Dec. 1: Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts is in Washington, D.C., right now, lobbying the federal powers that be to give him $6 million for a middle school pilot program.
Batts' plan is to hire 24 police officers and to assign them to four Oakland middle schools: Frick, Madison, Roosevelt and Westlake.
Officer Jeff Thomason, a public information officer for the police department, said four of the six officers at each school would provide security; two would serve as mentors and run the O.K. Program for gang and violence prevention.
"Basically, we want to start our community policing model at those schools," Thomason said.
Troy Flint, a spokesman for the Oakland school district, said the officers would help to protect students as they go to and from school, a major safety concern that contributes to truancy.
"This is the type of partnership we're looking to develop with other government agencies," Flint said.
But the $6 million would only cover the program for one year. What happens the year after that?
Why not put three officers at each school, instead of six, and make the money go twice as long?
Thomason said he didn't know. He said it was likely the chief and the schools superintendent thought that six officers were needed at each school, and that they didn't want to shortchange the students.
What do you think about this idea? Do you think it will keep students safer? Keep more of them from joining gangs or becoming victims or perpetrators of violence? Will it lead to a better relationship between the kids and the police?
Nov. 29: Would you put your child in this school? That's the mantra in the Long Beach school district, according to a new McKinsey report that named the school district -- and the Oakland-based charter management organization, Aspire Public Schools -- among the 20 most-improved school systems in the world.
Long Beach is an ethnically diverse, high-poverty school district in a California port city, just like Oakland. Unlike Oakland, it's had stable leadership for years under a superintendent (in his ninth year) who once attended school in the district and later returned to be a teacher, principal and administrator.
If you have a chance to read McKinsey's two-page case study on the Long Beach school district's teacher preparation, training and coaching strategies, I'd love to hear how they compare to your experience in Oakland. It's on pages 48-50.
Two things that caught my attention:
1) Long Beach recruits 80 percent of its teachers from the education school at Cal State Long Beach.
To prepare them for "the Long Beach way," administrators from the curriculum department actually teach the method classes.
2) An elementary school math teacher, inspired by his aunt's experience teaching in Singapore, structured his lessons in a similar way, yielding huge test score gains. The district noticed and piloted his strategy in other classrooms.
It reminded me of Si Swun math, a method used in Oakland that has produced similarly strong results.
Hey, wait! That teacher was Si Swun! The implementation of his strategy has cost OUSD more than $2 million. I wonder how Long Beach's bill compared -- and if there are any Si Swuns in Oakland right now, whose masterful teaching strategies have been confined to one classroom.
Do you know of any?