Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jane Brunner Thinks Our Schools Are "Great"

I just received this email in one of my many fake Yahoo accounts dedicated to such drivel:
Jane Brunner's Community Advisory Meeting

Topic: What Makes a Great Urban Public School?

Vincent Matthews, State Administrator of the Oakland Unified School District
Stephen Wesley, Superintendent of the Emery Unified School District
Sheila Jordan, Superintendent Alameda County
Kerry Hamill, Oakland School Board District

When: Saturday, April 12th, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 Noon
Where: Peralta Elementary School, 460 63rd Street

I'm not sure why they've asked these people to come speak about this topic. It's kind of like asking George Bush to come give a speech about "How to end a war quickly and effectively."

As urban school districts go, Oakland is a complete joke. If Brunner really wanted to have a productive discussion about urban school districts, how about bringing in someone from LA Unified, which actually bothers to provide aptitude-based magnet schools? Or, even better, how about bringing in someone (by phone if necessary) from the New York public school system, with its renowned Bronx Science school?

The Bay Area is full of intelligent, ambitious people, and Oakland is no exception. Why must we be saddled with a school district whose highest hopes are to foster full political correctness and to ensure that no student, however bright, gets any advantages over any other.

I would love to see one of my readers attend this meeting and bring up points like this. I might even come and do it myself, though talking to Jane Brunner is sort of a monumental waste of time.

My prediction for the meeting is a long discussion and lots of questions about how the state takeover in Oakland somehow harmed the district. I must admit, I had some hopes that the takeover would institute a few policies to move the district away from being a free daycare service to a real educational system.

Sadly, I was wrong. Things are much the same as they have been for years. The only real option for non-abusive parents is private school.


  1. When I was in the Oakland school system (only a few years ago) they refused to weight the GPAs of students taking college level "AP" classes... the reason they gave was that it was not "fair" to give the students taking harder classes an advantage since everybody couldn't take them. That is like an employer refusing to consider that a job applicant went to Harvard when reviewing their application because not everyone can go to Harvard.

    That said, there are some great success stories in the OUSD (Check out the quasi-vocational academy programs at Oakland Tech and the other high schools) but "great" is surely not the fist word that comes to mind.

  2. That is good info on the vocational stuff. I will look into that. I'm a big fan of such programs. It's important to have a wide array of different kinds of education available, both because some kids are smarter than others, and because some kids just have different interests.

    My favorite/most useful classes in junior high were woodshop, plastics and small engines. I still use those skills frequently.

  3. just to be clear, they aren't vocational, they are "quasi-vocational". You don't graduate ready to go to work in the auto repair industry or cabinet making but ready to get a 2-year degree in the medical fields or with your CISCO cert. in computer networking... better than nothing though.