Oakland Local: Oakland School District considering new parcel tax

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Story by Barbara Grady

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Oakland’s school board is considering putting a parcel tax on the November ballot to fund improvement in its high schools.

Although it’s made progress lowering the high school drop out rate and adding more rigor to its curriculum, Oakland Unified School District still sees more than 25 percent of high schoolers drop out. And not all of those who graduate are prepared for college or for starting a career. So the district wants to embark on a new approach to high school education.

It wants to bring to all schools a pedagogy called Linked Learning, in which students both pursue college preparatory academic subjects and work in internships at local employers in government, education, media, healthcare and business. Under the proposal in consideration, it would ask voters to approve a parcel tax of $150 per household to pay for this program and to raise teacher salaries at high schools to help in retaining and recruiting good teachers.

The district already offers some Linked Learning programs at most of its high schools, and the curriculum at two schools Life Academy and MetWest High School is built entirely around Linked Learning. The possible parcel tax would raise money to expand the program to all eight high schools in the district and made it available to all students.

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