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Another Skyline principal out the door

hgreen.JPGHeidi Green, who has been principal at the diverse, 2,000-student Skyline High School for just over one year, told her staff yesterday that she wouldn’t be back in the fall, according to two teachers present when she made the announcement.

Tim Jollymore, an English teacher at Skyline, confirmed this afternoon that Green said the district had offered her a position at another Oakland high school — she didn’t say which one — but that she declined the job.

Green’s tenure was a bit rocky from the start, partly because some teachers and parents were unhappy with the way in which she was chosen. Her predecessor, Amy Hansen, quit in August 2006, shortly before the start of school, leaving little time to hire a replacement. For months, there wasn’t a principal in place.

Green’s supporters, such as parent Wandra Boyd, say she is a strong, student-focused leader. But critics have complained that the young principal lacked the experience to run a large, urban high school such as Skyline — and the people skills to smooth over inevitable bumps in the road.

Last fall, parents and students called me to report a major scheduling snafu that led to overcrowded classes and kids placed in the wrong sections. Green told me at the time that many people were pointing fingers — often, at her. (I left a message for Green this morning about her announcement, but I have yet to hear back from her. )

Now, as the school — and district — look to hire Green’s replacement, some parents and teachers are anxious to make sure the right person takes the helm.

Skyline is the highest-scoring non-charter high school in the district. Parent boosters emphasize its strong performing arts programs and advanced placement courses. At the same time, it is in Year 3 of Program Improvement under No Child Left Behind.

Skyline faces other real challenges, as well. Just today, I got a call from a father whose ninth-grader was reportedly threatened on campus by students who wanted to take his video game. The boy told me they pulled a knife and a BB gun on him before school started, but that he managed to get away.

What kind of a leader does Skyline need (aside from a superhuman), and how do you hope teachers and parents will be included in choosing that person?

photo by Ryan Barnes, Skyline Oracle

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nextset

    An interesting problem. Looking at Ms Green you wouldn’t expect her to have the political skill for such a hot seat job. People can get thrust into a no win situation they have not yet the skill to manage – I’ve seen it. Minorities and minority women frequently in my experience have had that happen. The biggest casualties are often young. (For example that young Asian woman judge who was run out of her job in CoCo County.)

    Still, I wish Ms Green the best and whatever comes out of this, she got experience that’s hard to find. Political skill is paramount in large organizations. Women often don’t get this because of their lack of training and experience in politics… but then we have Margaret Thatcher and even Pamela Harriman. Some women do politics well, not most. I have seen those is big time academia on a march to power. They were single-minded and determined to dominate from their 20′s. Not everybody has the bug. Nice folks don’t cut it here.

    It’s not that she may have done anything wrong – that’s not it at all. Perhaps she just didn’t work out somehow – and there is nothing wrong with that at all. Good for her, and often these people end up doing just fine elsewhere.

    Parents and teachers are not included in selection of management at this level.

    The kind of leader Skyline needs is the type fit to handle a large fast moving organization – someone with superb political skills who understands command and control systems and the importance of information flows, ability to judge people quickly and accurately and the ability to make decisions and have them carried out. A good grasp of secondary education would be nice but is optional. They need to keep most of the people happy most of the time and to maintain the confidence of the appointing authority.

  • Nextset

    2nd paragraph “..those in big time academia…”

  • Caroline

    I took note of this because it was big news in my circle when Amy Hansen came to SFUSD to be Lowell’s principal. Sorry to be so publicly blunt about a real person who could conceivably be reading this, but she was a total disaster at Lowell. My friends who are Lowell parents still talk about it, with great relief that they now have a principal they like (Andy Ishibashi, previously principal of Washington HS in SFUSD).

    I gather that Hansen was pretty respected as Skyline principal, so the whole thing was a strange turn of events. There’s some lesson there, like “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  • Anna Treadwell

    It always seems that all the news I get about my child’s school comes from the last source we should hear it from. So many things the school district does & decides is kept a secret from the parents, teachers, administration, etc. of the school it impacts. I wish Ms. Green the best. I hope whomever we get next we will have some say or at the very least we find out before the newspapers or someone not related to the school. I hope they don’t make an agreement in secret like they did with the homeowners assn. so that we aren’t even able to use the lights on the football fld. when our children are out there & they’re in the dark. I hope that the district will care about this enough to do a good job. We need someone who will get the job done, but we need a district that will be there to back them up, to come & fix things that are broken, to care about the children’s safety first & who put the priority where it should be, on the children & not on keeping the neighbors happy. I hope more parents will become involved, come to the meetings, write to the district, school board. Let’s show the kids by example that things can get done if we work together. Let’s get rid of all the secrets and do things in the open.

