The Oakland Ed Week in Review 5/11/24-5/17/24 

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 |  California Attorney General orders Neighbors Together Oakland to cease operations for illegal fundraising. Community schools face budget uncertainties despite providing essential services. Oakland electrifies its bus fleet for sustainability. Helms Atekega’s college acceptances showcase immigrant student potential. The Oaklandside seeks nominations for youth leaders.

In the Greater Bay Area |  Gilroy Prep pioneers student-led Squads model, showing promise in academics. Alameda County offers an affordable teacher credential program to tackle East Bay’s teacher shortage. Contra Costa County teachers settle contract dispute. Santa Clara County faces challenges in improving internet access.

Throughout the State of California |  California bill for “science of reading” curriculum dies amid teacher union opposition. Teachers union campaigns against Gov. Newsom’s budget, fearing school funding cuts. California approves $1.3 billion for community schools, signaling commitment to holistic education. Public school enrollment declines, but transitional kindergarten sees growth. Dasia Taylor’s science fair success inspires STEAM education.

Across the Nation |  Persistent school options disparity for Black families post-Brown v. Board. Study reveals rising segregation in large districts due to policy shifts favoring school choice. Efforts intensify to tackle chronic absenteeism, stressing community collaboration.

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


California attorney general orders nonprofit Neighbors Together Oakland to cease ‘all operations’

What’s happening: California Attorney General Rob Bonta has issued a cease-and-desist order to Neighbors Together Oakland for illegally soliciting donations without registering as a nonprofit.

Why it matters: The order underscores the importance of regulatory compliance for nonprofit organizations to ensure transparency and accountability in their operations.

Notable quote: “The only way that the attorney general can monitor that you’re using your assets for public good is for you to register,” said Rose Chan Loui, executive director of UCLA’s Lowell Milken Center on Philanthropy and Nonprofits.

By Natalie Orenstein for The Oaklandside

These California schools connect kids to community services. Will they survive budget cuts?

What’s happening:  California’s community school initiative, funded with $4.1 billion, offers medical care, counseling, and other services to students and families.

Why it matters:  Amid potential budget cuts, the fate of community schools hangs in the balance, risking essential services that support student well-being and academic success.

Notable quote:  “The community school money has provided services to students who otherwise would not have them,”… “simple as that” – Pamela Moy, Oakland High School Principal 

By Carolyn Jones for Cal Matters

Oakland School District to fully electrify bus fleet

What’s happening: The Oakland Unified School District is becoming the first major U.S. school district to fully electrify its bus fleet using Zum’s electric buses and vehicle-to-grid technology.

Why it matters: This transition will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and provide additional energy to the power grid, benefiting both student health and community resilience.

Notable quote: “Providing our students with cleaner and quieter transportation on electric school buses will be a game changer ensuring they have an equitable and stronger chance of success in the classroom.” – Kim Raney, Executive Director of Transportation at Oakland Unified School District.

By Chris Randall for electrive

Oakland senior accepted to 120 colleges after immigrating from Uganda

What’s happening: Oakland high school senior Helms Atekega, who emigrated from Uganda five years ago, has been accepted into 122 colleges and will major in music at UC Berkeley.

Why it matters: Atekega’s achievement highlights the potential of immigrant students and the importance of support systems in navigating and succeeding in higher education.

Notable quote: “Keeping your head up, going for it, prevailing and not letting all the noise get to you,” – Helms Atekega 

By Amber Lee for KTVU Fox 2 News and additional coverage by Velena Jones for NBC Bay Area News

Know an Oakland youth leader making positive change? The Oaklandside wants to spotlight them

What’s happening: The Oaklandside is seeking nominations to spotlight Oakland youth leaders who are making a positive impact in their schools and communities.  Click here for link to submit a nomination form.

By Ashley McBride for The Oaklandside

In other Oakland news & happenings…

The Bay Area

At one Bay Area middle school, students teach each other. Is this new model the future of education?

What’s happening:  Gilroy Prep Middle School is pioneering the Squads model, where students teach each other under teacher supervision. Gilroy Prep has higher test scores and fewer absent students than nearby schools, but experts caution against pinning this success on the teaching method.

Why it matters:  This innovative approach fosters collaboration, interpersonal skills, and may improve academic performance, yet warrants cautious scrutiny for long-term effectiveness.

Notable quote:  “It takes the best attributes of all of them and combines them. I think it’s the future — plain and simple.” – Jeremiah Williams

By Luis Melecio Zambrano for East Bay News

Want to teach? New Alameda County partnership will help prospective educators earn a credential for as little as $42 a month

What’s happening: The Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) has partnered with Reach University to offer an affordable teacher credential program, addressing the severe teacher shortage in the East Bay.

Why it matters: The program aims to remove barriers to teacher certification, fostering a diverse and inclusive teacher pipeline, which is crucial given the region’s acute teacher vacancies impacting students’ education rights.

Notable quote: “This is the first step in a longer partnership vision to build what school districts have been crying out for – an inclusive teacher talent pipeline throughout the county.” – Alysse Castro, Alameda County Superintendent.

