Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Recent History of OUSD

Ever since the citizens of Oakland lost control over their own public schools in June 2003, State Superintendent Jack O’Connell has assigned management of the Oakland Unified School District to a set of individuals selected and trained by Eli Broad, a billionaire from Southern California who was also a contributor to the State Superintendent’s 2002 campaign.

The first OUSD State Administrator assigned by O’Connell was Randolph Ward, a graduate of Broad’s Superintendents Academy. He held the position for three years. Since he left, the two successive State Administrators, Kimberly Statham and Vincent Matthews, have been Broad Superintendents Academy graduates as well.

All three of the State Administrators have filled a number of their top management positions with individuals trained by Broad’s Residency in Urban Education. In fact, of the total of 49 trainees who have participated in the Broad Residency program, 9 have held top management positions in OUSD since the state has been in control.*

Both the Broad Superintendents Academy and the Broad Residency in Urban Education are programs offered by the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. This center provides Broad with an opportunity to play a major role in training a selected set of “…executives to run the business of urban education.” The program’s web site states that participation in the program guarantees placement into top level positions in urban school districts across the country. The first “graduating” class was in 2002, conveniently coinciding with OUSD’s downfall.

Although poor fiscal practices on the part of OUSD led to the takeover, the new Broad team did not limit themselves to adjusting only those practices. Rather, it has changed the entire school district (the “Expect Success” project) with the community having been permitted very little say. The central office has been redesigned, as well as a number of schools. Of the 98 traditional schools that existed in 2002, 42 have been closed, reconstituted, incubated into new small schools, or turned into charter schools.

The “Expect Success” project has been funded by the Broad and Gates Foundations with extensive local and other support including the Rogers Family Foundation and others. Incidentally, Brian Rogers, son of T. Gary Rogers (the former CEO of Dreyer’s Ice Cream) and the executive director of the Rogers Family Foundation (established after Dreyer’s was sold for $2.8 billion in June 2003), announced this month that he will be running for a school board seat in the city’s upcoming June election. He introduced himself to the community as an “Oakland educational philanthropist that has been working with the district and the Board of Education for the past three years.”

Perhaps other players in the current state-run administration will be looking to establish themselves in new and upcoming positions of power now that a return to local control of OUSD might be on the horizon. Of course no one knows for sure when that will actually happen. Just last summer, a bill which outlined a transparent process for returning control (AB45) was supported and approved by the California State Legislature. However, Mr. O’Connell opposed the bill and recommended for Governor Schwarzenegger to veto it. So like the governor that he is, he did.

OUSD has now had over 4½ years of state leadership. With the rapid implementation of so many changes and with the accompanying massive turnover in staff – while also struggling to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind – many local observers believe that the district is in disarray. The district has made progress in its API (Academic Performance Index, the state measurement of accountability) but has failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (the federal measurement of accountability) for the past five years. It is now in Program Improvement-Year 3.

I'm not sure where the other 15,000 U.S. school districts find their superintendents, but there must be other places than just one convenient source. Perhaps I'm an Oakland bumpkin, but I can smell that something's not right, of course.


►Eli's Experiment: Meet Eli Broad, a SoCal billionaire who uses his cash and connections to groom Oakland school administrators and keep the district under state control, by Robert Gammon, October 10, 2007 (

►Broad’s Education Foundation -

►The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems -

►The Broad Superintendents Academy -

►The Broad Residency in Urban Education -

►Expect Success page of OUSD’s web site. By the way, if you look at this site, try to sort out the fluff from the truth -

*As of November 2007

1 comment:

The Perimeter Primate said...

An op-ed piece in the Oakland Tribune on 12/05 describes what's happening