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Kaiser Elementary School (Oakland, CA)

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > K-12 Schools > Oakland Public Schools > Kaiser Elementary School (Oakland, CA)



La Escuelita, Kaiser or Crocker?

Oct 2013

Does anyone know if it is hard to get into La Escuelita, Kaiser or Crocker if they are not your local schools? thanks! School Searching


Kaiser elementary school usually has more open spots than other schools because a lot of the kids in the neighborhood go to private school. Their loss! I encourage you to put Kaiser as your first choice. We tried two charter schools before landing at Kaiser for my daughter's second grade year and we are so happy. The school is diverse. People will try to tell you the other hills schools are diverse but look at the numbers. Nothing compares to Kaiser who has 35% African American and 19% mixed race. it is a true representation of Oakland. PLUS, and this was important to me, the kids are polite and NICE. When I visited I had 4th and 5th grade girls talk to me at length (that alone is a miracle) but they went on and on about how much they loved the school. The art and music program is robust and they have a library oh AND a computer lab. Test scores are not as high as some of the hills schools (I took this as a good sign that they weren't teaching too much to the test) but they are high enough. The parents are involved in the community. Oh and diversity isn't limited to race as there are a lot of LGBT parents as well. Most of the families at Kaiser come from all over the city so you don't have to worry about being looked down on for not living in the hills. There was a scare that Oakland would close Kaiser but that is NOT happening, Kaiser will stay open and will likely expand increasing your chances of getting in.

I live very close to Crocker and thought about putting that as my first choice but I hear it is very impacted and even neighborhood kids may not be getting in. It is a good school with a very good reputation and high scores. You may want to talk to the principal about next years projected numbers. Good luck! I know how stressful school choice is. Third time's the charm


Jan 2013

Re: OUSD Elementary options for queer family

Kaiser Elementary in OUSD is a great school for LGBT families, as well as transracial/adopted/foster families. The school is very welcoming and parent involvement is high. consider Kaiser


Kaiser Elementary! It's a wonderful school! I am a single lesbian and have 2 sons there. I couldn't be happier with the school, teachers, and the amazing community which represents true diversity with a very visible queer/alternative family contingent. There will be an open house on Jan 15th. If you can't make that, call to arrange another time to visit. http://www.kaiserelementary.org/index.html Valerie
Check out Kaiser Elementary. They are very LGBT friendly and have many same sex parent families. http://www.kaiserelementary.org/ They also have a very active yahoo group where you can ask more questions. Maya
Hi Queer Mamas! Oakland's Kaiser Elementary should be high on your list! We boast lots of queer families (at least 10% of the school), including single-parented, gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans parented families, and several queer staff and teachers. You'll also find foster kids, trans-racially adopted kids and kids from a vast array of socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. There are kids who are 'like' my kid in lots of different ways, and there are lots of kids who are different--which is exactly what I want; diversity is valued and modeled in a host of different ways. His first grade class skipped mother/father's days last year in lieu of 'family' day. Kaiser is also a CA distinguished school, with great test scores, rich after school offerings and a devoted parent base. Good luck with your search. kaiser mom
Check out Kaiser Elementary. It's a wonderful, inclusive school just a 10 minute drive from North Oakland.http://www.kaiserelementary.org/ C
Henry J. Kaiser Elementary! See former BPN reviews. Many excellent teachers, great after school programs, terrific diverse families. Best of Oakland in so many ways. Our now-6th grader loved every K-5 minute there and continues to be close to many of her Kaiser friends. Quick drive from N Oakland,esp if you are heading toward the tunnel anyway. Not sure what is happening with possible closure or expansion, but I'm sure someone can fill you in.
Oct 2012

Thought I would update here for Kaiser since tour season is upon us! I am a parent to two Kaiser kids and couldn't be happier with this wonderful, small and very diverse school. Every teacher knows every child by name, whether they're their student or not. Both of my children are working beyond grade level. The enrichment program is fantastic during school hours and there are many more courses to choose from---chess, art, dance, chorus, guitar, piano and more--- after school along with Adventure Time headed the a team of teachers that also work as resource specialists during school hours. Every child receives instruct in art, PE and music and all 4th and 5th graders are taught a musical instrument.The level of parent involvement is extremely high and you will never come to campus and not find several parents volunteering in the classrooms, the yard, the garden or working on various projects. This is a hard working crowd that values their community and the education of their children above all else. Kaiser was awarded the distinction of a California Distinguished School for it's diversity and gains in bridging the achievement gap. Kaiser is a school of choice located on a beautiful plot of land overlooking the Bay, SF and Oakland which is fitting as it draws families from all over town. It represents only the best of life in Oakland and exemplifies why we live and thrive here. Please check the website for tour information: http://www.kaiserelementary.org/ Parent to 2


Jan 2012

Parents looking for an academically strong, culturally diverse and community-centered elementary school should put Kaiser Elementary at the top of the list.