  • Katy Murphy

    Anna: It might make you feel better (or worse) to know that the school board member who represents Skyline had not heard about the announcement as of this afternoon.

    At a school of 2,000, I don’t know how you make sure that every teacher, student and parent gets wind of important news simultaneously, or at least before any nosy reporters find out.

    In any case, I’m sorry to disappoint…

  • Nextset

    Anna: It’s clear who is the dog and who is the tail. The parents are not going to be consulted or even informed about goings on at the school. Stop expecting it. It’s not the way things work in the organization. The families who provide the product for that particular factory would appear to be powerless.

    Caroline: While I agree with you about a real person – those jobs are not a place for the thin skinned.

  • Sue

    I’m not going to trash Heidi Green, other than to say that she really didn’t impress me or DH as being up to the job. She was trying hard though, and I’ll give her that. My best to her.

    The complaints about parents not being consulted before she was hired are valid, because we parents were told by the district that we’d have a say (parent representatives were to be on the hiring committee) in who was hired. The district administration lied to the parents, again.

    Can’t blame Vince Matthews, though, because he wasn’t the state adminstrator at the time, and can’t blame the new superintendant either for the same reason. Here’s their chance to show us something different – they can be honest about how the replacement will be found and hired. If they want parental input, they’ll have it. If they don’t want it, they can tell us how they’ll search for and interview candidates, and what criteria they’ll use to decide which candidate to hire.

    Honesty about the process this time would go a long way.

    Oh, yeah, this does bring up my other hobby horse – stability and continuity. Here we are again, looking for a principal for Skyline, and everybody involved is new so they weren’t involved the last time we had to replace our principal – except the families of Skyline students.

  • Sharon

    Nextset: I definitely agree with you about needing to have more alpha males at these schools, and not the 16 and 17-year-old versions. We are a social species. Many of these youngsters are absolutely starving because of the lack of strong, decent, adult, male leadership. Having an alpha female who recognizes this fact and brings in plenty of alpha males might work, though.

    Skyline is a wonderfully complicated school in a gorgeous setting that serves students with an extremely wide range of academic abilities, interests, and backgrounds. It needs a principal who will address all the features of this complexity in an even-handed way.

    The new principal needs to have the wisdom to know his/her own areas of weakness and then hire a team of specific people to supplement those areas. They need to have a good understanding of how the school’s budget works; if they don’t, they need to closely align themselves with someone who does. Most of all, this person needs to have the ability to recognize, and then retain, the resources that are already at the school and NOT do things that will drive them away.

    The resources I am talking about are the strong, experienced teachers (even if they are expensive), any staff member who is competent (the ones who are already able to interact with the school community in a professional way), the set of motivated parents who truly want to be involved at the school (they are an extremely valuable asset), and the set of students from homes where they have been properly trained (this asset is absolutely needed to balance out the rest of the student body).

    The new principal will need to actively identify these human resources early on, then make sure they are kept content and on board. After that, more resources will need to be actively accumulated. I am certain that, even in OUSD, they are definitely available; they just need to be identified, brought in and nurtured.

    To others: If people talking about alpha males and females is upsetting you or making you nervous, the best description about the importance of status and how humans display it, or not, can be found in the chapter called “Status” in Keith Johnstone’s book, “Impro: Improvisation and the Theater.” This should be required reading, discussion, and then practice for new teachers before they are judged as losers by their students on the first day of class.

  • cranky teacher

    My understanding is that currently the process is as follows:

    – Panels of stakeholders (parents, teachers, etc.) interview and make recommendations on candidates for a principal POOL.

    – The HQ makes the call on candidates drawn from that pool.

    I have no doubt that the district already knows who will be heading up Skyline or they wouldn’t have pushed Green out right now. They can’t possibly be thinking they should go into the summer and fall without somebody in place. Could they?!

    As for parents finding out first, that seems unrealistic.

    Actually, I’ll go further, as a high school teacher: Parents of our high school students as a whole are so sadly uninvolved with their children’s education and with the school that I have no idea how they could even have meaningful input on prospective or current administrators.

