Superintendent Tony Smith Resigns

Staff Photojournalist
photo by D. Ross Cameron/Oakland Tribune

Superintendent Tony Smith announced in a closed session with the board last night that he is resigning as superintendent, effective June 30.

His reasons are family-related, as his wife’s father was recently hospitalized, and he and his family will now be moving to Chicago.

Smith wrote a letter to the board about his resignation, saying how proud he is of the accomplishments that have been made since working with the board.

While there is still much work to do, the district is well positioned to achieve the objectives outlined in the balanced scorecard and meet the goals described in our ambitious strategic plan.

Click here to read Smith’s letter to President David Kakishiba.

The board also released a statement on the district’s website to the community about the board’s reaction.

Also read Tribune reporter Angela Woodall’s story regarding the resignation.

Serena Valdez

  • concerned

    Sounds suspicious and a reason that would make doubters look bad to question. So what’s the real reason he stepped down?

  • Harold


  • http://ousdblog mark

    Wow, what a bombshell, but not entirely unexpected perhaps.

    I did like the integrity of Mr. Smith, I also believe that Oakland Unified School District is perhaps a daunting task for a superintendent to run. There are so many issues to deal with each month. I have noticed that the posted school board minutes have stopped as of 1-05-2013, and that surprised me as well (three months of non posting of issues).

    I think many schools need more oversight, and it could be that the entire school district needs to hire two superintendents, not one. Perhaps there are some retired superintendent types that have vast experience, that would come on board to the O.U.S.D. to work as a team to design ways that the administrators are held accountable for what they do.

    I believe firmly, that the O.U.S.D. school district needs to create workable programs for all layers of the district, otherwise, the district may engage in sort of a management of putting out fires and a drain of resources from this to that.

    I do respect the integrity of Mr. Smith and I honor his decision to put family first.

    I think the health of O.U.S.D. will depend on the hiring of two superintendents to separate off the things that need to be done with strict oversight. One of the new superintendents could focus on the health and well being of the special education department.

    Thank you Mr. Smith for all you have done to help O.U.S.D., one thing was for sure, you brought a great deal of trust and integrity to many who worked for the district. You accomplished a great deal that was positive. Again, I believe the job of superintendent is too big for one person.

    The above comments are my opinions.

  • Luis Mota

    Now that this blog seems to be responding to the news as they are happening, I am reposting this from the Chron

    Top 10 paid Employees 2011, All Compensation
    Oakland Unified School Dist.
    $352,218 Smith, Anthony Martin Superintendent
    $258,609 Hal, Vernon Eugene Deputy Suptdnt Bus. & Opration
    $241,115 Minor, Jacqueline Patricia Legal Advisor
    $230,462 Santos, Maria Dpty Sup Instrctn, Ldrshp, Eia
    $208,879 White, Timothy E. Assoc Suprntndnt Fac Plng&Mgmt
    $200,808 Mcwilliams, Marion Lynn Assistant General Counsel
    $185,721 Chou, Geekin Technology Information Officer
    $183,199 Marshall, Brigitte Associate Superintendent Hrss
    $182,814 Hernandez, Janette Teresa Executive Officer Regionl Ntwk
    $181,085 Kean, Kimi Executive Officer Regionl Ntwk
    $222,491 Average

    $400,000 US President
    $213,900 US Supreme Court
    $212,179 Governor
    $162,000 US Senator
    $56,000 US Navy Seal


    Why stick around, he has made enough as is.

  • Luis Mota

    I am very sorry if anybody suffers or is in bad health. I wish the best recovery in the comfort of family support.


    this guy is jumping the long sinking boat. He was sooo into the district that he had to make some personal reason public to get out. 3 years ago he said he would visit all schools. I am still waiting for his visit to our school.Perhaps it will be his farewell treat.
    What’s going to happen with the wondrous strategic plan? Ok, time for the cronies to go too.
    Good bye “Tony” and friends, “our” saviors!

  • concerned

    Interesting timing since the “consolidation” notices have just gone out. The student to teacher ratio is going to be outrageous. For example, Claremont is going from a staff of 24 to 17, losing music and art, and will only have 3 math teachers even though the population has increased nearly 70 students from the year before. Somebody messed up. Probably the guy leaving.

  • http://ousdblog mark

    In response to “Luis Mota’s posting”

    thanks for the information.

    I believe after seeing that the superintendent of O.U.S.D. makes $350,000 per year (if I am reading this correctly), and all the other making above $185,ooo per year.

    Well, then, maybe my idea of cutting back salaries and hiring two superintendents to run the big O.U.S.D. school district is a sound idea.

    The two superintendents could sign all important things together, and the job could be better handled with a team approach. The team approach might also help create cynergy for the work that lies ahead. Two superintendents could not only mandate new things that each admin. person needs to accomplish, BUT ALSO CHECK FOR IF THE THINGS MANDATED ARE BEING DONE.

    for example, teachers are suppose to be reviewed at certain times, but it is well known that often a vast number of teachers are not reviewed, or not reviewed in proper ways in my opinion. The not reviewing teachers is such an example of those in power knowing what should be done, but also, no one checking to see if things such as reviews have been done correctly or done at all.

