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Michael Milano

Shucking oysters and making waves

At Making Waves Academy, a middle school in Richmond, students can take long-time educator Aaron Reaven’s popular class, “Healthy person, healthy planet.” The class focuses on nutrition, cooking, and environmental issues that relate to the food supply.

Proposed charter school sparks heated debate

Summit Public Schools had their petition to open a new high school in El Cerrito denied by the West Contra Costa Unified School District – a decision which the Richmond City Council backed. The result: a heated debate about educational opportunity in Richmond, and what effect a new high school might have on existing schools.

Richmond students caught in the middle of two tests

Public school students and teachers in Richmond are caught in the middle between divergent sets of testing standards. Students are required to take and pass two types of assessments – the often criticized Standardized Testing and Reporting model and the incoming critical thinking standards of Common Core. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said in a statement, “It’s simply wrong to expect schools to prepare our students for the future while continuing to ask them to use tests that…

Ized Stewart, “Bag Man,” dies at sixty-four

Joseph Newkirk recalls seeing the weathered face of Ized Stewart often along Barrett Avenue. Known to some as George, and known to others in the Richmond community as “the bag man,” Stewart was a fixture in the neighborhood. Stewart had a distinctive look. He wore layers of tattered clothes. He had a scraggly beard and long dreadlocks often hidden beneath some sort of bag.  His eyes were a distant, faded blue. Since his death of respiratory failure at the age…

WCCUSD meets to discuss test scores

Despite signs of improvement, test scores in the West Contra Costa Unified School District continue to fall short of expectations. That was the message on Wednesday night when the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board met to discuss the school district’s test results and Academic Performance Index ratings. Nearly 75 percent of the district’s schools fall below the state’s target API score. The district includes 50 schools and 30,000 students of varying ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. “As a district, we…

WCCUSD shares new strategic plan

Relying partly on a grant from Chevron, the West Contra Costa Unified School District rolled out its new five-year strategic plan at a community meeting in Pinole on Monday night. “This is about setting priorities and then allocating resources,” superintendent Bruce Harter said. The plan elicited guarded support from some classroom teachers. Parents, teachers, students and administrators gathered in the gymnasium at Collins Middle School and sat in rows of folding chairs facing a large projector screen as the district’s…

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