Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why Can't Oakland Compete With San Francisco's Lowell High?

Back from my long absence, I'm still thinking about schools in Oakland.

Some months ago, I wrote a post about magnet schools in Oakland. For the most part I was ignored, save for one person who took the time to inform me that such programs are illegal in California.

I didn't do too much research after receiving this comment. Then, I ran across the following links:

So, San Francisco has a fantastic, high-performing magnet high school that requires students meet certain academic requirements.

Why can't Oakland do the same thing? For starters, this seems like something the teacher union would like. This school would not be a charter school, so its teachers would be in the union.

And, such a project would pull dollars back into the Oakland school district as parents shifted back to public school from private school. It's common knowledge that parents with high-achieving kids in Oakland send them to private school if they can afford it.

I'm sure many parents would breathe a sigh of relief to have such an option available in this economy.

And, Oakland clearly has the facilities to spare to implement such a project. My understanding is that flight from the Oakland schools to charters and private schools has left many schools half-full.

I recently read on Katy Murphy's blog about how  the union is planning a strike over wages. Maybe they could add a unionized magnet middle and high school to their list of demands.

I also saw a video where the superintendent of schools, Tony Smith, indicated that he wants to look for ways to fix the schools budget crisis. Maybe attracting back students with a magnet school could be part of the solution?

What's the rationale for the city to have no magnet school anyway? It can't be just liberalism -- since San Francisco is plenty liberal and has Lowell. What's going on here?

Oh and one other thing. If Oakland had better options for high-performing middle and high school students, that would increase property values (just look at the values in Piedmont). That would improve the city's tax base, which would help schools as well.

Isn't this a win-win?