My son is in first grade there, and we've been thrilled with his experience. API scores are top notch--885 total, with one of the highest scores in the district for African American students, thanks to our involved and dedicated teachers. And Kaiser, despite its Hills location, doesn't cherry pick for success: the school looks like Oakland--super diverse economically, racially and culturally, plus a large percentage of kids who are trans-racially adopted, foster children, and kids from LGBT families. Kaiser doesn't just tolerate or accept difference, it seeks out and embraces it. The parent community is highly involved, warm and welcoming.

There's a great afterschool program, plus afterschool enrichment opportunities, from foreign language to music to computer to art. We were worried about the commute--but Kaiser's location, at the juncture of 24 and 13, make it highly accessible from most parts of Oakland. Most families do commute to Kaiser--from West, North and East Oakland, and other Hills neighborhoods--and we do it because it's worth it. happy to be a Kaiser family


Nov 2011

The last post of Kaiser seemed to be from a prospective parent, so I thought I'd give our school a plug since we're coming up on the options process. My family has been part of Kaiser for the last 4 years.

If you're looking for a fabulous elementary school that truly reflects Oakland's diversity, fosters an involved parent community (you will never visit Kaiser without seeing parents volunteering) and is located in a safe, beautiful and healthy environment....please visit Kaiser. We welcome ALL kinds of families here from traditional ''nuclear'' to single, adoptive parents, to LGBT headed households and some kids that are in gender variant. Our teaching staff is highly experienced and completely devoted to the school. Somehow, in spite of the somewhat restrictive Ca guidelines thrust upon them, our teachers manage to inspire creativity and spirit, while maintaining high academic standards for ALL our children. Our API goes up every year and is among the highest for AA children in OUSD. We did get a new principal this year and Mr. Avent is inspiring in his energy, generosity of spirit, work ethic and utter devotion. He has been the perfect fit for our community.

In school, art, music, science, PE and computers are offered. After school there is Spanish, Mandarin, Chess, African Dance, Chorus, more music, more art and too many others to list!

Kaiser is included in OUSD Re-structuring plan and the community is working to come up with the best plan most beneficial to our children. We are excited to have the opportunity to improve upon an already fantastic location. The whole experience has made community even closer and strengthened it. We truly are a large, happy, productive family. Happy Kaiser Parent


April 2011

Hi, I toured the school recently and noticed that the lights in the classrooms I observed had the lights off while the students were there, actively working on their schoolwork. Granted, the rooms have windows, but to be honest, they seemed too dark to hold a class in them. Is it because of the School District budget crisis? worried parent


I've volunteered at Kaiser a lot (every Friday and sometimes more often). I don't remember needing the lights turned on all the time, because natural light is nicer and the classrooms seem light enough to me.

There hasn't discussed turning off lights as an energy or budget issue, though it might be an individual teacher's issue. Teachers usually turn off lights when using the overhead because it's easier for the students to read it. It might sometimes happen that they continue without remembering to turn them back on, but that doesn't happen often and for longer than a few minutes and again, there's enough natural light.

During some of the classes, like art, some teachers may sometimes asked classes if they wanted the lights on or off to create the right atmosphere and spur creativity, and the majority prefer them off (based on the observations of my son's teacher and my volunteering in the classrooms). Obviously, if any child complained they couldn't see well, they would go back on.

Kaiser has been a wonderful school for my son. He's learned a lot there, and made friends - and so have we, his parents. Hope your family decides to be a part of it. Love Kaiser


Nov 2010

Re: Kids of LGBT families experience: Oakland schools
Try Henry J Kaiser Elementary! We have families of all stripes and types of diversity (gay and lesbian, mixed race, multi-race and we are from all over Oakland), nice community feel, arts enrichment, openly gay principal, many excellent teachers and fine API scores, good before- and after-care and afterschool enrichment. Love our Kaiser families of all kinds!


