KCBS In Depth: Oakland Schools Chief Antwan Wilson

OAKLAND (KCBS) — The Oakland Unified School District has had a plan to make school campuses community resources so that each student has the support they need to succeed.

“Thriving Students” was started under former Superintendent Doctor Tony Smith, but, Antwan Wilson, the new superintendent, told KCBS In Depth that he intends to continue supportive learning in Oakland schools.

While some call supportive learning “tough love”, Wilson said he is determined to implement the right amount of each in his classrooms to turn out well-educated students who are ready to claim their futures.

“Before we start the year, we talk about what our expectations are. We practice; we role play. Before you even step into my school as a ninth grader, you’ve practiced being a student at my school,” Wilson said. “When you do that, you actually have very few students who struggle because they know that you’re serious. And then the solution to not following rules, the solution to not doing your work should be more work and it should be more time at school—not less. I believe that you have to be very clear and you need to have very clear consequences for students but those consequences should normally involve students getting more time with adults, more time to practice the math, the reading and the writing that they were trying to get out of.”

Listen To The Entire KCBS In Depth Interview:

Known for turning around troubled schools in Denver, Wilson said he’s serious about making sure a diploma from an Oakland high school means that a student is ready for his or her future—no matter how long it may take.

“Some students should not graduate in four years—they shouldn’t graduate high school in four years for various reasons. Some are second-language learners—it’s going to take them five years or six years to learn the language and we shouldn’t put that type of pressure on students to not take the time they need in the system with people who care about them,” he said. “We have some students who are going to graduate through their IEP (Individualized Education Program) and so they’re going to take some additional time and we should not have a stigma on those students.”

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