Statham quits on eve of her first anniversary

kimberly-statham.jpgIronically, when I talked to Kim Statham yesterday about the balance between work and family (the story appeared in today’s Tribune) she didn’t mention the most important detail: Her tenure was coming to an end.

She explained to me this morning that she didn’t want her staff to have to read the news in the paper. She told them her department heads this morning.

Here’s the release her spokesman sent out this morning:

OUSD State Administrator Announces Plan to Step Down
Dr. Kimberly Statham resigns her post as
head of the Oakland Unified School District 

Oakland – Sep. 14 2007 – Dr. Kimberly Statham, State Administrator of the Oakland Unified School District today announced her resignation, effective September 27. Statham, citing personal reasons, expressed great regret at leaving “an incredibly transformative and rewarding position,” but emphasized the need to spend more time with her Maryland-based family.

“The Oakland Unified School District has made remarkable strides in the past two years and is on the cusp of even greater accomplishments in which I would love to take part,” Statham said. “Determining to leave a District of such outstanding promise at a time when it is poised to reveal its potential was an agonizing decision, but a necessary one for me and my family. I gave my all to OUSD for the past two-and-a-half years and now it’s time to lavish my family with the same level of attention and devotion.”

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell praised Statham for her numerous contributions to Oakland Unified and added that she would be sorely missed.

“It is with regret that I have accepted the resignation of Dr. Kim Statham,” O’Connell said. “She is a respected curriculum expert, passionate educator and able administrator who has been completely committed to the mission of providing students in Oakland with desperately needed educational opportunities. Dr. Statham has worked tirelessly to improve academic rigor and to close the achievement gap in the Oakland Unified School District. Oakland’s students, and the District as a whole, are undoubtedly better off for her efforts. I thank Dr. Statham for all her hard work, salute her accomplishments, and wish her the best.”

Statham was named State Administrator in September 2006 after a nationwide search for the successor to Randolph Ward, who led the District from June 2003 to August 2006. Statham began her career at OUSD as Chief Academic Officer before ascending to the top post on an interim basis following Ward’s departure. She was awarded the permanent title one month later and continued the aggressive transformation initiated by her predecessors with a relentless focus on student achievement and college readiness.

On Statham’s watch OUSD continued the Expect Success reforms focused on producing quality academic results for all students; introduced an Office of Family and Community Accountability to improve dialogue and strengthen interaction with the broader Oakland community; created the Office of College Readiness to bolster preparation for post-secondary education; initiated a high school mater schedule audit to increase access to A-G courses; developed a partnership with Education Trust West to create a blueprint for increasing rigor and college readiness in all schools; worked with the Board of Education to establish Coherent Governance, a board-superintendent relationship based on a policy framework for raising student achievement; implemented new Mathematics and English Language Arts pilots that boosted achievement in numerous schools; more than doubled the percentage of African-American and Latino students qualified to enter UC and CSU schools; and earned the distinction of being California’s most improved large, urban school district for two years running.

“The idea that all Oakland students, not just some of them, should graduate prepared to succeed in college and career has guided every single decision we’ve made at OUSD during my tenure,” Statham explained. “There is much work yet to be done, but the transformative process has begun and the progress is evident. As I leave OUSD, it is a comfort to know that the foundation has been laid for our students to not only expect, but attain success, and I wish them all the best in that endeavor.”

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • turner

    Good riddance!

  • turner

    Oakland needs a leader from Oakland…not from the East, not from the South…FROM Oakland.
    I don’t know why the State can’t figure it out. People from Oakland, and the Bay Area as a whole, think differently from the other parts of the country…even the world. We are the most progressive part of the country.

    So, we need someone who is already in tune with our lifestyle, beliefs, culture, background and history. Statham and Ward came from the outside thinking they could change so many things. OUSD does not need change. It just needs more structure and accountability.

    You will not find people more interested in the situation of their local agencies than in Oakland.