Nov 2010

Re: Kids of LGBT families experience: Oakland schools
You didn't mention Kaiser School, but it is a very welcoming community. I am a lesbian mom and I feel very supported there. I'm very happy to see all kinds of diversity represented by the families at Kaiser(single parent, adoptive, transracial, gay/lesbian parents,etc). I live in the Laurel and looked into that school 3 years ago when I was looking for a kindergarten for my son. While I was told that they accept all families, I didn't get a warm and fuzzy feeling (and they don't have aftercare which I need). The Kaiser principal is an out gay man and father. The motto for Kaiser School is ''A Fabulous Oakland School!'' I invite to go an upcoming open house. valerie


Nov 2010

Re: Seeking advice and guidance on the Options process
Don't know exactly what is going on with options these days, and don't mean to be pushing Kaiser (I recommended it in another post as well), but I encourage you to check it out. Call Robin in the office (# is on the OUSD website) and ask her about tours, enrollment etc. When we did options a few years back, Kaiser was a hidden gem-- I think because fewer folks from the neighborhood send kids there, it is easier to get into than some of the other hill schools. And folks come from all over Oakland, so there is no feeling like an outsider. Kaiser is wonderfully diverse, friendly and high performing. Happy Kaiser Parent


Oct 2010

Re: Oakland elementary that values creativity, peace, fun, learning
Check out Kaiser Elementary (Hiller Highlands neighborhood, off the top of Tunnel Road) and Peralta (North Oakland, lower Rockridge). We have a 4th grader at Kaiser. Curriculum is pretty standard public school, with STAR testing, workbooks, Open Court reading. But there are many excellent teachers (and some so-so, but we have had only excellent so far), arts enrichment, good afterschool programs, great families from all over Oakland, nice community feel. Our very creative kid has loved it, and has liked the academics as well. Don't know Peralta first hand, but loved it when I visited (but ultimately decided on Kaiser, partly because of better after school choices, and our kid would need 5 days a week after care), and most families there rave about it. Kaiser Mom


June 2010

Re: Looking for an affordable K-4 private school
The best deal in K-5 education is the public schools. Despite the negative press, Oakland, Berkeley and San Leandro all have some excellent elementary schools. My daughter has been at Kaiser in Oakland since Kindergarten (now going into 5th.) I have been at least as happy with her school experience and my friends paying for private school. Plus daily lessons in diversity, tolerance and mutli-cultural living that are hard to come by in the private setting Good luck. A Happy Public School Mom


Oct 2009

Re: Elementary schools where African American boys thrive
Kaiser Elementary in Oakland may be a good option for you. It is very diverse, economically, socially, family make-up, race and ethnicity. In a recent newsletter, the principal commented: ''I received an invitation to speak at the Association of California School Administrators about the achievement of our African American students. We are one of the top nine schools in the state in this category.''

My son is a first grader at the school and we love it. I encourage you to make an appointment to tour the school and meet with the prinicpal. It's in the Hiller Highlands area of Oakland off Highway 13, so a bit out the way for many, but we have families attending from many different neighborhoods. There really isn't a feeling of ''neighborhood'' kids versus the handful of kids from outside the neighborhood which is common in other schools.

The School's phone number is 549-4900. anon


March 2008

I only saw one recent posting about Kaiser Elementary School on BPN. If possible I would like to get more feedback on the school as a whole, pros and cons. How are the teachers/classes in the older grades. Thanks for your insight. Is Kaiser right for us?


Shhh. Don't tell! Kaiser is a hidden gem and we Kaiser familieslove it that way!

All kidding aside, I am the parent of a Kaiser 1st grader and couldn't be happier. The teachers are terrific. The school is extremely diverse -- there are gay parents, straight parents, mixed race families, etc -- it really feels like a good representation of Oakland. And, it is because the kids come from all over the city. As it's motto suggests, It is a true ''Community of Learners.'' The principal supports and encourages the best from the staff, the students, AND the parents. Parent volunteers are welcomed, even encouraged. The PTA raises a lot of money to keep art, music, physical education, a computer lab, the library and some of the support staff part of the Kaiser curriculum. They also have a wealth of intervention specialists to help children who may be falling behind. (Our child struggles with reading a bit and this was identified early and he is getting the extra help he needs both outside of the classroom and with volunteer aides during class -- daily!) We feel blessed to have gotten into Kaiser on the lottery, even though our neighborhood school is a very good quality school. We love the small size of the campus, as well as the small number of children who attend. It really gives you a chance to get to know the families and feel a part of a close-knit community. The garden is beautiful and is kept in great shape by the gardening club -- a student group led by a volunteer parent. In first grade, the children switch classrooms one afternoon a week to study Spanish with one teacher, social studies with another. EVERY child in fourth and fifth grade is required to play a musical instrument. Art and music are a HUGE and valued part of the school's culture.

