The Oakland Ed Week in Review 6/8/24-6/14/24 

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 | North Oakland Community Charter School fights OUSD closure. Oakland students’ proficiency gaps revealed in new report underscore systemic challenges. OUSD reflects on progress despite financial hurdles, focusing on equity and student success.

In the Greater Bay Area | SFUSD exceeds literacy goals for underserved groups, plans district-wide expansion. San Jose Unified criticized for leadership failures impacting student safety and mental health. Budget cuts in Berkeley schools amid enrollment shifts highlight statewide funding challenges. Bay Area counties face $180M loss over property tax dispute, impacting essential services.

Throughout the State of California |  ACLU report labels California third most segregated state for Black students. LAUSD faces backlash for limiting special education services. California mandates ethnic studies amid curriculum clashes over sensitive topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict. Teacher shortage hampers TK and bilingual education goals statewide.

Across the Nation |  Jay-Z’s Roc Nation involvement in PA voucher debate raises ethics concerns. Schools nationwide consider 4-day weeks amid research gaps on equity impacts. Federal judge blocks Biden’s Title IX rule in conservative states, impacting transgender student rights. Jim Crow-era school funding in Mississippi continues to affect Black families’ educational outcomes. States divide over 120 laws reshaping race, sex, and gender education.

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


‘We are not closing’: North Oakland Community Charter School files lawsuit against OUSD

What’s happening: North Oakland Community Charter School (NOCCS) filed a lawsuit against Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to contest the revocation of its charter.  NOCCS has seen improvements in student performance and engagement, with significant community support to prevent its closure.

Why it matters: The lawsuit challenges OUSD’s adherence to the state’s education code, arguing that the school met the academic goals required to remain open.  The case highlights the ongoing tensions between charter schools and public school districts over accountability and renewal processes.

What’s next: NOCCS supporters are raising funds for the legal battle, aiming to keep the school open for its 25th year and beyond.

Notable quote: “We are not closing and we will see you all in the fall for another fantastic year.” – Jimmie Brown, Head of School, NOCCS

By Ashley McBride for The Oaklandside

Oakland Students Find Learning and Classroom Disparities in New Energy Convertors Report

What’s happening: Energy Convertors, partners with GSV, released a report highlighting the gap between Oakland students’ perceived and actual proficiency in English and math. Despite many students believing they are proficient, actual proficiency rates are low, with 75% not receiving adequate feedback from teachers.

Why it matters: The report exposes significant disparities in learning & classroom management, particularly affecting Black and Latinx students in the Oakland Unified School District. Findings emphasize the need for proactive student advocacy & parental involvement to ensure educational success amidst systemic challenges.

What’s next: The report recommends schools incentivize attendance and improve communication between students, parents, and educators to address chronic absenteeism and learning gaps.

Notable quote: “I have high expectations, but it’s because I believe in you, and I know you can do it, and I will help you get there, but I need you to help yourself first.” – Michelle Coleman

By Magaly Muñoz for The Oakland Post | Post News Group

End of Year Letter from OUSD Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell

What’s happening: Oakland Unified School District Supt. Kyla Johnson-Trammell reflects on the district’s progress and accomplishments. Significant progress that were noted include a rise in Linked Learning participation, increased computer science enrollment, and expanded Restorative Justice practices.

Why it matters: Despite financial challenges, OUSD is making strides in transforming education, improving graduation rates, and enhancing student engagement through various initiatives.

What’s next: OUSD will continue implementing the Blueprint for Quality Schools to enhance education quality and sustainability while focusing on equity and community engagement. The district aims to align with its core values of joy, integrity, equity, excellence, & cultural responsiveness, prioritizing student success &inclusivity.

Notable quote: “Our achievements as a District defy the conditions we face every day. We keep proving that we will stop at nothing to prepare our young people for success in college, career and community.” – Kyla Johnson-Trammell

By Kyla Johnson-Trammell for The Oakland Post | Post News Group

In other Oakland news & happenings…

The Bay Area

Source:  SFUSD

REPORT:  SFUSD exceeds literacy rate goal for underserved communities

What’s happening: The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) reports success in improving literacy rates among African American and Pacific Islander first grade students through its “Each and Every by Name” initiative. The program includes personalized support, professional development for teachers, and the use of educational technology. SFUSD surpassed its goal, with 52% of the targeted students meeting or exceeding grade-level proficiency as of May 2024.

