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Education Voices: Safe Routes to School are Elusive in Oakland

EOYDC-RoutesSEMIFINAL

Kahmaria Adams, 15, listens to gospel music on her commute to school through the harrowing streets of East Oakland. She takes two city buses to get from home to Piedmont High School. She’s got the hour-long routine down, but there’s one stretch of the bus ride that gets to her.

“I always have the feeling that something will happen. On the bus I feel like I need to stay alert and watch out for troublesome people around me,” she said.

Life in “Deep East” Oakland is dangerous for anybody. In a city that FBI data ranks as having the third-highest violent crime rate in the nation, this neighborhood has the highest incidence of homicide, gunshots and forced prostitution, according to City of Oakland crime reports.

Read the rest of the story.

Also, see these related stories written by student reporters that I trained:

Read  the first story in this package: Violence confronts students in Oakland 

This story and the entire Education Voices series were made possible through the support of The California Endowment. Our student reporters for this series are participants in programs at The East Oakland Youth Development Center in East Oakland. Many thanks to the Endowment and the Center for the support of this program, and to our wonderful coaches, trainers and student reporters.

Follow the entire series here: http://oaklandlocal.com/?s=saferoutes

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Education Voices: Violence Confronts Students in Oakland

Candles

Shots were fired through the walls of Castlemont High School by a drive-by shooter in April, causing students to dive under their desks for safety, and school administrators to order a lockdown. A few weeks later, Castlemont students mourned the Sunday night murder of a beloved classmate, Olajuwon Clayborn, who was shot down in front of his home in East Oakland. Across town that same night, 19-year-old Darvel McGillberry, popular at his former McClymonds High School, was shot and killed.

In “Deep East,” at Brookfield Elementary School, three adults have been held up at gunpoint outside the school in recent months: a parent, a school custodian and the husband of a teacher. “We work in a war zone,” said first grade teacher Tammie Adams, who no longer wears her wedding ring to school to avoid being a robbery target.

Read the rest of this story.

Also, see these related stories written by student reporters that I trained:

Read  the second story in this package: Safe routes to schools: Elusive in Oakland

This story and the entire Education Voices series were made possible through the support of The California Endowment. Our student reporters for this series are participants in programs at The East Oakland Youth Development Center in East Oakland. Many thanks to the Endowment and the Center for the support of this program, and to our wonderful coaches, trainers and student reporters.

Follow the entire series here: http://oaklandlocal.com/?s=saferoutes


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Salt, Sugar, Fat

Since the 1950s convenience foods have ignited the processed food industry. In his new book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Michael Moss says that the government has been the industry’s best friend and partner in encouraging Americans to become more dependent on processed foods. According to Moss, processed foods are engineered using addictive recipes and manipulated ingredients whose structures have been chemically-altered. He says processed foods are manipulated using weaponized salt sugar and fat ingredients including 40 varieties of restructured salt and with tobacco-industry like marketing campaigns aimed at various ethnic groups and children, products are poised to addict or as the industry prefers to say, appeal and allure.

This is the second in a three-part Big Food series for Letters & Politics, a syndicated public affairs radio show out of Pacifica’s west coast station, KPFA 94.1 FM. This series investigates how the processed food industry came to dominate the American plate to become a top industry earning over one trillion in annual sales. The series digs into America’s food labs, food habits and food policy to detail how America became hooked on processed food.


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OakTown Gardens


OakTown Gardens: Reducing waste to ‘green’ Lincoln Elementary

This year, Lincoln Elementary did something few schools would have dreamt of 10 years ago: It formalized a green connection with Waste Management to exchange food scraps for compost., 

OakTown Gardens: Growing It All

Max Osterhaus visits his father’s Wisconsin ranch in the winter, 

OakTown Gardens: Blending naturalness, absence of pretense in 

Marcia Kai-Kee and Ed Oshika’s street-facing 

OakTown Gardens: Adams Point oasis inspires owner, area 

Adams Point oasis inspires owner, area residents.

OakTown Gardens: Renovating through experimentation | Oakland 

Digital artist, poet and storyteller George Aguilar has spent the last 

OakTown Gardens: Using a garden as business inspiration 

 “We don’t watch TV. We spend time in the garden.”  

