July 5: Oakland Superintendent Tony Smith and his family weren't home on Tuesday evening when an anti-school closure rally at Lakeview Elementary moved to his front yard. They didn't hear chanting demonstrators demanding that he reopen the closed elementary schools or quit his job, though they might have seen a sign left on his front porch that he was ruining the school district, as shown by KTVU footage.
In an interview last month, Smith told me that some of the behavior in Oakland that "passes as activism" is actually bullying. I imagine he would put a rally outside his home, where his two elementary school-age children live, in the same category.
OUSD Spokesman Troy Flint said today that many Oaklanders are encouraged by the district's direction under Smith, "although they might not go to the lengths of protesting in front of people's houses."
"He's not going to be intimidated into changing course because he knows what's necessary to create a school district that's sustainable and that will work for all students," Flint said.
Yazstremski: That's just SO wrong. What if both of his young daughters were there?
July 5: After three years, Tony Smith can no longer be described as Oakland Unified's new superintendent. We have a profile of Smith in the paper today.
In your view, what's the most important thing Smith has done so far? What decision disappointed you the most? If he accomplishes one significant thing in the year ahead, what do you hope it is? What advice would you give him?
Catherine: Creating awareness of systemic racism and low expectations for African-American children = A; Attempt at creating an Oakland Children's Zone = A-; Raising awareness and attempting to build self-esteem through love and caring rather than student academic competence = A; Meeting the State mandated and ethical education for special needs students, including African-American special need students = D-; Meeting the needs of gifted students (28 percent of school district) including gifted African-American students = F.
EffectsofReform: ... To Dr. Smith: I wish that you would use your considerable public influence to say -- everyday -- that our state has lost its way. It has defunded education and shredded the social safety net and we will pay the price for this for decades. We have over 20 percent of children living in poverty in the U.S., and the schools simply do not have the resources to stand in the gap (there aren't enough "partners" to help us fix this). This requires a massive investment -- the scale of which must be on the state level in order to avoid further inequity. I'd like to see you talking about this.
The process of closing schools will yield further gentrification and "sorting." Some of his diagnoses are correct -- systemic racism, white privilege -- but his solutions are simply wrong. We can't cut, shut, and charter our way to equality. ...
J.R.: Effects, when your student population shrinks from 55,000 to 38,000 and you still have nearly 90 campuses, it is time for consolidation (it is foolish to do otherwise). ... In this present time we no longer have the luxury of getting everything we want, only hanging on to that which is most important and vital. We as a state were placed in this position by a debt burden driven by unsustainable public debt (public employee benefits and pensions, which are growing geometrically). That is the cause -- good, bad or indifferent.