Education

Schools urge calm, planning for swine flu

As tens of thousands of children in North Oakland returned to school this week, local health officials and school districts were already bracing for the upcoming flu season, said Alameda County Public Health Department spokesperson Sherri Willis. “For the first time ever, we have two strains of flu and two vaccines to deal with. That would be a tall order even if one of those wasn’t a pandemic,” Willis said, referring to the swine flu virus, which since the school…

Oakland Tech kicks off new Green Academy

Five years ago, Oakland Technical High School  teacher Deirdre Snyder wrote some notes at a teacher meeting where the teachers were imagining a new kind of academy within Tech–a program that might help teach students how to make careers out of protecting the environment. At the kickoff celebration last night for Tech’s new Green Technology Academy, Snyder–who teaches Spanish and Environmental Studies, and who will now help head the new Tech program–said, “We need to do this, because without it…

Despite tough restrictions, youth find Oakland jobs from stimulus

Non-profit organizations were ready to hand out pay-checks to underprivileged youth in Oakland this summer but were unprepared for the reality checks that went with them. President Barack Obama’s stimulus package last February made it possible for Oakland to hire 1,000 youth this summer, but some agencies said the stringent qualifications narrowed the applicant pool to much.  Applicants had to be at risk, which meant being a school dropout, homeless, an offender, pregnant or someone who “requires additional assistance to…

A journey of Afro-Mexicans in Mexico

Each country has missing pieces in its history.  Japan, my country, for example, never admits that the Nanking Massacre  happened, or that residents in Okinawa, near the end of World War II, were forced to kill themselves rather than being taken POWs by U.S. forces. The African Presence in México: From Yanga to the Present, the current exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, helps illuminate a missing piece in Mexico’s Afro-Mexican history. The exhibit concentrates on the history of…

School district resumes local control, but where’s the money?

After six years of state control, the Oakland Unified School District resumed local control last week and new Superintendent Tony Smith, an Oakland native, was inducted into office.  But what exactly does this mean for Oakland residents in terms of change? Not much, apparently.  While the OUSD Board will now be in a position to make independent decisions – versus advising a state administrator –  the looming budget crisis seems to be tying everyone’s hands. One reason why school officials…

A bike, a kid, and a welding gun

Ismael Plasencia is one of those lucky people who considers his job, “a dream come true.”  Among his other responsibilities at West Oakland’s The Crucible, Plasencia manages the incredibly popular bike program.  The bike program offers eight bike fix-a-thons a year, where anyone can bring their bike to get fixed, as well as youth classes in bike mechanics, Earn-a-Bike, and frame alteration, Hyphy Bikes. The Crucible, an industrial arts school and community outreach program in West Oakland, was looking for…