Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 13, 2016

#KeepOurClasses

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

Just when you think everything is starting to turn a corner:  your neighborhood school is home to the 2015-2016 teacher of the year, your PTA has been rebuilt after a few down years, you have a new crop of excited families, and you’re working on a innovative program to better serve your existing families.  There’s always something to throw a wrench in the progress.

Late last week, Ruby Bridges Elementary school found out that Alameda Unified School District had planned on closing two classrooms which meant that two teachers at Ruby Bridges would lose their job a few weeks into the school year.

But even worse would be the disruption to the families and students that would be “diverted” to max out each classroom to its perfect capacity.  This classroom optimization fails, of course, to see students as anything more than just a number and a seat when, in reality, those numbers are individual students with individualized needs and Ruby Bridges is home to families with the least resources if they are forced to move to another school and adapt to a new community.

No matter how many times it is said, the decision makers at the District fail to recognize that Ruby Bridges is not like other elementary schools in Alameda. Our community serves a diverse and transitory population of students that doesn’t fit into neat and tidy enrollment deadlines and roundups.

What makes the decision by the District completely misguided is that the way that enrollment was handled at Ruby Bridges for this upcoming year.  Due to conflicting enrollment lists the District repeatedly turned away families from enrolling at Ruby Bridges beginning in the Spring to the present.  Now because there are not enough students to justify a third Kindergarten class and a fourth Second Grade class the District wants to “consolidate” and close a class in both grades.

Even though there are families that still want to enroll in Ruby Bridges and, historically, because of the families in transition like the Coast Guard, Ruby Bridges is constantly enrolling students throughout the year, but with the optimization there will no longer be room for these families at their home school.  Worse still the “consolidation” process will force students and families who have already settled into Ruby Bridges to have to move to another school and make new bonds.

To add insult to injury during this diversion process the District hasn’t appeared to follow its own protocols and procedures on who is the unlucky child to be asked to leave first.  Students that have been at the school for two years which automatically makes the school their home school have been asked to leave.  Students with siblings enrolled in the school have been asked to leave which would mean that the parents/guardians would have to manage two drop offs at the same time in the morning.  Students with McKinney Vento status have been asked to leave which would be in violation of the law.  Students that were already diverted before the start of the school year are asked to divert once again. The list goes on.  Not only that, none of the families have been informed of their rights to refuse to leave the school leading to confusion and frustration at the inequity of it all.

What has led to this mess of enrollment this year were the fixes that were instituted last year to address specific issues for specific groups of people. The District has created a Frankenstein’s monster of an enrollment system, patching together little pieces of protocol to appease the loudest interest groups a bit at a time.  Based on my understanding before this new process there were less than 20 diversions of students across the district.  Right now the number is well over 100 diversions.  Clearly the fixes have only served to break the process further.

In addition the decision to consolidate the school down to only two Kindergarten classes, mind you the school has historically hosted four, sometimes five Kinder classes, will have lasting consequences on the school for the next five years after that.

If the Board of Education truly seeks to promote equity in the Alameda Unified School District then it will direct staff to allow Ruby Bridges to retain its Kindergarten and second grade classes and continue to enroll students into Ruby Bridges rather than artificially cap Ruby Bridges grade levels at arbitrary and historically inaccurate levels.

If you would like to support Ruby Bridges Elementary in our efforts to reverse the misguided decision by the District to treat our students as seats and numbers as opposed to individuals with individualized needs, you can help by attending tonight’s School Board meeting, or sign on to our letter to the District which can be found here at rubybridgespta.org

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24 Comments »

  1. Remember when you were in favor of diversions at other schools?

    Remember when you told parents at other schools to suck it up and deal with it?

    I sure do.

    Comment by dave — September 13, 2016 @ 6:17 am

    • Nah, that was a lottery process so that poor families without resources to have a parent camp out overnight like they were getting concert tickets had a fair shake.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 13, 2016 @ 6:22 am

      • You advocated — strongly — for a process that included diversions as a solution to capacity issues. You told the families affected by it to just deal with it. Now that chicken is roosting in your zone & it’s suddenly a problem.