    Excuse the stereotype, as there are some very involved parents … but the difference between elementary parent involvement and secondary parent involvement is stark and frustrating. At our school I see the same single parent volunteer every day … and that’s it. At my son’s low-income k-5 school, it is not strange to see 5-6 parents per classroom per day .. and these are poor immigrants. At our school, you only see the parent show up when a full-blown crisis is at hand for their child … which has usually been brewing for months.

    Of course no high school kid wants their parents to be seen at school. But I would opine that this when it is MORE important for parents to know what is going on. High school teachers have 150+ students each day and can’t properly keep hard-to-reach parents informed in a timely manner of cuts, failures, attitude drops…

    This is not to diss overwhelmed parents, but you should know that your 15-year-old may be in important ways more needy and vulnerable than his 5-year-old sibling, and his/her school is just as in need of your support and involvement.

  • cranky teacher

    Sharon, there are plenty of semi-functional or dysfunctional urban schools with charismatic alpha males as principals. I recommend the “Horace’s Hope” series of books for some excellent profiles of real alpha principals who hold together difficult schools through force of will and personality yet never oversee real student success.

  • Katy Murphy

    I actually observed OUSD’s principal selection process at Montera and Joaquin Miller and wrote about it:

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_6611102

  • Pamela

    Even though I have had my problems with Skyline, I will be sad to see Ms. Green leave. I wish her luck with her future endeavors. I hope, like the other parents that Skyline takes advantage of this situation and really picks a strong, seasoned, principal. Someone ready to jump in on day one.

  • Caroline

    Is Amy Hansen available?

  • Nextset

    I think all our comments presuppose the OUSD administration is actually running a “school” and not just a full employment opportunity for education majors.

    One thing: Do the principals actually have any hiring and firing power anyway? Doesn’t it take central administration to “hire a team” or otherwise actually do anything.

    I was thinking that hiring and firing powers are jealously restricted to the Super and their very close circle – at least in most school districts.

  • cranky teacher

    Nextset, your cynicism knows no bounds. It’s not enough that you have blanket denunciations of OUSD, but you continually savage any and all students, teachers and parents who are part of OUSD.

    Just to be clear, my understanding is that in your view:

    OUSD teachers are all liberal moochers off the state trough who let kids do anything they want in the name of building self-esteem.

    OUSD parents are all no-nothing wretches who don’t choose OUSD but are too poor or stupid to send there kids anywhere else.

    OUSD students are all brain-dead animals who will soon be filling a prison near you.

  • cranky teacher

    Oh, and in terms of principals hiring and firing:

    – Yes, there is a union, so there is a process.
    – On-site administrators do all teacher reviews.
    – Teacher reviews can lead to demands for improvement, which, if not met, can lead to firing.
    – Principals can refuse to bring back non-tenured teachers who have received March RIF letters (“pink slips”)

    Also, unprincipled principals can put teachers on admin leave or otherwise terrorize them so they quit or ask for a transfer themselves.

    Now would a principal want to anger the HQ over hiring and firing? No. But that doesn’t mean they have no say.

    Oh, but that’s right, you can only see things in black and white. Sorry.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    I’ll be a senior at Skyline next year and frankly, this all makes me very nervous.
    At the beginning of this school year, as Katy mentioned, there was a MASSIVE scheduling crisis. Almost inexplicably so…
    My sister was in an AP English class with 50 students.
    I have a friend in one of my classes that TO THIS DAY has no permanent Physics teacher, only new subs every week.
    Another friend who didn’t have a permanent classroom for over 5 weeks (nearly a full grading period).

    The list goes on and on and on.

    A lot of parents were not aware of the full extent of this problem, in fact students at Skyline (and teachers) are sort of the only ones who know what really happened (and is STILL happening), no offense to you outsiders.

    But as I said, this makes me very nervous…
    I hope that we get a strong principal. I hope we don’t have scheduling problems. I hope that we will hire more than 3 counselors for 2,000+ students. I hope that someday Skyline will hire a COLLEGE COUNSELOR. I hope that I do not go through what I went through this year (at the beginning). I hope that they don’t mess up my credits anymore so that I can graduate smoothly.

    This list of hopes also goes on and on and on…

    At the same time though, I’m going to be realistic, none of those hopes are going to be guaranteed… AND I expect many to be completely destroyed next school year. Right now… I’m just biding my time.

