Part of the Bay Area News Group

And Oakland’s next schools chief is…

By Katy Murphy
Thursday, May 21st, 2009 at 11:25 pm in superintendent search.

Tony Smith.

UPDATE: You can find the full story about his selection here.

Board member Jumoke Hinton Hodge said the board spent hours deliberating about the finalists and that, after 10:30 p.m., it finally took a unanimous vote to tap Smith for the post.

“We’re really proud that the superintendent search taught us how to be a team,” Hinton Hodge said, describing the end of the intense meeting as “a love fest.”

“I think he’s willing to take risks around some of our big issues,” she said, referring to the district’s achievement gap and other challenges.

Those involved in the small schools movement were pulling for Smith, an Oakland resident who once worked for the Bay Area Coalition for Equitable Schools, one of the organizations central to the reform (His wife worked there as well, and she still might).

Smith, 42, said at Wednesday night’s town hall meeting that he was “a pretty big fan of the charter movement,” but he also said non-charter schools should have the opportunity to enjoy some of the same freedoms as charters. “If you don’t trust people in schools, then you’re going to centrally manage, you’re going to say, `I know better than you.’”

I’ll write more tomorrow. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this pick and your hopes and expectations for the school district under Smith’s leadership. If you’d like to share your opinions for the news story (attributed, of course), call me at (510) 208-6424, or send an email to kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

photo of Smith before Wednesday’s town hall meeting by Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group Staff

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Wondering

    It’s a great day for us as a district and a city. Congratulations to the Board for understanding that Tony’s deep understanding of the complexities is just what we needed in a Superintendent. I believe he will stretch us, inspire us, make us think and help us grow.

  • Parent of 4

    I am thankful that the school board members chose him.
    Finally, Oakland is headed in the right direction.
    Congratulations to Tony Smith.

  • Michael L. Moore, Sr.

    Congratulations Tony!

    Michael

  • Karen F

    I would like to congratulate the Board in coming to a unanimous decision to choose Tony Smith. Of the three candidates, he clearly has the vision, intelligence, compassion and leadership skills to bring OUSD into a new era.

  • harlemmoon

    Every journey, it is written, begins with the first step.
    May this be the first step in the journey toward healing, growth and success at OUSD.

  • Born and Raised Oaklander

    Amen, Harlemmoon.
    Rock on, Oakland.

  • Catherine

    More of the same. Look at the educational progression of Emery Unified School District. Look at their student abilities, dropout / graduation rates and their fiscal policies.

    Finally, look at their API scores and the individual school rankings based on the California Standards being taught and being learned. They are lower than nearly everyone of Oakland’s worst schools.

    It’s a very sad day.

  • Catherine

    Now we can all be “in partnership with one another” while we fail our children. But we will feel good about our Superintendent and how we have been healed as a community.

    For those of you who were at the meeting on Wednesday night that I spoke with – and there were over 20 of you. Each one of you said that you believed the outcome of the Superintendent choice had already been made. Each of you stated that Tony would be appointed and that the public forum was just a formality.

    I said no, that the outcome had not been predetermined and that OUSD and the school board had learned our lessons. We would choose someone who did not select one set of students at the exclusion of others. I said that we would look at the candidate who could balance fiscal responsibility and the needs of ALL of the students of Oakland. Each of you said that we needed to focus on one group of students we had failed in the past and that the preselected candidate would do that. I disagreed with each of you in turn. I was wrong. I apologize.

  • Katy Murphy

    Catherine: I could be wrong, but based on what I’ve heard, I don’t think the choice between the two frontrunners was pre-determined. If it was, why would the board deliberate from 2 p.m. until nearly 11 p.m.?

    You raise a good point about the test scores at Emery’s two schools. They have state rankings of 3 and 4, and “similar schools” rankings of 2 and 5.

    But Emery’s estimated 4-year dropout rate is much lower than Oakland’s — 11.5 percent, according to data collected during the 2007-08 school year.

    It is 9 percent in Montebello Unified — a stat that was applauded on Wednesday night — and 28.2 percent in Oakland.

