t understand how we were viewing these children.” – Tara Beasley-Stansberry, a Planning Commissioner and owner of Noonie’s Place

By Magaly Muñoz for Post News Group

Angela Davis and Black Student Leaders Talk Social Justice at Alameda High School Event

What Happened: Angela Y. Davis engaged with students at Alameda High School, discussing social justice, racism, and activism in a two-hour event hosted by the Black Student Unions.

Why it Matters: The event provided a platform for students to confront racial issues and seek inspiration for social change, fostering dialogue and empowerment within the community.

Notable quote: “Her words not only resonated deeply but also sparked a flame within each of us, igniting a passion for change and a commitment to justice,” Naomi Melak expressed

By Ariana Proehl for KQED

San Jose Enrichment Program Head Arrested for Embezzlement

What’s Happening: The former president of a San Jose elementary school enrichment program is accused of stealing over $400,000 through fraudulent checks.

Why it Matters: The alleged embezzlement is a serious affront to the after-school programs for elementary school students. It also underscores the need for transparent systems that support accountability.

Notable Quote: “San Jose Unified prides itself on the pillars of honesty and integrity and we take any allegations that run counter to those values very seriously,” said the District.

From CBS Bay Area News

Three Bay Area high schools make US News’ top 10 in California

What’s Happening: Three Bay Area high schools (Lowell, Lynbrook, and Owens) rank among the top 10 in California according to U.S. News & World Report.

Why it Matters: The recognition highlights the strong academic performance and college prep opportunities in these Bay Area public schools.

By Phil Mayer for KRON4 News

More related coverage at KTVU FOX2 News

Tempers flare over Silicon Valley school district map

What’s Happening: Tensions escalated during a Silicon Valley school board meeting as trustees finalized the transition from at-large to by-area trustee elections, prompting heated debate over revised district boundaries.

Why it Matters: The decision to shift election methods aims to ensure fair representation and compliance with the California Voting Rights Act, but it sparked controversy among parents concerned about the impact on their communities and schools.

Notable Quote: “My feeling is those board members do not consider regular citizens’ comments actually… They claim (it will) benefit Latinos in northern (Sunnyvale), but how many Latinos (are) there?” – Hui Liu, parent of a Monta Vista High School student.

by Annalise Freimarck for San Jose Spotlight

Antioch community voices concerns about bullying claims against school supervisor

What’s Happening: Public outcry erupts at a school board meeting after bullying claims against a district official surface.

Why it Matters: The community demands accountability and leadership changes due to alleged mishandling of employee bullying complaints.

Notable Quote: Board member Lathan urges the community to “express their concerns and make demands that leadership changes” at the next meeting.

By Pete Suratos for NBC Bay Area News

East San Jose school district money problems may prompt takeover

What’s Happening:  Alum Rock Union School District in East San Jose is facing significant financial challenges, with a projected $20.8 million budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year, prompting concerns about potential county intervention.

Why it Matters:  The district’s financial woes could lead to school closures and other drastic measures, impacting the education and services provided to its roughly 8,000 students.

Notable Quote:  “We, as a district board, get to make some tough decisions in the near future that will not make everyone happy. We cannot keep pushing the hard decisions to another time.” – ARUSD Board President Corina Herrera-Loera

by Lorraine Gabbert for San Jose Spotlight

Delaine Eastin, only woman elected California schools chief, dies, 76

What’s Happening: Delaine Eastin, the only woman to be elected as California’s superintendent of public instruction, passed away at the age of 76. Known for her fierce advocacy for education and progressive values, Eastin served from 1995 to 2003, leaving a lasting impact on the state’s education system.

Why it Matters: Eastin’s tenure was marked by significant reforms and initiatives aimed at improving education quality and accessibility for all students in California. Her dedication and contributions to public education have left a lasting legacy.

Notable Quote: “California lost an icon in our school system today. Delaine was a trailblazer who championed universal preschool, worked to establish statewide standards, and tirelessly advocated for the best education possible for all students.” – State Superintendent Tony Thurmond

By Nanette Asimov for San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial: Bay Area school officials’ shameful tax-election manipulations

What’s Happening: Bay Area school districts schedule special elections for tax measures, aiming for lower voter turnout and using confusing ballot wording.

Why it Matters:  This tactic undermines democratic participation and makes it harder for voters to understand the true cost of the taxes.


New UC Berkeley student housing complex will have Ohlone name

What’s Happening: A new UC Berkeley student housing for graduates will be named xučyun ruwway, the first building named in a local Ohlone language.

