Our motivated and quirky kid entered OSA sick of school, saddened by being bullied; disgusted with the rudeness and immaturity of the students at our local middle school. She found at OSA: supportive classmates...a caring mentor...committed teachers...a refuge and a place where she bonded with others and where it was okay to be ambitious and worldly. She graduated from OSA in three years and entered UC Santa Cruz this fall--so far is earning straight A's there. Parent involvement is turbo charged.
As a student at OSA, I can tell you that isn't a horrible school. Although I do not like it myself, that does not mean that it isn't the right fit for you or your child. But that being said, it is (like many have stated previously) poorly managed. I have had issues with another student of sexual harassment that was NOT handled to the extent that it should have been. The teachers are either outstanding or very mediocre, and behavior and dress code is brushed aside despite the facade that they are enforced. But, while the administration is lacking, the arts are far from it. The students that are really passionate about art excel to above college standards, and even the kids who don't apply themselves as much in art either drastically improve or are given a new view on their emphasis. Teachers incorporate a specific students' emphasis to help them understand their academic studies, and the arts are taken very very seriously. This is the right fit for a child with a strong adoration for their art, even if they aren't the sharpest pencil in the box.
Our daughter is a 7th-grade theater student in her second year at OSA. She came to OSA from a top-flight Oakland public elementary school, and her transition to the frenetic, hyper-creative, largely indoor, combined middle- and high-school atmosphere at OSA was somewhat stressful at first. She's settled in now, though, and neither she nor we would trade the OSA experience for any other; her academic education has been more than satisfactory and her arts education has been extraordinary. Her teachers, both academic and arts, are passionate, fair, well educated, and very intelligent. As a result of the creative collaborations she's been a part of, she has a very diverse friend pool that extends from sixth to twelfth graders, from Alameda to Livermore to Richmond to Brentwood. One of our fondest hopes in sending her to OSA was that her middle school social and cultural life would be founded in creative collaboration rather than superficial judgmentalism; so far, so good.
I agree with the previous parent, OSA is like FAME on streroids. If you have a artistic child, this is the place from them to grow not just as a artisit but a active participant in a evolving community. Yes, theres the great, good, bad and just dreadful in every community. Thats where we come in as parents. Prepare your kids to be challenged. To be heard. Acknowledge that sometimes the only thing you can change is yourself. OSA has been a refuge for my A student whose grown academically, emotionally and professionally. Yes! Each child is working at a craft. It is really inspiring to watch. So don't be discouraged by negative reviews check the school out for yourself. Work with the amazing staff for yourself. Sometimes it really works others times not so great. Overall, it's worth it to have this level of professional training at a public charter school!!
My child has been attending OSA for 3 years now, going on her 4th. I am impressed with school overall and recommend it to anyone looking for an alternative school for their artistic, unique child. The Academic program has gone through changes, but I see improvement each year, and the one bad year, with one bad teacher, they addressed it quickly. When my child's math seemed to be overwhelming, I was able to email, call and visit with the teacher to figure out options on how to improve. There is a lot of parent involvement opportunities and I encourage you to be part of it, so your voice is heard. It is a family like experience for the kids. Yes, it is also shows the typical attributes of a regular school and all its issues, but with a principal walking the halls and insisting that he gets to know the kids by face and name says a lot also! It's like FAME on steroids!
Our daughter just completed 6th grade in visual arts. It was a big change from a small elementary school, but she was supported by both her art emphasis teachers and academic teachers. There seems to be a joy in the halls of OSA that I haven't encountered other places. A number of the kids seem to be struggling with math, and the school and parent community are working hard to improve tutoring opportunities, particularly in math and writing. Hopefully this effort will continue and expand.
There are many positive aspects to this school. However, there are some negative aspects also. The math proficiency scores for the school are frighteningly low. If your student struggles in math, don't expect this school to help him/her. The proficiency rating in math is around 25% - meaning only 25% of the students are proficient in their grade level of math. Which is appalling. Certain teachers are problematic in that they are so wrapped up on their special causes, it can lead them to be unfair. My student has been called out and reprimanded for asking questions about the class structure. This same teacher has acted in a discriminatory manner based on race. The emphasis teachers are not on campus for the entire school day. This shortened day with the multitude of activities in the school pretty much guarantee that it can be impossible to contact or talk to certain teachers. The schools is excellent at painting a very rosy picture, but there are some serious issues to considered when sending your child here.
My son had been struggling socially at other schools since kindergarten which has affected his academics greatly. He is now and has always been an individual which has always made it harder for him to "fit in". He has worried what others think of him and if they like him, which has always distracted him and made it harder for him to focus on his school work. He has been bullied and left out so much it has been heart breaking to watch. This school has been the first place ever that he has fit in. He has (100s of) friends, his grades have improved and he actually WANTS to go to school. He says it is "like camp" . The school really has taken him under their wing. They do not tolerate bullying. The school is like a big family that looks out for each other. The kids are amazing. They all remind me of my son.. amazing, creative, loving and talented. The academics are great. My friends who have kids in top Oakland public schools and I have compared work and OSA is ahead in all areas of study. I am amazed that a school like this exists. It is a dream come true for our family. If your child is artistic and struggling to fit in in other schools I HIGHLY recommend this school! :)
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