Friday, October 12, 2012

34 Oakland Black Kids With Perfect Scores; Why No Magnet School For Them?

I was really heartened to see an article today about 34 black Oakland Unified kids who got perfect scores on their STAR tests.

Here's a link to the article. It looks like they're mostly on the younger side, but old enough for the tests to be meaningful.

The article also doesn't say which schools all the kids attend, but I'm sure it's safe to assume not all go to the nicer hills schools.

Everything I've read on the topic indicates that a big change tends to happen around middle school, when the problems of Oakland take their toll on kids, making it impossible for them to progress further in school.

Why won't the district put in place a magnet school? For the sake of these 34 kids, along with the countless kids of other races who do well at OUSD, you'd think it would be worth it. Here we have crystal clear evidence that such a school wouldn't just be for the privileged white hills dwellers.

And, when these kids continue to excel, they'd serve as role models to other young kids. A magnet school would maximize the probability of each kid succeeding.

The truth is, OUSD is run for the teachers' unions and for the sake of political expediency. If not, they'd be setting up a magnet school right now.

Friday, September 7, 2012

More Gentrification in West Oakland

I enjoyed reading this interview with Rick Holliday, who is now finding more success selling units at his Pacific Cannery Lofts project.

Of particular interest is his description of a potential future for West Oakland. He talks about biotech maybe moving in as Emeryville becomes saturated.At a minimum, the fact that he's managed to sell all those condos indicates people see the logic in living near the East Bay's best BART station.

I park at West Oakland BART occasionally, and I've noticed a dramatic change in the demographics of the folks heading out into the neighborhood after their train ride.

No question West Oakland has a number of strikes against it, including the proximity of the pollution from the port and all the permanent low-income housing around. Still, I think there are enough brave souls around willing to move in.

Hopefully, 10 or 20 years from now, the only truly bad areas of Oakland remaining will be to the southeast of Lake Merritt.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

NY Times On Oakland Gentrification

The Times published an article a few days ago ostensibly about all the protests in Oakland. Here it is.

The article correctly points out that the protests are mostly the last gasp of an old mode of thinking about Oakland. In fact, the protests are largely a reaction to Oakland's continuing gentrification. The process has begun in earnest, and it will not stop.

Here's another article by a blogger who disagrees. He makes some reasonable points, but the thrust of his argument is wrongheaded.

That's not to say that Oakland will lose its seedier neighborhoods. I expect East Oakland to remain a disaster zone more or less forever.

But that's not the point. No one cares about East Oakland, just as no one really cares about the Tenderloin in San Francisco. Areas like those are meant to be avoided.

The reason people care about gentrification in the first place is it increases property values in the reasonable parts of a city, providing above-normal returns to those who purchase in those areas.

This, I believe, is what is beginning to happen throughout several neighborhoods in Oakland. Sure, the schools will remain terrible as they do in nearly all Democrat-controlled big cities. But people will pay up to live in those neighborhoods because of the cool factor and the proximity to employment.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Oakland Moves Ever Closer To Bankruptcy

Interesting article today in the SF Chronicle about Oakland's PFRS pension obligation.

My opinion is that Oakland should essentially go bankrupt as soon as possible. At this point, only a couple cities in California have taken this step. That mean's there is still an opportunity to get a fairly good deal out of a bankruptcy.

Later, that's going to change. You can be sure that unions will do their level best to prevent cities from right-sizing their expenses for things like benefits and pensions.

One thing I really enjoyed about the article was that it quoted someone -- Nita Balousek -- who is 55 and whose husband retired as a cop something like 17 years ago, after working 27 years.

That's preposterous! That means this lady was 38 years old when her husband retired. And I guess she was 11 when he started working as a cop?

So let's say she lives to age 88. We have to pay her for 50 years of retirement for a guy who worked here for 27 years? How is that sustainable.

Time to declare bankruptcy and move on.