Randolph E. Ward, Ed. D.|
Statement of Dr. Randolph
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
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
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:
students must reach the same benchmarked standards of achievement. No
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.
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.
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!
community, schools and district support staff must be involved and organized
to support high performance instruction and student learning in customer
friendly work places.
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.
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.
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:
meetings with site staff, students, community members, district staff, the
advisory board, union leadership, political leadership, and the media.
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
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.
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