    The important idea I present, is maybe two retired superintendents could band together at a lessened salary. There are some people who would come in and work for less money because they have the keen desire to do work that impacts the well being of the children and young adults in Oakland.

    Again, thanks for for the Luis Mota post of salaries. They all seem way too high in my opinion.

    Way too high.

  • Nextset

    Remember what I said about the real reasons for OUSD’s existence and functions – salary, benefits and social status of the Board, Administrators and teachers in that order? And I’m not so sure about the teachers.

    OUSD will wind down as the “students” flee to the Charters. It will become a defacto continuation school for “students” who cannot get into better schools. At least at the High School level. Just like Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and the other urban black/brown districts.

    If a district wanted to fight this process they would. You’d see them create segregated (“selective”) schools with patently higher discipline and academic standards. Like San Francisco Unified. That way they would compete with the real schools and keep their student populations numbers up.

    Any sign that anyone in OUSD is trying to discuss doing this? Imagine the pleasure the SFUSD board members take in controlling Lowell High and having reserved seats there for their friends and allies?

  • J.R.

    Until I read the letter i had no idea how much better a position this district has been placed in. I am impressed with the PR spin on that, and no doubt the windy city will fall hard for it. I don’t need to wish him luck in Chicago, he already knows how to play the political game of positioning and posturing.

  • A coding error

    Poor kids.

    “what is life going to be like after a 350K compensation package? What will I do in Chicago? How will I support my family, my first priority? Will I become a Walmart greeter? Will I become a teacher (nah, don’t have a credential)? Will I go back to sports and writing mediocre poetry? Will I work for Rahm or Arne (after all, I have been out on business trips a lot the days that the BOE was discussing my fiascos)?”

    Poor kids. They can’t be choosers. Not even their first priority.

  • Oakland Teacher 510

    The comments on this site are always so cynical. I’m not going to defend his salary, but he is in charge of the education of Oakland youth and that is a huge task considering the problems that face our kids (not all cities have children murdering children every single weekend). He also worked very, very hard. I saw him everywhere and he was at most of the evening meetings I attended -I often wondered when he saw his family.

    Tony Smith is a man of integrity who truly wanted to improve the lot of kids that many of us have written off. He is extremely bright and personable. He knew how to reach out to the community. I am very sorry to see him go.

  • oaklandedlandscape

    Thank you for your years of service. What people fail to realize is that the superintendent is one person in a system that has good memory (for better or worse). Hoping that this is an opportunity to continue the hard work of “rightsizing” OUSD and focusing on high quality schools for all Oakland students. Let’s not allow this crisis in leadership to go to waste.

  • Luis Mota

    @ Oakland teacher “510”

    Glad that life is beautiful for you, and that you got to see him. It is easier if you work at Crocker or the hills. Perhaps you got an autograph.
    Now, regarding the community, probably a number of parents from closing schools, or SpEd don’t feel so “reached”.
    I am sorry if you have “written off” kids. Luckily he has tried to save them. As for a number of us, we humbly do our jobs every day, we are and live in the community.

  • On The Fence

    Geez, I hold a completely opposite view from posts #3 and #11, so you can add me to the list of ‘cynical’ posters.

    I did not find Tony Smith’s direction of OUSD to be compelling in the least and I am hoping that the next superintendent will scrap most of his ‘bright’ ideas. My prediction has long been that Tony Smith would soon leave this fair city and use his last salary as a starting point for negotiations on his next even more prominent position. I can already imagine him running a large CHARTER organization, drawing upon his vast expertise dramatically improving the lives of urban children of color in Oakland, CA., of course! The PR spin on his letter of resignation is expected, however I will be sick if I ever read about this supposed stellar tenure in a future NY Times article about this rising star in education. Sorry, but there has been no such real improvement in our district and, IMO, his tenure is marked by public fiasco after fiasco. My mind is flush with the memories of lost millions (more than once), the many times he undermined various high functioning/well functioning schools in our communities, his disregard of the special education community, the adversarial top down approach toward teachers, and what I consider a disingenuous series of task force meetings with the community to promote exactly what he intended from the get go. As a parent, I did not feel that he had any actual interest in reaching out with anything more than platitudes and feigned studious concern.

  • Denver

    If he’s going on his own volition and because of concern for his extended family, best wishes and good health to all.

    And if he’s leaving because Oakland pushed him out, shame on us. He may not have been perfect, but he took measured risks. Some worked, some didn’t.

    If you think that the fours schools should not have been shut down, you need to analyze the data that compelled not just shutting these schools, but many more.

    And if you think that it was ok for people to march to his home – threatening to any household – then you are part of the problem that keeps Oakland anchored to the bottom.

    Blame the super. That’s easy. Oakland’s education problems extend well beyond Tony Smith and his leadership. They are cultural, political, socio-economic. I never thought Smith sought to undermine any element of the Oakland population. On the contrary, I thought he tried his best in a challenging situation and that approach never makes everybody happy.

  • J.R.

