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Op-Ed: Oakland Schools Need New Leadership

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By Dan Siegel

 

Oakland desperately needs new leadership on the Board of Education. The current board has failed to demonstrate the leadership necessary to rescue our failing schools and refuses to challenge a district administration that lacks a plan for school improvement. 

 

Even putting aside the debate about charter schools and Oakland’s complicity in privatizing public education, the bottom line for the school district is making sure that all of our children learn – no excuses!

 

In the 2016 tests, only 30 percent of Oakland’s students met or exceeded state standards for proficiency in English, and only 25 percent met the standards in mathematics.

 

The statewide averages were 49 percent in English and 37 percent in mathematics and are rising more rapidly than Oakland’s scores.

 

High school graduation rates are increasing throughout California. Among California students who began high school in 2011-12, 82.3 percent graduated with their class in 2015. For Hispanic/Latino students, the figure was 78.5 percent; for African Americans it was 70.8 percent.

 

Unfortunately, the corresponding percentages for Oakland students are much lower: 63.4 percent overall; 55.9 percent for Hispanics/Latinos; and 60.7 for African Americans.

 

The reasons for Oakland’s failures are complex, and test scores are not the only measure of school quality. Any plan to raise student achievement should begin by implementing proven strategies for creating successful schools:

 

(1) Appoint principals who are educational leaders, “head teachers” who focus on teacher performance as mentors and models – not as disciplinarians, fund-raisers or cheerleaders. A principal needs at least two or three years to have an impact on school performance.

 

(2) Develop strong faculties of teachers who remain at school sites for multiple years, work together at and across grade levels, and create site-specific plans for staff development.

 

District resources must be focused on improving teacher compensation, reducing class sizes, and providing incentives for teachers to remain in high needs schools.

 

(3) Welcome and involve parents as leaders of their school communities.

 

(4) Provide a diverse and challenging curriculum that develops critical thinking skills, is culturally compatible with the student body, and includes arts programming and classroom offerings beyond just the basics.

 

(5) Implement site-specific programs that address students’ life circumstances and social needs, including violence prevention, economic literacy, nutrition programs, mentoring, and counseling.

 

The school board must take the initiative to demand a strategy that lifts all Oakland students by providing a quality community school in every neighborhood.

 

The Oakland Justice Coalition supports four candidates who will work to provide a quality education to every Oakland student:

 

Don Macleay, District 1

 

Kharyshi Wiginton, District 3

 

Mike Hutchinson, District 5

 

Chris Jackson, District 7

 

Dan Siegel is a member of the Oakland Justice Coalition. He is a former member of the Oakland school board and former general counsel for the Oakland Unified School District.

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Activism

Moms 4 Housing Hold Sit-in Demanding County Supervisors Extend Eviction Protections

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms. Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

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Participants in the sit-in, which began Tuesday afternoon, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.
The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

By Post Staff

Moms 4 Housing held a sit-in in the nonviolent civil disobedience tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., to demand that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors uphold their original vote to pass permanent Just Cause eviction protections for the 60,000 tenants living in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County.

The Moms are prepared to hold this sit-in for 60 hours — for the 60,000 tenants who need these protections, which are set to expire.

All formerly unhoused mothers, the Moms are risking arrest to demand that newly elected Supervisor Lena Tam uphold a previous vote for a strong package of permanent tenant protections for renters in the unincorporated areas of Alameda County as the end of the COVID Eviction Moratorium looms.

Participants in the sit-in, are calling on all supporters to come to the 5th floor of 1221 Oak Street or outside the county building immediately to support the protest.

The Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), ACCE and EBHO, along with other local activists, are mobilizing outside of the Alameda County Administration Building to stand in solidarity with Moms 4 Housing, an organization focused on uniting mothers, neighbors, and friends to reclaim housing for the Oakland community from the big banks and real estate speculators.

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Bay Area

Season 15 Winner of America’s Got Talent Set to Teach Class at Delta College

According to Delta College officials, Leake was previously an academic advisor at the college and will now teach Digital Media 31.

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San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif. logo. (Photo courtesy of San Joaquin Delta College)
San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif. logo. (Photo courtesy of San Joaquin Delta College)

By Victoria Franco | Bay City News Foundation

Brandon Leake, the season 15 winner of the reality TV show “America’s Got Talent” and a Stockton native, will begin teaching an evening digital media class next Monday at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton.

Leake debuted on the show in 2020 by reading a poem that was an ode to his sister and was the first and only spoken word poet to win the competition.

According to Delta College officials, Leake was previously an academic advisor at the college and will now teach Digital Media 31.

The class is a media performance class and lab focused on individual speech improvement, through the study and practice of voice control and manipulation, proper breathing and diction.

Students enrolled in the class will complete a digital media portfolio and the class is transferable in the California State University system.

The class will meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. Students wanting to add the class to the schedule can visit their MyDelta portal.

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Activism

Following More Mass Shootings Democrats Introduce Assault Weapons Ban

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9. The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns. President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

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The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans
The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans.

By Stacy M. Brown,NNPA Newswire

Two proposals aimed at curbing the spread of assault rifles were submitted today by Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein of California, and Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

The Assault Weapons Ban seeks to prohibit the commercialization, distribution, production, and importation of assault rifles and other firearms designed for use in military operations, as well as high-capacity magazines and similar devices.

On January 22, a gunman opened fire on a crowd celebrating the Lunar New Year in Monterey Park, California, killing 11 and wounding 9.

The Democrats’ proposed Age 21 Act would make it illegal to sell or buy an assault weapon to anybody under 21, bringing it in line with the legal age for purchasing handguns.

President Joe Biden has publicly stated his support for the legislation.

Biden said that the number of mass shootings declined during the decade that the Assault Weapons Ban was in effect.

“In the 10 years that the Assault Weapons Ban was on the books, mass shootings went down,” Biden remarked.

“After Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled,” he declared.

Both houses of Congress were urged to take quick action by the president.

According to Biden, “the majority of American people agree with this rational measure.”

“There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our children, our communities and our nation,” he insisted.

In the House of Representatives, Rhode Island Democrat David Cicilline said he plans to introduce a companion bill to the Senate’s Assault Weapons Ban.

Feinstein said assault rifles “seem to be the unifying denominator in the seemingly endless number of horrific shootings.”

“Because these firearms were created for maximum efficiency in mass murder,” the senator noted.

“They have no place in our society or educational institutions. It’s time to take a stand against the gun lobby and do something about getting these lethal weapons off the streets, or at the absolute least, out of the hands of our youth.”

Blumenthal added, as the gunman at the Lunar New Year celebration in Monterey Park demonstrated just days ago, assault weapons are designed for one and one purpose only: to murder or hurt human beings.

“These military-style combat weapons – built for the battlefield and designed to maximize death and destruction – have brought bloodshed and carnage to our streets and continue to be the weapon of choice in countless mass shootings,” Blumenthal said.

“Guns don’t respect state boundaries, which is why we need a national solution to restricting the ownership and use of assault weapons. Now is the time to honor gun violence victims and survivors with this commonsense action.”

Rep. Ciciline argued that it is long past due to reinstate an assault weapon ban and remove these “weapons of war” from civilian areas.

The assault weapons prohibition “passed the House last year with bipartisan backing, but was blocked by Senate Republicans,” Ciciline noted.

“We need to come together to enact this commonsense, effective, and proven policy to reduce gun violence and save lives. I thank Senator Feinstein for her partnership in this fight and look forward to introducing the House companion bill in the coming weeks.”

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