Opinion: Schools Need a New Superintendent with Long-Commitment to Oakland


By the Justice for Oakland Students Coalition

How is it possible for Oakland Unified School District to receive an additional $100 million in new funding over the past four years specifically to help the most vulnerable students, and yet still end up in a budget crisis today that hurts all of our kids?

t’s simple: the school board hired a superintendent who mismanaged our budget and prioritized bloated central office spending rather than ensuring those equity dollars made it to the kids they were intended for.

The Oakland Board of Education now has less than two weeks to learn from this mistake, and hire a new kind of superintendent who is local, will stay long-term and will align our district priorities around what we care about most – ensuring all students in OUSD get what they need to learn and thrive.

Superintendent Antwan Wilson’s administrative priorities were misplaced, and that has had a devastating impact on our kids. Mistakes like: entering into costly consultant contracts and redirecting millions to raises for top central office staff.

Now, funding at every district school site was cut mid-year so that student field trips are unfunded, copy machines not paid for, teacher expenses not reimbursed and the AC transit bus contract will not be honored, leaving many kids without public transportation to school.

Balancing the budget off the backs of our kids when the community has called for cuts at the top is unacceptable.

The school board can stop this cycle by hiring a leader who will get our district back on track and by putting the focus back on those kids who need the most support to succeed.

That would include hiring a superintendent who: (1) respects community participation and will strengthen democracy; (2) is pro-public education and will invest in making all in-district schools excellent (not in proliferating charters); (3) will commit to protecting our kids by divesting from police and reinvesting in cultures of real school safety and inclusion; and (4) will directly fund schools, not high central office salaries or expensive consultant contracts.

The board must hire a leader who is locally rooted, loves our community and most importantly, loves our kids.

We need a leader who will never give up on our students, will not use them as a stepping stone, and who won’t stop until we can actually say: Every Student Thrives.

We are a coalition of over 3,200 parents, students, educators and concerned community members who have come together to demand that the board stop the revolving door of superintendents and hire a leader who will put the kids first and ensure our district is financially solvent.

Our students deserve nothing less and it will take sustained public engagement and media attention to make sure our students finally get the leadership and education they deserve.

Now is the time to let our school board know that we demand Justice for Oakland Students.

The Justice for Oakland Students Coalition (J4OS) can be reached on Facebook at J4OS: Justice for Oakland Students Coalition





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