The Oakland Ed Week in Review 5/18/24-5/24/24 

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 |  TRiO Plus provides vital housing support for teachers, Oakland Unity High celebrates first-generation college acceptances and Skyline High increases security after a graduation shooting. Additionally, a nonprofit graduates its first class from a reentry program, OUSD adds security measures, raises $12.5M to close the digital divide, and efforts are made to transform school environments with murals while honoring student excellence and mapping literacy resources.

In the Greater Bay Area |  Robert A. Martinez steps in as acting superintendent for AUSD amid internal trust concerns, a $50 million energy project in Mt. Diablo Unified faces scrutiny over contract handling, and Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High teachers rally for better pay and smaller class sizes. Additionally, children at a San Bruno school are sickened by pepper spray from a nearby jail, a nonprofit holds a backpack drive for low-income students, an Antioch trustee is accused of silencing a colleague in a bullying scandal, Silicon Valley teachers fight for better wages, and ground is being prepared for work at Alameda’s old Lum school.

Throughout the State of California |  Despite improvements in high school graduation rates, Black college enrollment is declining, prompting calls for community support. LAUSD makes timed reading tests optional for transitional kindergarten students after public outcry. Some districts and charters face fines for violating TK requirements due to staffing challenges. Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed cuts to K-12 education face backlash for potentially violating Proposition 98. Additionally, California’s budget deficit revives debates over school funding, Newsom prioritizes electric school buses over preschool for children with disabilities, the teachers union funds attack ads on Newsom, a bill aims to end school gender notification policies, and there are new rules for phys ed during extreme weather after a child’s death.

Across the Nation |  Pennsylvania lawmakers address the Black teacher shortage, the Supreme Court rejects a transgender policies case, and principals face pressure to lead reading instruction reforms. Indiana and Ohio diverge on third-grade retention policies, and a Brooklyn principal is accused of pressuring immigrant students to transfer. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s special education age-out plan is struck down, St. Louis charter school teachers decertify their union, NYC sees a surge in teens using a free therapy platform, and there’s a call for laundry machines in schools for homeless students. A visa program attracts foreign teachers to rural Alaska, and an opinion piece urges parents to challenge teachers unions’ influence on education.

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


East Oakland high school leads way in preparing students for college

What’s happening: Over 75 seniors from Oakland Unity High School celebrate college acceptances, with 97% being first-generation college students, marking a significant achievement for East Oakland.

Why it matters: This success story highlights the transformative impact of education, especially for underrepresented communities, and underscores the importance of support systems in overcoming barriers to college access.

Notable quote: “I’m first generation myself… being an example for younger family members is really motivating on my journey for higher education,” says Mariela Jimenez, Oakland Unity High Valedictorian

By Tori Gaines for KTVU FOX2

Faith Karimi at ABC7 has additional coverage last week on Helms Ategeka, who was accepted to 122 universities with $5.3M in scholarships

Oakland teachers can’t afford to live here. This housing program offers them ‘room to breathe’ 

What’s happening:  TRiO Plus is providing crucial housing support to Oakland teachers like Tyler Cardenas, helping them afford living in the area while pursuing their teaching careers.

Why it matters:  Housing affordability is a significant barrier for Oakland educators, and programs like TRiO Plus are essential in retaining diverse, high-quality teachers who contribute to the stability and success of schools.

Notable quote: “I tell people all the time it allowed me the room to breathe,” says teacher Melanie Turner, highlighting the program’s impact on alleviating financial stress.

By Ashley McBride for The Oaklandside

3 shot after Skyline High School graduation, Oakland police arrest 1

What’s happening:  Three people were injured in a shooting at Skyline High School’s parking lot after a graduation ceremony, leading to an arrest and increased security measures for future events.

Why it matters:  The incident highlights ongoing concerns about violence at school events, prompting urgent reassessment of security protocols and community safety efforts.

Notable quote:  “What happened after Skyline High School’s graduation on Thursday evening was heartbreaking and absolutely unacceptable,” said OUSD Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell.

