Fix Our Failing Schools Case Study 1: Castlemont High School in Assembly District 18 and Senate District 9

It would take me approximately 15 years to write about every single failing school in California, assuming I did so at the rate of one per week. So, I’m not going to do that, but I do want to highlight as many as I can for as long as I can. We will start today with one of (if not) the lowest-performing schools in the state.  

Castlemont High School, in East Oakland, California holds the unfortunate distinction of being that school. We want that addressed and changed! We want to force the Oakland Unified School District and the state of California to fix this failing school.

Castlemont High School is a traditional public school serving 564 students from grades 9-12.  The 4 year High School Graduation rate is 65% with only 36% of the students meeting UC/CSU entrance requirements. rates the school at 1/10.  With a 23:1 teacher/student ratio, it has relatively small class sizes for a high school. Teachers at this school are mostly certified but hard to keep. 60% of the teachers have 3 or more years experience. That means teachers aren’t staying, which also, by the way explains the low average teacher salary. These are not seasoned teachers who have had many salary increases. 

Castlemont is predominantly Hispanic and Black with an 81% of the students coming from low income households.  

Look at the numbers for suspensions. These numbers show that there is little tolerance for students with disabilities and that the school does not make much of an effort to provide behavioral support for students with disabilities. This is very concerning. Parents could sue the district, and I suspect that they have around this issue. Special note that funding for Special Education is mostly federal and not state, and therefore, this population of students is governed by federal laws as well as the education code in the California Constitution.  

Test scores at the school are the lowest in the state. They have been for many years.  Generations of kids have passed through the halls and classrooms of Castlemont High School and have been forced to attend school here despite the abhorrent conditions in this school. The administrative staff, teachers, counselors, school board, community and elected legislators should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to continue without improvement despite receiving EXTRA funding to address these issues. Everything about this school needs to improve NOW!  The teachers and school board members here decry and protest alternatives for the kids of this community yet, they do NOTHING to address this failing school. There’s a lot of screaming for accountability and anti-choice, but they are never voicing a concern for the life and education of the students. Shame on Oakland Unified School District! The nearest high performing school is Oakland Charter High School, just 3.5 miles away.

I urge the readers who are reading this to contact every single person in the state of California who has the authority to fix this failing school and make it a priority. And incidentally, these board members should be ousted, so I am including their district and term expiration.  

Oakland Unified School Board:

District 1

  • Vice President Jody London
  • [email protected]
  • 510/879-8199 x31
  • Third Term Ends: January 4, 2021

District 2

District 3

  • Director Jumoke Hinton Hodge
  • [email protected]
  • 510/879-8199 x33
  • Third Term Ends: January 4, 2021

District 4

District 5

  • Director Roseann Torres
  • [email protected]
  • 510/879-8199 x35
  • Second Term Ends: January 4, 2021

District 6

District 7 (Castlemont HS)

Tony Thurmond

  • State Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • General: 916-319-0800

The legislators for this district are as follows: 
Assembly Member Rob Bonta (DEM) [YES OF AB1505]

Capitol Office

  • State Capitol
  • P.O. Box 942849
  • Sacramento, CA 94249-0018
  • Tel: (916) 319-2018
  • Fax: (916) 319-2118

District Office:

  • 1515 Clay Street, Ste. 2204
  • Oakland, CA 94612
  • Phone: (510) 286-1670
  • Fax: (510) 286-1888

Senator Nancy Skinner (DEM) [YES OF AB1505]

Capitol Office

  • State Capitol, Room 5094 Sacramento,  CA 95814
  • Phone:  (916) 651-4009 Fax:  (916) 651-4909

District Office

  • 1515 Clay Street, Suite 2202 Oakland, CA 94612
  • Phone: (510) 286-1333 Fax: (510) 286-3885

Ah yes. The audacity of legislators who want accountability in schools, but only for charter schools, and not traditional schools. They want your kids in schools like Castlemont, not Oakland Charter. I did not know when I started writing on Castlemont that these two kid haters were the representatives for this district.

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Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia

Leticia Chavez-Garcia is a Mother, Grandmother, former Middle School Teacher, former Member of a School Board of Education and an Education Advocate for hundreds of parents and students in the Inland Empire. Having become a mother at 15, Leticia knows what it’s like to be a single mother trying to navigate the education system. Leticia received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Public Administration from California Baptist University and a Masters’ Degree in Education Technology from Cal State Fullerton in her 30’s. Leticia has used her knowledge and experience to help hundreds of families as an Education Advocate in the Inland Empire and currently works as an Education Specialist.

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