School Closures Are Just the Beginning

By Children Rising
October 27, 2011

Occupy Oakland has taken much of the spotlight off the vote that was cast yesterday concerning our public school system. With five board members approving and two against the proposal, five schools on the closure list will close at the end of this school year. These Oakland public schools are Lakeview, Lazear, Marshall, Maxwell Park and Santa Fe.

Children Rising has a volunteer presence in each of these schools; we have been developing relationships with Lakeview, Lezear and Santa Fe for over five years.
Katy Murphy of The Education Report took notes from the meeting, which can be found here.
Superintendent Tony Smith’s plan for restructuring also includes the expansion (and potential relocation) of Burckhalter and Kaiser elementary schools, the merging of Sobrante Park Elementary and Madison Middle School, and uniting several of the small high schools on the Fremont and Castlemont campuses.

Another piece of the equation to consider is the announcement that ASCEND and Learning Without Limits are going to become charter schools, potentially taking 800 students from the OUSD public system. Through closing and restructuring, the school board hopes to save two million; with two schools going charter, OUSD will lose four million from the state.

It is speculated that ASCEND and Learning Without Limits voted to go charter in order to avoid being next for closure. Unfortunately, both schools are close to Lezear, a fact that could potentially make it more difficult for Lezear students to find nearby schooling options come the 2012-2013 school year.

Champions for Children

By Children Rising
October 20, 2011

Champions for Children is in just nine days away.
Have you signed up yet?

Here is some inside information:
The top fundraiser will get an ipad 2.
There will be a local marimba band to play fun music at the event.
Some students will be diligently walking to raise money so they can go to science camp this year!
There will be lots of goodies just for showing up: magnets, snacks, prize drawings–courtesy of local businesses.
Costumes are definitely welcome–watch out for Grecian runners and other pedestrians in disguise!

Keep checking back for more details and updates!

Growing Hunger in the Bay Area

By Children Rising
October 13, 2011

The New York Times recently published an article about the growing demand for food in Alameda County. The article mentioned the Alameda County Community Food Bank (ACCFB), one of Children Rising’s direct partners: “In September, the Alameda County Community Food Bank received 3,770 calls to its emergency food helpline — the highest volume of calls to date.”

Many schools in Oakland have increased their nutritional programs, and now 90 schools offer free breakfast to all students. Some even allot some class time so that all students can eat together. A handful of after school programs will begin offering dinner to students who stay after school.

The goal is to give students the option of nutritious food–fresh fruit, juice, milk, bread, etc.–so that they can focus in the classroom. Children Rising volunteers help the ACCFB bag weekend food for families so that children will be well-fed and ready to learn on Mondays.

There is no way that a single organization can meet the growing nutritional needs of Oakland’s students and families. Please read the article to learn more about other organizations that are trying to meet the need for free food in Alameda County. Also, please click here to learn how you can be a part of Children Rising’s partnership with the ACCFB.

The Office of School Transformation

By Children Rising
October 6, 2011

With all the commotion about school closures and consolidations, the introduction of “The Office of School Transformation” for the 2011-12012 school year has slipped under my radar.
All public K-8 schools are grouped into three regions. Each region is headed by an executive officer and all the public high schools in Oakland are in a single network with an executive officer as head. The new change for this year is an added Office of School Transformation. The goal of this additional network of schools is to lead the “transformation of the District’s most challenged schools into high quality learning centers.” The network, headed by Matthew Duffy, consists of five middle schools and six high schools that are mostly dispersed throughout East Oakland. All four schools that were named by the state Board of Education as “persistently low-achieving schools” are also in the network. Duffy, a former assistant principal from Harlem, served as principal of Elmhurst Community Prep, a school created from a small-schools initiative.

While I have not been able to find a publicized plan for how the OUSD intends to transform these eleven schools, I will definitely continue to update about this matter. This is a pivotal time for Oakland’s public schools as the district seems to be taking on upper grade schools with the goal of transformation as well as the lower grades with the hope of consolidating resources.

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