By Ashley McBride for The Oaklandside

In other Oakland news & happenings…

The Bay Area

Antioch school board appoints Rob Martinez as acting superintendent

What’s happening:  Robert A. Martinez, the human resources director for Antioch Unified School District (AUSD), has been appointed as acting superintendent while the current superintendent, Stephanie Anello, is on medical leave. The appointment was decided by a split 3-2 vote of the school board.

Why it matters:  Martinez’s appointment comes amid internal concerns about district culture and employee trust. The board is considering an external review of district policies and practices to address these issues.

Notable quote:  “There is distrust within our HR system. I know that is hard to hear. But that is why we need to address it,” – Antonio Hernandez, Board President 

By Judith Prieve for Mercury News

How the promise of big energy savings in one Bay Area school district led to a $50 million controversy What’s happening: A $50 million Schneider Electric energy project in Mt. Diablo Unified School District faces scrutiny over allegations of illegal contract handling and stonewalling by district officials.

Why it matters: Potential financial mismanagement threatens taxpayer trust and could have long-term financial implications for school district funding and operations.

Notable quote: “Ever since we brought this up and wanted to investigate, there’s been all this pushback, especially from the superintendent,” GIna Haynes, Oversight Committee Chair, adding “We’re volunteers who are just trying to do oversight. It shouldn’t be this hard.”

by Katie Lauer for Mercury News

West Valley high school teachers fight for higher salaries, smaller class sizes

What’s happening: Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District teachers rally for higher salaries and smaller class sizes amidst delayed contract negotiations dependent on a closely contested parcel tax vote.

Why it matters: Teachers struggle to maintain quality education under financial strain, and the outcome of negotiations will significantly impact teacher retention and classroom conditions.

Notable quote: “We are asking the district to prioritize teacher salaries to retain the quality educators that make our schools essential to the communities we serve,” Jen Young, teachers association president 

By Isha Trived for Mercury News

In other Bay Area news & happenings…

The State of California 

As Black college enrollment lags, study suggests strengthening communities

What’s happening: Despite improvements in high school graduation rates for Black students, college enrollment is declining, prompting calls for community support and systemic changes.

Why it matters: The disparity in college enrollment threatens to widen existing equity gaps and limit opportunities for Black youth, highlighting the need for comprehensive support systems and community engagement to address systemic barriers.

Notable quote: “Access to healthy food is an education issue. Access to affordable housing is an education issue,” – John Jackson, CEO of the Schott Foundation

By Malika Seshadri for Ed Source

LAUSD caves to public outcry: No more timed testing for 4-year-olds

What’s happening: Los Angeles Unified School District has decided to make timed reading tests optional for most transitional kindergarten students after facing pressure from parents and teachers who argued that the test was not suitable for preschool-aged children.

Why it matters: The decision highlights the importance of listening to stakeholders in education and adapting policies to better meet the needs of young learners. It also underscores the value of play-based approaches in early childhood education.

Notable quote: “It feels like my voice matters,” said Lourdes Rojas, a parent of a transitional kindergarten student

By Jenny Golf for The Los Angeles Times

These districts and charters were fined for violating TK requirements

What’s happening:  Transitional kindergarten (TK) expansion in California, aimed to serve all 4-year-olds, faces staffing challenges, risking students’ safety and violating state regulations.  Several California school districts and charter schools have been fined for failing to meet state guidelines 

Why it matters:  Noncompliance with TK requirements results in significant financial penalties, impacting school funding and potentially hindering efforts to provide quality early education.

Notable quote:  “A small variance from the ratio brings about a significant fine,” – Alberto Carvalho, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent 

By Lasherica Thornton for Ed Source

California school funding cut in Gavin Newsom’s budget. Sacramento teachers are pushing back

What’s happening:  California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing backlash, particularly from the California Teachers Association, over proposed cuts to K-12 education in his revised 2024-2025 budget, intended to address a $45 billion deficit.