  • James Jones, Parent

    Hey.. he still reports to the Board.. The Board that put us in the financial mess to begin with. Pardon me for not feeling warm and fuzzy but I’m going to wait to see some results.

  • M Benson

    This is an incredible day for Oakland…..not only in the Board making the choice to have a visionary leader at the helm, but in the selection of an incredible educator.
    I can breathe again…..
    Congrats Tony!!!

  • Catherine

    Katy:

    Emeryville has the things Tony identified as having students succeed. They spend about 5% more per student than the state average; whereas Oakland spends 20% less than the state average. Also Montebello has a per pupil spending figure similar to that of Oakland – about 20% less than the state average.

    The students and their families feel good about themselves and their families. They like their schools, but their students do not know the California State Standards. They are not learning what they need to know to succeed in college and the workplace. The unemployment rate in Emeryville is 24% higher than anywhere else in the bay area AND they have more new commerce than almost any other city in the bay area.

    If we had a high school, any high school in Oakland, where the graduating class had an average of 65 students as is the case with Emeryville, we would see those numbers as well. Look at the High School Charter Schools and you would see similar drop out rates.

    Then look at the AP exams – only two exams: Biology and English Language Composition.

    The answers that I heard from Tony at the meeting on Wednesday evening centered on a huge push in spending as the cure for test scores; spending and “inclusiveness” which would combat the years of “disenfranchisement of the schools to families speaking non-standard English.”

    I come from a family that spoke non-standard English at home. Non-standard language use in a high performing academic or work environment is not welcome. It may be welcome in an average to below average classroom, and it may be spoken at home, but it is not welcome in the classroom, in the corridors, in colleges and universities and certainly not in the workplace.

    I do not hold out hope. My prediction is that Tony will request a parcel tax in the next election, it will fail and Tony will have a candle-light vigil or some other form of protest claiming that we are being racist when our vote for no more taxes is simply a function of having some of, if not the highest, property taxes in the nine county Bay Area.

    I will give him the remaining time my son has in elementary school. If the schools do not improve, we will do what 12 other families in our school are doing at the end of the school year, either move to the other side of the tunnel or send him to a private school with a demanding curriculum that includes rigorous critical thinking skills, proper language skills and a strong sense of discipline and order.

  • Catherine

    Oh, and Katy, I believe the meeting went as long as it did because they did not want to leave before the vote was unanimous. They did not want to have a simple majority, but a unanimous vote.

  • Born and Raised Oaklander

    Catherine,
    While I respect your skepticism (many ppl speak of change and few are able to deliver), I am concerned by your attitude that this is one man’s problem to fix. Your language speaks volumes: if you “give him the remaining time” your son has left in elementary (is this one year, 5 years?)you will undoubtedly still be focusing on the work that remains. Instead, what if you invest yourself, your energy, your critical thinking skills, and your differing viewpoints and partner with Tony (and your school and your son)? Find common ground and work together. If we expect students to fail, they will. If we expect Tony to fail, I have no doubt that he will, as well.

  • James Jones, Parent

    3 jobs in 5 years sounds like a salary chase to me. He obviously can sell himself but what about actual results? Why is this a triumph?

  • James Jones, Parent

    Born & Raised: Our expectations for a professional educator have nothing whatsoever to do with his success or failure. If that was the case, we could all just simultaneously think happy thoughts and make all our problems disappear.

  • harlemmoon

    Methinks that there is general agreement that a “savior” Tony Smith is not. What he does represent is hope.
    For evidence of that, simply look at the Board’s unanimous decision. Typically a fractured, self-absorbed group, they circled around Smith and listened to the community. That’s got to count for something for a group that has rarely – if ever- shot straight.
    What’s more, there are many in the community who support Smith and the fresh energy he brings. That, too, has got to be worth a bit more than the complaints posted here.
    No, Smith won’t single-handedly save the school district from utter ruin. He’ll need the help of everyone – including Catherine – to start on a road far more divergent and potentially higher than the one formerly travelled.