    You are correct on a few points, many schools need to be closed. The problems we face are cultural, political, socio-economic, and most importantly family(or lack thereof) based. Tony did not take a very important step by right sizing the district office and demonstrating that the voices of tax-paying citizens were heard. It was never his job to be comfortable or do whats easy, he needed to rework the very foundation on which the district was laid and redo better,smarter and leaner. The band-aid approach looks good and may appease some, but the problems will once again crop up mainly because costs are always rising.

  • Catherine

    I think we will clearly understand one of the reasons Tony Smith left we students are no longer able to take multiple choice tests for the common core standards and must demonstrate what they know by writing their answers. Students will need to use Standard Academic English, know content thoroughly, be able to write in complete sentences and complete paragraphs and demonstrate that they think clearly and effectively about the topic. For students who have moved from “below basic” to “proficient” because we have focused on test-taking strategies and have spent an enormous part of the elementary school day on only reading and math, these tests will come as a huge surprise and the vast majoirty of those who “became proficient” will, once again, fall to thier level of knowledge, rather than rise to their multiple choice test-taking skill. (nearly 70% of the answers on benchmark and STAR tests are B and C – if you don’t know the answer, your guess is more likely to be right with a B or C answer). When the true answer may be closer to “In Ancient Mesopotamia one of the jobs of the middle class would be a scribe. A scribe is someone who documented using writing, beginning with pictograph, then sideways and finally cuneform. This is the earliest form of writing and has become the basis of writing today.” (6th grade history standard for proficient students.)

    How many of our Oakland sixth grade students in OUSD schools would be able to write that small three sentence statement to answer one test question? That is one of the lessons I teach – yes, Mark, using graphic organizers, study guide organizers using the Cornell note taking system and student-chosen, rubric driven, project-based learning.

    Okay, now for the exam, in my class of typical students I have 60% who would be able to write it because they know the information – however, only roughly 40% write at grade level standard and speak Academic English while at school.

  • Catherine

    Oakland Teacher 510 – I believe that Tony believes that the lack of learning lies in the level of respect shown to students. I somewhat believe it too. However, I also know that my students do not feel the need to put in a solid eight hour day of learning. No amount of character-building, self-esteem enhancing is going to turn a low-working student into a knowlegeable one. The student must work.

    In my situation above, students often condemn the “smart students” for “knowing” the answers. With the permission of the high achieving students I have asked all students in class how much time they spend working on learning, reading, thinking and discussing content, U.S. and World history and current events and how much time they review their notes and learning from class. In general the students who are “smart”, “high achievers” and “good test-takers” spend an average of five hours per day on-task, actively learning, taking notes, reading and reviewing and then go home and read for a half hour or more and work on homework or “interesting things they have thought about” for an hour or more.

    By contrast, my students keep track of the time they were on track and focused during the day. – Students who are not proficient spend an average of three hours a day engaged in learning, read less than an hour a week at home, may or may not complete their homework and review their notes just outside of class right before a test.

    In general the students who are “smart” spend twice as much of their lives engaged in learning activities inside and outside the classroom as compared to students who do not achieve proficient status. This is one thing that I fault Tony for not paying attention to – I believe Tony spends the time thinking and learning and working at the level of the proficient student. He expects the same of every teacher in the district. He does not expect that a student of color should have to spend eight hours per day working on learning. I believe he would be honest about this if we just asked him – but we tend to chant Tony, Tony, Tony and not ask about the actual WORK expected of students – all students.

  • Luis Mota

    One of his (many) problems was who he chose to be by his side to play as a “solid” team.
    As he went to “reform” he kept some folks from the past and brought some folks from the outside, which initially makes sense. However, he was very inefficient, for lack of a better word, in keeping administrators from the previous regime as he did it based on “connections” and with a total disregard for efficiency in some cases.
    Some of the ones he brought you would have a hard time spotting them if they are speaking in public. They are not bright, they don’t have charisma and some not even intellect (regardless of where they say they were coming from). However, they pretend well and kiss *** better.
    You cannot pretend to change a district in 5 years. Anybody ventures what the district would have looked like when the 5 years of the strategic plan expire, 2 years from now? He knows it was going to suck so he is jumping before it hits the fan… on to a new heroic position (well paid).

  • OUSD Principal

    Thank you for your hard work and striving to improve our district.

  • Gordon Danning

    Who cares? The idea that a superintendent in a district the size of Oakland can make any more than a marginal impact on students is silly. The most that a Supt can do is support teachers who want to teach and students who want to learn (hint: that means, among other things, more suspensions rather than fewer, but it means a lot more than that).

    But, ultimately, what is needed is higher quality teaching, including teachers who put their students’ needs above their own; teachers who are thoughtful about teaching and who are constantly open to improvement; teachers with high standards; and teachers who are willing to work towards improving schools, rather than resisting every change.

  • Ms. J.

    Of course I will start by saying that I agree with Dr. Smith’s statement that family must come first; as a person who moved to Berkeley in part because of the educational opportunities this city is able to offer to my kids, I have to be honest about this. Of course I will say that I extend compassion to his father-in-law.

