I’ve been back in Oakland for a couple of days. The top of my list of ToDos was to spend some quality time with Anna. Check! (This is not an activity on which I believe it’s possible to overindulge, so I’m happily testing how much time I have to spend with her to be drunk with love!) When I got home I saw that she had been expanding the garden on our little terrace. Looks sweet, and it’s a nice place to sit and take in the morning sun.
Today I’m heading over to Foster City for the first big gathering of my Teach For America experience. I’ll be meeting new friends, learning more about the program, and celebrating the fact that I’ve been tentatively assigned to teach in the Oakland Unified School District! This will mean a little shift in focus on the blog. Not only are Anna and I back in Oakland for the empty nest phase of our life, but I’m going back to Oakland public schools. I don’t have a specific school assignment yet, but I know I’ll be teaching special education. I expect the next two years to be really challenging.
It’s been hard (depressing) to read about the struggles Oakland teachers and the OUSD are facing with regard to teacher contracts. I’m trying to keep an open mind about that conflict. Striking seems counterproductive to the ultimate goal: to work to assure that every child has access to the kind of education that will prepare him or her to go to college. Large class sizes and low teacher salaries aren’t a pathway to that goal, either. It’s a gnarly problem and requires creative solutions that will involve sacrifice. I’m trying to do my part. I hope the rest of the community is willing to step up.
Over the next few weeks, as I find out more about my assignment for next year, I’ll be reflecting on the challenges and sacrifices that go along with teaching in Oakland’s public schools.