January 2009 Archives

There is a fascinating story in this morning’s New York Times about the struggles of immigrant students who lacked formal education in their countries of origin. The New York public schools are, of course, obligated to accept and educate these students, most of whom cannot read or write in their native language, and must begin at a basic level to build the skills they need. I have seen this first-hand in the Oakland schools as well, where we get students from rural Mexico and Guatemala who may have attended little or no school prior to their arrival. They might ...

In an Oakland elementary school a few weeks back I saw an unusual portrait on the office wall. America’s First Family, it said, and there were Sasha and Malia, Barack and Michelle smiling down at everyone. African American children in this school can look up and see a family that looks like their own honored. But when I think of what the children in these schools face in the coming months, why do I feel a sense of foreboding and dread? It could be because California’s Governor Schwarzenegger has vetoed the budget passed by the Democratically controlled legislature ...

When I graduated from high school in the mid 70s, a year early, I had the bare minimum of credits and a GPA just over 3. I went to work in the foundry industry and attended Laney College in Oakland off and on over the next seven years, before being admitted to UC Berkeley in 1982. I wasn’t ready for a UC education at age 17, but I graduated with honors in 1986. This experience is part of the reason I have questioned the wisdom of gearing our high schools to focus on preparing all graduates for admission to ...


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