Cons? Hmmmm. Sometimes the commute on 13 can be a bit of a bummer. (15-20 minutes, max.) Usually not, though. And, some teachers are better than others and there are no guarantees that you'll get the ''best'' one -- but where IS that a guarantee? And, the lack of grass on the play yard is a bummer. But, NO Oakland Public Schools have grass -- it's too costly to keep up.

Is Kaiser right for you? Hopefully I have helped to answer that question. -A Blessed Kaiser Family


Hi, I have two children at Kaiser (one in kindergarten and one in second grade), and have nothing to say but wonderful things about the school. It is a small, community oriented school, with great parents and nice kids. The children all get a chance to know one another (in all grades) because it is so small. The principal is loving and also very good at getting children and parents to participate. As a whole the teaching staff is very supportive and really on the ball. Our children have come to feel happy, loved, challenged and very safe in their learning environment. If you have any questions feel free to email me. Sarah
Dec 2007

Hi there, I was checking the archives and noticed there are not many recent comments about Kaiser Elementary. I'm thinking of sending my child there next fall, and would love to know how current parents feel about it. I know there is a relatively new principal -- how's he doing? I could move into another school district if I need to, but if Kaiser is still as good as ever, I can save the effort!! Thanks so much! Abbi


I have a first grader at Kaiser. It has some wonderful qualities, but I feel a bit mixed about the place this year.

The plusses:

1. I think the 2 kinder teachers are terrific. My daughter had a very good kindergarten year despite her teacher being brand new and a few difficult kids in the class. (the other K teacher was also new to Kaiser). Next year (assuming both K teachers are still there) I believe they will both be really excellent teachers: they are both really bright and creative teachers and both infused the standard K curriculum (ie, Open Court Reading and basic math stuff) with lots of interesting life stuff (eg, bugs, art, science etc). By next year they will both have a couple years under their belts and I imagine the classes will be excellent. The Ks also get a decent amount of art and music on a regular basis.

2. Kaiser has a really great community. Mel Stenger, the principal, is very visible, knows all the kids by name as far I can see; he seems to really support staff development and at times he is movingly eloquent about education and life in general in his regular communications in the Kaiser weekly paper. The support staff is excellent: very warm and loving with the kids, and very helpful to kids and families. The families are wonderful, and it is an especially great place for folks who value diversity of all kinds: gay and lesbian and mixed race families are mainstream, and because folks come from all over Oakland everyone wants to be there and feels pretty connected to the school; one does not get the sense that there is a divide between those from the neighborhood and those outside the neighborhood. The various community potlucks and kids performances throughout the year are well attended and really fun, and when I'm there I'm so proud to be part of Kaiser and a resident of Oakland--it feels like the best of Oakland, and why so many of us love the Bay area.

There is a very active PTA and we raise a bunch of money for enrichment activities. The fundraising is very good spirited and fun (an auction, waltkathon, and a few other things). Lots of parents volunteer in the classrooms and other areas of the school. People at Kaiser really care about their children and the school.

3. The adventure Time aftercare is pretty good, with some great staff members. Kaiser had some very good quality pay extra after school activities like African Dance, Chess, Legos, Drama, Music etc. which is great for us working parents who cant drag our kids all over the place during the week. So your kid can get a good amount of on-site enrichment.

My hesitations: I don't have other schools to directly compare it to,since Kaiser is the only elementary school my daughter has attended, but I think if you want private-school quality, or if your kid has special needs (either extremely bright or needs extra assistance), you may not find what your child needs at Kaiser. We all try really hard at Kaiser, but I sometimes feel we are held back by being part of OUSD, with the regimins of standardized testing, Open Court reading etc. Despite having a fabulous teacher this year, my daughter gets alot of busy-work homework. She talks less about curriculum content (eg, bugs, art, science, etc)than last year and the focus is much more skill building (which is fine in moderation, but seems oddly removed from the real world or interesting ideas. Maybe this is just what first grade is about?) She even took her first fill in the bubble test this year, which was a bit dismaying.

