Oakland Local: Startup Weekend Oakland/Black Male Achievement produces 14 apps, lots of inspiration

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Story by Barbara Grady

techyouth1-300x168“This is history y’all,” said software engineer Ayori Selassie from the platform at Startup Weekend/Black Male Achievement on Sunday night. “This is the first event that has happened like this in the entire world. So if you are here, you are in the middle of making history.”

This past weekend, hundreds of people poured into Impact HUB Oakland’s new headquarters for a hackathon that not only produced 14 viable computer applications/ business startups but also turned about 40 African-American teenagers into potential entrepreneurs after they spent two days coding, problem-solving and business planning alongside engineering and business professionals.

By Sunday night, 50 ideas that participants had pitched Friday night had been honed, through brainstorming and coding, into 14 actual apps, most designed for use on smartphones. Then, 14 teams pitched their apps and business plans to a panel of venture capital and investment professionals.

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Audio: Perspectives: Education Interrupted

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By Morgan Boeder

MorganBoederI was sitting in my boyfriend's room in my pajamas, picking out classes when I opened the email informing me that my school had lost its accreditation and might close its doors next year.

It was definitely a shock and I immediately felt sad. Just getting to college had been a struggle for me.

I dropped out of high school my sophomore year. I had a lot going on in my life. And even though I always planned to go back and get my diploma, there was still a fear in the back of my mind that somehow it wouldn't work out.

Eventually I found a program called Gateway to College. It's for high school students to get their diplomas and college credits at the same time, and it came with a full scholarship to City College.

This May, I got my high school diploma, and I began looking forward to eventually earning my bachelor's degree. But then I found out about the school's loss of accreditation, and now I'm not sure what to think about my educational future.

Listen to the story here.


Mind Shift: Are We Taking Our Students' Work Seriously Enough?

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Story by Luba Vangelova

studentsworkseriouslyIn the course of studying different aspects of children’s environments, Dr. Roger Hart noticed that “a lot of supposedly participatory projects had a distinct air of tokenism. Children were being put on display, so to speak, as though they were actively participating, but they were not taken seriously.”

To get people talking about this issue, Hart, who serves as director of the Children’s Environments Research Group at the City University of New York and helps lead the Article 15 Project, a children’s rights organization, adapted a colleague’s ladder metaphor. He labeled the rungs:

1. Manipulation

2. Decoration

3. Tokenism

4. Assigned but informed

5. Consulted and informed

6. Adult-initiated, share decisions with children

7. Child-initiated and directed

8. Child-initiated, share decisions with adults

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Mind Shift: Low-Income Schools See Big Benefits in Teaching Mindfulness

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Story by Katrina Schwartzmindshiftlowincomestudents

On his first day teaching at Coronado Elementary School in Richmond, Calif., students threw rocks at Jean-Gabrielle Larochette, pretending he was a police officer. He spent fifteen minutes of every class calming down a handful of kids in this low-income-neighborhood public school who wouldn’t follow directions or behave.

Larochette began practicing meditation and mindfulness to cope with his own stresses of teaching and supporting traumatized kids. He believed the breathing techniques that helped calm his fears might work for his students too, so he founded the Mindful Life Project.

“Before we can teach a kid how to academically excel in school, we need to teach him how to have stillness, pay attention, stay on task, regulate, make good choices,” said Larochette. “We tell kids be quiet, calm yourself down, be still. We tell them all these things they need in the classroom, but we’re not teaching them how to do that.”

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S.F. Gate: S.F. Schools Move away from suspensions

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Story by Jill Tucker

Photo by: Michael Short, The Chronicle

Photo by: Michael Short, The Chronicle

Like a firm rap on the knuckles with a ruler or a backside paddling, suspending students for bad behavior is increasingly becoming passe in public schools across California and the nation.

For starters, it doesn't really work, educators admit. Research has repeatedly shown suspended students are more likely to fail in school and drop out.

And logic would hold that students temporarily banned from school are more likely to play video games than penitently mull over transgressions while they are away.

In San Francisco, the school board is considering a resolution that would restrict the use of suspension to more serious offenses, including fights or bringing weapons, drugs or alcohol to school. Principals would no longer be allowed to suspend for what is called

willful defiance or disruption - a catchall category that until recently accounted for about a quarter of all suspensions in the district.