    Bottom line…if the next leader is not from Oakland, then we will continue to have more of the same.

  • sharon

    My perceptions will be dismissed by so-called experts (you-who-have-been-on-the-scene-for-about-two-minutes), but as someone who has been observing our district for a number of years, I absolutely sense that things in OUSD at this point are accelerating towards a new level of self-destruction.

    I’ve been watching as our collective memory has been wiped out to almost nothing over the past several years. Currently, not too many people remember, or really truly know, anything about anything.

    So many people have flitted in, and flitted out. Despite their oratory, a hubcap on the side of the road is about as devoted to our city’s public school children as they.

    I am so very, very thankful for the decent teachers who have been working at any OUSD school for more than just a few years. These teachers are absolute saviors who are keeping things together at this point.

    Are you listening, Jack O’Connell?
    Do you care?

  • Mr. G

    I have to disagree with Turner. If a true leader can be found within Oakland, then by all means, that person should be hired. But to suggest that additional structure and accountability are the only needs of OUSD seems naive. And to imply that political and cultural values are more important to the kids in Oakland schools than intelligent leadership skills is ludicrous.

    There is a huge systemic problem which requires huge systemic solutions. And still everyone says, return control to the local board, a board that is essentially incapable of balancing its own checkbook. Great idea.

    “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” makes sense most of the time, but the Oakland education system is broken, and it does need to be fixed. These progressive ideas, which you seem to espouse, are responsible for many of the problems that are now being fixed. These progressive policies, which you’d like to return to, are a big part of the reason our kids can’t read or do simple math. Thank God we’ve spent so much time and effort building up their self-esteem, or they’d be left with nothing.

    We need a leader who will refuse to accept excuses from anyone. We need a leader who will put our kids first and demand the same of everyone in the education system. But for as long as long as we waste our time talking about the politics and geographic origin of our leaders, we will continue to get exactly the type of leadership we deserve. And I would say that serves us right, except those kids deserve better from us and from our leaders. They don’t care about the lifestyle, beliefs, culture, background and history of the next head of the district. They care about having textbooks, and qualified teachers, and facilities, and the chance to succeed. And we owe it to them to find someone who will provide all of that, no matter where we have to look.

  • Ted

    How can an administrator who spent one year in the district take credit for doubling the number of African American and Latino students qualified to enter UC? It takes 12 years to prepare a student to enter UC! Obviously, improvements in the district were in place long before Statham (or Ward’s) arrival.

  • http://ousd anne

    The district is lead by too many young outsiders that are much too anxious to pursue their agendas, increase their resumes and move on……sad situation.

  • turner

    Mr. G:
    The best superintendent is one who has a history in the community. Oakland is not a community that you can study in a book and apply theories there…case in point: the failure of the broad policies. One needs to be able to connect with the community: the board, the parents, the employees, the students. Ward and Statham have failed in that regard.

    A school district is not made up of systems. It is made up of students, parents and the providers of education. OUSD has good students, great parents and very dedicated providers of education. These stakeholders are NOT the problem. We need leaders who are accountable to these stakeholders, not some PhD from Broad. We don’t need leaders from other districts who want to make Oakland look like some other place.

    Now blaming the board is so old. The issues have happened. The board was partly to blame because they trusted the very irresponsible administration. But, they have since learned their lesson…painfully. They are now under a very strong microscope. Give them, a chance to right the ship. Of all the leaders involved in the running of the district, the board has the most to gain from the success of OUSD. Get over the fact that they screwed up.

  • http://ousd anne

    If indeed all these so said young progressive minds that are in the top administrative
    are so talented and effective, why have they left their own homes and districts to come
    t o Oakland? It is suspicious to most of us because history says they never stay, they
    start a five year plan and never see it through. Expect Success….name that tune,,,,, I can name 5 plans that never saw completion. By The way what is happening in the Student and Family division that was under Gayle Wong………someone check it.