  • Catherine

    My viewpoints come from several places. 1) I was at the meeting where Tony presented his vision for OUSD. 2) Tony is the only candidate who was NEVER a teacher and never worked directly with students for an entire school year from the beginning assessments through learning and the end assessments. 3) Tony was very clear that my son’s school will receive less money over the next several years and those funds will go to lower performing schools. While we can certainly cut back, there is a point of non-service.

    Born and raised Oaklander: please understand that our family spends over 40 hours per month (grandparents and parents) volunteering at EACH of my son’s schools. We are committed to the schools. From you comments, I believe you were not in the audience on Wednesday and you did not meet with Tony before the candidates’ presentations began. My belief, and I could be wrong (it would not be the first time) is that much of the plans Tony has to offer our district has been presented to the Board as he and his wife are/were consultants currently, and was confirmed as Tony had information about our district in the “meet and greet” that other candidates did not have.

    The classroom teachers can only cut so much or bend to the new superintendent so much before there is little left to give.

    What Tony left Emery Unified was the legacy of only 54% of their budget used for classroom instruction. That is about 15% below the California average. His bloated administration in Emery Unified was 17% of the budget with the state average about 5% below that figure.

    As Tony aptly put it on Wednesday evening, “The biggest predictor of future performance is past performance.”

  • Catherine

    I wanted to be clear in the previous post that our family spends a total of 80 hours per month volunteering – 40 hours at each school.

    This is with two parents working full time. We are committed to doing our share. This volunteerism also includes district meetings and committee work as well.

  • Born and Raised Oaklander

    Yes, Catherine, I was at the meeting and have spent many hours listening to Tony’s ideas for education equity (and, yes, that includes children of relative privilege).

    Harlemmoon is correct: Tony will not be a savior. Now that the die have been cast, let’s ALL rally behind him and help our city and our children do all that they have the potential to do.

  • Concerned Parent

    Catherine- you wrote this in response to an earlier article, can you (or anyone!) give details on how he would plan to reshuffle the PTA money, or the reasoning behind higher performing schools needing less? My child is at a higher performing school, but we’ve been asked to bring in toilet paper and pencils several times this year, since there is no money left for that kind of stuff. How can they take any more than they are already taking? Also- even at her school, there is money (lots) being spent on tutoring for low-performing kids, but my child who performs well gets nothing but the regular school day- no special money spent on enriching her education since she already scores well (BTW- worked at a highly regarded private school where it works the same way). Would this new superintendent think that’s equitable?

    2. Money needs to be reshuffled. This includes money raised by the school community through private fundraising efforts including the PTA money. Money for low performing students will be in proportion to their need and their current performance. Higher performing schools will receive less money as their need is less than others.

  • Catherine

    Concerned Parent: What Tony stated on Wednesday evening was that funds raised through community donations were subject to redistribution. From what I could see in my research on Tony Smith that means those items that were donated to the school directly from the community, such as library books, supplies, electronic equipment and computers, as well as those items donated which were then auctioned off to create a pool of money for activities, would be eligible for redistribution.

    In the past, I have attempted to assist schools in the poorer area of Oakland start a PTA, you can check blog entries through this website. However, there is a huge difference in belief from parent to parent, school to school about the responsibility of fundraising, volunteering, assisting with homework, funding the district. Every school that I contacted (6 total) did not believe that PTA meetings were useful, but a waste of time. They also did not believe it would solve the education problem for their children.

    Money at the problem does not seem to work. Click the link below (or copy and paste) and you will find that the majority of “poor” schools in Oakland receive an average of 25% – 30% more money per student than those schools that perform well on standardized tests.

    Also, if you check the history of OUSD, you will find that a number of schools disbanded their PTAs for a similar reason of “sharing” and started PTOs or other organizations or did fundraising for very specific projects such as a library books.

    We do need to wait and see. I also expect accountability. Re-reading my comments, I seem quite negative, however, Tony’s ideas on equity are outstanding. What I also believe is that Tony is used to getting money for his ideas. To implement the ideas without the money is going to be very, very difficult for him, this is where the redistribution comes in.