Why it matters:  This achievement highlights the potential of targeted, data-driven interventions to improve educational outcomes for underserved communities and suggests a model that other districts might follow.

What’s next: SFUSD plans to scale these best practices district-wide and implement a new Language Arts core curriculum for grades PK-8 in the 2024-25 school year, the first update in over a decade.

Notable quote: “By creating a systematic approach with targeted resources that include using data to drive instruction, high-dosage tutoring, and central office teams working together to support this initiative, we will scale these learned best practices district-wide in the coming year.” – Tamitrice Rice-Mitchell, SFUSD Associate Superintendent of Schools.

By Hamza Fahmy fort KRON 4 News

Report: San Jose Unified School District ‘adrift’ amid poor leadership

What’s happening: The San Jose Unified School District is facing criticism from a Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury report, which describes the district’s leadership as “adrift.” The report highlights various issues including high staff turnover, inadequate student mental health services, inconsistent safety protocols, and ineffective management practices. The report identifies six main areas of concern, ranging from personnel issues to safety planning deficiencies and accessibility of board meetings. It criticizes the district for a lack of transparency and effective governance,noting disparities compared to other districts in the region.

Why it matters: The findings of the Civil Grand Jury raise significant concerns about the district’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities to students and the community. Issues such as leadership instability and safety protocol inconsistencies directly impact the quality of education and the well-being of students and staff. This situation underscores broader challenges in educational leadership and governance within public school districts. The criticisms highlight the need for improved oversight, transparency, and responsiveness to community concerns.

What’s next: San Jose Unified has 90 days to respond formally to the report. Superintendent Nancy Albarrán has expressed disagreement with the report’s findings, describing them as misleading and inaccurate. Notable quote: “The system of checks and balances between the trustees and district leaders of the San Jose Unified School District is broken and negatively impacting SJUSD’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities to serve students, teachers, administrators, and the community.” – Excerpt from the Civil Grand Jury report.

By Molly Gibbs for Mercury News Group

Berkeley school board cuts nearly $8M from budget as California schools brace for less state funding

What’s happening: The Berkeley school board has approved a $214 million budget, which includes nearly $8 million in cuts due to anticipated reductions in state education funding.

 The cuts follow a trend of reduced enrollment in recent years, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite a slight projected increase in enrollment for the next school year, funding will be lower because schools will no longer benefit from pre-pandemic enrollment numbers averaged into state funding calculations.

Why it matters: The budget cuts will result in layoffs and the freezing of positions, impacting various staff roles such as those in the Office of Family Engagement and Equity, campus aides, and instructional assistants. This is significant as it reflects broader financial challenges faced by school districts due to declining enrollment and reduced state funding.

What’s next: The Berkeley school district will need to monitor state budget developments and may have to revise its budget within 45 days if there are changes in state funding figures.

Notable quote: “We are in a cutting season. We unfortunately don’t have any fat to trim anymore.” – Ka’Dijah Brown, vice president of the Berkeley school board.

By Annie Sciacca for Berkeleyside

Why Some Bay Area Counties May Lose Millions Over an Obscure Legal Fight With the State 

What’s happening: Five Bay Area counties (San Francisco, Marin, San Mateo, Napa, and Santa Clara) could lose a collective $180 million annually due to a legal dispute with the state over property tax revenue allocation. The dispute centers around the calculation of funds for the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF). The state claims the counties are miscalculating by excluding charter school students from attendance counts, affecting how much excess property tax revenue they can retain.

Why it matters: The potential loss would significantly impact county budgets and their ability to fund essential services, such as public health and safety.  The issue dates back to Proposition 98, which mandates funding for K-14 schools through state and local property taxes. The inclusion of charter schools in ERAF calculations has been a contentious issue, with counties arguing it violates previous legal agreements and constitutional amendments.

What’s next: The governor’s budget proposal includes charter schools in the ERAF calculations, which could remove the excess revenue from county budgets. State lawmakers must vote on the budget by June 15.

Notable quote: “There should be no more grab of local government money, and that’s why we’re urging the legislature to reject this.” – James Williams, Santa Clara County Executive.