  • Rhonda

    My mother would always say, “Whenever you see rats getting off the ship, you should follow because the ship is going to sink.” I would ask “How do the rats know that?” and my mother responded “Because they chewed a hole in it”.

    In the past 20 or so years, some head rats and regular rats have been exiting the ship (Oakland Schools). In the past 5 or so years the head rats have been exiting very quickly, except in one particular case around 2002, the head rat wasn’t intelligent enough to realize that he had chewed an enormous hole in the ship (Oakland Schools), so the State-level head rat had to tell the Oakland Schools head rat to exit the ship.

    My recommendation to all non-rats is it is time to exit the ship (Oakland Schools) as soon as possible. This includes students, parents, and employees.

    The ship is sinking!

  • maria

    I worked in OUSD until recently when it became obvious that a new egotistical species had arrived. The sweeping changes and random firings left me questioning myself and wondering if anyone was really concerned about the children. Even then I stayed, but the kids started leaving to other types of schools. When I read about how a brilliant visionary by the name of Katrina Scott George was treated in her very ailing condition, I knew I had to leave. OUSD top brass is a cold hearted type of administrator. They don’t care about your personal strory or situation. Infact they will kick you when you are down. Dr. Statham may have been used or may have acted independently in some of the cruel decisions that raised eyebrows, but her departure does not trigger any type of tears in some of us. She did not surround herself with people that knew and understand Oakland. It almost looked like she was to be the only Black person at the very top. Always a delicate place to be. I hope she leaves OUSD with lesson well well taken, but surely she leaves with NO CREDITS to her name. Bon Voyage!!

  • VW-T

    This district has 2 problems with job retention:

    1) They promise the moon and don’t deliver (ask any employee)

    2) They shuffle around so much they not only don’t want to help those recruited, but are literally unable to…

    Where are all the Oakland natives…. so progressive and in tune with this fine city? Why aren’t they jumping in to save the ship that is constantly sinking?

    They aren’t here! They took the A-train to Berkeley, San Jose, San Rafael, (insert name of any city) to escape the “no snitching,” hate the understaffed cops, elect nutcases that write letters of recommendation and grant loans to that most holy of organic bakeries, and blame everyone else for their problems….

    What you have now is a core of teachers with an abysmal retention rate that are severely underpaid, under-cared for, and often assaulted on a daily basis….

    You don’t need the nation of Islam to come in… You need a good libertarian / fiscal conservative to come in and a) Enforce the law b) Ensure teachers can teach and students can learn c) Make all fiscal matters transparent and d) Recruit through example (don’t leave for some cushy job in San Diego or to “lavish” love on your family in Maryland – what on earth were they thinking when they hired her??)

    What you need most of all is for the people who are fed up to rise up -and- NOT be violent, but be supportive and FIRM.

    It’s broke… so it’s time to fix it. Burn the boat, build a new one out in the bay. End the progressive facade and stamp out the violence….

    Start with police at the schools – Audits of every department in the district (and every school) – and resume checks of everyone hired – everywhere!

    End the corruption and you’ll perhaps gain the trust of the city and of those who come (giving them a reason to stay) to help. Cut the xenophobia (omg you so don’t know what it’s like living here!) and clean up your own back yard…

    Oh yeah – maybe some of the wonderful progressive cities around Oakland (San Rafael, San Jose, San Francisco, Walnut Creek, etc) can divert some of the aid they are sending to Darfur and MoveOn.com – and find a way to help out the neighbor they so often forget…

    Out of site out of mind is regressive….

