What’s Happening in Oakland Education? May 2021 Edition

¿Qué está pasando en la educación de Oakland?: Mayo 2021 Lea en español aquí.

Welcome to What’s Happening in Oakland Education? volume 2, a newsletter to keep the community informed. We know how busy families and educators are. The typical OUSD board meeting stretches past midnight and few parents or teachers can tune in as they juggle so many responsibilities. Here’s a summary of what’s happening: 

OUSD 2021-22 School Reopening Plans

OUSD says they are operating under the assumption that public health guidance will allow them to offer full in-person instruction for the entire 2021-22 school year. Here are some important notes from the district on in-person and distance learning: 

  • OUSD launched their COVID-19 In-Person Cohort Case Dashboard to transparently track any COVID case transmission on OUSD school campuses.   
  • The first day of school is August 9, 2021 (pending Board of Education approval).
  • Middle and high schools will operate on a semester model.
  • They will offer a full distance learning option for this fall (pending state law). Families will more than likely have to unenroll from their current school in order to enroll in a distance-only option. Students cannot be enrolled in more than one school program at a time.
  • Families can opt back into in-person learning only at preset intervals.
  • Families who opted into distance learning are not guaranteed a spot back at their previous school.
  • OUSD is requesting that all families complete the Fall intent to return form as soon as possible. Your responses will inform reopening plans in the fall. Use this link to log into your parent square account and complete the form by 5/30.

CLICK HERE TO RSVP

COVID Relief Funds for Expanded Learning

OUSD is receiving a total of ~$300M in one-time COVID relief funds over the next few years. With these funds, OUSD has the opportunity to accelerate learning for students, expand literacy efforts and provide mental health/credit recovery solutions to help drive our city’s recovery next year and beyond.

Expanded Learning Opportunities Grant

One of the major investments with the one-time COVID relief funds will come before the board today. OUSD will be receiving a total of $27M under the Extended Learning Opportunities Grant and they are proposing to invest these dollars on the following areas: 

New literacy curriculum offers a new way of teaching students how to read

All students must have access to rigorous grade-level curriculum to ensure they are on track for the life that they choose. But Oakland’s approach to reading instruction over the years has been fragmented and produced deeply unequal outcomes. Just 20% of Black students and 23% of Latino students in elementary grades are currently meeting grade-level standards. 

Superintendent Johnson-Trammell recently highlighted Oakland’s literacy crisis in her OpEd in the Mercury, “The literacy gap is rooted in racism, segregation and the fundamental belief that some students cannot achieve. It demands a systemic solution.”

After reviewing nine different reading curricula, OUSD began to pilot a more rigorous way of teaching students how to read: “EL Education.” While there is strong evidence that this new curriculum will help more Oakland students learn to read, significant challenges remain as the district makes such a big transition. The Oakland NAACP has released a response video in which they highlight two major challenges that the district must address if they adopt this curriculum: 1)  OUSD must maintain an emphasis on direct phonics instruction 2) OUSD must also provide enough support to teachers to implement it effectively over time.

Celebrating Teachers

In this difficult year, there are so many bright spots to celebrate teachers who juggled so much and still showed up for our kids. Last week marked Teacher Appreciation Week, but we’re celebrating all month long on our social media channels! Check out this shoutout below and send your submission in to honor a teacher!

We’d love to hear your thoughts on What’s Happening in Oakland Education?. Let us know what you liked and what you’d like to see in future editions.  

If you want to stay in the loop about what is happening at OUSD board meetings, sign up here to receive Board Watch.

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