There seems to be a bit of attrition of families in the upper grades--there is only one 5th grade class this year, of 35 students, (taught by a very talented and dedicated teacher). I don't know why this apparent attrition--maybe some other Kaiser parent does? But it seems like those who can afford it end up pulling their kids and going to private school? Again,I don't know this for sure, but it does make me wonder if in the upper grades the school does doesn't cut it academically for those who want a more creative, thoughtful, well rounded education for their kids, instead of a curriculum basically designed around the absurd rounds of testing, with some art, music etc thrown in. Also, being a public school, there is a wide range of abilities etc and between the testing and this wide range I think the education ends up at the high end (perhaps the very high end?) of mediocre. Which is great for OUSD, but might not be quite enough for some families who can afford to send their kids elsewhere.

I may be over stating the down-sides a bit, and I certainly would not discourage anyone from checking out Kaiser and deciding for onesself. And for some families (esp those who value diversity) I think it is an excellent choice. For those of us who can't afford or dont want to paythe $20,000 a year for private school we just keep plugging away to make it a great place to be. But honestly, sometimes I don't quite see that our efforts add up to a truly excellent education. That being said, it is certainly adequate, probably similar to what I got in a decent suburban public school back in the 1970s; my daughter and is happy there, and we are committed to it for the time being, with some reservations... Current Kaiser Parent


March 2006

We are so excited to learn that we got our first choice elementary school for our oldest son who's entering kindergarten in the fall - Henry J. Kaiser in Hiller Highlands. Now, we have to figure out how the commute time is from Montclair/Park Blvd. on Hwy 13. Anyone do that drive each day? How is it?
-Curious about commute time


Welcome to Kaiser! I have 2 children there now and we live off the Lincoln exit. Worst case scenario is about 25 minutes. The usual commute is 15 to 20. Kaiser mom
Feb 2005

Re: Gay Friendly Schools in Oakland
I would suggest checking out Kaiser Elementary School (25 South Hill Court Oakland, 94618), which is very near Chabot. Kaiser is VERY welcoming towards LGBT families. The staff is diverse and warm. You will feel very at home... and your child will receive an excellent education experience. You can call or drop by the school anytime to see how the campus operates. Just check into the office. Renae


Feb 2004

Can anyone provide me with any feedback (positive or negative) re Kaiser Elementary School? Any information would be greatly appreciated.


I am a preschool teacher in Oakland. We currently have two families who have older siblings at Kaiser. One is in kindergarten and the other in second or third grade. Both parents absolutely love the school and highly recommend it! Nanu
My son is in the second grade at Kaiser, his third year there. Our experience has been very good overall and I can't give enough praise to the three teachers he's had so far. I love that it's a smaller public school and embraces diversity on many different levels. The principal, Katie McLane, is the kind of leader and role model I want for my children. If I can answer specific questions you have please email me. kb
Our son is in 1st grade at Kaiser and we are very happy. The school is small - about 260 students. It won't grow much bigger because they don't have the physical space to add more portables (there are already a few). It was an Arts and Humanities magnet school until last year, when they changed their magnet school designation because they stood to loose a great deal of federal funding as the application process was separate from the general application process for other Oakland public schools - this had to do with new laws enacted through ''Leave No Child Behind''. I don't fully understand but I know the principal, Katie McClane, would cheerfully explain it. They are still committed to an arts and humanities focus and have not changed their curriculum despite no longer being a magnet school.

The principal is wonderful. She is everywhere everyday and knows every child at the school well. She knows the parents well too. She is unfailingly cheerful and optimistic, and is kind and firm when necessary. There is a lot of parent involvement at the school, which is terrific and important. The teachers and staff seem proud to work there and they seem to feel well-supported.

The test scores are very good, and Kaiser was 1 of 5 schools in the Oakland school district to pass some test standard set out by the ''Leave No CHild Behind'' act.

The school is inconvenient to most people, located on Hiller Highlands just above Bentley, and the traffic during rush hour is pretty bad. I think taking Highway 24 to the Broadway exit is a little better in the mornings than taking Highway 13, if you can.

Despite the commute unpleasantness, our family is really pleased our son is there. He likes and is proud of his school. I really recommend you call Kaiser and speak with Robin (Office person extrordinaire) or Ms. McClane and set a time to see the school. It may well be a good choice for your family too. Terry


November 2003

Kaiser is a small gem of a school in the Oakland hills, off Hwy 13. It is a K-5 setting with such a diverse (across many lines - socioeconomics, race, sexual preference, culture and religion)faculty and parent/student body that it brought me to tears 4 years ago when my child started kindergarten. It's focus is the arts, with visual and perfoming arts to enhance the learning environment. The principal calls all the children ''my dears, my darlings'' and means it. I can't say enough good things about this school. olivia


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