    Maybe Dr. Smith really did suddenly realize that he had elderly in-laws in a far-off city (interesting echo of Kimberly Statham, who was state administrator for a brief period before suddenly remembering that her family lived in D.C., which was where another high-paying position awaited her), or maybe his wife abruptly demanded that he make her parents a priority that they hadn’t been before. I do not argue with the choice of family over all else; it is a choice I make as well, when forced to choose.

    However, I must join the cynics. I don’t believe that the in-laws are the real story.

    If they are, I think Dr. Smith should have had them in mind when he took on this job. He said when he came to OUSD that he was in it for the long haul. He has claimed repeatedly to be committed to Oakland. His contract is not over for another two years. He is giving the district and its students, in particular the vulnerable students of color about whom he has spoken so movingly so often, only three months to scramble to find a replacement. If the ill father-in-law and aging mother-in-law are the real reason he is leaving, I am shocked by his lack of foresight and I judge him irresponsible to have made a commitment to the district, and to have committed the district along a challenging path, when he could have anticipated this turn of events. It surely does not come as a surprise to Dr. Smith that people age and need more support.

    A few things with which I must take issue:

    1.Several people have posted on this thread that
    the job of Superintendent is a difficult one.
    2. I read an article mentioning Dr. Smith as ‘one of the longest serving leaders of the district.’

    In response:
    1. Yes, it’s a difficult job. But he sought it, and he was paid a huge amount to do it, and now he is quitting before the end of the term for which he committed himself, leaving his colleagues and the students and families of OUSD in what Jody London tells us is not a crisis (thereby kind of calling it one, don’t you think). Of course, OUSD goes from one crisis to another, several of them while under Dr. Smith’s direction, including the recent mystery of the missing $7 million dollars. So maybe this isn’t quite such a big crisis, just part of a situation of chronic crisis.

    2. Smith took the job in 2009, and it’s 2013. So that’s just four years he’s been at OUSD. It’s longer than most superintendents have stuck around recently, sure, but it’s not exactly the long haul. I don’t think he deserves any kind of recognition for that short of a tenure. (I don’t notice teachers getting patted on the back for teaching for four whole years before quitting.)

    I am shocked by this sudden news, and saddened on behalf of the students and teachers of OUSD who will suffer the consequences.

    And I won’t be surprised if I see Dr. Smith moving on to another highly paid position where he can receive praise for holding righteous positions without having to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve real change. But he is not a hero.

    The real heroes are the dedicated teachers who continue to give their all to students every day despite worsening conditions and pay stuck at less than a quarter of Dr. Smith’s exorbitant remuneration. The real heroes are the families who strive to support their children in Oakland public schools, whatever form that support takes. The real heroes are the Oakland students who turn up on time daily despite their own family struggles, who do the work, who try to learn.

    And meanwhile, I’m really curious as to the real story. Mr. Emanuel? Mr. Duncan?

  • J.R.

    Excellent points, many of these kids will be unprepared and lost when academic rigor and testing that forces a child to think are put into play. It really is a microcosm of our problems on a societal level. We have less and less people who are actually capable of independent thinking and reasoning, and thus have less people capable of critical society sustaining careers(doctors,scientists,engineers). We need to insist on subject mastery and a solid educational foundation from the start, If rigor begins early, it will not be so difficult later on. Parents need to be on board, or their child will be left behind.

  • Denver

    Gordon’s point is an excellent one. If success hinges on whether the superintendent serves his complete term, the entire program is deeply flawed. Of course we all know it is; Smith just serves as the lightning rod.

    OUSD needs a massive overhaul that will be painful. Schools need to be closed, unions need to be broken, contracts need to be renegotiated, and a new system needs to be implemented that ensures as much as possible that the best and brightest students are afforded every opportunity to succeed, undistracted by the kids that, at best, don’t care. The trick is how. Neighborhood schools should become the norm (Lakeview was NOT a neighborhood school).

    Perhaps OUSD should be placed in some sort of federal receivership like OPD. Perhaps we shouldn’t relish how “progressive” we are. Perhaps our progressiveness actually gets in the way (see Occupy Oakland movement).

    What a shame Oakland can be.

  • Seenitbefore

    Prediction: Smith will be highly involved (and paid) in the Emmanuel-Duncan privatization program to eliminate the Chicago Public School system and will wind up in some National level position due to his connections.

    Further Prediction: Someone with a more diverse look and outward appearance will be welcomed to take over in Oakland …. but will continue the dismantling of OUSD and the privatization plan in an even MORE destructive and swift manner……. ever heard of Michelle Rhee and her husband…the mayor of Sacramento?

  • IMHO

    The number one job of a superintendent is student success. In that score Tony Smith failed miserably. Not having been a teacher and site administrator, he had no vision of how to improve student success through effective classroom practices. Instead he embarked on a feel-good ride about raising self-esteem and being nice.

    He will also be remembered for the unprecedented talent drain. Most of those who left the district are serving less needier communities, making more money and earning more respect. Tony Smith has replaced them with overpaid incompetents who continue to shortchange Oakland kids. Let’s hope that they, too, will leave this district under credible pretext or otherwise. We shall not complain. Do it for the kids. They deserve better.

