Randolph E. Ward, Ed. D.
State Administrator

Biography | Core Principles (pdf)

Statement of Dr. Randolph Ward
On being named administrator for the Oakland Unified School District

Growing up as one of seven kids in inner-city Boston, I developed a deep, personal dedication to proving that given the "will" adults can create an environment where all children can learn. I consider the large urban school districts our most important work because no child should be condemned to educational failure just because of his or her family background, race, or socioeconomic status.

I desire to come to Oakland because I know that "will" exists deeply in this community as well as a tremendous sense of potential. There are many competent and caring people, both students and adults, who want to bring the education system many notches above where it is today. With that energy and focus Oakland can become a world-class education system.

There are currently 52 schools that rank in deciles 1 and 2 (34 elementary, 18 secondary) in the Oakland Unified School District. This represents approximately 23,000 of the children assessed that are located in these under-performing schools.

Given the fiscal realities both locally and statewide, our greatest challenge will be to marshal and utilize the needed resources to provide the best educational experience for all students. But let us seize this opportunity to continue increasing student achievement by building capacity and accountability that supports the improvement of instruction and student learning.  In this particular case, Oakland Unified School Districtís recovery will require that results be accomplished with very limited resources and under very strict fiscal parameters; extremely difficult decisions will have to be made. But I am convinced that through teamwork and relentlessness we can and will be successful.

While I am under no illusions about the complexity of raising academic achievement and restoring the district to fiscal health, I wouldnít take this job if I didnít believe we could make this happen -- because the children deserve nothing less.  Therefore, I will be requesting help in the form of what I call: The Oakland Compact for Success. 

The Oakland Compact for Success.  

While state administration is short term, The Oakland Compact for Success is a long-term capacity model to support results based interventions in our schools. It is about bringing together universities, foundations, businesses, and other private entities to collaborate with public interests and create a relentless commitment to improve the Oakland Unified School District both academically and financially.  The public interests include the school board, district staff, labor unions, community members, community organizations, clergy, the city, county, parents, and students.

My beliefs include:

    1. All students must reach the same benchmarked standards of achievement. No excuses!
    2. Contribution to student performance within the established fiscal limits is the primary criteria for judging the merit of any activity or program that takes place at any level of the school system.
    3. Assessment systems, the curriculum, the entire instructional program, the professional development program, and the accountability system coupled with fiscal responsibility must be linked at every level to the standards of student achievement.
    4. Good instruction is critical, but it is not enough.  Each student needs to know that school/district staff cares about him or her and that their success is achievable and important!
    5. The community, schools and district support staff must be involved and organized to support high performance instruction and student learning in customer friendly work places.
    6. Staff must be provided with the training, knowledge, and motivation to make informed decisions as capable employees who are then held accountable for the results of their work.

Oakland Advisory Board

The elected members of the school board will play an important role moving forward.  I intend to regularly seek their input as we chart a course for continued student success.  The first of quarterly board retreats will be requested as soon as possible. The advisory board can play a key role in two-way communication of the recovery process.  Through continual dialogue using a variety of forums with various segments of the community, the board can help expedite the recovery process as well as garner support and much needed resources. In essence, I hope the board members will act as the impetus that unites and motivates the educational community to support the recovery process and its completion as soon as possible.  I look forward to working with each and every member to restore confidence in our schools.

Looking Forward

While I am confident we can bring about needed improvement together, I also know that the road is long and success will take time.  But we must hit the ground running and in the next six to twelve months there is much work to be done:

1.      Orientation meetings with site staff, students, community members, district staff, the advisory board, union leadership, political leadership, and the media.

2.      Information immersion such as fiscal/budget challenges, facilities, labor contract negotiations, the instructional program, accountability and assessment, resource allocation, information systems, professional development, and so on.

3.      Commence a central office infrastructure and leadership audit: assessing focus & clarity of job responsibilities, line reporting streams efficiency, norms of practice.

It is important to note what we all already know: Oakland is very different from Compton. Yet my successful work in Compton has uniquely prepared me for the opportunity to help Oaklandís students.  Not only because it is a state takeover of an urban district, but also because it demands what large urban districts need to be successful: a system-wide focus on capacity building for quality classroom instruction and a results-based standards driven accountability system integrated into all levels of the school district.                                      

I am anxious to begin my work and equally daunted by the challenge that lies before me.  I believe there is no more important calling than that of an educator.  So I take this enormous challenge because I truly believe that together we can make a difference in the lives of Oaklandís children.

So on behalf of my lovely wife, new baby girl Jerne, and myself, I look forward to getting to know and becoming part of the wonderful Oakland community.

# # #


Randolph E. Ward


News + Highlights



PHONE · (510) 879-8199
FAX · (510) 879-8000
TTY/TDD · (510) 879-8739
1025 Second Avenue Oakland, CA 94606-2212
EMAIL · BOE@ousd.k12.ca.us
Questions or comments about the site: Email Webmaster

Hit Counter