    Link to per school spending in Oakland. http://public.ousd.k12.ca.us/docs/7302.pdf

  • Concerned Parent

    Thanks for your response. I guess my concern is that it would be great if all schools had the financial support from donations the way a few do, but it’s not our reality. We have friends that moved through the tunnel and were absolutely hounded by the ” educational foundation” to give $1500 per child, per year, or else. This is never going to happen in Oakland, anywhere in Oakland.

    Things such as during-the-day classes like art, library, drama, computers, etc, is 100% funded by PTA donations, walk-a-thons, bake sales, carnivals, gift wrap sales, etc, and it would be such a loss to the few schools that have worked to create what the district has taken away over the years, if they had to give up their hard-earned donations. It almost seems like it would bring these schools down, rather than help all the schools improve, seeing that the current donations are just barely enough to make ends meet– how could redistributing help in any way? It would be great if we could get back school nurses and librarians, science supplies, computers, working toilets (yes, we donated time and $ to make that happen!) without such a volunteer and fundraising effort, but it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen. I just hope this redistribution idea doesn’t adversly affect some kids for the benefit of others.

    Just because some schools have a stronger support system that they work hard to maintain year after year, they shouldn’t be penalized for it, right? I do hope this superintendent considers this in his planning!

  • Catherine

    I agree with you about the fundraising. I also know that I have a very “white / Anglo” view of fundraising. I believe that parents are responsible for getting kids to school on time, fed, clean and ready to learn. If there is no parent, the children need to be in the home of a responsible adult. In Oakland we believe that is a family member. However, my experience is that the family members often have the same behavior as the parents who are not able to care for their children. I believe that children should pay attention in class. I believe that parents should be required to pay for the things they want like art and computer classes. Some parents can afford to pay out of pocket.

    Other families like ours volunteer the snot out of our lives because we simply don’t have the cash. So instead of a gardner at school, we garden. Instead of paying someone to run our website, we do it. Instead of hiring teachers’ aids to photocopy, assemble items, cut shapes for kindergarten, we do that. Our family time is often on school grounds helping the school. We each work over 50 hours per week with commute time and still feel the responsiblity to fund-raise and volunteer.

    When I make a pitch for the PTA, I start by asking what they do not have at school that they want. In many flat land schools, they do not have a librarian full time, and most parents do not necessarily think that is a problem. If you cut our librarian back to part time, parents would be picketing – or raising the funds for the additional salary needed. It is a difference on what you believe is the core necessities of a school.

    I also do not believe throwing money at the problem will work. It did NOT work in Emeryville. What works is when each person knows, accepts and performs their responsiblities: the child must learn the material, the teacher must teach the material until the child learns it – regardless of how long in the school day that takes – the parent or guardian must get that child to school on time, rested, fed, groomed, and healthy – the principal must make sure the parents, teachers and students are doing their jobs and the Superintendent must make sure to get rid of the principals that fail in their responsiblities to educated EVERY child. That means the children at the top learn a full year’s material every year – the children in the middle and the children at the bottom.

    PTA money should be used for art, computers, music, PE teachers. PTA should not fund science, libraries, books for classroom or library use, or software to prepare students to speak English.

  • Nextset

    You want to wish a new person well and hope for the best. Obama for example.

    But we are adults not children and we know how to process data and draw reasonable expectations about what is going to occur from that data.

    Can this man fix OUSD’s problems with the country and state going into Great Depression II? No, and that’s not a reflection on his good intentions. You don’t have to be a Weatherman to see the way the wind is blowing. I tend to agree that he is very good at surfing the public service jobs. Good for him.

    Catherine might as well start shopping for her new house now.

    Brave New World.

  • Katy Murphy

    NEWS RELEASE:

    State Schools Chief Jack O’Connell Praises Selection of New Superintendent at Oakland Unified School District

    SACRAMENTO – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today applauded the Oakland Unified School District for voting to select Dr. Anthony Smith as the district’s new permanent superintendent.

