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Education

Teachers Union Questions Redesign Plan for Five Schools

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Parents, students and community members are hoping the Oakland Unified School District will provide specifics about the new “redesign” process that will take place this spring at five flatland schools: Fremont, McClymonds and Castlemont High schools, along with Brookside Elementary and Frick Middle schools.

 

The notice was originally sent out to the affected schools on last day of school before the Winter Break in a letter from Superintendent Antwan Wilson announcing a “Call for Quality Schools.”

 

Some school board members are saying they had not heard about the letter until they received calls from the school sites.

 

The teachers’ union, Oakland Education Association (OEA), has put out a statement saying that while it supports the efforts to provide a “quality neighborhood school for all students,” it opposes opening the process to charter school operators.

 

“Public schools need to remain under the jurisdiction of publicly elected and publicly accountable officials—not placed in the hands of self-selected corporate boards,” according to the statement.

 

What is at stake is not the individual motivations or intent of the leaders of the district, said Trish Gorham, OEA president. “What will be put in place at these schools is “something that is going to last far longer than any superintendent or board members,” she said.

 

State law provides for a democratic process whereby a school can become a charter with the majority support of its teachers or parents, Gorham said. “We should not create a fast track that (bypasses) the process that exists in state law.

 

In addition, Fremont, McClymonds and Castlemont have been singled out by the district for disparate treatment she said, The district has just won the Measure N bond, which provides funds to redesign all the high schools.

 

These three schools should receive the same kind of treatment and process for redesign using the new money as the rest of the high schools in the district, Gorham said. .

 

The district has provided no reasons for why these particular schools were selected or what criteria were applied to their selection, according to the union’s statement.

 

In addition, the process bypasses a Board of Education regulation that places significant control “over the school plan in hands of the elected school site council.”

 

The union statement also says the process ignores what is presently happening at the five schools.

 

“There is no recognition that Brookfield has just been through an exhaustive school community based process of re-imagining that is just now being implemented,” the statement said. “There is no recognition that the three high schools selected have just been subject to a three-year, top-down experiment or an evaluation of what has been effective or ineffective in that process.”

 

Finally the union is concerned that this is a “staff driven initiative.” Although Supt. Wilson is asking the school community to “assume good intentions,” the administration’s behavior has alarmed many people, the statement said.

 

“It is difficult to trust good intentions when the notice goes out without having the school board discuss it and immediately prior to a two-week holiday break and hard to understand that there can be no school takeovers when the process is explicitly open to charter school operators,” according to the OEA statement.

Community

Third City Coalition Brings Together Stockton

Third City Coalition is located at 509 E. Main St., Stockton, CA, 95202. Their hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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The Changemakers; Rise Stockton Partners and Climate Leaders. Photo courtesy of Third City Coalition website

In 2016, a group of Stocktonians worked together to create a space that brought locals together in the heart of this “Third City,” or a city of people who live in a community that consists of many different cultures and ideals, to achieve positive civic engagement and change. They called this space “Third City Coalition” with the desire to “drive positive change throughout the city and create spaces for our diverse communities to come together in unity.“ as stated in their website.

Since their opening, they have developed, maintained, and managed a portfolio that focuses on a place-based strategy to increase civic engagement within Stockton. With the idea in mind that people can design communities in different ways that prioritize people and the planet so that the future generations will reap the benefits, they have created a number of civic engagement opportunities for members in the community to participate in.

These opportunities include; Conversations over Cocktails, which is a monthly meetup that involves an eatery, libations, and discussion of urbanist ideas and issues; walking tours referred to as “Jane’s Walks” that are completely free and meant to allow for celebration of neighborhoods; and the Third City Podcast that centers around the concepts and people that enact change and offers ideas and resources that are beneficial to third cities.

Third City Coalition also has programs that are vital to pursuing the goal of civic engagement, which include; Rise Stockton, an independent coalition of partners that focuses on environmental justice; Stockton Urban Revitalization Fellowship (SURF), a program with a youth-driven and -led experiential teaching approach for the next generation of Stockton leaders, and a group of non-profit collaborators of more than 500 members that meet regularly to share resources and relevant information that benefit each other and the communities they serve in San Joaquin County and beyond.

Third City Coalition is located at 509 E. Main St., Stockton, CA, 95202. Their hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. For more information on programs and services, ways to donate, or how to get involved, please contact them by phone at (209) 645-1545. You may also visit their Instagram and Facebook for more up to date information on events and services.

Facts and Information sourced directly from https://thirdcity.co/

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Advances Over $10 Million in Appropriations Spending Bills for California’s 13th District 

Lee successfully fought for this funding to be included through several Appropriations subcommittees, including Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and more.

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Graffiti that reads lets love our community photo courtesy of Mike Erskine via Unsplash

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, celebrated the inclusion of funding for projects across California’s 13th district in this year’s Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) Appropriations Bills.

Lee successfully fought for this funding to be included through several Appropriations subcommittees, including Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and more.

“In order for our nation to build back bolder from this pandemic and economic crisis, we must take this opportunity to strengthen our infrastructure, public health services, and cultural institutions,” said Lee. “I’m proud to have secured critical funding in this year’s FY22 Appropriations bills for housing, public health services, and violence prevention programs in California’s 13th district. It is more important than ever that we make bold investments to support the health and well-being of our community.”

