Archive for August, 2015

OUSD Gets Ready for Start of School – Monday, Aug. 24

Oakland, other districts, struggle to hire in face of teacher shortage

Oakland Natives Give Back provided free backpacks and supplies to children at the annual Attend and Achieve Back to School Event at City in 2015. This year's event will be held Saturday, Aug. 22.

Oakland Natives Give Back provided free backpacks and supplies to children at the annual Attend and Achieve Back to School Event at Oakland City Hall in 2014. This year’s event will be held Saturday, Aug. 22.

By Ken Epstein

The Oakland school district is doing parent outreach and conducting a publicity campaign to let families know that the first day of school is earlier than usual this year – Monday, Aug. 24.

“We usually start the week before Labor Day, and this week’s it’s two weeks before the holiday – we’re working to get the word out,” said Troy Flint, spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD).

Teachers and administrators are getting ready to go back to work, and in-service trainings are being organized for school staff.

All new and returning students are expected to register before school starts. Parents and guardians should contact their school for registration dates or check the district website –

Information on enrollment for new students is available online or at (510) 273-1600.

Alameda County is coordinating requiring vaccinations and medical checkups for students. Information is available on the district website.

As in previous years, the district is struggling to guarantee that a credentialed teacher is working in every classroom, starting on the first day of school.

OUSD  has a chronically high teacher turnover rate. Last year, the district lost about 18 percent of its teachers, meaning that it had to hire about 400 new teachers by the time school started.

Competition between districts for teachers is particularly fierce this year – with a national and state teacher shortage that so far has not been addressed by public officials.

The shortage is particularly acute is the areas of special education, science, math, bilingual education and foreign language instruction.

“There is increasing demand for teachers in Oakland and other districts, while the pool of available candidates is smaller – the chickens are coming home to roost,” said Flint, who said he thought OUSD will be able to fill its needs for new teachers by the opening of school.

Backpacks and school supplies will be given away again this year by Oakland Natives Give Back, which is holding an Attend and Achieve Back to School Rally on Saturday, Aug. 22 at Oakland City Hall, Frank Ogawa Plaza.

Registration is from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Register online at

The Oakland Public Education Fund is also conducting a drive to deliver 4,200 backpacks full of school supplies to students at 75 public schools. The organization is seeking volunteers to help fill the backpacks and load them into vehicles to be delivered to individual school sites.

For information about volunteering, email

Lend A Hand Foundation is working with volunteers to stuff backpacks for over 3,500 students in more than 10 Oakland schools.

The schools are:  Coliseum College Prep, Communities United, Frick Middle School, Futures, Martin Luther King Jr., Melrose Leadership Academy, Parker Elementary, Place at Prescott, Roots Academy, and West Oakland Middle.  Also LAHF, through its Stay In School Program will provide other basic needs for students to be equipped to start the new school year.

For more information, go to

 Courtesy of the Oakland Post, Aug. 8, 2015 (

100 Black Men Calls on City to Pass Law to Protect Right to Record Police

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

By Ashley Chambers

Responding to demands for policy change that would address police misconduct and better protect the lives of Oakland citizens, the City Council’s Public Safety Committee recently approved an ordinance that will affirm the right to record police officers.

Frank Tucker

Frank Tucker

This proposed ordinance is one of eight presented to the Public Safety Committee in recent weeks by 100 Black Men of the Bay Area. The organization has demanded city action to enforce police reforms in the wake of killings of Black men across the country.

Outrage over these killings stems back to 2009 when Oscar Grant was shot by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle. More recently, there has been a national wave of anger after Walter Scott was shot in April by a North Carolina police officer; Freddie Gray died that same month while in police custody in Baltimore; and Samuel Dubose was shot in July by a University of Cincinatti police officer.

Live video recordings of police-citizen contact have sometimes proved to be effective in holding officers accountable for unlawful shootings, as in the cases of Oscar Grant and Walter Scott.

Body cam footage of the killing of Samuel Dubose also led to the indictment of the officer for murder.

The new city ordinance, if passed by the City Council next month, would protect citizens, and officers, by providing recordings of police-citizen contact, according to Frank Tucker, chairman of 100 Black Men of the Bay Area.

“It’s going to really serve as an additional tool to keep more enforcement across the board,” said Tucker.

“In sports, they have up to 20 cameras that they use for instant replay when determining if a play was valid or not. Having multiple angles gives us a lot of value and gives us a true picture of what happened,” he added.

The action by the Public Safety Committee not only affirmed the right to record officers but also supported a “Do Shoot” awareness campaign that would educate citizens of their rights to photograph, and make audio and video recordings of police.

The ordinance, if the council passes it, would provide support for a state law, SB 411, which would protect citizens recording police activity. The bill has yet to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown.

Tucker says a policy of protecting recordings of police in Oakland would set an example for the entire country, in light of the multiple incidences of police brutality that have targeted Black lives.

“With law enforcement knowing that they are being recorded, it’s going to force them to be fair and avoid the volume of shootings and brutality that have been acted upon African American males,” Tucker said.

100 Black Men has also met with Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent to address their requests, including sending police body and dash camera footage to a data sharing cloud to avoid tampering of evidence.

One Hundred Black Men has introduced a similar ordinance in San Francisco.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 8, 2015 (

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Brings 400 High Tech Jobs to Oakland

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (right) this week announced that Oakland was one of 40 cities selected for President Obama's TechHire Communities program.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and Congresswoman Barbara Lee (right) this week announced that Oakland was one of 40 cities selected for President Obama’s TechHire Communities program.

President Obama this week announced 10 new “TechHire Communities, including Oakland, which has committed to placing 400 individuals in paid internships or full-time jobs by the end of 2015.

The city will achieve this commitment through several accelerated pathways, which will be publicized in the near future.

“I am pleased to see Oakland become a TechHire Community. The city’s commitment to empowering people with work based on their skill set and advance tech training is remarkable and vital to the continued economic growth of our community,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

“I am proud to have been a part of this tremendous effort and I look forward to working with city officials to expand this program and others that link community members with resources, workforce training and good-paying jobs,” said Congresswoman Lee.

The president’s TechHire Community program is a public-private partnership designed to ensure applicants find work based on their skill sets, as opposed to degrees.

It is also designed to activate accelerated tech training opportunities while investing in innovative entrepreneurial and jobs programs that connect a diverse workforce, including women, people of color, veterans and underserved and disconnected young people.

“I am delighted that Oakland will be partnering with public and private partners to ensure that the type of diversity that is found in cities like Oakland is reflected in the halls of our tech leaders,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf.

“Congresswoman Lee was instrumental in making this happen for Oakland,” said Schaaf.

“We are really committed to this agenda of equity, of getting Oakland kids ready and connected to opportunities here in the Bay Area,” she said.

Other new TechHire communities announced this week are Akron, OH; Birmingham, AL; Cincinnati, OH; Lynchburg, VA; Maine; New Orleans, LA; Pittsburgh, PA; Rhode Island; and San Jose, CA.

President Obama’s goal is to establish 40 TechHire cities by the end of the year.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, August 8, 2015 (