Why it matters:  Critics argue that these cuts violate Proposition 98, which ensures minimum funding for schools, and could severely impact school district budgets, potentially harming educational programs and student success for years and highlighting systemic issues in education funding and policy enforcement.

Notable quote:  “Prop 98, when it was passed, was meant to be the floor. And when you start having maneuvers that all of a sudden say, ‘the floor is not really the floor,’ what that means for educators and students is untold harm,” said David Goldberg, President of the California Teachers Association.

By Jennah Pendleton for The Sacramento Bee

In other California news & happenings…

Across The Nation

Black teacher shortage worrying Pennsylvania lawmakers 

What’s happening: Pennsylvania lawmakers are addressing concerns about the shortage of Black teachers in the state’s education system. Discussions in a policy committee hearing highlighted the importance of increasing representation of Black educators to better serve Black and brown students.

Why it matters: The shortage of Black teachers can contribute to disparities in educational outcomes for students of color. Increasing diversity among educators not only provides role models for students but also brings diverse perspectives into the classroom, enhancing the learning experience for all students.

Notable quote: “Teaching is a prayer for the future. When we teach well, we’re impacting the trajectory of that student’s grandchild … it’s not just what happens in that classroom during those 180 days — it’s the future,” – Sharif El-Mekki, founder of the Center for Black Educator Development. 

By Anthony Hennen for The Center Square via Chalkboard News

Supreme Court Turns Down Case Challenging School District’s Transgender Policies

What’s happening: The U.S. Supreme Court rejects a case regarding a Maryland school district’s transgender policies, sparking debates on parental rights and gender identity.

Why it matters: The decision highlights national discussions over school gender policies, addressing parental rights and student safety amidst evolving societal norms.

Notable quote: “Schools…adopted policies…require school personnel to hide from parents…the school is assisting their child to transition gender at school.” – Unidentified parents in Parents 1 v. Montgomery County Board of Education.

By Mark Walsh for Ed Week

Principals Have a Lead Role in the ‘Science of Reading.’ Are They Ready?

What’s happening: Principals face pressure to lead reading instruction reforms amidst legislative changes, navigating complexities of evidence-based practices.  This shift requires principals to not only understand the intricacies of evidence-based literacy instruction but also to effectively support their teachers in implementing these new approaches.

Why it matters: Effective leadership is pivotal for successful instructional reform, impacting student learning outcomes and educational equity. However, there is often a gap in understanding the specific needs and responsibilities of principals in leading instructional reform efforts.

Notable quote: “Principals play a crucial role in ensuring evidence-based reading practices translate to student success.”- Emily Freitag, CEO of Instructional Partners

By Olina Banerji for Ed Week

To Hold Back Struggling Readers or Not: Indiana & Ohio Take Different Paths

What’s happening: Indiana and Ohio diverge on third-grade retention policies for struggling readers despite both adopting the science of reading.

Why it matters: These differing approaches highlight contrasting strategies to address literacy challenges, impacting students’ academic trajectories and state education policies.

Notable quote: “About one in five students in Indiana can’t read effectively by the end of third grade… This is not acceptable.” – Indiana State Rep. Linda Rogers.

by Patrick O’Donnell for The 74

Brooklyn high school principal pressured immigrant students to transfer, families and staff say 

What’s happening: Several immigrant students at Cyberarts Studio Academy (CASA) in Brooklyn were pressured to transfer out of the school after failing the English Language Arts Regents exam, despite having passed other exams and accumulated sufficient credits for graduation.

Why it matters: The situation raises concerns about educational equity and the treatment of immigrant students, who often require additional support to pass exams like the ELA Regents. Pressuring students to transfer rather than providing adequate resources and support may exacerbate existing disparities in educational outcomes.

Notable quote: “This is all because they can’t pass their English Regents on time. To push them out … it’s disgraceful,” – CASA Staffer

by Michael Elsen-Rooney for Chalkbeat New York

In other National news & happenings…

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