When East Oakland High School suddenly closed its doors in 2007, Jeff Duncan-Andrade, along with a few of his former students, hoped for the opportunity to build new and innovative education options for public school students in Oakland. As a public school teacher in Oakland and an Ethnic Studies professor that has worked with teachers, school leaders and district officials around the world for the past 20 years, Jeff understood the value and need for a lab school that would encourage teachers to become innovators in their classrooms. This fall, the education model that they envisioned will come to life in the form of Roses in Concrete Community School – a public charter school and lab school located in East Oakland for K-8 students.
With emphasis on love, security, nourishment, care, community, and knowledge of self, the school will not only function as a center of health for the surrounding community but also as a laboratory to study and disseminate innovative practices in the classroom and the broader school culture. Jeff and his colleagues hope that with the school’s advancement, they will be able to share their struggles and successes with other educators, unions, districts, policy makers and thought leaders in Oakland and across the country to change the conversation about what’s possible in education. In Oakland and many more cities in the U.S., students face unique challenges that can severely impede their ability to have an enriching school experience. The name Roses in Concrete represents the tenacity to grow against very difficult odds. This fall, former students, long term community partners, award winning teachers and progressive education researchers will come together to develop practices that will help students in East Oakland and hopefully many more across the country achieve academic success.