Monthly Archives: May 2009

  • Marilyn “Melina” Collins was strung out and desperate, a 98-pound skeleton of her former self. She was turning tricks to support her addiction and take care of her 4-year-old daughter, Messiah. She needed help but didn’t know where to turn. Then, one night last June, she saw men wearing white jackets standing on International Boulevard and 78th Avenue in East Oakland. One of them offered her a lifeline. She reached for it and hasn’t let go.

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  • It is often said that there are “two Oaklands,” and the city’s public education system is no exception to this divide. Some schools are largely attended by the middle class and affluent, and others by the poor and working class. The Interstate 580 freeway, which traces the city’s rolling foothills, provides a crude boundary. About 10 years ago, a group of mothers from the flatlands of East Oakland saw their children languishing in overcrowded, chaotic schools while their peers in the hills received a far different kind of education. Through Oakland Community Organizations, an alliance of community and religious leaders, those concerned mothers and thousands of others pushed for the creation of new, small schools – excellent schools, with innovative practices and high expectations – in their own neighborhoods.

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