By Molly Gibbs for East Bay Times

In other Bay Area news & happenings…

The State of California 

Bill to mandate ‘science of reading’ in California classrooms dies before reaching legislature

What’s happening:  A bill aimed at improving child literacy rates in California by mandating the “science of reading” curriculum has failed to advance in the legislature due to opposition from the state teachers union and English learner groups.

Why it matters:  The bill’s failure underscores ongoing debates about the most effective methods for teaching reading and addressing literacy challenges, particularly among vulnerable student populations.

Notable quote: “What we need is to make sure that we are not adopting a too-limited approach or too-narrow approach and really think about it broadly.” – Pedro Noguera, Dean of USC’s Education School

by Angelina Hicks for LA School Report

Teachers say Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget would “wreak havoc” on school funding

What’s happening: California’s largest teachers union is launching a campaign against Governor Newsom’s budget plan, claiming it will devastate school funding despite Newsom’s assurances of shielding schools from immediate cuts.

Why it matters: The union warns Newsom’s accounting maneuver, aimed at balancing the budget, could cost school districts nearly $12 billion in the future, potentially leading to severe financial and operational repercussions for schools.

Notable quote: “We will not stand by and let this happen. When you have clear violations of the Constitution, often you go to legal remedies.” – David Goldberg, President of the California Teachers Association.

by Associated Press via CBS13 News

California Approves $1.3 Billion to Restructure Community Schools

What’s happening:   California allocates $1.3 billion for community schools, offering students support beyond academics with resources like counseling & summer programs. The state is developing the initiative as part of the California Community Schools Partnership Program (CCSPP), a ten-year plan that promotes equity and quality education for students in California. 

Why it matters:  The initiative aims to enhance student well-being and academic performance, signaling a commitment to holistic education and equity.

Notable quote:  “California is transforming education to make schools a place where every family and student can succeed.” – Governor Gavin Newsom

By California Black Media for The Oakland Post | Post News Group 

California public school enrollment drops again, but transitional kindergarten is up

What’s happening:  California’s public school enrollment sees a slight decline, but transitional kindergarten (TK) enrollment doubles, signaling a positive trend for early education.

Why it matters:  While overall enrollment dips, the surge in TK enrollment indicates growing recognition of the importance of early childhood education and readiness.

Notable quote:  “I am very grateful to see this exciting outlook for our earliest learners.” – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond

By Jenny Gold for Los Angeles Times

Dasia Taylor: A Girl’s Powerful Success Story Is Inspiring the Next Wave of STEAM Leaders

What’s happening:  Dasia Taylor, once uninterested in science, becomes a high school science fair champion with her innovative medical suture project.

Why it matters:  Taylor’s journey from humanities-focused student to science fair success exemplifies the power of curiosity and determination in STEAM education and equity work.

Notable quote:  “My life’s work is helping kids embrace their inner nerd and just be their authentic selves.” – Dasia Taylor

By Tamara Shiloh for The Oakland Post | Post News Group

In other California news & happenings…

Across The Nation

Some Black families find school options lacking decades after Brown v. Board

What’s happening: Decades after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling, Black families are still struggling to find schools that balance academic opportunities with an inclusive environment for their children.

Why it matters: Despite legal desegregation, schools remain deeply divided along racial and socioeconomic lines, forcing Black families to choose between academic quality and cultural support, highlighting persistent inequities in the education system.

Notable quote: “Segregation is abolished, sure, but our schools are still deeply divided along racial and socioeconomic lines. It makes you think: It’s been 70 years but was it worth it?” – Denita Dorsey, a concerned mother.

By Cheyanne Mumphrey, Kimberlee Kruesi for The Associated Press via NBC News

Study finds segregation increasing in large districts — and school choice is a factor

What’s happening:  A recent study reveals that school segregation has been on the rise over the past three decades, particularly within large school districts that serve a significant portion of students of color. This increase in segregation is attributed to the decline of court oversight mandating integrated schools and the implementation of policies favoring school choice.

Why it matters: The findings of this research underscore ongoing concerns about educational equity and highlight the need for reevaluation of policies to address increasing segregation in schools, especially within large districts serving diverse student populations.

Notable quote: “Although school segregation is much lower than 60 years ago, both racial and economic segregation are increasing. Those increases appear to be the direct result of educational policy and legal decisions. They are not the inevitable result of demographic changes — and can be changed by alternative policy choices.” –  Sean Reardon of Stanford University and Ann Owens of the University of Southern California

By Erica Meltzer for Chalkbeat

‘It’s cool to be in school’: Educators stress the importance of attendance

What’s happening:  Educators and officials convene to address chronic absenteeism, emphasizing community collaboration and student support strategies.

Why it matters:  Efforts to combat absenteeism are crucial for student success, requiring systemic changes and holistic approaches involving families, communities, and schools.

Notable quote:  “These whys — they matter.” – U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona

By Kara Arundel for K-12 Dive

In other National news & happenings…

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