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Oh and to answer your question Katy, one thing that this new principal definitely needs to have is the ability to interact with the students.
    This means coming out at lunch, spending time listening to us, being available for questions or concerns, coming in and observing classrooms, etc. (as opposed to constantly being behind a closed door).

    My experience with Joe Salamack when he was principal of Montera is what Skyline needs. He was friendly and personable to the students, but at the same time we knew not to cross him or break his rules because there were punishments. He often would walk around with a bullhorn making announcements and telling the students to get to class. This is what Skyline needs, as odd as the bullhorn may sound.

    We need to feel like our principal actually cares about us, which is some I (and almost everyone I know) has not experienced very much this year. I too do not wish to bash Ms. Green, but I do sincerely hope that our new principal has some different leadership techniques. Good luck in all your endeavors Ms. Green.

    Ps. Cranky Teacher: I hope you’re right that they have already selected a new principal… see you in 2nd period (I think).

  • Jesse Dutton-Kenny

    Paragraph 3: … which is someTHING….

  • Another Cranky Teacher

    Nexset – your list of criteria for OUSD principal: The kind of leader Skyline needs is the type fit to handle a large fast moving organization – someone with superb political skills who understands command and control systems and the importance of information flows, ability to judge people quickly and accurately and the ability to make decisions and have them carried out.” leaves out the most important one – the principal must have the authority and experience to fight for what the school needs, not just follow whatever rules the district administration puts out in any given year. One of the biggest obstacles an OUSD principal faces is not the challenging student population or resource shortages but the occupants of 1025 Second Avenue.

    Caroline – There are two sides to every story. The parents of Lowell students may be too close to Lowell to see the areas of needed improvement that Amy Hansen found when she arrived, particularly the lack of a functional collaborative culture in the faculty.

  • Cranky teacher

    Jesse: As much as I’d like to claim a student as bright and engaged as yourself, I don’t actually teach at Skyline.

    At our school, we tend to think of Skyline as being an easier place to work/learn, but apparently not! I wish you better luck in your senior year — and remember that they say adversity builds character…

  • Nextset

    Crankly: You are probably right about the authority. When an organization is deliberately running a disfunctional operation they remove hoard authority at the top so action can’t be taken in time to avoid problems. Since OUSD has such terrible rankings one would expect that kind of power structure. I had previously wondered if the principals had any hiring and firing authority, in my experience they don’t (they can make suggestions to the super).

  • Caroline

    Another Cranky Teacher (hoping you’re not actually Amy Hansen) — of course there are two sides to every story, but Hansen’s tenure at Lowell was universally viewed as a demoralizing disaster by all sides — parents, students, teachers.

    There were indeed areas that needed improvement (some of Lowell’s teachers are known to run roughshod at times in various ways, and the previous principal was a notorious marshmallow) — but Hansen’s attempts to make changes backfired.

    The other side of the story is indeed that improvement was needed in some areas, but this was not the way to achieve it.

    The sad thing, and obviously something we should all learn from, is that reportedly she was a good principal at Skyline — and her abrupt job change left Skyline in the lurch, was a disaster for her new school, and apparently set her career way back.

  • Shauncy Fifer

    I am graduating from Skyline High School this next Friday, and I happen to be the Senior Class President. I have atteded Skyline threw the Hansen Horror and Dr. Green coming back as principal was a great relief. The beginning of the year was a bit choatic with the schedule issues I must agree, but Dr. Green met with the senior several times to make sure or schedule where being corrected. Dr. Green has been a great principal in my eyes and I don’t feel it is fair that people are bashing her. No one is commenting on the postive things she has done or the changes she has made. Dr. Green has assisted the leadership class in every venture we have had this year. She is one of the most understanding, intelligent, outspoken women I have met so far. I understand that I haven’t live half as long as some of the people on this page but I do believe that I can read a person pretty well and Dr.Green is a good person. I understand that some of you never wanted Dr.Green to be principal here, but she was and it was great year from a student prespective. I’m said that Dr.Green is leaving but I know she will be doing well in her next assignment.

  • Outsider

    I’ve known Dr. Green for just about six months and I know some of the issues she has had to deal with. On this blog I’ve been able to determine a few things as well.