  • Denver

    Talent drain. Seriously? The excellent schools are still excellent, maybe better. Many of the formerly good schools are better too. And the underperforming schools are still…underperforming. And thanks to closures, there are fewer of them.

    No superintendent will create a successful program in the absence of other critical components: stable family, participating parents, vested community. The superintendent should preserve, protect the status quo where this exists and seek to reform where it doesn’t.

  • oaklandedlandscape

    Stop complaining about Tony Smith. That’s part of the problem. You all complain about everything. Offer solutions and ideas. We need a new leader. Step up. We have too many schools. We have too many low preforming schools. We need a visionary leader that will close schools and ensure that every single student has access to a high quality program, public charter or district. Don’t hate the charters more than you love job security.

  • Denver


  • J.R.

    I don’t disagree with that, and several idea’s are included in my previous posts. The gravy train is over, it’s time for people to start pulling their own weight.

  • makeitgoaway

    Too much beating up on the old Sup. In the end he did nothing, and he is positioning himself to get a high paying job in Chicago. It is not “hopeless” as so many contend.

    What qualities/achievements do people seek in the new superintendent?

  • Harold

    @#30 – how about an incentive to finish the contract?

    A lower starting salary, with bonuses, if she/he makes measurable improvements?

    All the administrators on that list above, are “at-will” correct? The new Supe needs to bring those salaries down too if possible… because none of them deserve salaries that high, in a struggling district that compensates its classroom Teachers so terribly.

    Get rid of dead weight (Teachers on Special Assignment). There are too many failed administrators at Lakeview and Cole (2nd Avenue).

  • Luis Mota

    well, for starters, how about keeping one’s (white, if applicable) privileged mouth shut, not promising what you can’t deliver? how about getting rid of cronies, no matter how cool they looked at Bayces, whatever local church or UC Berkeley?
    A new Supe that does that would be good.

  • https://www.facebook.com/timothy.terry.397 Kid Row

    Smith’s reign in Oakland was controversial at best. A divisive figure, it was his way or the highway and the public be dammed. Smith prides himself in being a corporate reformer and he was trained at the Broad Foundation School of Privatization. It took him 2 years to come up with a “strategic plan” which led off with closing 5 elementary schools. He wanted to close 30 schools total. The school closures were a complete disaster and unnecessary and in the end we lost so many families from the ensuing chaos that there was no savings. One of the schools he closed in North Oakland was turned over to the City of Emeryville where he previously worked as Superintendent. Now the kids from that neighborhood walk past their school and watch kids from another city play there. Last year was spent investigating Oakland’s three top charter schools which were accused of stealing $3.5M from the district. Smith is a big fan of charter schools and Oakland now has 40% charters and a weakened public education system. Our teachers had an imposed contract under Smith’s entire tenure and we lost too many of our experienced teachers and District employees due to his “management style” and constant attacks on Teachers and our Teachers Union OEA. Smith was forced to face the problem of suspensions among African American males only after the Department of Education’s Civil Rights office imposed a Consent Decree. This past election Smith worked with a corporate backed PAC, Greater Oakland Public Schools (GO) and packed the school board with his supporters. $77K was spent to obtain 9,658 votes in West Oakland alone. Finally the district announced last month that it misplaced $7M out of the current budget and more cuts are in the works for each of its schools. What Smith leaves behind is a divided district which has isolated itself and lost trust in the community. One thing Smith does well is self promotion so look for him to be appointed by Arnie Duncan or President Obama’s Chicago crew. For all the talk at the end of the day he shaved 5% off our 48% dropout rate and took a big step in dismantling our public education system. Next.

  • oaklandedlandscape

    @ Kid Row – A few questions:

    How exactly did Smith work with GO? Where do you get 40% of charters in Oakland? Public chartering in Oakland has really not done so well under Smith. What evidence can you present to support his “fan” status of charters?

  • On the Fence

    Nice recap, Kid Row.

    Anyone know what the process is for hiring a new Sup.? How is the salary negotiated? How does the salary get set lower after it was already granted at such an inflated pay rate? Also, does anyone know of any contenders from inside or outside? Who was the front runner mentioned(after Tony Smith) during the last hiring? I am cringing with the thought that a certain highly verbose, oft visible OUSD insider could potentially throw his hat in the ring and I’m crossing my fingers that it can’t happen….

  • Seenitbefore

    ….and yet we now see one of the most successful, knowledgeable, and experienced OAKLAND veterans…. looking for a job as a school superintendent in NEW JERSEY…. http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=news/local&id=9042055

    THIS is an example of what is meant when people say that OUSD “bleeds talent”. This community does not appreciate and respect our most ardent and vocal supporters of public education. And then, we wonder WHY we have this revolving door effect of outsiders who come to OUSD with all of their cronies and their corporate ties, and continue the pattern of robbing our children of their right to a QUALITY public school education.

    WAKE UP Oakland……. our kids deserve better.

  • https://www.facebook.com/timothy.terry.397 Kid Row

    Hi Oaklandlandscape – response to your questions.

