Advice about OUSD High Schools

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Independant study or vocational high school?

May 2010

My daughter who struggles with ADD is having a very difficult time at Oakland School of the Arts and would have hard time in any regular high school. She would be much happier in Vocational training with a vet's office combined with individual tutoring. Hope to hear from anyone who has had experience with creating own independent home study combined with vocational training/mentoring? Any district and especially BUSD. Thanks! welcome any advice

You might look at MetWest High School. It combines high school with internships in a student's area of interest. My son didn't go there but I looked at it and was impressed. It's not a charter school. anon

You might look into MetWest High School , it is an independent high school that is part of the OUSD. It is located on 10th street across the street from Laney College. At MetWest, students have internships that they go to every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. They have relationships with places like Berkeley Humane Society, Children's Hospital and other nonprofits; I think if a student had a specific place to work in mind they could create a program.

Each student has to do a project that is related to their internship. There are academic classes as well, but much smaller than at a conventional high school -- for example, geometry was a ''big'' class with 24 students -- the whole school only has about 150 students. Much of the students' time is spent in an advisory group in which they study humanities and also work on their internship projects. Their advisor is their teacher, counselor, internship liaison, and at times, nanny and enforcer. The staff is amazing, so dedicated and resourceful, and they really walk the walk about getting students to follow through and be responsible. Our daughter has ADHD and she still struggles, but it is like night and day to last year when she was in a downward spiral at a conventional high school and we couldn't get anyone to pay attention. And even when they did, no one seemed to know what to do about it. MetWest Mom


Oakland Public High Schools - for a regular student?

October 2009


The response to the recent request for information about Skyline High School stated: ''... your child can get a good education at either [Skyline or Oakland Tech], the problem is at both schools if your child does not get into the honors program, then neither school is a good bet. I can state that unequivocally.'' Is this true? Only honors students do well at Oakland Tech? Where are ordinary, middle-achieving (Cs, low Bs) public high school students supposed to get an education? I know there are some charter options (and I know about Envision Academy), but I thought either Tech or Skyline would be options for my not-very-focused-on-academics child, who is now in 8th grade.
Worried Oakland Mom (REALLY worried now)

Your child really needs to be in a smaller school like any one of the charter schools in Oakland. The class size is smaller and the teachers are dedicated to teaching and don't have to deal as much with classroom management because of the ground rules each school has. BPN lists all the schools. My daughter is a senior at Envision Academy , and was a B and C student in middle school. She has been an A and B student at Envision. Oakland Charter and Lighthouse are 2 more to check out. Check them all out.

You're right, not everyone is an honor student, but no one deserves to be herded into a school of 2000 to 3000 people. Would you go and work for a company where you had to change desks every hour and move at the same time as 2000 other people. Of course you wouldn't. Then why do we make our children do this? OK you can have the soapbox back. Jenny

I thought much the same thing about Skyline and Tech, that they were only for the students headed for honors classes, but then my daughter joined the Health Academy at Oakland Tech and my thinking has changed. The Health Academy is not as rigorous and challenging as the Engineering Academy but it offers average students a chance to move through Tech from 10-12th grade as part of a cohort who take science classes together (and there are also English classes for the kids in the Health Academy so they are together for that class too) and therefore create a learning community who not only study together, but do community service work too. This weekend they are participating in the Lung Association Health Air Walk, which will help them fulfill the 50 hours of community service they need to graduate.

The curriculum includes lots of career oriented experiences, including shadowing someone who works in health care and doing an internship as a senior with someone in health care. They learn first aid and CPR in 10th grade as well.

The teacher of the 10th grade biology and bio-lab class has been there a long time, and she told me that they keep an eye on the kids in Health Academy and if their GPA slips below 2.0, they meet with the student and strategize how to improve their grades.

You might want to check into this. There are academies at Skyline that I am sure work in similar ways. They don't seem to be as well known as Engineering or Performing arts, but I think they sound like a great way for average students to get some personal attention and possibly develop some clear goals for their future education and career.

Good luck. mom of an regular hs student