    1) Politics. It seems that since the HOA, some teachers and some parents weren’t included in the decision making when Dr. Green was placed at Skyline a year ago, they were rubbed the wrong way. With that being the case it also seems whom ever was placed in this position would be at a political disadvantage and plainly disliked by some of the above mentioned. I am certain that many of the issues Dr. Green faced were bought on by those that didn’t like the hiring process. “Please, try on the shoe to see if it fits”. And if it fits, you should adjust you thinking to the greater good. The greater good is for the student population. What I’ve gathered from most of you is, “what about me”. It’s time to focus on the “selfless” motivation and let go of the “selfish” motivations.

    2) Skyline’s Importance. I’m certain many of you either don’t want to acknowledge or simply don’t know.
    - When Dr Green was “asked” into this position she was continuing her educational career in another state.
    - Dr. Green has been working on her discertation and recently graduated with her Doctorit in Education. Hence, “Dr Green”. Most of us know this takes a great deal of time and “effort”.
    - Dr. Green was raised in the Oakland area attending school in the OUSD.

    Dr. Green is passionate about education. She sincerely cares about the children’s safety and educational direction. She cares so much that she quit a new job, packed up her belongings,(and her cat), traveled half way across this country, found new housing and took on the principle position at Skyline. Dr. Green took this on because she wants to see these kids graduate, go to college and become a self sufficient member of society that will someday look back and say, “I’m glad I went to Skyline”.

    Dr. Green has what it takes!! What’s needed is more cooperation. If you don’t think more cooperation is needed, ask yourself, why was this blog printed without even talking with her.

  • Katy Murphy

    Outsider: Your contribution adds another dimension to the discussion. It sounds like you know Heidi Green better than most of the people who have commented, and it’s important to acknowledge the difficult jobs that principals have, and the risks that they take.

    In answer to your rhetorical question about “cooperation,” and why this news item was published without interviewing the subject first:

    It’s not my role to cooperate with the people I write about, especially public figures in high profile positions. It is my responsibility to try to reach those people for comment — and I did so, in this case. If someone doesn’t return my call, then that’s their choice.

    Many profiles are written and documentaries aired — in depth ones, at that — without the participation of key subjects (“So and so declined to be interviewed for this story.”) It’s not ideal, but can you imagine what would happen if we couldn’t report on important issues otherwise?

  • Nextset

    Outsider: To answer you last question, I’d imagine that this blog was created without even talking to her because she is a public fugure and her departure and the circumstances of that departure is a matter of public concern.

    To the extent your post may indicate the lady is an object of pity – I don’t see it that way. She was offered a job. She accepted that offer. The nature of her position is that of a public figure in public service in a politicallly charged environment. If she was from here she had every opportunity to know up front what the game was.

    Most kids who finish high school most certainly don’t graduate from college. OUSD high schools are not college prep schools. It’s nice if they have a good ratio of college bound, but that’s optional. The principal job was an opportunity for Dr Green I’d imagine. She certainly would have had significant education experience in her time there.

    And now it seems to be over. These things happen especially with such jobs. Wish her well.

    And I hope the next person who entertains any offers from OUSD requires a contract with a fixed term and declines any offer to serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority. They should use Counsel to draft and approve any employment contract terms. OUSD is too unstable not to do so, at the level we seem to be talking about (moving with the cat across country).

  • Sue

    Sorry, Outsider, I don’t think you have the whole picture either.

    When I said that I didn’t think Heidi Green was up to the job, I had something very specific in mind. Something that might be described as a beginner’s mistake. Something that a more experienced principal wouldn’t have allowed to happen. Unfortunately, I can’t discuss it in a public forum because it was another family’s situation and not my own. I can only say that it was very badly mishandled, and there were legal consequences for the district.

    I think Dr. Green has a good heart, and I believe she learned a valuable lesson from that other family’s situation. My son was in a very similar circumstance, but he and our family were dealt with correctly and in compliance with education law. She was honest with us, listened to our concerns and understood our position, and took the appropriate actions.

    I believe that Dr. Green was learning and growing into the principal’s job. I’m not at all pleased that now Skyline has to start over again with another new principal. If she had stayed at Skyline, her growth in the job, and the stability of having the same principal for two years in a row would have benefitted my son’s school.

    I honestly wished her well in my earlier post, and I still do. Her growing experience will serve her next school well, and I hope she’ll be happy, successful and appreciated there.

