Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oakland Schools and their 'Bill For Nothing'

I've returned to the blog world from days spent lamenting the coming taxation apocalypse. Luckily, the turmoil in financial markets is providing much-needed opportunities to purchase stocks that one can hold for the long term, thus escaping Mr. Obama's taxation tsunami.

In my absence, the East Bay looks none the better, except for the nascent victory glow coming from Liberals who mistakenly believe the coming years will be brighter as a consequence of the coming election.

Amid this situation, I couldn't help but chuckle at the Oakland Tribune's "expose" on the profligate ways of the local school district. My favorite part of the piece was not the total of $840k which allegedly has been misspent.

No, it was the reference to the school system's purchase of documents from an attorney that were, according to the article, "virtually identical to forms ...  received from the city of Piedmont."

This might be the first time I've ever seen anyone doing anything with the Oakland school system mention the existence of Piedmont. That city's mere existence appears to be a pox on Oakland -- demonstrating that a school system with similar pay, similar weather and a similar location can do quite well, so long as it is blessed with better prepared students. And, by better prepared I mean those with families who prioritize their education.

I've railed several times about Oakland's unwillingness to bring together the best prepared students in the city into some sort of magnet program. To my knowledge, the school district still refuses to even consider the idea, sticking instead to outdated notions such as busing and "diversity."

Well, one careful reader brought to my attention that there is one school in the district making a stab at such a thing. I wanted to give it credit where credit is due, and I wanted to encourage the district to broaden its scope.

The program I'm referring to is the Paideia program at Oakland Tech. Several things stand out about this program. If you take a look at the program's website, you'll see that they actually publish their former students' colleges. That's very helpful information, as it demonstrates that the program has done an excellent job placing several of its students.

On the downside, the program appears only to have around 40 graduating kids per year. I'm certain a city like Oakland has 10 or 100 times as many students who could fit into such a program. Why doesn't the district set aside a school for this purpose? Everything I've read suggests they have plenty of extra facilities, considering the rate with which they've lost students.

1 comment:

  1. Oakland should seriously consider creating a test school, like Lowell in SF. Charter schools are to some extent prohibited from restricting entering students, so a real test school (where some sort of academic test is required for admission) would have to be public. I know graduates of the Paideia program, it really is an excellent, though poorly publicized, option for Oakland students.