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Superintendent search: The Final Three

By Katy Murphy
Wednesday, May 13th, 2009 at 8:12 pm in superintendent search.


(Left to right) Tony Smith, Barbara Adams and Edward Velasquez

Tony Smith, deputy superintendent of instruction, innovation and social justice in San Francisco; Barbara Adams, former chief academic officer for Boston Public Schools and Edward Velasquez, superintendent — and chief of police — of the Montebello school district in Los Angeles County.

You can read the district’s news release, which includes each of their bios, here.

I also found a lengthy KALW interview with Smith, which might provide some insight into his views on education.

What do you think of this slate of finalists? Based on the little information you have (I promise to dig up more), who’d be your pick? You can meet them at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 20 at Oakland Technical High School’s auditorium.

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  • harlemmoon

    Barbara Adams appears to be the strongest of the bunch. She gets my nod. We’ll see what she’s made of during the public presentation, when I know Oaklanders will be on their best behavior.

  • http://www.elmhurstcommunityprep.org Jessica Eastman

    Tony Smith sounds pretty impressive in that interview. I’m looking forward to hearing more about all three, though.

  • Oaklander

    I have to disagree with you, Harlemmoon. I think Tony Smith is the best qualified candidate.

    Tony transformed Emery Unified as the first Superintendent after the state take over. He accomplished great things there, I understand. Emeryville is small, but it’s a microcosm of Oakland. Everyone I know who worked with Tony, or was engaged with Emery Unified while Tony was there, raves about him. I also know that he’s lived in Oakland for at least the last 10 years.

    If you google Tony Smith SFUSD, you’ll see that his job title says Deputy Superintendent for Instruction, Innovation, and Social Justice. He’s got social justice in his job title. I happen to know that Tony is all about equity, social justice, and community involvement.

    Having worked at OUSD for the past 6 years, I know that community involvement is key to real, transformative change. Tony looks at running a school district in part as community organizing — kinda like how Barack looks at running a country. Tony did it at Emery, he’s doing it in San Francisco, and I would love to see him bring it to Oakland.

    Tony is also very smart (PhD from Berkeley) and a tireless worker. Ask around. He holds people accountable, but he asks more of himself. Obviously, I have a lot of respect for the man. He’s an inspirational leader and a strong manager — and with the budget cuts, we need to build up morale in the district, not break it down.

    Before I found out that Tony was even going to apply for the Superintendent position here, I thought he would be the perfect person to take us to the next level. I’m more certain of it now than ever.

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-356-SF-Education-Examiner Caroline

    You’d think I’d know more about him as an involved SFUSD parent, but one thing worth pointing out about Tony Smith is that I’m told his wife is a top honcho with BAYCES. Since I know some Oakland school stakeholders have strong feelings about BAYCES, that’s worth noting.

  • Another Oaklander

    I’d love to see Tony Smith as well, BAYCES connections notwithstanding. His work in Emeryville was pretty extraordinary—check out what’s happening with their current schools-city partnership, all built on groundwork Tony laid—and I think there’s something to be said for hiring an Oaklander for a job like this. The last thing OUSD needs is someone who’s bouncing from top district to top district around the country. Tony’s clearly based in the Bay Area, and has been fairly circumspect on when and why he’s left various positions. Perhaps most importantly, he gets Oakland and OUSD in a way that I don’t think either of the other two candidates could, as outsiders.

  • Katy Murphy

    Update: While the above news release described Barbara Adams as the chief academic officer for Boston Public Schools, she’s actually the former chief academic officer.

    A spokesperson for the Boston school district confirmed that Adams’ last day was April 17. I don’t know why she left, but it was well before she knew she was on the short list for this job.

  • Katy Murphy

    Change of Venue: The 6 p.m. Wednesday superintendent candidates forum will be held at Oakland Technical High School’s auditorium, 4351 Broadway.