  • Skyline Teacher

    Let’s be realistic. This is not about Ms. Green’s feelings. This is a well-paid, extremely important public job. Ms. Green is smart, ambitious and well-connected — she will certainly land on her feet. However, we need to know what went wrong and there is nothing wrong with making transparent what is often an opaque institution: Your public school.

    Ms. Green’s undoing was inexperience mixed with arrogance. She is intelligent and hard-working, but was often perceived as rude, defensive and imperious — and when you treat people roughly, you better be the most competent person in the place. She was not.

    Yes, she has an impressive new academic credential. However, her work experience was limited to several years as an elementary school teacher and even less time as a Skyline assistant principal. Despite this, she decided to delegate almost no decision-making power, and the whole last year has been a series of crises spiraling out of control — scheduling, chronic truancy, problems with testing, etc.

    I wasn’t here for Hansen. I am not an oppositional veteran. I worked in corporate America, and Ms. Green is not the first tough boss I’ve had. And I’m sure she would have gotten better. Again, this is not about her.

    What it is about: How did this happen? Green was CLEARLY in over her head, and the fact that she was given the job at all either means nobody qualified wants such a demanding job or the state administrator is very confused about what the job entails.

    Or, they expect people to grow into the job … but won’t give them time to do it!

    How can we be sure this won’t happen again? Pushing out Green only makes sense if you’ve got somebody better to replace her … and then you’ll give that person five years to right the ship.

    Because it definitely needs righting — Skyline is in Year 3 of Program Improvement. It needs two good API years in a row or it faces reconstitution or small-school breakup.

  • Marquise Usher

    I really admire Dr. Green for stepping in as Principal of Skyline High School. She has done a great job and I only wish she could stay longer to continue the work she has done.

    There has not be a time that I haven’t seen a student say hello to Dr. Green and not hear or see her respond or even engage in a small conversation with them.

    No one was happy at the beginning of the school year. I certainly wasn’t. The whole crisis was indeed a frustraton but dealt with. People tend to remember the bad during that time period but no one seems to remember that things were fixed, that teacher’s were hired, classes were balanced and schedules restored! Thing’s were restored back to order.

    Again, people tend to focus on the bad that has been done or the fact that people don’t agree with the decisions that Dr. Green has made. But before Katy Murphy or any other person takes the time to slander Dr. Green, they should use that time instead to notice the good things that she has done and maybe find it in their heart to praise her for it.

    Many people may not know why this blog was truly written or what its intentions are but I can truly say that the intentions are not good. This has become a battle from within and I just hope that Dr. Green comes out on top because she totally deserves it.

    Since Dr. Green’s announcement, I consider her to be apart of the Class of 2008 along with me and many of my friends. I wish her and all of my friends well and I hope that life leads us all in the direction that was meant for us. She is truly a strong woman and I admire and respect her for the leadership she has provided.

  • Nextset

    Gee, after seeing the posts above I just wonder could the fact that the lady is black have anything to do with her hiring? And her firing??

    It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen hirings of people doomed to fail occur, because there were motives afoot that had nothing to do with being a good fit for the war zone. Maybe it was a politically advantageous appointment that would be easy to fire (or denigrate) later. (I’ve arranged these appointments myself in the past…)

    Either way the candidate gets some experience she never had before and if she were to get hurt somehow in the process, that’s her problem.

    It really gets rough in the suites nowadays.

    Workers of the world unite.

  • Marquise Usher

    Nextset: What about the above post makes you think this has to do with Dr. Green being black?

  • Marquise Usher

    sorry. I meant to say, what about the above POSTS, makes you think this has to do with Dr. Green being black?

  • Katy Murphy

    “Many people may not know why this blog was truly written or what its intentions are but I can truly say that the intentions are not good.”

    Huh?

    I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that someone who considers it “slander” for a news reporter to publish news about Oakland’s largest high school would presume they had the ability to read the mind of someone they had never met.

  • Outsider

    The OUSD needs to take the “dis” out of “dis-function”. It may simply start with putting together a mission statement that is student education focused. This will create a pathway for every school in the district to travel the same “long-term” educational path. Placing principles at a school for 1 year at a time is not condusive to a long term improvement plan.
    I sincerely pray that this district gets it together for the “kid’s sake”.