    But what do I know… I only came here, heavily recruited… lied to… and I stayed… You see, the kids don’t know how dysfunctional the city is… They’re the innocent bystanders… I’ll stay a while for them… The rest of you need to get your act together and give them a reason to come back once they graduate… Hopefully they can restore some of the wonderful history, heritage and sanity to what was once a great city…

  • Rhodes

    You know the system is broke because none of the central office administrators send their kids to OUSD, infact they themselves live far from Oakland. It is an interesting situation. Look at their salaries compared to the neighboring districts. They match. Look at the OUSD principals and teachers salaries. Sad. Yet they continue to demolish service departments and dump paperwork on the principals while at the same time asking them to be “instructional leaders”. I I don’t think many of them will stay. If they have a chance they will go to Fremont, San Leandro, Castro Valley etc because working conditions are better and there is no Chief Academic Officer making demands and micro managing them, or managing every department like a Hitler while putting forward this soft amicable face. Watch him OUSD. San Francisco was celebrating when he left.

  • Richard

    Actually, I feel that Brad Stam was exactly what OUSD needed. He knows what he’s talking about. In the 12 years I’ve been with the district, this is the first time I’ve felt like a professional, and yes, I am able to be an instructional leader. He has taken the emphasis off of rote dedication to the Open Court pacing guides, and complete worship of the idiots at SCOE who run the “Reading Lions” program the District is mandated by the Feds to follow, and begun to focus on sound instructional practice. Why would they have adopted the FOSS Science curriculum district-wide if he were just interested in micro-managing our affairs? In my experience, the potential for good instruction is in place in OUSD, and Brad Stam is one of the few people who understands what good instruction is.

  • Stacey

    OUSD does not use OCR pacing guides? news!!! What sound instructional practices? you recruit twenty year olds that cry when a kid says good morning to them, ask them to take credential classes after school, attend PD after school, serve on committees after school, prepare their lessons for tomorrow, clean their unswept classes, complete this and that paper work, attend training on FOSS, OCR, Calendar Math, Social studies, ELD, Date with Data etc and you call all this mess sound instruction and credit one individual with this mess. He must feel honored. I wonder why SFO let his genius escape.

  • Richard

    I taught for years in OUSD before there was an adopted curriculum or any oversight. Believe me, the professional decisions being made by many of my colleagues then were not sound. You criticize work load, but you don’t even begin to discuss the content of the curriculum. Have you ever spoken to Brad Stam? Did you read his letter to the teaching staff last May outlining his expectations for OCR to be driven less by the “script” of the teacher’s edition and more by the collaborative dialogue that needs to occur in all of our classrooms? Maybe once you stop criticizing things that are a part of a professional learning community (using current data to make instructional choices, grouping children for focused ELD instruction, working collaboratively with peers to plan lessons) as simply more work, and start to see it as key to the work itself, you’ll understand better. Teachers work very hard; in my opinion and experience, they are now working harder and smarter.

  • Emma

    Well said Richard. My attention was drawn to your mention of focused ELD because it is a passion for some of us. I know this is not in your discussion above but one never knows where a great idea might come from. What do people generally offer to African American students during the ELD period when EL’s are in focused ELD classes. This is a question for elementary school settings. I have heard people mention Academic English Instruction but never have seen materials around it safe a few techniques offered by Sharroky Hollie and Dr. Lemoine.

  • Richard

    Actually, Brad Stam has helped bring in a program for Academic English Development (AED). This week nearly 75 teachers were trained in theory and techniques for teaching Mainstream English Language Development (MELD) by Dr. Hollie and his staff. All of this is very much a part of OUSD Instructional Services vision; again, a SOUND practice for professional educators. It is more work, but that is the nature of this career we’ve chosen.

  • Emma

    Do we have materials or is there a group working towards developing some? This would be grat to sustain the program year long and throughout the grade levels. 4 years ago I visited Hollie’s school and saw first hand how the strategies work, however I felt that in the lower grade levels, there was not much in terms of materials. IS does have a great vision in this regard. Thanks again for your response.
    I don’t think it is more work because it hits at the essence of what that work should actually be instead of random activities when there is no focus and or training.

  • Ron

    It is a lot of work especially for the first year teachers. Just because someone wrote a letter in May does not mean it got read. No there are no materials, we got binders with the theory and strategies but no real substantial materils.