School Closures Coming to a Close?

By Children Rising
March 22, 2012

It has been a long school year for Oakland with the Occupiers making the New York Times while the OUSD board members met quietly to draw plans to close and consolidate five public schools.
The board stated that additional schools would close, in accordance with their 3-year downsizing plan. Now, this month, the board has stated that those five schools ( Lakeview, Lazear, Maxwell Park, Marshall and Santa Fe Elementary) will be the only schools that will close as a part of the budget overhaul.
After all the back-and-forth: There will be no more planned school closures.
Now the district can concentrate its energy on the schools that are closing and the myriad of issues that will result in teachers, students and staff looking for an open school.

In other news, Michael Krasny’s KQED program “Forum” was at Castlemont High School today. In a two-hour long program, he focused on California’s unacceptable dropout rate. In the first half of the show, Krasny interviews various people from within the Castlemont campus. In the second half of the show, there are interviews with people who are more familiar with the outside workings of the system: Superintended Tony Smith, the president of the California State Board of Education.
Stay tuned for when the show will be released as public audio files here and here.

An Ever-Widening Chasm

By Children Rising
March 15, 2012

Ipads are still in the news as the enter classrooms.

While some Bay Area schools are receiving money from bonds or parent contributions to purchase this hot technology, schools in Oakland are struggling to get textbooks to all their students. Many computers are becoming obsolete as many Oakland schools (especially middle through high school) do not have the budget for repairs or new technology.

In her article about the widening technology gap, Tammerlin Drummond also explores the growing financial disparity between schools that have a lot of district and parent support and schools that have very little.
Technology is a very visible marker of the difference between the haves and have-nots. Also hinted at within the article are disparities in teacher and staff stability, classroom order, and parent involvement.

The “widening gap,” then, is not just about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer in a financial sense. It is a systematic issue where the advanced have more access to advantage and those without fall further behind.

Yet another reason to follow technology: it serves as an indication–though imperfect and incredibly trendy–of where schools are heading.

Charter School Update

By Children Rising
March 9, 2012

You may have heard this already: ASCEND and Learning Without Limits–two schools that applied to become charter schools in the fall–had their proposals rejected by the OUSD board. What you might not have heard is that the schools might become a hybrid of a charter district school in what is known as a “partnership” school.

As a partnership school, ASCEND and Learning Without Limits would be able to receive public and private funding among a host of other agreement struck between the OUSD board and these two schools.
Please take a look at this article to read a bit more about the preliminary discourse.

The board met with school officials this Wednesday, and the schools decided to become charter schools in a partnership with the Oakland district. This would minimize the financial blow for OUSD, and it would also allow the schools much more freedom than they have within the district.
Also, after two years, the schools will be called to evaluate the option of re-joining the district.
Read Katy Murphy’s article for more information about the meeting’s results.

Science Season Camp is Here!

By Children Rising
March 1, 2012

Ruby Bridges Elementary School is currently in the middle of their Science Camp as I type! The 5th-graders will go to the Mission Springs Conference Center, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where they will take nature walks, participate in team-building activities, join the banana slug club, and learn more about the biological sciences.
With Science Horizons, 5th-graders at Ruby Bridges, Prescott, Esperanza, Grass Valley, and Laurel elementary schools have been learning about various parts of the ecosystem, including food chains, climate and energy cycles. In the following days at Mission Springs, these classroom lessons will come to life for these students as naturalists lead  them in hands-on lessons. Throughout the school year, students have also been fundraising so that their classes can go on this wonderful experience.

If you would like to make a donation to help off set the costs of the science camps, please visit here.

I'm Interested in Volunteering and would like more information