    1. OUSD’s charter school office lists 40 charter schools. OUSD’s website I counted 87 total schools. So the percentage of charter schools is 46%. Whatever the numbers are, It’s a lot of charter schools and by percentage Oakland has the most in CA.
    2. How did Smith conspire with GO? This is a great question and we really need to do an investigation into the school board being influenced by GO’s corporate backed dollars. We all know GO purchased the election for at least 3 of its current members in the November election.
    3. Smiths preference for Charter schools. See Katy Murphy April 19, 2012 post where Smith said in a meeting that he didn’t care how many of the city’s schools became independetly run charters.

    @Seenitbefore – Talk about bad teachers. How about bad Administrators? Isn’t Denise Sadler a coconspirator in the decline of Oakland schools rather than a “vetran” as you speak. I just think of the 48% dropout rate during most of her tenure. Her role in the school closure fiasco was to simply follow orders on faulty policies. That’s not Leadership. Good bye to you too Denise!

  • Nextset

    Like I said, OUSD will wind down into an all black continuation school for people even the Charters won’t take.

    Too bad OUSD doesn’t want to change it’s ways and operate a real high school.

    In Charters we trust!

  • OAKHuh?

    The toxicity of these comments is so reflective of the very nature of what holds Oakland back. Plug in the next superintendent and the same, angry naysayers will be chanting the same, angry mantra. Doesn’t matter what the next sup will do or how s/he does it, the vitriol will continue. You want someone to stay in Oakland for the long haul? Try to refrain from the death threats. Really, look at yourselves.

  • Denver

    Charters are desirable because OUSD is a disaster on the whole. People want better public options where the focus is on teaching, not on babysitting.

    What’s happened with Smith is not the root of the problem. He’s only a symptom. The diagnosis might as well be terminal. Folks come in, get experience in possibly the most broken school system in the country, and therefore get recruited to work in less broken systems.

    Again, it’s a shame.

  • http://ousdblog mark

    Dear “OAKHuh” I disagree with your comments.

    It is not toxicity of comments, it is just people expressing their views, and I for one welcome them. Of course facts are good to put in from time to time too, but even those can be bent like a spoon by some with the powers that are perhaps not of this world, because, of course, common sense is not common.

    I love Oakland. I love the way people hash it out and speak the plain talk, I say, we need more such talk, and I say Oakland needs two superintendents. Two. One to oversee all the special education concerns and one to oversee other items. I say again, I hope the school board tries this unique idea and, tries to hire two retired superintendents, to just get in there and set up simple obtainable things for all administrators to do, and then TELL ALL WHO ARE IN ADMINISTRATIVE POSITIONS THAT ALL THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE WILL BE CHECKED.

    Keep it simple. Set up simple plans. Lower all the salaries of the helpers to Mr. Smith, and hire down to earth people who are good at time management and good at checking for follow up of things that must be done, and are good at letting administrators go that are not cutting the mustard.

    Toxic comments, no, just a great deal of care and consideration for the young children and the young adults that bank of the O.U.S.D. being the best it can be.

  • from the inside

    Smith was losing support from the people who once believed in him.

    The strategic plan was a mess. There is incoherence between district departments and schools. Operationally, OUSD is a shambles. Good teachers leave because the pay is abysmal while OUSD has the most top-heavy central office in Alameda County.

    Cronyism prevails, morale has been tanking and district leadership is more top-down than under state administrator Ward. But the media coverage of Smith’s exit is positive.

  • In and out

    @#43 From the inside

    Which reminds us that little to nothing has been specifically said in resignation letter or Board letter about the continuity of the “consensus-based” strategic plan, let alone the media or this blog.
    Where’s the strategic plan chanting choir? I guess that more than one administrator is waiting to see who’s next, so that they are not singing out of tune and they get fired. Careerism galore.

  • Denver

    What kind of Oakland do you live in Mark? Are you talking about the Oakland School Board that voted to support ebonics education? Or the City Council that mortgaged this City to bring the Raiders back? You love Oakland. Really? Drive down International Blvd. – day or night, doesn’t matter – a few times and see what happens. Who talks the plain talk? Occupy Oakland? What a bunch of misguided fools they turned out to be. What impact did they have on policy? None. Hash it out? BS. That does not happen. If it did, you wouldn’t be complaining about the tenure this Supervisor had. There’s not a lot of hashing out taking place.

    Keep it simple. By hiring two superintendents. That should work out just fine.

    It’s a shame. Oakland could really be a great place. But we reep what we sow.

  • http://ousdblog mark

    Well, for me Oakland is a mystical place, and I have a vibe there that is not the same as say San Jose. Oakland is where the Black Panthers tried to change education, and the city is steeped in good and bad history. It is alive. However drugs and lack of jobs for the youth have taken its toll on the city of Oakland, not to mention a current mayor that is not resonating well for all in my opinion. However, even with all the bad, Oakland is still a city of great possibilities and strength.

