Can Oakland’s new supe find common ground?

New schools superintendent Tony Smith says he aims to get people to put politics and ideology aside — yes, he’s talking about doing this in Oakland! — and focus on what works for kids. 

As evidence that this was possible, Smith said the goals expressed by teachers union president Betty Olson-Jones at a recent one-on-one meeting overlapped with some of the core principles that emerged during an event organized by the new, reform-minded coalition Great Oakland Public Schools (to which Olson-Jones said she was not invited).

What common ground do you see in OUSD? I wrote a story about Smith’s first couple of weeks on the job, which is in today’s Trib. You can find it here.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Debora

    Katy: Article states that classes start on Aug. 31, official calendar states Aug. 24. Would you check the info?

  • Katy Murphy

    According to this OUSD 2009-10 academic calendar, which is posted on the Web site, the first day for students is Aug. 31:


  • Steven Weinberg

    Obviously, there is a huge area of common ground shared by all who work in the school district. We all have chosen to work here because we want the best for Oakland’s students. Even in areas where you would expect conflict, there is common ground. Every superintendent must realize that attracting and keeping the best teachers, administrators, and other employees requires better compensation. And every employee, especially in this district, must realize the importance of having a balanced budget.
    But there are also going to be differences about priorities and strategies. The degree to which the new superintendent responds to those differences, and his willingness to involve a broad cross section of the employees and community and truly listen to them will determine his success.

  • Debora

    Katy: Thanks for the info. After looking at the family calendar I see that we are home as a family that last week, yeah!

    Another week to spend with my daughter after 7 weeks of GATE Summer School and ATDP in which she had a great time and jumped out of bed to go to school and learn. The GATE Summer School is something Tony should look into. It is one of those rare programs where the racial, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, educational opportunity, intellect, student choice and teacher quality come together in one program that meets the needs of all and exceeds the needs and expectations of the vast majority of students.

    Students respect teachers and school property, the principal, teachers, parents and students respect each other. Learning happens every day in the classroom and outside the classroom, class size depending on the “block” can be small (15 students) or large (32 students) yet the students are engaged, happy, satisfied, and excited to be there. Their fellow students are supportive and inclusive.

    This is what happens when you have a group of students whose educational needs are being met. Quite a model for education.