As you know, OUSD Superintendent Tony Smith resigned in April, and his last day was June 30.

Over the last four years, Smith’s leadership brought our community together around a shared vision of high quality, full service community schools in every neighborhood. We extend our deepest appreciation to Smith, and wish him and his family all the best.

We wanted to share an appreciation of Superintendent Smith from Mirella Rangel. Mirella is the Executive Director of Oakland Leaf, and the secretary for the GO Public Schools board.

The following is the text from the letter. Click here to download the letter.


Dear Tony Smith,

As you transition out of your role as the Superintendent of Oakland Unified School District, I would like to thank you. Working as an educator for the past 15 years, I have seen the priorities within Oakland Unified School District change drastically as one Superintendent has replaced another. Within my first years teaching, I experienced a new focus on Open Court, a “teacher-proof,” draconian scripted reading program. This approach was far from my values and Oakland Leaf’s mission to cultivate community transformation through creative education for youth and families.

When it was announced that you were to be OUSD’s Superintendent, I was thrilled. Tony Smith, the person with whom I had exchanged stories of personal triumph over vast class and race inequities, would be making educational policy decisions. I was re-energized as an educational leader. You began your tenure announcing that “public education is not broken, it is doing exactly as it was intended to do—sort students.” The growing hope for education in Oakland was palpable.

Your tenure, although filled with controversy, has shifted the paradigm from a “back to basics” approach, to one that established that the role of education is to develop happy, healthy and successful adults equipped with the tools to explore, innovate and succeed. You determined which mountain Oaklanders would climb—a new vision.

We see bright spots for children across the city, but we are far from reaching the top of this mountain, I know. The inequities persist; some would say that they have grown. This has happened under your watch, under my watch and under the watch of teachers, charter-school leaders, unions, principals, elected officials, custodians, etc. We need to take collective responsibility for these inequities.

I wish you and your family the best of luck in Chicago. Now that the board has committed OUSD to the strategic vision for quality community schools, we understand that it is our shared work to grow the number of educators, administrators, parents, students and community organizations engaged in addressing the vast educational and opportunity gaps for children in our city.

In gratitude and struggle,

Mirella Rangel

Editor’s Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland.

One Response

  1. Doug Appel

    I wish Dr. Smith the best of luck in his new endeavor with the W. Clement and Jessie V. Stone Foundation. Perhaps in his new position he can steer some much needed grant money towards OUSD to restore the early childhood programs that have been cut during the economic hard times of recent years!


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