Why it Matters: The name honors the Ohlone people and reflects UC Berkeley’s effort to acknowledge the indigenous community and improve its relationship with them.

Notable Quote: “It’s an indication of the university’s desire to move beyond the history of erasure and to celebrate visible and thriving people today,” said Tedde Simon, UC Berkeley’s newly hired director of Tribal Affairs.

By Ally Markovich for Berkeleyside

The State of California 

Opinion: How California’s ‘math wars’ are hurting Black and Latino students

What’s Happening: California debates allowing data science to replace Algebra 2 as a high school graduation requirement.

Why it Matters: The author argues that data science as a substitute hurts Black and Latino students it aims to help and risks becoming known as the “Black and Latino math course” among students, parents and teachers.

Notable Quote: “The system is failing these kids well before they reach high school… Why not give underserved students such resources rather than simply writing them off?” – Norman Matloff

By Norman Matloff for The East Bay Times

Sharp divisions over how California’s aspiring teachers will be taught to teach reading

What’s Happening: Advocates accuse the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and its oversight body of failing to uphold new standards in accrediting Mills College at Northeastern, which emphasizes balanced literacy over explicit phonics instruction.

Why it Matters: The decision raises concerns about the fidelity to evidence-based literacy instruction in teacher preparation programs, impacting the effectiveness of future educators in teaching reading skills to diverse student populations.

Notable Quote: “Clearly, the commission is unwilling to uphold the state’s own curriculum framework… Given that, what chance is there that literacy instruction will ever change, and what chance is there that our children will be successful in learning to read?” – Yolie Flores, president and CEO of Families in Schools.

By John Festerwald for Ed Source

How student voice informs change in a California district

What’s Happening: Santa Ana Unified School District Superintendent Jerry Almendarez initiated student input sessions to inform the creation of a graduate profile, aiming to align district values with community needs.

Why it Matters: Student feedback shifted the focus of the profile rollout from academic to interpersonal skills, emphasizing the importance of feeling heard and seen, particularly for marginalized students.

Notable Quote:”It was appreciated that somebody’s listening, and they got us so excited. We were almost in tears.” –  Jerry Almendarez,  Santa Ana Superintendent

By Roger Riddell for K-12 Dive

California is investing $500M in therapy apps for youth. Advocates fear it won’t pay off.

What’s Happening: California invests $500 million in BrightLife Kids and Soluna apps for youth mental health. Concerns arise over effectiveness and rollout.

Why it Matters: The state aims to tackle rising youth mental health issues, but advocates doubt the apps’ effectiveness and worry about slow adoption.

Notable Quote: “We just don’t see it as fundamental. And we don’t believe the youth mental health crisis will be solved by technology projects built by a professional class who don’t share the lived experience of marginalized communities.” – Alex Briscoe, California Children’s Trust

By Molly Castle Work for KFF Health New

Will less homework stress make California students happier?

What’s Happening:  California Assemblymember Pilar Schiavo proposed a bill that would require schools to develop homework policies focused on student well-being.

Why it Matters:  The bill aims to reduce homework stress and busywork, potentially leading to improvements in student mental health and happiness. The current homework load is linked to feelings of loneliness, disconnection, and exhaustion among students.

Notable Quote:  “This feeling of loneliness and disconnection — I know when my kid is not feeling connected,” Schiavo, a member of the happiness committee, told CalMatters. “It’s when she’s alone in her room (doing homework), not playing with her cousin, not having dinner with her family.” 

By Lynn La for Cal Matters

New California bill pushes for schools to give less homework

What’s Happening: A new California bill proposes limiting homework for elementary school students due to lack of proven benefit.

Why it Matters: The legislation focuses on student well-being and reducing stress, prioritizing family time and mental health.

Notable Quote: Assemblywoman Schiavo states, “We know homework is a top three stressor in kids’ lives. We need to relieve student stress.”

By Amy Larson for KRON4 News

Millions in CA could lose internet access at the end of this month: Here’s who it will impact most

What’s Happening: Millions of low-income households risk losing internet subsidies as the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program expires at the end of April.

Why it Matters:  The program was critical to allowing OUSD students access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Affordable internet access is crucial for education, especially with online learning.

