Four more years for Tony Smith?

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Oakland school board unanimously extended the superintendent’s contract through June 2015.

Oakland Superintendent Tony SmithThe Oakland school board votes Wednesday whether to extend the current, three-year contract for Superintendent Tony Smith (which expires in June 2012) for another three years. No changes in pay — $265,000 salary — or benefits.

You can see the full document for yourself, below.

How well do you think Smith has led the district?

Contract for Tony Smith

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nextset

    You are either running a school or a failure factory. Any “school” that does not expel insubordinate students is a school in name only. OUSD is just not known for being a real school. It’s a failure factory. Some of you might insist that there is schools within OUSD that function as real schools. Right..

    Segregation is the only way OUSD is going to clean up it’s act. Segregate disruptive screwed up “students” into their own campuses and run them like jails. Do it openly and do it with pride. Tell the families of the disruptive students that if they don’t like it we are happy – they are supposed to “not like it”. Their happiness is not a priority. Just get rid of them. It’s really easy when you intend to.

    Ghetto Eradication Program is one way to put it. But you start with publication on the school website and in public announcements that it will be the school’s policy to transfer disruptive, insolent, non-functioning students to programs designed for them. I.E., F students (and disruptive) will be involuntarily transferred out.

    Then start the flunking. And properly done you will have voluntary transfers – a little classical music and other such things in the real schools (homework assignments?), it doesn’t take much to make it clear who the school is for and who it’s not for.

    OUSD won’t change. They will become marginalized by the Charters until OUSD IS the ghetto school. Imagine that…

  • J.R.


    Being an advocate for the disenfranchised is a laudable goal, but there is a thin line between advocate and enabler. Please, for the long term good of the kids do not be an enabler.

  • Turanga_teach

    Gordon Danning,
    Point taken, and I agree that some kind of disciplinary practice is a key part of restoring and keeping an orderly environment. I do, though, continue to question the efficacy of suspension–especially when it plays out in many cases as corporal punishment by a parent, followed by several consecutive hours of video games. Opening it to the peanut gallery–do any kids you’ve interacted with actually view suspension as a powerful enough deterrent to curtail their behavior?

    I’m curious about whether it really is that simple as kids misbehaving because it’s FUN. I never enjoyed misbehavior; your ghetto-eradication kids make it clear that they’d rather be learning than clowning. I’m not going the Nextset route of some children just inherently irredeemable garbage, but I do think there are factors beyond “the punishment system’s not enough to prevent me” at play when it comes to who does and doesn’t mess around in what circumstances. And, at the risk of being called an enabler (JR: watch me at work and THEN give me that label…), I would argue that there’s something to the idea that some kids misbehave because they KNOW how to do that, they’ve found that it works for them, and they haven’t properly been taught, supported, or positively reinforced when it comes to the doing of all the other stuff.

    Anyway, I’m tangenting. To bring it back to Tony Smith, I’m excited by the direction he’s trying to move our schools. I feel like he takes seriously the idea of a school system in right relationship to the community around it, I’ve seen him conduct himself with dignity, concern, and humility in some pretty difficult situations, and, let’s face it, four more consecutive years of pretty much anything is better than the hodgepodge we’ve had in the past.

  • Nextset

    Turanga_teach: I think you have me wrong on that post abouve. It’s not that I’m saying that a lot of kids are just garbage to be thrown out. Maybe some are – bad genetics most likely.

    My point is that OUSD and the other such districts do not have the time and money to save everybody. By refusing to segregate their students – triage if you will, they destroy large numbers (most) of the students they used to make productive people out of.

    They use the holy grail of college prep to decimate the basic education for the prole kids. The districts do this deliberately knowing they are turning out a majority of the black students in the case of OUSD crippled and impaired, unable to find work or a place in the economy. They wash their hands of them with pious statements that they tried to teach them algebra.

    I don’t have the exact numbers at my fingertips this morning, but I’m speaking of the blacks drop outs who when combined with the failing/illiterate blacks who hang around till age 18 add up to a huge number of people not able to compete with even the Mexican invaders who walk into the country illegally and work.

    You cannot save everyone – the district needs to focus on basic education to provide a floor under which nearly none of the students will fall. Then go from there. That means physically removing the distruptive students and ensuring the rest have literacy, deportment and job skills well under control including such things as driver’s ed and driver’s training, perhaps basic swimming lessons or water safety to boot.

    Not sure on the swimming, but the point is making the kids not so easily drowned. Obviously Birth control, VD control, and related health and safety training would be paramount for this population. And that includes making it known and clear to the kiddies about the stats and charts that include the racial differences on everything from VD rates to causes of death. OUSD can have a college prep program on it’s own campus for those who test out for the limited seats available. Frankly, that’s all the college prep OUSD needs.

    With an approach like this I believe we’d see the outcomes for OUSD improve and everybody happier including the staff, the brights, the proles, and the disruptive students who to some degree are disruptive because they are forced to share space with the other students and can’t possibly compete.

    Brave New World.

  • Public School Teacher

    This is a hard one. It is my observation that kids are affected by their classroom environment and their peers, particularly if they are not self-motivated or directed by their parents. There exists a tipping point in every classroom. Once you have more than 3 discipline problems, the class veers south. This is especially troublesome for those students who sit on the fence; the ones who would rise to the occasion if the majority of the class was on task and learning. I will not comment on whether students should be segregated or not, but I do know that extremely disruptive students, even just one, can wreak havoc on a classroom. Perhaps if they were removed, the “fence” child would do better.

  • Public School Teacher

    Sorry, “were on task”

  • Livegreen

    The program I’ve seen function the best at OUSD that avoids Detention, is at Edna Brewer, where they have a disciplinary procedure that includes focus groups with a professional. However I believe that program is being reduced or phased out because it’s not academic and because of budget cuts…

  • Yastrzemski

    Livegreen…what program are you referring to at Brewer? They have a HUGE number of kids on “in-house” suspension/detention.

    When Jamie Marantz was the principal there, the school seemed to undergo a change and became a more successful campus. But, in the last few years with all of the leadership changes, it has slipped right back to all of the problems it had before.