  • Sharon

    As Skyline Teacher mentioned, Skyline is currently in Program Improvement Year 3. FYI, Oakland Tech is in exactly the same boat. They have both met the academic goals (proficiency percentage) since 2002, but have failed to meet the participation goals every single year since 2002. This means they didn’t get enough students from each of their official subgroups to actually take the tests. If they had, they wouldn’t be in their current predicaments.

    By the way, enough Asian kids showed up and took the tests. As is usual, not enough African American and Latino kids did. That is specifically why the school has not been able to make its AYP.

    Skyline Teacher said that the school “… needs two good API years in a row or it faces reconstitution or small-school breakup.” I am not sure what API would have to do with it since it’s only one of the 22 AYP Criteria that have to be met, or else. And even though Skyline’s API dropped last year, it still meet its 2007 API criteria. It didn’t meet the Graduation Requirement, however.

    So unless Steve W. corrects me, I am under the impression that the failures under NCLB relate to attendance issues. I hope the new principal can figure that one out. I also hope the new principal personally understands it enough to accurately explain it to his/her staff and parent and student body.

    Ain’t NCLB fun?

  • Sharon

    Here’s a little more instruction about NCLB using Skyline as an example.

    NCLB requires 95% of each student group to take the tests. Last year, 93% of the AA kids took the English test and 90% took the Math test. Only 88% of the Latino kids took the English test and 85% took the Math test. These were all sophomores.

    The test that NCLB uses for high schools is the CAHSEE only. Only one grade is considered — the 10th grade. This AYP/NCLB business has nothing to do with students passing the CAHSEE eventually so they can get a diploma, or not. That’s another topic.

  • Anna Treadwell

    Katy – I’m not disappointed (which is sad) & don’t expect parents, teachers, etc. to be informed of everything before a reporter may get wind of it. And nextset said I shouldn’t expect to be informed of anything. My lack of disappointment comes from too many times of disappointment in OUSD. Even though I may not expect that things will be done right, I’m not going to just take it for granted & play along with the games because thats the way its always been. Nothing is going to change if you just accept the status quo. I need to be more proactive & I will be & I hope that other parents will become proactive now, don’t just sit & expect nothing, for you surely will get it.

  • Diamond Broussard

    I am currently a junior at Skyline High and on the road to attend college in Fall 2009. While Ms. Green is a well-rounded intelligent person, the job as prinicpal of Skyline just may not be the right one for her. I understand the this year’s rough start may have made people perceive her in a less than accomodating manner, however, I have yet to see many significant changes occur under her leadership. I am afflicted by the horrible staffing situation or rather have been all three of my years at Skyline, even in Prinicpal Hansen’s last year. As a freshman I received a not so capable Algebra 1 teacher who quit after that one year, and from whom I learned nothing. Last year as a sophmore, I also had three different Geometry teachers- that situation didn’t help me with my studies either. This year as a junior I am also less than content with my current Trig teacher, as well as many others.

    From my above explanation it is apparent that what we Skyline students need is a consistent and dedicated administration and faculty. Ms. Green is not a horrible person and horrible administrator as some make her out to be, but she was not consistent with her leadership.

    I also agree with Jessy that our principal needs to interact with the students more. I do see her interact with some students, however, most of them are from the Leadership class which obviously hasd to meet with her often as a result of their involvement in various and numerous student affairs. Also, at a College Board recognition of African American students in AP classes last month, I heard Ms. Green say herself that a few STUDENTS had to go let HER kno about their unhappinress with the fact that they had no Physics teacher in the beginning of the year. A prinicpal should be on top of things. Around the halls and in many discussions with my peers, students are unsatisifed with the way that the prinicpal and her assitant principals have handled certain situations. If they would like to change Skyline for the better, then maybe they should make a better effort to conversate with the students and consider what we believe we need for success in our education.

    Perhaps the timing was just wrong considering that Ms. Green was studying for her doctorate. However, we need someone who is 100 percent dedicated to the plight and success of Skyline’s students. I hope that my Senior will mark a change in Skyline’s longtime administration fiasco. I also hope that Ms. Green has a better experience teaching at the other OUSD high school. I wish her well!

  • Lolita

    It seems that some people have the wrong idea about Ms. Green. In my opinion, she has has been the target of harsh critisism from the very beginning however, I have never seen (definiately Amy Hansen) a principle more intunted to her students. Ms. Green has demonstrated very strong leadership and from what I’ve been reading, “these people” some of you are referring to, minorities in general, don’t stand a chance no matter how good they are.

