In preparation for the full implementation of Common Core State Standards, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) held a public hearing on Wednesday evening to discuss allocation of funds. The district has spent two years preparing for the transition to the new standards, which will focus on improving students’ ability to analyze complex texts, and engage in critical thinking.
The public hearing, hosted by Deputy Superintendent Maria Santos and OUSD Information Technology Officer John Krull, proposed a one-time allocation of $6.9 million to be used for professional development of teachers, new instructional materials, and technology that supports teaching and learning.
Of that amount, $3.4 million would be dedicated to curriculum materials and professional development. Among other things, the money would be used to equip every classroom with a library, and to fund a 5-day summer institute that will train teachers in the new approach.
The training program is important, Santos says, because the new standards call for “a significant departure from the practices that have been employed in our classrooms today.”
It takes “time, practice, and perseverance to create the type of readers we want in our schools,” she added.
Some of the money would also go toward expanding the district’s pilot technology program, so that it meets the new statewide requirement that all students in the district have equal access to computers and the Internet. At present, Krull notes, there is “quite a disparity” in the technological resources available at each school, with some schools having many more computers than others . According to a survey conducted last spring by OUSD, teachers and principals agree that overall there is a lack of quality computers at the schools – a problem Krull hopes to remedy through a district-wide adoption of Chromebooks.
Along with curriculum, professional development and technology support, the proposed funds will also provide each school with three stipend teachers who will focus on English Language Arts, instructional technology and mathematics. A total of 87 other stipend teachers will also be available for high need schools.
The proposed $6.9 million in funding will be voted on by board members at the next OUSD Board of Education meeting on December 11 at 5 p.m. If the allocation of funds is approved, it will be implemented in the schools starting in February 2014.