    “Tony Smith is the perfect person at the perfect time to head the Oakland Unified School District. He has tremendous experience working in leadership positions at school districts in the Bay Area, where he has been successful in bringing together coalitions of diverse interests and focusing their energy to benefit students,” O’Connell said.

    “I have deep respect for his commitment to provide educational excellent to all students, and I am committed to continue to partner with him on efforts to improve student achievement and close the achievement gap in Oakland and around the state.”

  • Katy Murphy

    I just asked Tony Smith about the issue Catherine raised. He said:

    “What I think we need to do is have that conversation in Oakland. … How are we supporting each one of our schools? … The disparity in fundraising by school is pretty significant.”

  • Catherine

    Katy: I agree that the fundraising is “pretty significant.” The hills schools, raise on average between $700 – $1,100 per student.

    However, that is still less than the non-hills schools get per student WITHOUT fundraising. The data is easily verifiable. Just check my link, and then ask for PTA budgets. Simple enough.

    Big difference between the two types of schools: our parents raise the money and demand accountability. In the schools where the PTA is not as strong, parental involvement and accountability of the funds is not as strong.

    What I would ask of Tony as the Superintendent is to empower the parents of the flatland and slope schools to DEMAND accountability for the funds allocated to each school. That would produce similar results for the use of funds as the hills schools.

  • Mr. G

    I’m just a curious observer on this one… but I have to say I find this very confusing. Am I to understand that the school board has the authority to redistribute funds raised by the parent teacher organization of one school to another school? Does anyone think that parents will continue to raise/donate funds for the schools their children attend so that the funds can be given to other schools?

  • Katy Murphy

    I’m unclear about this issue, too, but I will look into it.

  • Curious

    I heard via the grapevine that the Community Advisory vote was 5-2 in favor of Edward Velasquez… What does that say about community input??

  • Public School Fan

    I really don’t understand. He wants to give less money to the less “needy” schools — those with lower API scores, and he wants to take the PTA money from those schools as well? I don’t see how this will work legally. And I don’t see that this will keep students in the district or help raise test scores at other schools. Taking away art, library, music, computer classes at schools that are able to raise the money to keep those things that the district has already taken away from them (because it won’t give those schools the money to do them because those schools don’t “need” it as much as other schools), sounds a little backward to me. I get that all schools in OUSD are not on a par, academically and funding-wise, but you show me a school district (other than one in which the students are all relatively homogenous in most ways such as Piedmont or Orinda) in which they are all the same. This sounds to me like the same old litany from OUSD — a great race toward mediocrity.

  • concerned parent

    Thank you Public School Fan– that’s exactly what I am wondering! Katy– can you look into this? It is HUGELY concerning to me as a parent of two Oakland school kids, especially after verifying Catherine’s info that the hills schools (aka hige-performing schools) get LESS money than low-performing schools, even with all the fundraising they are doing. Could he possibly be thinking that the hills schools might get more funding? We could definitely use it for things like pencils, toilet paper, not to mention all the other things we need, such as teacher salaries, books, etc.

    Also…Can’t this new superintendent see that no one is stopping folks at the “lower performing schools” from picking up a gardening tool, or volunteering in the classroom, or…buying some cookies at a bake sale at the school carnival to help support enrichment?

    Again– why should a school community be punished and get their hard-earned money taken away and “redistributed” elsewhere, jsut because they worked hard to get it?

    Please help us get some clarity on this soon– it’s frightening to me as of now!

  • Julie

    As a public school teacher, I feel as if the public schools are being abandoned. Charter schools are going to divert funds from public schools, attract the most engaged parents, enroll kids who have family support (check out the multi-page, often-complicated application process), and refuse or kick back to public schools all students with behavior problems and children with special needs. The new Superintendent and the President are setting us up for failure -they have given up on us. By the way, I work for one of Oakland’s top public schools. ALL public schools are going to suffer as a result of this new love for charter schools.

  • Judy

    Katy – I work with the state PTA President, so I am checking out whether the new Supt. can, in fact, take PTA raised monies and distribute these to other schools. I will let you know what I hear.

