Antwan Wilson talks with students.

On July 1, Antwan Wilson took over as superintendent of Oakland’s public schools. Wilson was previously an assistant superintendent in Denver, where he was credited with raising the graduation rate of a high school struggling with gang violence. Raised by a single teen mother in Kansas, Wilson says poverty should not be seen as a reason to have “soft expectations” of students. Superintendent Wilson joins us to answer questions about Oakland schools, the achievement gap and the state’s new system for funding K-12 education.

Antwan Wilson, superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District

  • Denisse

    Mr. Wilson, you mentioned ‘organizational structure’ in your interview. Can you speak to how you will re-structure OUSD, particularly the leadership in central office? The leadership in central office has a long history of being ineffective–case in point, Alameda County’s Grand Jury findings of gross financial mismanagement and unproductive human resource practices. Please do something.

    Follow up question: How do you feel about the Vergara case, which former Superintendent Tony Smith testified in favor of, and how do you plan on working with OEA, the difficult teachers’ union?

  • Livegreen

    Before Superintendant Gary Yee left he instituted a budget that both takes away budget decisions from School Sites and that allocates State LCFF money based not on where poor students go to school but on the Geographic Location of the school (much like the Mayor’s 100-Block Plan).

    This led to some schools with over 60% Poverty Rates actually getting budget cuts in a year of increased education funding. What does the Superintendent intend to do about this?

  • trite

    It would be very useful to introduce a program of teaching mutual respect among the children in the very early grades and throughout the following years. In particular boys should be taught to respect girls (and vice versa, of course). The culture of violence, both sexual and in general, can be changed from an early age by implementing such a program.

  • Danalexa

    Welcome to Oakland.
    If kids cannot read, they cannot learn. You’ve not mentioned the problem of abysmal reading scores. The vast majority of OUSD students are not reading at grade level. Please identify two tactics you will use to raise the percentage of students reading at grade level by sixth grade.

  • gayineastbay

    Good luck in your new post. I am wondering does the superintendent have the authority to rein in the district’s legal council who seem hellbent on running roughshod over the Brown Act in their drive to privatize and sell district assets? The legal council seems unconcerned with either the laws and public outrage of selling school land.

  • Susan Silber

    Welcome! I have been an environmental educator for the past 25 years, working in both the classroom to teach them about environmental issues and out in nature. I have seen the transformational effects that these fun, hands-on programs have on youth, from bridging achievement gap to the health benefits of students being out in nature. Given that climate change – and our current drought – are some of the greatest crises facing our society – will you be prioritizing environmental literacy in the schools, including providing funding and resources for both classroom and field trip opportunities?

  • Kelly

    Dear Mr. Wilson,
    I have been a dedicated Oakland teacher for 10 years. I love my job and want to continue my important work in Oakland. However, I am also a single mother of two struggling to raise two children in the Bay Area. Oakland teachers are infamously underpaid. Every year the district loses great teachers due to low pay. What can you do to retain teachers like myself who are considering moving to another district because of financial needs?

  • I’ve been a substitute teacher at OUSD for four school years. In my opinion, there are not enough male teachers, especially black male teachers. I think a lot of Oakland school children are being raised by single mothers and the schools are ran and operated by mostly women. Maybe kids would respect their schools more if they saw more men their. Of course it’s hard to attract smart people to work for a district that pays the least in the Bay Area.

  • Cliff Fogle

    This comment is for off the air please. You are a driven man with great ideas that should be common knowledge. But as a leader you need to cut the ‘Uh’s’ and ‘Uhm’s’ out of your lexicon. Lead…don’t uhm.

  • Carolyn

    As a special education therapist, I see the lack of communication between special education and general education. How do you plan to bridge the communication between these programs?

  • Feliciano Mendoza

    Good morning,

    OUSD consistently, year after year, fails to reach the California state required minimum of 55% of its general fund being spent on educators – teachers, instructional aides. OUSD has one of the most top-heavy administrations in the state of California with a high administrator-educator ratio. Millions of dollars in fines from the state and millions of dollars in legal fees fighting these fines are spent by OUSD year after year. What is Mr. Wilson’s opinion on this?

  • Fox789

    I’m a HS Biology teacher in a urban East Bay high school. Academic rigor is a very tough nut to crack at the high school level.

    I’ve come back to teaching after a 15 break working as a database administrator. This was after a 10 year career teaching AP Biology, UA/CSU “D” requirement biology, “high school terminal” biology students as well physical science classes for English learners.

    I looked at what my 7th grader was doing in his life science class in San Ramon as a starting place. What I discovered was my students where generally 2 grade levels behind. The the 7th grade level was too far ahead of my students experience and knowledge.

    The majority of my 9th – 11th students didn’t know words like raw materials, manufacture, sterile mean. This puts them significantly behind the vast majority of suburban high school biology students. So in addition to the challenges of teaching an academic high school science course I had to also do remediation.

    I think my students parents’ truly care about education but have little idea what it means to effectively support their child’s education. If a child is failing almost all of there classes why do their parents allow and pay for their child to come school with an iPhone 5s or the latest Samsung smart phones. This sent a clear message to the kid school success isn’t really that important, they can still have all the toys without being successful in school.

    Another issues is inequity in school funding. My kids schools typically rase over $75,000 per school/year through various fund raisers. How, given this reality, do schools in lower social economic communities compete?

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