am writing to say thank you and to invite you to help us build our
strategic plan. I am so impressed by the good work I have seen this
year. I appreciate the wonderful progress and celebrate the experiences
I have shared with so many of our students, families, staff, and
community throughout the 2009-10 school year. Working together, I know
we will make Oakland Unified School District the organization we need
to serve all our families and our community well.
When I began
as Superintendent in July of 2009 I knew I would have to learn what
people wanted and needed from me as a leader. In person and in written
correspondence, I heard many times over that, “we need to come
together,” that “we are more divided than we are united,” that, “we
need to take care of students and employees,” that “sometimes I don’t
think people remember that we are here to make sure students learn,”
and, “we need to do more than focus on test scores.” I agree. I also
heard that we have incredible teachers, amazing office staff, gifted
principals, and that there are remarkable, “‘go-to’ people in central
office who demonstrate excellent customer service even when the answer
We have so many strengths to build on as we go forward
together. And, as all of you know, the challenges we face are extreme.
Our communities are suffering the loss of life and the on-going threat
of violence. Too many children and families don’t have adequate
resources. And the unprecedented budget cuts are a supreme test.
Reducing our budget by more than $100 Million dollars for next year is
both heartbreaking and very difficult technical work. However, I
believe we must clarify and intensify our shared purpose in these
challenging times. I believe we must:
1. Build community and connect those communities so resources are maximized on behalf of children and families.
2. Ensure a caring and high quality teacher in every classroom by caring for and developing the teachers we have.
3. Articulate an Oakland-wide vision, and set of expectations, for all 18-year-olds in our city.
collective work of caring for and educating every student, turning
towards each other, of creating more community, and connecting those
communities across our city is work that OUSD is uniquely positioned to
The documents that follow this letter represent a
framework for engaging each other and working together to create a
shared strategic plan. I know we have the energy, capacity, and
resources to make our Oakland Unified School District the organization
it must be in order to serve our children well.
As we embark on
this planning work over the next year, I invite you to share your
ideas, offer your leadership, and continue to make a positive
difference in the lives of students. I believe that by working together
to unify Oakland for the academic and social success of our children,
we will see students thrive.
All of Oakland’s children deserve
an outstanding education. Each child has a right to experience the care
and guidance of a high quality teacher. We need to treat every child
and family with respect and dignity. And we need to care for our
employees in ways that make it possible to achieve our goals. Please
join us in making a path that leads to an Oakland Unified where every
student reaches his or her potential.
With respect and appreciation, Tony Smith
Please download the current sections of our working draft of the OUSD Strategic Vision below:
Nondiscrimination Policy: OUSD prohibits unlawful discrimination against any protected group as identified under Education Code 200 and 220 and Government Code 11135, and Title IX, including actual or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender, ethnic group identification, race, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, mental or physical disability, age, or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics in any District program or activity that received or benefits from state financial assistance, including athletic programs. Complaint forms are available at school sites and at the Office of the Ombudsperson, located at 1000 Broadway, Suite 680, Oakland, California 94607. For further information, call 510-879-4281. BOARD POLICY 0410, 51