    For me, music tell a story of Oakland, here are some greats: I love Oakland. That is just the way it is. Plus, my idea of two superintendents hired at say $180,000 each is a sound one and could be tried out for the next two years. We don’t need a flashy person to pay $400,000, who never reads e mails or takes calls, we need two bland keen minded workers for the people, who can distribute the vast amounts of work to ensure that the mandated things are being done, this is why I suggested one of the two superintendents oversee the overseeer of special education and get all things into compliance etc. The job is too big for one superintendent to accomplish. Also, if a district admin. person is making $180,000, I say cut that salary back to $120,000 and if you will get the same quality individual. Administrators are too high on themselves in my opinion and the common people need to ensure that these large wages are never paid again.

    And yes, Mr. Smith let us down. More importantly, he let all the children down.

    He did.

    Here are some of Oakland’s greats, and there are more greats outside of music too.

    But getting back to Oakland and its musical past… it is a great one …and the youth have the skills and talent in them to get more into music as some are doing and step away from drugs and gangs. It can happen and Oakland can revive itself.

    3XKrazy – male rap group
    Billie Joe Armstrong – musician, lead vocalist for rock band Green Day
    Tim Armstrong – musician
    Ant Banks – rapper, producer
    Gaylord Birch – musician
    Carla Bley – composer, musician
    Cold Blood – rock, soul, jazz band
    Mike Botts – studio musician, drummer for rock band Bread
    Teena Marie BrockertThe Ivory Queen of Soul – R&B singer
    Chris Broderick – musician, lead guitarist for heavy metal band Megadeth
    Peter Buck – musician, guitarist and co-founder of the alternative rock band R.E.M.
    Emilio Castillo – musician, founding member of Tower of Power
    Mike Clark – musician
    Keyshia Cole – Grammy Award-nominated R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, born and raised in Oakland
    Del tha Funkee Homosapien – musician
    Digital Underground – rap group
    Dru Down – rapper
    Rose Ann Dimalanta – musician
    Mike Dirnt – musician, bassist for rock band Green Day
    Mac Dre – rapper, born in Oakland, raised in Vallejo
    Isadora Duncan – dancer
    E-A-Ski – rapper, record producer
    En Vogue – Grammy Award-nominated female R&B singing group, originated from Oakland in 1990
    Pete Escovedo – musician, born in Oakland
    Sheila E. – drummer, born in Oakland
    Robb Flynn – musician best known as lead guitarist and vocalist for Machine Head
    Michael Franti – musician
    Fred Frith – improvisational musician, guitarist, composer, professor of music
    Nils Frykdahl – musician, founding member of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and Idiot Flesh
    David Garibaldi – musician, member of Tower of Power
    Mic Gillette – musician, founding member of Tower of Power
    Goapele – soul and R&B singer
    Larry Graham – musician
    Jeff Hanneman – guitarist for rock band Slayer
    MC Hammer – musician, born in Oakland
    Shawn Harris – musician; former member of The Matches
    Davey Havok – musician, lead singer for AFI
    Edwin & Walter Hawkins – gospel singers
    Hieroglyphics – rap group, originated from Oakland
    Earl Hines – jazz pianist
    John Lee Hooker – musician
    Paul Jackson – musician
    Arion Salazar – musician in Third Eye Blind
    Henry Kaiser – musician, grandson of Henry J. Kaiser
    Keak da Sneak – musician
    Kid 606 – musician
    Sharon Knight – Celtic musician, founding member of pagan rock band Pandemonaeon
    Kreayshawn – rapper
    Stephen “Doc” Kupka – musician, founding member of Tower of Power
    Kwik Way – punk rock band
    LaToya London – singer; born in San Francisco, raised in Oakland
    MC Lars – rapper; post-punk laptop rap
    Pep Love – rapper
    The Lovemakers – pop band
    The Luniz – Grammy Award-nominated rap duo
    Michael Manring – bassist, born in D.C, lives in Oakland
    Tony Martin – singer, actor
    Dave Meniketti – rock musician; born and raised in Oakland; lead singer/lead guitarist for Y&T
    Seagram Miller – rapper
    Mistah F.A.B. – rapper
    David Murray – musician
    Andy Narell – musician, lived in Oakland in the 1960s
    Holly Near – singer, teacher, activist
    Numskull – rapper
    Ray Obiedo – musician
    Marty Paich – pianist, composer, arranger, producer, director, conductor
    Harry Partch – composer
    Phesto – rapper, producer
    Matt Pike – guitarist of Sleep and High on Fire
    The Pointer Sisters – Grammy Award-winning R&B singing group
    Pooh-Man – rapper
    Richie Rich – rapper
    Francis Rocco Prestia – musician
    Perri “Pebbles” Reid – singer-songwriter, manager of TLC
    Cynthia Robinson – musician
    Raphael Saadiq – musician
    Pharoah Sanders – musician
    Timothy B. Schmit – rock musician, bassist for the Eagles
    Sharon Shore – ballet dancer, model
    Dave Smallen – musician, lead vocalist of Street to Nowhere
    Jason Cropper – original band member of Weezer
    J. Stalin – rapper, co-founder of Livewire Records
    Shakir Stewart – record producer, Senior Vice President of Island Def Jam Music Group
    Bill Summers – musician
    The Team – rap group
    Too Short – rapper, born in Los Angeles, lived in Oakland from 1980 to 1994
    Tony! Toni! Toné! – male R&B singing group
    Tupac Shakur – rapper, songwriter, poet, actor, activist, lived in Oakland from 1988 to 1991
    Freddie Stone – musician
    Rose Stone – musician
    R. Prophet – rapper, former member of Nappy Roots
    San Quinn – rapper, born in Oakland, raised in San Francisco
    Shock G – rapper
    Sly Stone – musician
    Souls of Mischief – rap group
    Calvin E. Simmons – symphony orchestra conductor, namesake of Calvin Simmons Theatre, born in San Francisco
    Steady Mobb’n – rap duo
    Bill Summers – musician
    Tower of Power – band; formed and based in Oakland
    Tre Cool – musician, drummer for rock band Green Day
    tUnE-YaRdS – indie; afro-funk
    Weasel Walter – progressive rock and free jazz musician/composer
    Freddie Washington – musician
    Lenny Williams – musician, early member of Tower of Power
    Yukmouth – rapper
    Y&T – rock band; formed in Oakland 1974
    Zendaya – singer and dancer
    Jim Martin – ex-guitarist for rock band Faith no More