Los Angeles is among a handful of districts that have already banned suspensions for willful defiance, and in San Francisco some schools have voluntarily adopted the same policy.

"We should have ways in which we can deal with a student inside our schools without sending them home and losing instructional time," said school board member Matt Haney, the author of the resolution. "What I'm hearing from teachers and principals is that they understand suspension is not an effective intervention for defiance."

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Video: Oakland North: Oakland nonprofit combines music, life learning

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oaklandnorthStory by Jason Paladino and Jennifer Chaussee

Music producers, DJs and vocalists make up the Oakland-based nonprofit Today’s Future Sound, which teaches music production to students in K-12 schools around the bay and beyond. In its infancy, TFS was a natural convergence of Elliot Gann’s training as a clinical psychologist and his love of hip-hop. For nearly ten years, Gann has been using music production education as a way to create a culturally engaging therapeutic outlet for kids and teens while also teaching them tangible life skills. Oakland North spent some time with Gann, his students and his staff to learn about some of the challenges and highlights of mixing education with hip-hop. Watch the video.


Oakland Local: Ground-breaking consumer-owned higher education institute to launch in Oakland

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treeStory by Liza Veale

Rani Coager and Seyed Amiry believe the current model of financing institutions of higher learning is unsustainable. It has created a population paralyzed by debt and a skills gap that leaves too many un(der)employed despite the fact that nearly half of U.S. employers struggle to fill open positions. Croager and Amiry see this as an opportunity for innovation.

After a long research and development phase, Cooperative Education Ventures is poised to admit its first incoming class next fall right here in Oakland. The institute will be an unprecedented application of the consumer-owned co-op model to higher education.

The curriculum will “train and empower entrepreneurs as well as those who are seeking jobs…particularly in communities that have been under-served, the demographic that could stand to benefit the most from this approach,” said co-founder Seyed Amiry. Because it is a member-owned enterprise, the idea is that participants will have one hundred percent of their tuition fees returned to them over a period of several years. Continue reading


Oakland Local: Library Tour Highlights Inequity in OUSD

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Story by Karl Hatchousd

In November, a Community Study Group was organized in Oakland to examine the role of the school library in today’s technological world. The culminating event of this effort was the January “Imagining A New Future for School Libraries Tour.” On the tour they visited three Oakland Unified School District libraries: One with a strong, professionally staffed, fully-integrated library program (PTA funded), one with a minimal K-5 library in a K-8 school, and one newly renovated with great potential but closed, waiting for staffing.

These three libraries highlight the vast inequity of library services across OUSD schools. According to OUSD data, over 10,000 K-12 students in OUSD have no school library. Another third of the libraries are severely understaffed. At the same time, according to the 2013 STAR, only 38 percent of OUSD 3rd graders are reading at or above grade level. Continue reading

 


Audio: Youth Radio Perspectives: Superpower

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FemiAjalaBy Femi Ajala

His autism diagnosis devastated Youth Radio's Femi Ajala. Then, he discovered his superpower. Listen to his story here.

Listen to Perspectives on air at KQED Public Radio every weekday morning at 6:06am, 7:35am and 11:30pm and weekends at 7:36am and 8:36am.

 


Even Odds: Fighting the odds for Oakland's young black males

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Story by Jill Tucker

It was the first Monday in May, and Thomas Logwood was heading to class.

There were just six weeks until the end of the school year at Castlemont High inOakland, and every week seemed to bring another milestone for the 17-year-old senior. His last track meet was coming up. In a few days, he'd attend prom.

And there was the moment he'd strived after for four years, the reward for all the work achieving a 3.5 grade point average and a place near the top of his class of 140: graduation.

It had not been easy. Nothing was inEast Oakland. For a young black man like Thomas, just surviving the crime and poverty that permeated his daily life was an achievement.

In this city, boys of his race are more likely to miss school; be suspended; graduate late, if at all; or be incarcerated than their white, Asian or Latino peers.

Since 2002, the number of African American men killed on the streets ofOaklandhas nearly matched the number who graduated from its high schools ready to attend a state university.

Castlemont was no refuge.

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