        If “resources” are an issue, then means test everything. Make a 1040 form part of the enrollment package & apply that policy to every campus, not just the one you like best.

        And the “some parents don’t have time” BS that you tossed about as a justification for a lottery is that: BS. The district has never cared about family schedules. Consider all the minimum days, parent conferences at noon, inconsistent calendars, etc. That is the reddest herring ever.

        This is an unfortunate situation, caused in large part by bureaucratic ineptitude. You’d be justified in being up in arms about it had you not so loudly favored this solution — with its accompanying complications for diverted families — back when it was other families whose schedules were at stake.

        Comment by dave — September 13, 2016 @ 7:28 am

        • Except for this solution has nothing to do with lotteries prior to students even setting foot into the school and has everything to do with the district arbitrarily not following its own policies on how to manage the diversion and enrollment process, see examples above of which students are getting notifications and not being told of their rights.

          Comment by Lauren Do — September 13, 2016 @ 7:40 am

        • Diversions were OK when you thought they’d never come to you.

          Comment by dave — September 13, 2016 @ 8:03 am

        • Except I’m not affected by the diversions personally. I’m simply advocating for people who don’t know their rights and are being run roughshod over by the Districts arbitrary policies.

          Comment by Lauren Do — September 13, 2016 @ 8:05 am

        • Quite selective about which arbitrary policies and who they roughshod…

          Comment by dave — September 13, 2016 @ 8:07 am

      • Hello Lauren Do,

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        http://www.thealamedaaesthetic.com

        I am also sending you this email about my campaign for a bicycle trailer you may be interested in sharing/posting/forwarding with the community.

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        I am coming up on two weeks left and I am really trying to get it out there in the community. I am sending it to several people/organizations/pages today. I am offering discounts and free services for donating/sharing. If you could put it out there in anyway you can that would be fantastic and much appreciated, especially on your blog.
        Thanks for taking the time and I look forward to working with you in the community.

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        Comment by Michael Thurman — September 13, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

  2. Fight. Only a true idiot would allow a kindergarten class to form, bond with their teacher and the school and then break it up. What actual person at the district made this decision? Was it Zazo, the failed former principal at EHS now in “charge” of student services? Bean counters can’t be in charge of education.

    Comment by Sad but true — September 13, 2016 @ 6:31 am

  3. Go Ruby Bridges! There with you all in spirit tonight…campaign training for measure b1 is a conflict with the board meeting.

    Comment by Gaylon — September 13, 2016 @ 6:50 am

  4. What is the District’s answer about the amount of money saved? Has the new development alongside Bayport/ Alameda landing not resulted in more AUSD enrollment or are those kids being sent to schools other than RB through diversions, etc? During the course of the school year does RB also lose about as many students as it picks up or does it tend to pick up more. Why is this happening a month into classes?

    Comment by MP — September 13, 2016 @ 7:31 am

    • The diversion policy as written says they can happen in the first 20 school days. That may answer your last question.

      Comment by dave — September 13, 2016 @ 7:36 am

    • The District knows that Ruby Bridges has a rolling enrollment based on when Coast Guard orders are given and if there are new families that move into APC. Additionally Tri Point homes when will closing homes pretty soon, but at this point there will be no space for those students if they want to go to their home school because of the optimization process.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 13, 2016 @ 7:42 am

      • Are there rules that require consolidation when certain numbers have not been met (leaving aside for the moment, if possible, the process that led to the current year enrollment numbers at RB) or does the District have discretion whether or not to do it? If the District has discretion, and were it to give a justification for its decision, how much money would it say is being saved by this measure? You would think not that much, but I have no idea.

        Comment by MP — September 13, 2016 @ 8:14 am

    • What is the time marker for the pertinent part of the video?