By Brian Krans for KQED

In other Bay Area news & happenings…

The State of California 

REPORT: More Segregated Than Deep South: ACLU Report on Calif. Public Schools

What’s happening: The ACLU California Action released the 2024 State of Black Education: Report Card, revealing that California is the third most segregated state for Black students. Factors contributing to segregation include parents choosing private schools or homeschooling. Legal decisions in the 1990s ended federal desegregation orders in major California cities, and the state lacks a current school integration policy.

Why it matters: The report highlights significant racial segregation in California public schools, which contradicts the common perception that the state is less segregated than those in the Deep South. This segregation has broad implications for educational equality and access. Despite the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling that deemed racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, subsequent court decisions and a lack of proactive integration policies have perpetuated segregation in California schools.

Notable quote: “For every state in the Deep South, California (schools) are more segregated.” – Amir Whitaker, ACLU Southern California policy counsel and report co-author.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌ for California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media‌ via The Oakland Post | Post News Group

Parents of children with special needs charge LAUSD limiting services, holding back information

What’s happening: Parents of special needs children in LAUSD accuse the district of restricting services and withholding information, sparking controversy over the treatment and resources available to students with disabilities. Members of the CAC claim LAUSD has reduced communication and transparency, leaving families feeling marginalized and struggling to access essential services for their children. LAUSD declined to address specific allegations, directing inquiries to the Office of ADA compliance and their special education plan amid heightened scrutiny over past neglect and subsequent compensatory efforts.

Why it matters: LAUSD’s alleged attempts to remove advocates from the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and reports of inadequate special education services highlight ongoing challenges faced by families navigating the system. Advocates argue that recent incidents reflect broader issues of resource limitations and bureaucratic hurdles, forcing parents to resort to legal action and public records requests to secure necessary support for their children.

Notable quote: “I think that especially under superintendent (Alberto) Carvalho, they are cracking down on attempts to empower families to ask for what they want,” – Ariel Harman-Holmes, CAC chair and parent of a special needs child.

By Katie VanArnam for LA School Report

California-mandated ethnic studies sparks curriculum clash

What’s happening: California public schools will be required to offer a full-year course in ethnic studies starting in the 2025-26 school year, and by 2030, students won’t be able to graduate without it. This mandate has led to conflicts over the curriculum, with debates focusing on how to approach sensitive topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict.  The state approved a “model curriculum” for ethnic studies after five years and four drafts, but districts aren’t required to follow it exactly as long as their curriculums don’t promote bias or discrimination. The main contention is between “liberated” ethnic studies, which focus on power structures and colonialism, and “constructive” ethnic studies, which are seen as less political.

Why it matters: The introduction of ethnic studies aims to educate students on the history of race and ethnicity in the U.S. However, the curriculum’s content has sparked controversy, particularly regarding its treatment of Jewish and Palestinian issues, leading to lawsuits and heated debates in school districts. 

Notable quote: “Ethnic studies is good and it’s healthy and it’s the right thing for our students to be learning. They should just be learning it in the way that the legislators intended, which is in this positive empowering way to learn about each other and to confront racism and discrimination.” – Elina Kaplan, co-founder of the Alliance for Constructive Ethnic Studies.

By Molly Gibbs for East Bay Times

California Teacher Shortage Hinders Transitional Kindergarten and Bilingual Education Goals

What’s happening: California faces a teacher shortage that is hindering its goals for expanding transitional kindergarten (TK) and bilingual education. Nearly 60% of children in California live in homes where a language other than English is spoken. Dual language learners benefit significantly from bilingual programs, but finding qualified bilingual teachers remains a challenge.

Why it matters: The shortage impacts the state’s ability to provide quality early education and dual-language programs, crucial for the development of young children, especially dual language learners. The teacher shortage is part of a broader issue affecting all grades and is exacerbated by lower pay and part-day positions. Efforts to attract teachers from private and nonprofit child care settings are ongoing.

What’s next: California is investing in initiatives to recruit and train more teachers, including $25 million for dual-language classrooms and additional funds for early educators in TK.

Notable quote: “We need an opportunity to show you that our students’ reading scores are increasing, math scores are increasing, and that there’s change.” – Tina Harambe, community school manager for OUSD.