  • Catherine

    Judy: Thank you for your assistance and research. As a parent of schools that raises between $550 – $800 per child for each PTA (2 different schools) and another $100 – $200 for the GATE funds in each school, I would be very happy to assist other schools in doing the same. I also believe we should assist in providing seed money, fundraising assistance, logistical assistance, membership drive assistance and on-going support.

    That said, PTAs are not charity foundations. They are organizations that require membership, hard work, participation, democracy, fundraising, dues payments (to the local and national PTAs) and organization. Some schools and parents / guardians need a hand up to get started. Some parents / guardians are not that invested in their children’s education. For those people who want to work, I know of many PTA members that would give a hand up – none that are openly willing to give a hand out.

  • Nextset

    Julie: I agree with you. The state should never let this happen. It’s very bad policy for everyone. When they have finished we will have completely separate nations within the USA with the various groups never having had contact with each other. The liberal policy of multiculturalism, no competition, political correctness & open borders ensures rigid class distinctions and class separations and further Balkanization of the USA. It will take generations to see the complete transformation of the USA so the liars in power now can just say this isn’t so – but when it’s over we will have a weaker and less durable nation.

    And as far as the black folks go – they are not going to significantly be here. So I guess in the end to me it’s still a racial thing. Replacing the people with new people rather than strenghten what we have.

  • Cliff Hong

    I am an administrator in OUSD, and I support Tony’s appointment. In particular, I’m happy that he’s got such deep local ties and that he has stated that he’s not going anywhere. The problems in OUSD took a long time to create, and it will take years for them to be fixed.

    We now have a leader who is smart, is openly committed to equity, has broad support (which says a lot about his integrity and character), and is already familiar with the issues and politics of the Bay Area. Similar to my Obama experience, I’m inspired by this leader and am ready to work hard to make his vision a reality.

  • cranky teacher

    Curious: You are right about the advisory board vote. Those folks were appointed by the board (each member appointed one) so I’m not sure you can consider that a real grassroots groups.

    One concern I have is that the folks on the advisory board have a LOT more experience than the board itself. What they saw in Velasquez was a guy who has already successfully run a large district as superintendent. They didn’t dislike Smith, they just didn’t think he has the experience to run Oakland.

    Time will tell. Remember, though, that super’s rarely last more than three years and there are much larger forces both above and below them.

  • harlemmoon

    No, folks, neither the Superintendent nor the Board of Education has purview over PTA-raised money. The privately raised dollars – typically used for a specific purpose (e.g. opening media centers, buying sports uniforms) – ARE NOT subject to administrative whim and therefore cannot be redistributed (or, more accurately redirected) at the order of the Supe or the cracker-jack Board of Education.

  • seenitbefore

    maybe the actual $$$$ dollars cannot be redistributed….but I think he’s saying that if a PTA buys something… say.. a computer lab or band instruments…. that the district reserves the right to redistribute that stuff to whatever school they deem more needy.

  • Cathy Sharp

    Thank you Catherine (entry #22)for providing link to OUSD spending per child at schools. As a Montclair Elementary school parent it was eye opening and very disappointing to see we receive the absolute least $ per child than any other elementary school, including our wealthy neighbors Hillcrest. Likewise our middle school Montera receives the absolute least and guess what…wait for it…so does our high school !!!

    That makes me furious. Montclair is a wonderful diverse community and our school is fabulous because of dedicated staff and parent participation. I know, I volunteer left and right. Here is some of the data I extrated from the OUSD report:

    08/09 spending per child

    Montclair %5139 Hilcrest $5385 Thornhill $5476 but the beat all was Tilden at $10,439

    Montera Middle $4575 Frick $6777 hold on now.. Alternative Learning Community $9040

    Skyline High $5009 Best High $8800

    Why such inequity?? Can anyone help explain this?

  • Catherine

    Seenitbefore: Wouldn’t taking away computers or band instruments that are owned and maintained by the PTA be the same thing as taking away money that is owned and maintained by the PTA?

