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Wanted: An Oakland superintendent

Anyone dreaming of an Oakland superintendency had better have their resumes polished and their references lined up. Tomorrow, at long last, the Oakland school board will tell the world that it’s looking for a new leader. Officially.

About time, isn’t it?

In the weeks to come Next week, there will be a series of community meetings Continue Reading

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The Oakland supe search: How closed should the door be?

I’ve heard from other education reporters that Ray and Associates (the Iowa search firm hired to help OUSD find a permanent leader) requires most school districts to withhold the names of its superintendent candidates until the final selection is made — except in states such as Florida, which have more open public records laws.


image of then-Cal State East Bay presidential candidate Mo Qayoumi by Bea Ahbeck

I understand why the district wouldn’t want to announce everyone who had applied for the position, as it might discourage top candidates from applying. But what about the finalists? I observed an interesting process at Cal State East Bay in 2006, before the CSU trustees settled on Mo Qayoumi.

The first few months were very hush-hush. The selection committee was pledged to secrecy about who had applied, and who they had interviewed, for the very reason I described above. But then four finalists were announced, and the process opened up – wide. Continue Reading

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And the supe search is … on?

It’s been a bit quiet on the superintendent search front, at least from the public’s perspective. That might soon change.

At a short meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) night that begins at 6 p.m., the Oakland school board settles on a timeline and process for the selection of the next OUSD leader. (That information wasn’t posted a few minutes ago, but I’ll link to it once it becomes available).

The board was once hoping to have someone lined up by April or May. From what I know about these searches, that doesn’t seem too realistic anymore. Continue Reading

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“Today our classroom was the National Mall…”

Jacki Barron, Akela Franklin-Baker, Grace Countryman, and Sydney Paderna, sophomores at Skyline High School, wrote or contributed to the below blog posts about their experience today in Washington.


photo by Chuck Kennedy/MCT

Today our classroom was the National Mall in Washington D.C., and we had millions of classmates. Our classroom originally bonded over our mutual contempt for “The Dumpster Bunnies.” Namely, the two selfish morons who thought they were more important than the hundreds of patriots whose view of events their big heads were blocking. We united in chant: “Off the dumpster!” Some classmates attempted to negotiate, while others suggested more violent measures. Thankfully, the potentially calamitous moment was tempered by the crowd’s overwhelming feeling of goodwill. Nevertheless, we were worried lest these barbarians wouldn’t move in time for the ceremony. Our teacher assured us that they would move. Our classmates rejoiced when the “class clowns” finally fell into the dumpsters. Our jubilation has not yet abated. This has truly been a momentous day.

One thing that I will never forget. Continue Reading

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Dispatches from Washington

Evonne Morici, a teacher at Skyline High School, took a group of about 13 kids to Washington, D.C. this week.  I asked if she and the students could tell us about their experiences. Here’s what has come in so far. -Katy

One of the most amusing moments on the Mall today was when I overheard a high school girl from Washington, D.C. commenting on the reason Vice President Cheney was in a wheelchair. Apparently, he threw out his back while putting on boxers. Later, when I incredulously repeated the tale, my classmates corrected me. He threw out his back while carrying boxes! — Elaina Wi, 10th grade, Skyline High School

Attending the 44th presidential inauguration today was inspirational. My school and I had an early wake-up and headed off to the Capitol, about 35 miles away from the hotel we’re staying at. The streets were all congested by spectators heading to the Mall, where mega screens were erected to display the inaugural events live.

We wove in and out of the sea of people to get as close to a screen as possible, which proved highly difficult and tiring. The crowd didn’t want to move from their positions, taller folks were blocking the views of the shorter folks, and people that left to the restrooms on the perimeter of the park couldn’t make their way back to where they were.

Everyone was there for the same reason — to celebrate in the wake of the next president of America — but our sentiments were suppressed by the freezing temperature and lack of space until Obama and Biden made their appearance. I managed to separate from my group for the latter half of our six hour stint to join an enthusiastic crowd beneath one of the screens. I was bothered by the cold and prolonged standing period, the neck pain generated from looking up at the unclear pixelated screen.

However, when Obama took his stand Continue Reading

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On the agenda: superintendent search firm

On Wednesday, the Oakland school board might pick search firm Ray and Associates  from Cedar Rapids, Iowa to help find a permanent leader for the Oakland school district.

The firm does searches across the country and, as one might expect, hasn’t batted 1,000. Here’s an excerpt from an article in the Louisville Courier-Journal about a new hire in 2007 that quit three days before starting her job:

The Iowa search firm hired by the Kentucky Board of Education to produce a list of candidates should have vetted Erwin more closely and targeted problems more quickly, the critics argue.

And they say board members failed to do their job, Continue Reading

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Our new Secretary of Education

Arne Duncan, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, will be our nation’s next education secretary.

The New York Times says Duncan “represents a compromise choice in the debate that has divided Democrats in recent months over the proper course for public-school policy after the Bush years.”

Catalyst Chicago, which covers education reform in the Windy City, says improvements in the city’s public schools have been modest under Duncan’s leadership. A story published yesterday about Obama’s education pick reports:

Duncan’s oft-stated goal was to create the “best urban school district in the nation.” Yet here, as elsewhere, high schools have made little progress. Continue Reading

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The ratings are in. Could the state be on its way out?

I’ve got some news for you on this otherwise quiet Monday: The latest progress report by the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team clears the way for the Oakland school board to reclaim all of its authority.

Jack O’Connell, the state superintendent of public instruction, ultimately decides how long his department will keep a presence in Oakland. His spokeswoman told me today that it was premature to say what he’ll do.

Is the board ready? If the power transfer does take place, what do you want to see from your elected officials?

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Meet the new CFO for Oakland schools

On Monday, Vernon E. Hal will replace Leon Glaster as the Oakland school district’s chief financial officer. Unlike many of the school system’s top officials, he has deep roots in the school district — as a resident, an OUSD grad and a former district administrator.

Between 1990 and 2000, Hal served in the Oakland school district as controller; assistant superintendent for business services and operations; and associate superintendent for business services, according to information provided by the district.

He was there during the five-week teachers strike of 1996, and left in 2000, the same year former Superintendent Dennis Chaconas came on board. Continue Reading