Oakland School Board Makes Smart Choice

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In its first move after regaining partial local control of Oakland schools, the city school board shrewdly hired what appears to be a well qualified candidate to be the district's interim superintendent. As we reported last month, the return of local control was essentially meaningless unless the board appointed a superintendent who would carry out its wishes. The board voted 4-3 yesterday to hire Roberta Mayor, a top official with the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, the group that has been auditing Oakland schools' progress under state control. The selection of Mayor appears to be inspired on several fronts.

First, as a member of FCMAT, Mayor is keenly aware of what Oakland needs to do to regain full control of its schools. As a result, state Superintendent Jack O'Connell will be hard pressed to not return full local control should Mayor and FCMAT recommend it. And as a top FCMAT auditor, Mayor also is familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of state Administrator Vince Matthews. What better person to now work directly for the school board than one of the lead members of a group that has been grading Matthews' leadership?

The only question is why did three board members -- Kerry Hamill, Chris Dobbins, and Noel Gallo -- vote against it?

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