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Another year, another Skyline principal search

By Katy Murphy
Friday, May 15th, 2009 at 6:22 pm in high schools, leadership changes.

Pleas from Desley Brooks and dozens of Skyline parents, teachers and neighbors were not enough to convince the Oakland school board to rescind the dismissal of Al Sye from Skyline High School.

So, less than a year after the previous one disbanded, another Skyline High School principal selection committee is about to form. Any takers?

I hear that a meeting Thursday evening to elect committee members was so poorly attended (most likely because the notices apparently didn’t arrive until that day!) that the elections were postponed. Those interested in participating in the interview process — or deciding who will — can attend a PTSA meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Skyline.

photo courtesy of the Skyline Oracle

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  • shmoe

    who in their right mind would want to work in such a politically righteous, liberal, backward district as Oakland? We wonder why the schools are in the shape they are in? No wonder people want out!

    And these are the buffoons (school officials) that want their power restored? I am skeptical of any Principal, let alone Supt. that is willing to apply to the Roman political scene of this once great town.

    I say let them be retored full power with conditions such as if they go bak into recievorship once more, then they will become an all charter district. maybe that will get them to manage better- or get rid of them for good.

    I know what is going to happen once board gets thei rpower- and I know you know too.

  • Oak261

    Both Oakland Tech and Skyline, being in year 4 of “program improvement” had to make some changes to comply with NCLB. One option was to reorganize, that is, dismiss the staff and hire from scratch. That, of course, wasn’t pursued.

    But on that note, reorganization is happening elsewhere, albeit in somewhat different circumstances: the Watts district of LA. There’s an interesting article about the Green Dot charter movement in LA in last week’s New Yorker:
    You can view the abstract at:
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/05/11/090511fa_fact_mcgray
    To see the whole article, you need to be a subscriber.

    The protagonist, Steve Barr, got the attention of Arne Duncan.

    From the abstract, the article is “about Steve Barr’s plan to remake failing schools. Two years ago, Steve Barr asked the Los Angeles Unified School District (L.A.U.S.D.) to give his charter-school management group, Green Dot Public Schools, control of Alain Leroy Locke High School, near Watts, California, and let him help the district turn it around. When the district refused, Green Dot became the first charter group in the country to seize a high school, in a hostile takeover. Locke reopened in September, four months after a riot had paralyzed it, as a half-dozen Green Dot schools. “It’s night and day,” said Ramon Cortines, L.A.U.S.D.’s new superintendent. In the past decade, Barr has opened seventeen charter high schools—small, locally managed institutions that aim for a high degree of teacher autonomy and parent involvement—in some of the poorest neighborhoods in L.A….”

  • TheTruthHurts

    Same dance, new partner.

  • Nextset

    Hope the next principal has more staying power.

  • Skyline Teacher

    Katy, I’m not sure who told you the meeting was poorly attended. There were at least 75 people there, by all accounts, and a fair representation of the school community.

    The parents WERE angry about the notification letter arriving that very afternoon, so that became the rationale for postponing the election.

    The real issue was that a particular parent who wants to be on the selection committee didn’t have time to rally her “troops” to the meeting to make sure she got elected!

  • Skyline Teacher

    Shmoe, fu. Whatever the problems of the district, 40,000+ students still attend school within it. That’s why we work here.

  • Katy Murphy

    Interesting. Is 75 people considered a good turnout for a school of Skyline’s size? How many attended last year’s meeting?

    In any case, it’s probably wise to give everyone the opportunity to participate — for the integrity of the process, let alone the political considerations.

  • harlemmoon

    Hmmm. I have problems with a “process” that consistently yields the same poor results.

  • Skyline Teacher

    Well, I’m sure there could be a bigger meeting, but it should be remembered that the point of this meeting was simple: To pick the baker’s dozen of site stakeholders to be on the principal recommendation committee (the new board-approved selection process puts the final say clearly in the hands of the superintendent).

    Timing is also important here — every day that is delayed is less time to grab the better applicants before they all find jobs.

  • Skyline Teacher

    Harlemmoon, since the process is brand new, your point is moot.