OakTown gardens: Cultivating through hurdles | Oakland Local

Research shows that gentle gardening reduces stress levels and blood pressure. But, that doesn’t make it any easier to stick your hands in dirt

OakTown Gardens: Professional landscaper shares own garden at

Robin Dunlavy, co-owner of Garden Girls, keeps the roughly 10×20-foot area in her own home’s front yard brimming with plants

OakTown Gardens: Growing indoors | Oakland Local

 Dalmar Smith didn’t let apartment living get in the way of having a garden. When the financial services research assistant found

OakTown Gardens: Turning a small space into a ‘calming’ oasis

Jul 24, 2012 – OakTown Gardens: Turning a small space into a ‘calming’ oasis. Over the last 16 years, Mr. Jay has turned his East Oakland

Hey Oakland: Show us your gardens! | Oakland Local

Hey Oakland: Show us your gardens!


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Young & Determined: how a group of young men is reinventing Marin City



Read the story on KALW.

Lorenzo Bynum has the “baller” build you might see on the cover of GQ, without the swagger. He’s clean-cut, 5’10”, wears two small earrings and has a muscular frame. It’s a Wednesday afternoon in Marin City, and the 23-year-old is digging frantically through a 10’ by 10’ closet. He’s hunting for a parachute large enough for a game with 15 third graders.

Wednesdays are busy days for Bynum. He clocks in at three part-time jobs: two hours directing elementary school children, two hours coaching track and field, and two hours coaching middle school boys basketball.

One reason Bynum likes basketball is that he grew up shooting hoops around town—with the friends and family members who are now his business partners. In late 2011, Bynum, his cousin Louis, and his friends Marcus Mason, Maurice Jenkins, and Melvin Judson, launched a business designing and selling t-shirts.

With $365 pooled from their savings, they ordered 100 cardigans and 50 sweatshirts, and began screen printing original designs. So far they’ve sold over 200 shirts.

“If you don’t know us, and you just see us on the street, you think ‘oh these are just some bad guys from Marin City.’ And most people don’t see us. So we’re here to get that out in the streets,” says Bynum.

Like many living in Marin City, the young men have had a hard time finding work.

Two of them are working towards degrees. For both, it’s their second try. Mason lost his housing, and Bynum says he just wasn’t able to pay.

“They hiked the tuition to where it was $35k to go a year and I couldn’t afford that even with financial aid, grants and scholarships,” says Bynum.

Meanwhile, Judson and Jenkins work part-time. They see each other daily at Babies “R” Us. Judson has worked as a cashier and stocker there for four years. This year, he got a raise. Now he earns $10.51 per hour, just over the county minimum wage. At 17 years old, Louis Bynum is the youngest. He also used to work at Babies “R” Us.

“Right now working for me is a bigger priority, trying to start this business and also provide for myself,” said Jenkins.

Over the last 30 years, Marin City residents battled poverty and drug abuse. Today, some things are better.

According to the 2010 census, Marin City is now a median-income community. But the stigma and the challenges remain. Marin City still has higher crime and poverty rates than the prosperous county surrounding it and more than a quarter of Marin City residents continue to live under the poverty line.

“Over the last few years, the city changed for the better,” says Andrew Abou Jaoude, Client Services Coordinator for the Marin City Community Development Corporation.

Bynum and his crew see themselves as part of Marin City’s renewal.

“Our clothing line is called RedEy3. It means ‘Real expressions determined through one’s eyes.’ And the image is a plane. It means being successful in anything and everything you do. Flight to success, it’s catchy. It rolls off the tongue,” he said.

The crew works out of two homes, both of which are in public housing. At the four-bedroom apartment that Maurice Jenkins shares with his parents and siblings, they receive equipment and clothing. They hold meetings at the two-bedroom apartment Lorenzo shares with his family. But soon, they will be working out of their own office, thanks to a local non-profit.

Along with joblessness, youth crime continues to plague Marin City. Kevin Lynch is the Director of Marin County Youth Probation Services. “Approximately 75 percent of youth in our system are youths of color, which is way out of proportion to what youths of color represent in Marin County,” says Lynch. “And when I see numbers going down for other youth, that frustrates me even more. I feel like we can do better.”

Walking around Marin City, it’s easy to see the things that make life harder. Outside Jenkin’s apartment, an older, frail woman is walking around in circles. She’s stoned. Within 45 seconds, a police car approaches, and officers step out to talk with her. Behind her, young men are joking and listening to music. They don’t seem to notice.