Notable Quote: “A computer, internet access… is just the same kind of tool as having a book… You can’t access your education fully unless you have the ability to get on the internet.” – John Sasaki (OUSD Spokesperson)

By Tim Johns for ABC7 Bay Area News

Despite California’s Investments in Public Preschool, Child Care Challenges Continue

What’s Happening: Despite California’s investment in public preschool, many parents, like I-Ting Quinn, choose private daycare due to limited options and convenience.

Why it matters: While public preschool programs aim to provide quality education, challenges such as limited after-school care and scheduling conflicts persist, impacting working families.

Notable quote: “Ethan is navigating changes at home with a new younger brother and then possibly a new school where he is the youngest,” Quinn said

By Cheyanne Mumphrey for Associated Press via KQED

New California bill requires schools to provide halal, kosher meals

What’s Happening: A new bill proposes California public schools offer halal and kosher meals to students with sufficient demand.

Why it Matters: The initiative aims to promote religious inclusion and ensure students can eat lunch without compromising their beliefs.

Notable Quote: Senator Newman (bill sponsor) states, “Kids shouldn’t have to choose between hunger and adhering to their religious beliefs.”

By Hamza Fahmy for KRON4 News

The Cal Grant expansion for California college students is in jeopardy as the state deficit grows

What’s Happening:  California’s planned expansion of the Cal Grant program, which offers free tuition and financial aid to college students, is in jeopardy due to the state’s growing budget deficit.

Why it Matters:  The Cal Grant expansion would make college more affordable for many low-income students, particularly those attending community colleges. Without the expansion, these students may face a greater financial burden or be deterred from attending college altogether.

Notable Quote:  “We know it will happen, but we are in a budget situation where we need to think about how that is going to happen, but I believe it must start this year,” said Assemblymember David Alvarez. 

By Mikhail Zinshteyn for Cal Matters

Judge rejects changing the name of California’s trans youth ballot measure

What’s Happening: A judge rejects changing the name of a California trans youth ballot measure.

Why it Matters: The decision affects the perception and potential impact of the initiative on transgender students’ rights, with implications for the ongoing legal battles over LGBTQ+ policies in schools.

Notable Quote: “Clearly the judge got it wrong… But the fight for California’s kids goes on.” – Jonathan Zachreson, Protect Kids California leader.

By Carolyn Jones for Cal Matters

Grassroots contributions fueled bid to oust two from Orange County school board

What Happened:  A grassroots movement in Orange County succeeded in recalling two school board members despite opposition from conservative organizations, Republican figures, and business leaders.

Why it Matters: The victory showcases the power of community engagement and small contributions in influencing local politics, especially in contentious issues like education policy.

Notable Quote:  “Clearly, the commission is unwilling to uphold the state’s own curriculum framework… Given that, what chance is there that literacy instruction will ever change, and what chance is there that our children will be successful in learning to read?” – Yolie Flores, president and CEO of Families in Schools.

By Malika Seshadri & Daniel J. Willis for Ed Source

LAUSD Opens Housing Complex to Combat Rising Student Homelessness

What’s Happening: LA Unified School District (LAUSD) recently unveiled Sun King Apartments, a 26-unit housing complex aimed at providing stable housing for homeless families, addressing the escalating issue of student homelessness.

Why it Matters: With student homelessness in LAUSD rising by 19% from the previous year, initiatives like Sun King Apartments are crucial for supporting vulnerable families and ensuring students have stable living environments conducive to learning.

Notable Quote:  “Once we know better, we need to do better… Sun King is evidence that the impossible can be turned into the inevitable,” remarked LAUSD superintendent Alberto Carvalho

By By Katie VanArnam for The 74

Federal review slams California school district’s failures to address sexual abuse complaints by students

What’s Happening: The Redlands Unified School District faces federal scrutiny for mishandling reports of sexual misconduct against students, leading to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Why it matters: The district’s failures to address sexual abuse complaints highlight systemic issues and raise concerns about student safety and Title IX compliance.

Notable quote: “We take the (OCR) findings seriously and are dedicated to continuing to provide safe learning environments for all our students,” said Redlands Unified school board President Alex Vara

By Joe Nelson & Scott Schwebke for Mercury News

State Superintendent Thurmond Makes Historic Push for Results-Proven Training in Literacy, Math as Sponsor of SB 1115

What’s Happening: State Superintendent Thurmond advocates for SB 1115, aiming to provide evidence-backed training for all teachers in reading and math, addressing student outcome disparities.

Why It Matters: SB 1115 seeks to fund training for two-thirds of California’s educator workforce, addressing a critical need for improved literacy and math instruction statewide.

