Youth are our future, and Oakland Local is committed to covering education issues and keeping everyone in the loop about what’s going on in our school district. From administrative changes, to achievements by stand-out students, to the obstacles that can make education of our young people a difficult (but vital) challenge, Oakland Local’s education stories have covered a wide swath of territory. Here are five of the top education stories from 2014. (Check out other 2014 article highlights here.)

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Oakland’s newest school superintendent faces major challenges. What are they?
By Barbara Grady

People describe Antwan Wilson, the assistant superintendent of Denver Public Schools who has been nominated to lead Oakland Unified School District, as having lots of energy and a track record of improving equity in education. Those attributes will be important if he becomes superintendent in Oakland because this district is moving on a dizzying array of initiatives, more than half of which are aimed at repairing inequities in opportunities for students.  Read more…

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Ready for kindergarten? In Oakland, hunger and fatigue play a role 
By Barbara Grady

Most kids starting kindergarten in Oakland public schools are not ready for the demands of school.

What’s in their way? Hunger. Hunger and tiredness and illness, according to a report released this month. Here in America, in Oakland, hunger and its related afflictions are hindering kids.

In a detailed statistical report called Oakland Achieves, the Great Oakland Public Schools Leadership Center and the Urban Strategies Council look at everything from graduation rates to state test scores to third grade reading to kindergarten readiness. It’s that last that’s among the most startling. Read more…

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Children from Central America find community in Oakland
By Barbara Grady

Maximiliano sits at a computer in the library of Oakland International High School, following English phrases on his screen and through his headphones. He pauses sometimes to look around the room or to help the student next to him with a computer prompt. A teacher stops by and chats with him in English and he tries out his new words.

The 16-year-old started school here in September after escaping from El Salvador and taking a harrowing trip north. The “pandillas,” or drug gangs, are why he left, he explains in a conversation of mixed Spanish and English sprinkled with teenage shyness. The gangs told him to choose his affiliation; join up or else. Instead, he and a family member left.  Read more…

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Holy Names High School students walk out, call for replacement of assistant principal
By Liza Veale

 [….] According to Senior, Maya Bello, this spat is just another example of the administration’s “offensive treatment” of students and teachers in an ongoing series of unappeased complaints. On the 18th, after receiving the recording, the students composed a list of demands over iChat. “We got [the list of demands] out to all of the seniors and juniors right before they shut down the email system,” said Coots, the principle author of the list, “and [the next morning, on Wednesday, the 19th] sixty percent of the student body walked out.” They returned to school on Thursday.  Read more…

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Education Voices: Youth search for identity in a fractured world
By Barbara Grady

“People look at you as if they know you but they don’t know you, they just think they do,” said the 17-year-old Castlemont High School student.

She had moved to Oakland five months earlier but had decided against trying to make friends at her new school. Given all the labels kids put on each other, it seemed too risky.

For youth at Castlemont, a high school in an East Oakland neighborhood where gun shots ring out daily and poverty is endemic, establishing identity comes with very high stakes: Who you look like and who others think you are could mean the difference between safety and considerable danger, between freedom to study or inexorable pressure to follow a path strewn with obstacles to graduation. Read more…

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Click here to check out other article highlights from 2014…

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