CA-13  Community -Based  Projects:

  • $500,000 – East Bay Performing Arts for music education, City of Oakland, CA
  • $1,250,000 – West Oakland Health Council for facilities and equipment, Alameda County, CA
  • $350,000 – Oakland LGBTQ Community Center for facilities and equipment, City of Oakland, CA
  • $500,000 – Youth ALIVE! and Community & Youth Outreach (CYO), City of Oakland, CA
  • $1,000,000 – Oakland Cultural and Commercial Corridor Recovery Project, City of Oakland, CA
  • $1,230,000 – Oakland Mental Health Resilience Project, City of Oakland, CA
  • $1,000,000 – African American Holistic Resource Center, City of Berkeley, CA
  • $2,000,000 – Affordable Housing Development/Corporation Yard Environmental Clean-Up and Improvements, City of Emeryville, CA
  • $1,500,000 – Veteran’s Court Seawall for construction design, City of Alameda, CA
  • $1,000,000 – Trash Capture Project to install full trash capture devices, City of San Leandro, CA

 Sean Ryan is the communications director for Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s media office

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Education

Popular College Choice for Black Students Survives Lawmaker’s Shutdown Attempt

Although, Calbright survived this year’s Legislative attempt to close it, those who oppose it have not given up. They emphasize that Calbright leaders must deliver on its mission on the timetable provided in the audit report and meet the milestones the Legislature established when the college was created.

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Stock Photo of Man on Computer; Photo Courtesy of Google

When the California Legislature passed the state’s 2021-2022 budget last month, lawmakers voted to defund Calbright College, the only statewide college that is completely digital.

However, after negotiations with Gov. Gavin Newsom, the college’s funding has been reinstated.

But Senate Bill 129, the budget trailer bill Newsom signed on July 12, contains language saying that any legislation passed that eliminates the college would be binding.

Calbright College is California’s 115th community college and it is currently tuition free.

The idea for a community college offering only online programs statewide was the brainchild of former Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr.

He believed increasing online course availability would make college more accessible and affordable for working adults. He envisioned it as another public option for Californians between ages 25 and 34 that would help them improve their work skills and allow them to earn certifications to move into better-paying jobs not requiring a college degree.

African American students are overrepresented in Calbright’s student body. About 23% of its students are Black. At traditional community colleges in the state, African Americans represent just 5.9% of students.

Black students are also overrepresented in the state’s for-profit institutions, where they are 18% of students. These institutions can cost up to nine times more per unit than a community college. Students incur higher debt and student loan default rates are higher. Course completion rates for students across these institutions are some of the lowest.

When the Legislature passed the California Online Community College Act in 2018, Calbright was given seven years — from July 2018 through June 2025 — to build a portfolio of programs and support infrastructure for adult students seeking to improve their job and financial status.  The Act appropriated $100 million in state funds for startup costs, and initially about $20 million annually was allocated for operating expenses.

Currently, Calbright offers four programs at no cost to California residents – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Platform Administration (Sales Force Administrator), Information Technology Support (A+)Cyber security (Security+), and Medical Coding for Professional Services. 

These are competency-based education programs that are self-paced and not constrained by academic calendars like traditional community colleges. Upon completion, students can take an industry recognized exam for a Certificate of Competency that would qualify them for jobs in their field of study.

To Calbright’s supporters, including Brown, Newsom, California Community Colleges (CCC) Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley and the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, the college has the potential to become the public solution to costly, predatory for-profit institutions that target adults and low-income workers and saddles them with excessive student loan debt

Since its inception, Calbright has had detracters. Much of its opposition comes from the community college faculty union. Critics, including many Legislators argue that Calbright programs are duplicative of those offered at traditional community colleges and that the millions of dollars allocated to it would be better used by the state’s underfunded community colleges.

Although Calbright began offering programs in October 2019, by February 2020 its critics requested a legislative audit to assess its progress toward creating online programs, enrolling students, building relationships with employers and collaborating with other community colleges.

The results of the audit, which cost the state over $300,000, were published in May 2021. In the letter accompanying the Calbright audit report, California State Auditor Elaine Howle revealed “It is behind in accomplishing key milestones and must act quickly to demonstrate its ability to achieve its mission.”

She explained, “A primary reason why Calbright’s progress is not on track is that its former executive team failed to develop and execute effective strategies for launching the college.”

Howle also said many Calbright executives left during its first year due to leadership failures.

“Calbright has struggled to adequately enroll the students it was intended to serve, took longer than it should have to develop a student support system, and did not adequately partner with employers in the development of its educational programs,” she added.

But, the audit also pointed out that Calbright’s new leadership has initiated actions to address the deficiencies that were uncovered.

Currently, Calbright offers African American students a tuition-free alternative for gaining new job skills certificates. Unlike students taking courses at for-profit colleges, Calbright students who are unsuccessful in gaining sought-after credentials are not severely financially penalized.

Calbright’s critics have pushed back on Howle’s assessment that “Calbright’s potential value to the State is significant.” They also have failed to acknowledge that their most repeated complaint against the college is disputed in the audit’s finding that “Calbright’s pathways are not duplicative when compared to the other programs we reviewed.”

In February 2021, before the legislative audit report was released, Assembly Bill 1432, an act to make Calbright inoperative at the end of the 2022-23 academic year, was introduced by Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and co-authored by Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside).

On May 6, before the audit report was published, the Assembly passed AB 1432 by unanimous vote (71-0). The bill was sent to the Senate for approval, but the Senate Education Committee decided not to hear it at its July 14 meeting. That killed any chance for the bill to be enacted this year.

No comment was provided by Committee Chair Senator Connie M. Leyva (D – Chino) when California Black Media reached out to find out why the bill was not heard.

According to the budget deal that Newsom accepted, if AB 1432 had been approved by the Senate, Calbright would be closed.

Although, Calbright survived this year’s Legislative attempt to close it, those who oppose it have not given up. They emphasize that Calbright leaders must deliver on its mission on the timetable provided in the audit report and meet the milestones the Legislature established when the college was created.

“We need to see substantial progress for Calbright to earn our trust and show that this has not been a wasteful experiment coming at California taxpayers’ expense,” Low says.

 

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