Notable Quote:  “SB 1115 is about ensuring that all children have the opportunity to read by third grade and that all children have a shot at life-changing outcomes.” – State Superintendent Tony Thurmond

California Department of Education Newsroom

Across The Nation

High school athletic director used AI to fake racist recording of principal, police say

What’s Happening: Dazhon Darien, the athletic director of Pikesville High School in Maryland, is arrested for allegedly creating a fake racist audio clip of the school’s principal using artificial intelligence.

Why it matters: The incident disrupted school activities, led to condemnation from the community, and caused online threats against the principal, highlighting the potential misuse of AI technology.

Notable quote: “As a society, we need to get in front of and get a handle on AI because of, unfortunately, situations like this are going to continue to happen,” said Cindy Sexton, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County

By Lilly Price for Mercury News

Percentage of students with autism on the rise

What’s Happening: The prevalence of students with autism in K-12 special education services has risen steadily over the last decade, reaching 13% in 2022-23 from 5% in 2008-09.

Why it Matters: Despite the increase, students with autism are less likely to participate in general education classes compared to other students with disabilities, posing challenges to their inclusion and access to a diverse learning environment.

Notable Quote:  “Autistic people routinely face unnecessary obstacles to securing employment and health care and children face bullying and barriers to education.” – White House statement 

By Kara Arundel For K-12 Dive

REPORT: Exclusionary school maps perpetuate educational redlining

What’s Happening: A report from Available to All reveals how school maps legally discriminate against disadvantaged students, perpetuating educational redlining across the U.S.

Why it Matters: The practice of using address-based enrollment policies restricts access to top-performing schools, particularly affecting minority and lower-income communities, reinforcing systemic inequalities in education.

Notable Quote: Derrell Bradford of Available to All describes the current system as “educational redlining,” 

By Brendan Clarey for Chalkboard News

STUDY: Lengthy school closures were especially hard on high-achieving students

What’s Happening: The World Bank analyzed data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) to understand pandemic-induced learning loss, finding that high-achieving students in countries with lengthy school closures experienced significant setbacks.

Why it Matters: This counterintuitive discovery challenges assumptions about the impact of out-of-school factors on high achievers and underscores the importance of classroom instruction for their academic success, emphasizing the need for quality schooling and advanced education programs.

By Brandon L. Wright for The 74 via LA School Report

OPINION: Schools’ shift from community to competition harms our youth | U.S. education system created in the 19th century to serve the public good now prioritizes and advances private gain

What’s Happening: The U.S. surgeon general declares a youth mental health crisis amidst soaring rates of anxiety, depression, and deaths, citing a shift in public schools from community-oriented institutions to centers of competition.

Why it matters: The transformation of schools prioritizing private gain over community cohesion contributes to increased student stress and social disconnection, impacting mental health and well-being. The authors advocate for a balance between individual achievement and community well-being.

By David Labaree & Deborah Malizia for Mercury News

How Teachers’ Unions Are Involved in the Fight Against Cellphones in Class

What’s Happening: Teachers’ unions across the U.S. are addressing the issue of student cellphone use in classrooms, advocating for policies ranging from restrictions to outright bans.

Why it Matters: Cellphone distractions disrupt learning, prompting unions to negotiate with school districts for clearer policies to enhance classroom management and teacher autonomy.

Notable Quote:  “Teachers are asking the administration to take more control… to be responsive to members and their needs.” – Mike Harris, United Teachers of Wichita

By Madeline Will for Education Week

State Report Gives High Marks to Washington’s Charter School Sector

What’s Happening: A recent report from the State Board of Education highlights the academic success of Washington’s charter school sector, with charter students outperforming or matching their traditional public school counterparts, particularly among minority and low-income groups.

Why it Matters: The findings underscore the positive impact of charter schools on student achievement and equity, with implications for education policy and funding in the state.

Notable Quote: “The single most important thing I saw… improvement in English language arts and math was statistically and meaningfully higher for the charter school students,” remarked Andrew Parr, the report’s author and the State Board of Education’s research director.

By Grace Deng for The 74

2024 high school grads could face nearly $37K in college debt

What’s Happening: High school graduates face uncertainty over college costs as financial aid delays persist, potentially leading to significant student loan debt upon graduation.

Why it matters:  Despite a recent decline in tuition and fee growth, college remains a significant financial burden, with students potentially amassing substantial debt even at public institutions.

By Elizabeth Renter for NerdWallet via KTLA5

What do you think?

More Comments