  • Skyline parent

    The meeting was well attended given the lack of notice. Many members of the Skyline community were frustrated by the fact that the OUSD administrator with direct responsibility for Skyline didn’t attend (although Dr. Mayor was present for part of the meeting). Also the District’s claim that it wants transparency and community involvement in the process rang hollow given that the District has ignored the community’s desire to retain Mr. Sye as principal.

  • harlemmoon

    thanks for the clarification, Skyline Teacher. here’s to a successful “process.”

  • Skyline Student

    Yea Katy 75 is pretty good for our school. It was postponed so more parents from other tribes like ELAC could get on board.

  • Chris G.

    Kids go to Skyline cause its fun, easy, and away from home. This school is respected simply becuase of location.

    AND… Skyline Teacher 40,000 students attend Oakland Schools? One in every 4.5 attend charters? The end is near as soon as people recognize thery have choice, and unions have power over kids.

  • Skyline Student

    Chris G., you lack any knowledge of Skyline. While the school is certainly not the gold standard of high school education it is not the empty easy summer camp you describe. Your claims have no basis in fact and it is obvious you know absolutely nothing you speak about. Visit our school and you will find students hard at work trying to learn, and sure you will find those who come to Skyline just to kill time and mess around but to say all 2000 are that way is insulting to our school. We have a respected and challenging AP program that produces smart analytical thinkers. We have a national award winning school newspaper. Our sports program is top notch, currently our baseball, softball, and soccer teams are winning the Transbay championships they are in. Our performing arts academy performed a extremely impressive two week run of West Side Story. We may have some students who come to mess around, who come for the fun, for the ease of certain classes, and for the escape, but to say we command respect only for our location is an extremely uneducated statement to make. Shame on you.

  • Skyline Teacher

    I have no problem with a variety of options for parents and students in Oakland.

    There are advantages to big schools, to charters and to non-charter small schools. And disadvantages to all.

    A LOT depends on the type of kid you have and what their strengths and weaknesses are. If they’re independent, centered, motivated and interested in extracurriculars, there’s nothing like a large comprehensive high school. Other kids need the more intensive and personalized support and/or structure they can get in a well-run charter or small school.

    As a kid, I would have run away from home if you put me a boot camp academic school with 200 kids! I loved sports, for one thing, and those are almost never available at schools with under 300 students, nor, generally are significant performing arts programs. And to be so limited in your choice of friends…

    But I had relatives and friends who foundered in a big school, just adrift and got into all kinds of problems. Some turned it around in private or alternative schools, where adults were in their face all day long.

    Once size does not fit all…

  • Diamond Broussard

    It is appalling that the school board would completely ignore the school’s request to keep Mr. Sye on as principal. Our school has improved in some ways. There were many less fights on campus this year, and for once, the principal was respected. While some may dislike Mr. Sye, he is respected. He and Mr. Blye have also made a conscious effort to get to know students- you’ll often see them around during lunchtime or during school events. It is about time the Skyline community band together to fight for what’s best for US. The district obviously has no idea, and we want next year’s students to have an opportunity at success! With Sye gone and a WHOLE NEW principal, the school’s rep will continue to decline. KEEP SYE ON BOARD, PEOPLE!

  • Chris G.

    I gtraduated from Skyline in 96, my brother in 93, and sister in 98.

    Its a different school now than when I was there- worse.

    Preach and say what you want. Its overrated.

  • Skyline Student

    As a student who woke up and went to Skyline in 2009, not 1998, 1996, or 1993 I say you have no idea what your talking about.

  • Nextset

    Skyline Student: Complain all you want – you most likely don’t even know what you are missing in your education. You would do well to consider what the older posters are trying to say. So ask for a clarification rather than snipe.

    A question to those who do have access to OUSD stats. Has there been a change (in the last decade or 2) in the ratios of students leaving Skyline or OUSD high schools accepted at 4 year colleges? What is the change if any in SAT scores? Do we have any objective measures of improvement or degradation in Skyline High student academic performance?

    I’m especially interested in how OUSD students fare in the marketplace after leaving. For example, are there stats on military acceptance rates by school?

  • Gordon Danning

    Hey, Oakland High is also searching for a new principal; don’t we merit a post on here?

  • Katy Murphy

    You sure do — thanks for letting me know. Next week, I’ll post a list of the schools which I know are undertaking principal searches.

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