      Comment by MP — September 13, 2016 @ 8:29 am

      • No real time marker since the entire presentation was four years ago regarding how the District reports enrollment and the subsequent decisions that are made. For my entire tenure on the school board the District strived to balance out enrollment. It appears the new policy which was intended to afford some preference to our military families has some unintended consequences. The new practice of diverting students before school starts even though families not have made a final decision (charter vs magnet vs neighborhood) has led to unnecessary stress to families and school staff.

        Comment by Mike McMahon — September 14, 2016 @ 7:27 am

  5. Has the district announced which teachers will be laid off? What were the “fixes” put in place last year that resulted in this?

    Comment by notadave — September 13, 2016 @ 11:03 am

    • Children are supposed to report to their new school on Wednesday. Which would mean that teachers would be let go or shuffled around on that day. Here’s the list of recommendations that were made. The first bullet while in theory makes sense, in practice it was completely bungled because it allowed the district to select a number to cap a school/grade at and started discouraging enrollment immediately when that magic number was hit.

      I didn’t even mention that irregularities with the 5th grade enrollment this year which led to letters being sent out to 5th grade parents in mid summer declaring 5th grade to be over-enrolled and offering three schools to voluntarily divert to: Bay Farm, Edison, and Franklin. The school had requested a 4/5 split at the beginning of the summer because in 2015-2016 there was two 4th grade classes and one 4/5 split which, if everyone was to return, would necessitate the same arrangement for 2016-2017. The District declined opening the 4/5 split and instead chose to divert students away from Ruby Bridges and didn’t even make room for possible new students from our families in transition.

      Comment by Lauren Do — September 13, 2016 @ 11:21 am

  6. The enrollment situation at Ruby Bridges is somewhat more complicated than what is being presented here. I truly hope all concerned will watch the presentation on enrollment at the Board of Education meeting tonight (in person or live on Comcast Ch. 15, AT&T Ch. 99, or the city website).

    Data and detail on this year’s enrollment — as well as how that data informs decisions about staffing — will be presented then.

    Comment by Susan Davis (Community Affairs, AUSD) — September 13, 2016 @ 12:05 pm

  7. School enrollment is always a complicated process. Ruby Bridges is the only school in Alameda that pulls from both the most affluent and the poorest of the poor, not to mention children of military families who have kids who are often subjected to multiple school moves. These kids deserve a stable school environment. Their parents deserve to feel as if the District gives a hoot about them and their many special needs. It doesn’t matter who supported what in the past; the situation this very deserving school, parents, kids, and staff, finds itself in right NOW. While I can’t go to the AUSD meeting tonight, I will be attending the League of Women Voters candidate’s forum on Monday, Sept. 16th at 7 pm at the Harbor Bay Community Center (across the parking lot from the Bay Farm Branch Library) and hope to hear what our school board candidates have to say about the AUSD policy on enrollment procedures, and how it is being implemented. I’m glad that the School will be coming out in force to make its needs heard. The West End needs to roar (and vote) to get the ear of the decision makers.

    Comment by Kate Quick — September 13, 2016 @ 5:16 pm

  8. Whoops, it is September 19th, and it is for City Council , Auditor and Treasurer candidates. The school board candidates will be at one of the other four forums being offered at the same site and time. All are posted at the LWVA website at LWVAlameda.org or on our Facebook Page.

    Comment by Kate Quick — September 13, 2016 @ 5:28 pm

  9. Speaking of classes on a more personal level, my wife purchased for herself a IPhone 6+ couple months ago. My wife …bless her heart…is about the most technically challenged person who exists. The iPhone 6+ could just as well have served her if had been an abicus with pictures for all the good she was getting out of it. I asked her if she thought about finding a class that she could attend that teaches the fundamentals (I’m a android guy). Anyway she went to the Senior Center at the old Edison school and inquired, and yes they do have a class, so she signed up.

    What’s great and kind of heart warming is they have volunteers who do the teaching and the volunteers are Alameda middle school students. Her first class is tomorrow and starts a 4:30…after the middle school students get out of school.

    Great town!

    Comment by jack — September 14, 2016 @ 5:59 pm


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