    And in addition to music, we need to develop entrepreneurship for those in Oakland. We have the power to enact positive change.

    I love Oakland.

  • Nextset

    So you think a bunch of people in an industry known for bi-polars and druggies makes Oakland “great”?

    Oakland was once great because of it’s Port, and manufacturing and distribution, as well as being a safe and beautiful place to raise a family. Now it’s just another ghetto hell-hole like Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, Gary Indiana and similar garden spots.

    See this video from 1958 about Oakland:


    No, Oakland WAS a great city once because of it’s industry and infrastructure, things which have been dissipated by the Welfare State and the Democratic Party – in favor of people who can sing and dance.

  • J.R.

    I have seen this film, and it is amazing how much everything has changed since the 60’s and 70’s. My mother had always said it was once a beautiful,safe and vibrant city. The root causes of these negative changes(believe it or not), is the government assistance programs, tolerance for gangs, and the drugs that follow with the “no snitch rule”.

  • https://www.facebook.com/timothy.terry.397 Tim Terry

    This month alone OUSD has issued private contracts for Tutoring in the amount of $3,983,396.92. Most of the precious school district tax dollars are being spent on companies outside of the City of Oakland. So far this year we have spent $13.8M on outside contractors for student and administration services. At this rate we will spend $55.5 M on private contractors in 2013 alone. I argue this money would be better spent hiring Oaklanders to look after and educate our children, providing safety and continuity along the way. This money does not include money spent on Facilities.

    Check out the details here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0An-_0z7cuXXmdC10MW5fOVBQWU1ZWlllZWJUN1BsNWc&usp=drive_web#gid=2

    The success or failure of our School District depends on whether it can clearly identify its goals and align the interests of managers and employees to serve them. In their rush to save money by outsourcing services, OUSD has forgotten that. We have moved away from the stated goal of educating children to one focusing on cost-cutting at all costs.

    The more we reward those things that we can measure, and not reward the things we care about but don’t measure, the more we will distort behavior. If what gets measured is what gets managed, then what gets managed is what gets done. This is the problem with OUSD’s move to privatize once publicly held positions and outsource these services. For example, rewarding teachers for how well their students perform on standard math and reading tests will encourage lots of teaching of reading and math, at the expense of other things an education might provide.

  • http://ousdblog mark

    To:Nextset: Don’t put the musicians of Oakland down, they are valuable. The dot. com. workers are not unlike musicians in that they do not work in factories, and instead use their mind on creative capital. So, my comment about the vibe in Oakland has to do with Google opening up a second building in Oakland or Apple, or Facebook. It has to do with getting Oakland youth involved in the creativity of science and other things.

    As far as that video, I have no wish to view it, it is a time that is long ago, and I do not think of it as good or bad, just that the city has changed. Yes, more employment is needed, which is hand in hand with quality education.

    To: the post by “Tim Terry”…

    Yes, you are correct when you state,” the more we reward those things we can measure, and not reward the things we care about but don’t measure, the more we will distort behavior. If what gets measured is what gets managed, then what gets managed gets done.

    That is precisely why I suggested the two superintendents who could split the district into different responsibilities to be managed and could really roll up the sleeves and ENSURE WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS MANAGED, AND WHAT GETS MANAGED GETS DONE.

    too often grand mission statements are created that amount to very little.

    The good seasoned Superintendents, could ensure simple goals are created with approval from the school board, with input from public where necessary, and then set timelines to conclusion of the goals.

    For example, as I stated earlier, the school board minutes on the district web site stop at january 5th. Why? Someone is not being made accountable to get those school board minutes and video available because there is no timeline set for when things should be done.

    By the way, for all who read this blog.

    Some may be unaware that you can go to the OUSD main website

    1. go to school board and click it on left hand side of page

    2. click on school board minutes

    3. click on the top where it says “calendar”

    4. pick the date you wish to hear

    5. click on the word “video”and ….

    the general public can watch the entire school board meeting like a you tube presentation.