  • Cathy Sharp

    Catherine, Please forgive my typo of % vs $ on Monclair vs. Hillcrest but I was quick to type. I was trying my best to be accurate.

    Yes, taking away anything, be that $ or instruments provided through individual schools’ PTA funds would be unjust.

    I would like some OUSD official to help me understand the inequity of district funding. I noted the disparity in funding. What is the rational for this inequity? Could you please refer me to the person responsible for these monetary decisions so that I may correspond w/ him or her directly? Thank you, Cathy sharp

  • Hills Mom

    Gosh, folks. Look up the details. Google is your friend. These hills schools do not receive Title I funding, QEIA funding, and any other type of funding meant to assist struggling schools and schools serving low income students. Give me a Hillcrest, Montclair, etc. any day of the week, month, or year over these other schools that get $1-2K more per child. PTAs in the hills that raise funds equivalent to this gap in funding get to use the funds on whatever they choose (for the most part) such as art & music whereas schools that receive extra categorical funding are restricted in these funds’ uses.

    As for Mr. Smith’s comments…c’mon. His kid goes to Crocker, a school with an active fundraising PTA. He is well aware of the pushback he would get from his own community if he advocated that the proceeds from their auction would need to be distributed across the district. Call me jaded but I just didn’t take his comments on the redistribution of community funds seriously.

  • concerned parent

    Sarcasm alert…maybe Mr. Smith would like to “reallocate” some of his $275K salary (the amount quoted in our local newspaper and an amount more than President Obama earns, right?) to the teachers whose salaries are not nearly as “equitable” to his own…

  • harlemmoon

    No, Concerned, the Prez makes $400K annually.
    But, what I’d like to know is what becomes of do-nothing Vince Matthews and interim Supe Roberta Mayor? Their combined salary IS more than the president makes. And neither can be credited with doing anything close to what the Prez has done in just over 100 days.

  • Catherine

    Cathy Sharp: The Title 1 funding includes things that many Hills schools do not need. Funding for breakfasts, lunches, Rosetta Stone software or something similar to help non-English speakers, or non-standard English speakers, medical care (required immunizations, hearing tests, vision tests and referrals), additional tutoring, assessments for learning disabilities, home site visits, usually a security guard at the school, before care and after care to keep elementary and middle school students from being home alone for hours.

    Title 1 schools require additional resources. The extra money allocated is used for VERY necessary services. These are services that should be paid for by the school district because without food, medical care, a command of the English language children cannot learn.

    For the other things, Art, PE, Computer labs, school gardens, Hills AND Title 1 schools need to volunteer and fundraise. Each school is going to have different ideas about what makes learning important, for example Garfield Elementary, a Title 1 school, may not want so much Art, but may want more PE to help keep students physically fit and because soccer is a big part of their cultural identity. In addition, learning about and celebrating the contributions of Central and South America, including fiestas.

    Each school has their own culture that should be respected. With funding cuts all around, we all need to work together to find a way to have each schools’ basic needs met.

    All of that said, there should be an expectation that each school is a community and that parents, students, teachers, principals, community leaders and school administration contribute to the volunteer activities, financial success, and most of all the academic success of all students in the school. It will never be fair or just for some groups of students to succeed at the cost of other students.

  • oak261

    Where do we draw the line in what basic services should or should not be paid for by a FINITE school budget? When you think of “funding education”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it “food [and] medical care”? Not me, and I would guess many others feel the same way. Should additional neighborhood police patrols be included too, if the neighborhood is crime ridden and OPD cannot completely cover it? Though the necessity of basic public safety, food and shelter are starting points for an effective education, why put it in the education budget?

    Catherine: What “groups of students are succeeding at the cost of other students?” Regarding cost, Cathy Sharp’s link to the data stands in contrast to that statement.

  • Judy

    Katy:

    I heard back from the PTA President who stated the following

    “PTA monies are separate from the school money and the superintendent has no right to any of it.”

    The PTAs should contact Peralta District ASAP if the new Superintendent appears to be going in this direction.