Outside of the Phoenix Project of Marin, John Allen, 26, and Derek Morgan, 17, both say living in Marin City is challenging.

“Marin City is what you make of it. It can be your heaven or it can be your hell,” says Allen.

“It’s kinda hard growing up here because we don’t have a lot of things. But, it takes you to rise up above the influence. Growing up here you can get caught up, or, you can rise,” says Morgan.

RedEy3 still faces some challenges. This year they contacted the Marin City Community Development Corporation for small business resources, but they have yet to sign up for any assistance programs. The bigger issue now is duration. Can they keep it fun long enough to push them through months of small business hardship?

The RedEy3 team is in the process of coming out with a new collection. This one will have 120 shirts and tank tops for sale. Until the collection comes out, they will be submitting grant applications as they prepare to buy a digital t-shirt printer machine, and they’ll keep the business going.

You can see RedEy3 designs at http://www.redey3flight.com.


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You learn while they watch

Eye tracking study. Image by (cc) Flickr user pixer.

Harvard & MIT to offer free online courses

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will team up on a $60 million initiative to offer free online, college-level courses: edX.

The New York Times (5/3, Lewin, Subscription Publication) reports, “The edX project will include not only engineering courses, in which computer grading is relatively simple, but also humanities courses, in which essays might be graded through crowd-sourcing, or assessed with natural-language software.”

Inside Higher Ed (5/3, Kolowich) adds, “Harvard and MIT say one of their main goals with edX is to generate learning data that the universities can share freely with education researchers. The MITx platform, which will serve as the technology platform for edX, ‘already has a lot of mechanisms for understanding how students are learning,'” Agarwal said.

The Boston Herald (5/3, Kantor) reports, “EdX will release its learning platform as open-source software so it can be used by other universities and organizations who want to host the platform themselves, while allowing other universities and individuals to improve the platform and add features to the technology.”

PC Magazine (5/3, Moscaritolo) reports, “Students who demonstrate mastery of the subject will be able to obtain credentials for a ‘modest fee,’ the schools said. Certificates of completion will not be issued under the name Harvard or MIT, however. In addition, the courses will not give students any credit at either university.”

CNN Money (5/3, O’Toole) reports, “The Harvard-MIT project faces some competition in the push to make high-quality educational courses available online.” In April, “Princeton, Stanford, Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania announced that they would offer free Web-based courses through a for-profit company called Coursera that was founded by two Stanford computer science professors. One of those professors, Andrew Ng, taught a free online course in machine learning this past fall with an enrollment of more than 100,000 students. There’s also Udacity, co-founded by a former Stanford professor, and Khan Academy, which boasts 3,100 free educational videos across a variety of subjects.”

The AP (5/3) notes, MIT’s OpenCourseWare lists 2,000+ classes free online. “It has been used by more than 100 million people.” Last year, MIT “announced it also would begin offering a special credential, known as MITx, for people who complete the online version of certain courses.”

Fast Company (5/3, Kamenetz) reports, “Edx’s offerings are very different from the long-form lecture videos currently available as ‘open courseware’ from MIT and other universities.” Eventually, it “will offer a full slate of courses in all disciplines, created with faculty at MIT and Harvard, using a simple format of short videos and exercises graded largely by computer; students interact on a wiki and message board, as well as on Facebook groups, with peers substituting for TAs. The research arm of the project will continue to develop new tools using machine learning, robotics, and crowdsourcing that allow grading and evaluation of essays, circuit designs, and other types of exercises without endless hours by professors or TAs.”

The Christian Science Monitor (5/3, Trumbull) notes that “the move comes amid a wave of experimentation and angst in the world of education. The cost of earning a college degree has soared, and the recent job market for graduates has been weak. A range of start-ups is now moving to promote the online model of learning. Some financial experts talk of higher education as a ‘bubble’ that will burst, as new technologies such as online learning allow students to earn credentials at a lower cost.”

Update: UCB will join edX. They are already on Coursera.

Castlewood lockout, year two

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61 workers at the Castlewood Country Club have been locked out for two years.

Former waiters, banquet workers and janitors marched through the streets of Pleasanton on Saturday, joined by Occupy Oakland supporters, to rally for their jobs. Many held satiric signs giving support to the 1 percent and glorifying greed. Read a related MOJO article.

In the video above, Sergio Gonzalez talks about how the country club’s management attempted to decertify the union and why an $800/month health care cost increase is not doable on a minimum wage.