How many schools does Oakland need?

UPDATE: This event has been postponed. I’ll post about it again when it gets rescheduled.

Here’s a fascinating looking event for those of you with an interest in education issues.

From the always wonderful Great Oakland Public Schools:

Did you know that just over half of Oakland’s school-age children attend Oakland public schools?

Over the past 10 years, the number of school-age children in Oakland has increased, OUSD enrollment has declined significantly (although it increased this year!), 30 charters have opened, and private school enrollment has nearly doubled.

OUSD has enough school buildings to serve 68,000 students. It currently enrolls 38,000.

OUSD is making hard decisions right now. How many public schools does Oakland Unified need? Where? How many students should our district aim to serve? What data and values should we use to make these decisions?

Join GO Public Schools and MK Think
Thursday, January 27, 2011
5:30 to 8:00 pm
Jack London Aquatic Center, 115 Embarcadero

a community convening for Oaklanders to access, understand, and discuss OUSD demographic, facilities, and enrollment data (PDF), and to offer feedback to the Regional Assets Task Force which will make recommendations to the Board of Education by June 2011 about how to “right-size” the district.

I don’t think I’ll be able to make it to this one, but I’d love it if anyone who does attend reports back about what they thought in the comments.

15 thoughts on “How many schools does Oakland need?

  1. Hangston Giles

    If, as you indicate, the number of students willing to subject themselves to Oakland Schools has dropped by 50%, then you should immediately close half the Oakland schools and institute a comensurate reduction in the OUSD administrative staff.

    One of the first schools to be closed should be the Lakeview School. Surrounding a schoolyard full of kids with freeway lanes does not make a whole lot of sense.


  2. ralph

    Will try to make the meeting, but I think I have somewhere else to be next Thursday. I did not see any discussion that addressed future TOD plans.

  3. livegreen

    Not all OUSD staffing is commensurate to buildings. Much of it is commensurate to students (ie. a building of 3/4 the size of another but with the same # of students does not have 3/4 of the staffing). However I agree, there would be significant cost savings. The problem is nobody wants to do that because of the headlines with p-o’d families…

  4. len raphael

    Listened to the talk from the head of Manzanita charter school.

    Can someone put their stats in perspective? Seems like they did amazing well in math? And have 12% of their 240 kids special ed.

    Listened but the ed lingo was pretty thick, so other than points about working closely with families, I’m not sure what they do that explains their success.

    -len raphael, temescal

  5. oakie

    Do you mean how many bad schools does Oakland need? If they are going to close any middle schools, I nominate Claremont MS. It is the scourge of Rockridge, and no sensible person in the neighborhood would even consider putting their own child in it. The sooner they close it, the sooner the neighborhood will improve. Especially the level of enjoyment of our library on weekday afternoons.

  6. len raphael

    LG, that thread of comments was an intense summary of the education war. Useful links to data too.

    Could just be the forum, but are most of the participants in the struggle for changing OUSD either OEA activists, OUSD admins, or the board members of GOS?

    Are the active parents taking sides, or just thinking locally and trying to do what they can for their own kids schools thru PTA’s?


  7. len raphael

    Seeming like Claremont is a poster child for OUSD snatching failure from the jaws of success. Over the last 20 years it had brief periods of improvement followed by more decline.

    Have the impression that the principal has kept her job by reining in the kids from disrupting College Ave, but educational mediocrity and chaos reigns within.

    -len raphael, temescal

  8. Livegreen

    Len, re the post on Kate Murphy’s education blog, I said dichotomy, but distinction would probably better describe it. There’s a liberal “equity” based Administration & Board, and the teachers union is still at war with them.

    Of course where they differ is on pay, administrative costs, and charters.

    Re activist parents, most activism is inside the schools. It is very dynamic. Outside, not so much…

  9. Livegreen

    Claremont is still a problem? There was a big discussion about this on ABO about 2 years ago, so I’m surprised. I thought they hired some security-mentor company to get things to settle down.

    I think a big part of it is once u have out-of-control kids it takes years for them to graduate. In the meantime kids from all the great feeder schools they have r going to Edna Brewer, Montera or leaving OUSD.

    But given the location and feeder schools, I can’t believe OUSD can’t do anything about Claremont. They’re probably ignoring it because it’s in an upper middle class to wealthy area, not in the flatlands.

  10. V Smoothe Post author

    FYI, I got an e-mail from GO Public Schools saying that this event has been postponed. I’ll post about it again when it gets rescheduled.

  11. Parent of Two

    Dear Smoothe,

    You are usually a critical thinker, yet you pushing Go Public’s PR without questioning or even acknowledging their agenda?

    Are they grass roots or astroturf?

    Do you know?

    They’re teaming up with Toni to say they “represent the parents and public” and they have big funding and an agenda?

    Parents haven’t the time to sort out the facts, we need you and the rest of the press, to do more than push PR. Help us out here, Go Public has big money and big plans, we need you to keep them honest.

  12. ralph

    I am sure V can speak for herself, but she has stated many times that she is not an education beat reporter. There are other outlets. And what is the harm in posting a GOPS announcment. I am on the GOPS list and could have just as easily have announced this in open forum.

    Isn’t it a parents responsibility to sort out the facts? If not, I am glad you are allowing us non-parents to rule the day. Maybe I will school up a city of little mes reading The Chocolate Wars, adhering to strict dress codes (jacket and ties for boys, dresses, skirts, and dress slacks for girls), and no radio.

  13. Parent of Two

    Here’s my concern and here’s why I hoped V would take a more critical look.

    On any “public” issue I get concerned when an instant robustly foundation funded and staffed “non–profit” comes in and starts strategically chasing public bond money quietly leading the discussion on school reform.

    The bond business is big news and I count on blogs for lobbyist and other snark alerts alerts.

    Even if education isn’t V’s beat; bonds and how they are marketed to the public should be.

  14. len raphael

    Parent, for sure there’s always been plenty of money in dem dar bond offerings for adding public college facilities and assumedly local school district facilities.

    but it’s a stretch unless you can show otherwise, even a possible connection, between Go Public and what, bond underwriting fees?

    I never followed the logic that Eli Broad and Bill Gates were playing gods in public education in order to make a buck. Playing god has it’s own satisfactions, but making money in privatizing public k-12 seems to have been abandoned several years ago by the companies that were so prominent in the field.

    Or is that what you want V to analyze?

    Isn’t it just possible that Broad and Gates just wanted to do something socially useful with their bucks?

    You wouldn’t assume Gates is trying to corner the market on condoms just because his foundation fights AIDS in Africa, would you?