by Stephen Buel
Despite years of impotent rhetoric from area educational leaders about the importance of resuming local control of the Oakland schools, the district and the state have shelved what appeared to be the only viable option for making that happen. As Jill Tucker notes in today's Chronicle, the district and the state have killed a proposed downtown property sale that could have helped pay off the bulk of the district's $100 million debt. Elimination of this debt is a likely precondition to the state returning control of the public schools to Oakland's elected school board. A multitude of critics had opposed the property deal for reasons ranging from opposition to development to support of a competing plan to general obstreperousness. But school board member Kerry Hamill got it exactly right when she called the deal's death a "terrible, wasted opportunity." For the complete story of how the deal could have bailed out the schools, check out Robert Gammon's 2006 feature "The Plot to Oust Randy Ward."