By Daisy Nguyen for KQED News

In related Transitional Kindergarten coverage:   

In other California news & happenings…

Across The Nation

Jay-Z’s organization’s involvement in Pennsylvania’s school voucher debate raises ethics questions

What’s happening: Jay-Z’s Team Roc hosts “dine and learn” events in Philly endorsing PASS vouchers for students to exit failing public schools.  Despite initial denial, Roc Nation registers as a lobbyist amid scrutiny for indirect communication tactics. Transparency demands grow over Roc Nation’s funding and expenditures in the voucher debate.

Why it matters: Ethics are questioned as Jay-Z’s Roc Nation blurs activism with lobbying for PA Senate Bill 757.  Philly families face a divisive choice: state-backed vouchers promising school choice or a struggling public education system.

Notable quote: “Vouchers deepen divides,” warns City Council member Kendra Brooks, opposing the PASS program’s impact on equity in education.

By Carly Sitrin & Azia Ross for Chalkbeat News

As Districts Weigh 4-Day Weeks, Research Overlooks Their Most Pressing Questions

What’s happening: School districts nationwide are considering four-day school weeks, but crucial questions remain unanswered by existing research. Research gaps include limited insights on how diverse districts manage the fifth day and the broader community impacts.

Why it matters: Lack of data on racial equity impacts and activities on the fifth day hinders informed decision-making on adopting shortened weeks. Most studies focus on rural, majority-white districts, leaving urban and diverse districts without tailored insights into the potential benefits and drawbacks.

What’s next: As interest grows, educators seek comprehensive data on academic outcomes, community effects, and equity implications before implementing new schedules.

Notable quote: “If no one’s reporting this [data], then we can’t unpack those questions,” highlights the critical need for inclusive research from Sean Grant of the University of Oregon.

By Evie Blad for EdWeek

Federal judge blocks Title IX rule in 4 states

What’s happening: A federal judge has halted Biden’s Title IX rule protecting LGBTQ+ students in Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Idaho due to ongoing legal challenges.  Conservative states argue the new rule exceeds federal authority and violates Title IX, setting up a legal clash over gender identity protections.

Why it matters: The injunction could impact policies on transgender rights in schools, such as bathroom access and preferred pronoun use, amid conflicting state and federal laws.

What’s next: Schools face uncertainty in adopting Title IX changes by August, risking funding conflicts between state laws and federal mandates on LGBTQ+ inclusivity.  Legal setbacks in multiple states challenge the Education Department’s efforts to enforce broader protections for LGBTQ+ students under Title IX.

Notable quote: “The Final Rule prohibits recipients from enacting common-sense rules… allowing a student to announce what gender they are,” – Judge Doughty.

By Naaz Modan for K-12 Dive

Jim Crow-Era School Funding Hurt Black Families for Generations, Research Shows

What’s happening: Jim Crow-era school funding policies in Mississippi continue to impact Black families’ educational outcomes and income levels today. Mississippi’s “equalization fund” allocated less state aid to Black schools, perpetuating racial disparities in education and income well beyond legal desegregation.

Why it matters: Research reveals how discriminatory school finance laws have long-lasting effects on generational wealth and educational opportunities for Black Americans. Racism embedded in school finance policies underscores ongoing challenges in achieving educational equity for Black communities nationwide.

Notable quote: “Each race has arrived to access something that is appropriate for their race,” highlighting the enduring influence of discriminatory policies, – Esther Cyna, historian 

By Mark Lieberman for EdWeek

Which states are restricting, or requiring, lessons on race, sex and gender

What’s happening: States across the U.S. are implementing over 120 laws and policies reshaping education on race, racism, sexual orientation, and gender identity, impacting a significant majority of K-12 students. These laws affect about three-fourths of all young Americans, with implications ranging from mandating inclusive histories to limiting discussions on race and gender identity in classrooms.

Why it matters: Blue states are expanding curricula to include diverse histories like Black and LGBTQ+ contributions, while red states are restricting teachings on systemic racism and LGBTQ+ topics, aiming to control what students learn about America’s past and social issues. The Washington Post’s tracking highlights a stark divide in educational priorities between states, reflecting broader cultural and political debates over historical narratives and social justice in schools. 

What’s next: Ongoing legislative actions continue to shape how educators can teach these sensitive topics, setting up potential legal battles over free speech and educational standards across the country.

By Hannah Natanson, Lauren Tierney, Clara Ence Morse for The Washington Post

In other National news & happenings…

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