  • Michael

    In 1989, when a guy by the name of Phil Jackson took over for Doug Collins and became head coach for the NBA’s Chicago bulls, people doubted, after watching him in his first year, that Phil Jackson would bring them a championship. Critics and Reps for The Bulls weren’t convinced of his philosophy or approach to the game. NOW…AFTER YEARS OF SUCCESS AND 9 NBA TITLES, people say they knew all along that Phil was their guy.

    PHIL JACKSON’S PRIOR NBA EXPERIENCE: Asst. Coach, 2 years

    What am I implying?

    1. Evaluating a Principal, Coach or even President after one year is premature. How much of a positive change is actually possible and noticeable in ONE YEAR? Hence the reason that many Coaches, Executives, etc. aren’t fired after their FIRST YEAR!

    Some stated that Dr. Green was in over her head. It would SEEM that way when you’re implementing new strategies to existing problems. Anything new is bound to create initial confusion and for some, frustration. It makes since that it would ruffle the feathers of people who do not adapt well to change.

    2. Qualifications: What exactly makes one qualified to be a Principal at Skyline? Many of you stated that she’s intelligent, smart, etc. The # 1 qualification is concern for THE STUDENTS. It’s unfortunate that you don’t have the pleasure of knowing Dr. Green as I do. I’ve worked with and for Dr. Green off and on for years. I’ve been in her office or on the phone on countless occasions and witnessed or overheard her assisting a current or former student of Skyline High School with their future pursuits. I’ve been there when she’s had to reprimand a student with tough love or congratulate a student for the fine work he/she has done. I’ve also been there when she’s helped former Skyline students currently in college financially (out of her own pocket) or walked them through the paperwork for Scholarship opportunities…sometimes on and other times off the clock.

    I read a comment from a teacher at Skyline that stated (and I’m paraphrasing) “Is Skyline looking for someone to grow into the job.” No matter who would’ve taken the new job as Principal, that person WOULD have to GROW INTO THE JOB. There’s a give and take in any relationship. Everybody GROWS into a job. I don’t think you are being fair at all.

    A student at Skyline, (Diamond Broussard) wrote that they needed a Principal to focus just on the needs of Skyline and basically forego any other interests outside of school. With all due respect…life doesn’t stop when you get a job. I want a boss or a mentor that’s always stretching and growing. I want a leader that has a life away from their job. Someone that I can admire and learn from. So to that student, whatever job you get in the future or whatever business you own don’t let that job run you, always reinvent yourself (Advice from the rich and wealthy).

    I think that we have to be careful as a people not to become apart of the problem by complaining and murmuring. Instead we should be a people that affect change, whether it’s in or outside of the classroom. It’s very clear to me that some people have ill intent for one reason or another. What will it profit you to attempt tear down a woman that will eventually end up on her feet?

    Now to Dr. Heidi Green I wish you well. Keep making a difference in the lives of the many that appreciate you and even the ones that don’t. Because one day they’ll come around too.

    God Bless you!

    To Katy Murphy,

    I am a writer as well so i understand how stories develop. If all you were doing is reporting the news…the question I have is: Was Dr. Green the ONLY Principal leaving the Oakland School District? If not…that means you have more Principals to write about RIGHT?

    Be Well Ms. Murphy!

  • Katy Murphy

    Michael – As a former Chicagoan who came of age during the golden era of the Bulls, I loved the Green-Jackson analogy. It also raises an important question about leadership: whether removing someone after a short period of time makes sense for an organization.

    That’s one reason I wrote about this particular principal leaving this particular school.

    But to your last point, yes, many principals leave each year — or almost leave (See my earlier posts on Marco Franco and Yetunde Reeves). Green isn’t the first principal I’ve written about in this context, and she won’t be the last.

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  • Been Under Hansen

    Dear Another Cranky Teacher,

    In response to your “two sides to every story” comment, let me clarify that Amy Hansen never understood this concept while at Lowell: She seemed to believe that she was the only lucid adult on campus. Unfortunately, her “lucidity” was delusional.

    If the faculty, the PTSA, the Alumni Association, the School Site Council, the SFUSD–and most importantly the students–found her to be unsuitable to guide Lowell, I think that clearly sums up her performance.

    If Skyline liked her so much, I wonder why she left.

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