Saturday, March 01, 2008

Oakland Unified School District
Oakland Under Serving Devoted Citizens
Notification about the School Assignments for 2008/09

A friend told us tonight that his son didn't get into their number 1 choice for public school in Oakland for kindergarten next year. Instead they were assigned to the crappy under-performing - but surprisingly not categorized as failing - school closest to their over-priced home. My heart was wrenched and went out to him and his family, remembering my own depression-enducing travails with OUSD last year doing the same with our daughter. The notification letters were to be mailed out before or at the latest by tomorrow - March 1st - so I excpect to hear more and hopefully read something in our local paper regarding our school district. It all makes you wonder.

1. Is the Middle Class already dead? Our children will not take one, but maybe 2 steps down from us.

2. What's wrong with California and Oakland? We pay half a million dollars for old houses on a potentially devastating earthquake fault in order to then send our children to schools were 30% or less of the students can read at or even near grade level?

3. What does it take to turn a school district around?

4. We live in the home of the free and brave, talking about equality but is it all just blowing smoke? For what we experience in our school district is a supposed "lottery" that isn't even that in name, and in which those with good home value don't have to worry about anything. If our city is really about solidarity, equality and improvement - if the district is really about "upsetting the status quo to in order to provide a high quality of education for every student" (OUSD annual report)....then where the hell is the beef?

5. How transparent is this whole school assignment options process? It seems often more like smoke and mirrors than an authentic process. If it's not a lottery they shouldn't describe it as such. At least then people would know if they can afford to move to a good school neighborhood in advance, or expect to be screwed over.

6. The annual report talks about equality in education as it directly translates to equality of opportunity. What I seem from my experience is that there is only equality if you live in the right neighborhoods (Montclair, Redwood Heights, Upper Rockridge). What exactly does equality mean in our school district?

7. I read in the paper today that the estimated bill for everything in Iraq is 3 trillion dollars. My daughter's teacher regularly asks for donations of paper towels for the classroom because there is no money to buy them. I doubt that there are any in the schools in Bagdad either. So what are we doing with all our money?

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