Devin Katayama: It sounds like a huge task for one person. What role should the city play in Oakland's public school system?
David Silver: At the end of the day what we believe that Oakland needs is for everybody to be rowing in the same direction. I have been in Oakland for 18 years in education and I have never seen the alignment of a superintendent, a mayor, a city council, a school board and other community partners like we have today.
I think what's missing sometimes is relationships. And as a former teacher, as a former principal, as a former nonprofit leader, I want to utilize whatever relationships I have been able to use as well as the mayor has to be able to bring us together as a common vision and I think that common vision is around cradle-to-career.
It's very clear to me that there is widespread alignment on the idea that we need to take our most vulnerable population starting when they're born and provide more and better aligned resources for them.
Katayama: Is part of your job to bring in new money?
Silver: My philosophy is if you have the right ideas and if you have the right relationships, the resources will come. I think the mayor has done a great job in her first six months at building those relationships, and I think I will try to leverage those as well as the relationships of other people within the city to bring in more resources.
At the end of the day, yes, we need more resources in this city and we need to make sure that happens so I will be a partner in that. When people ask, "So does this job have jurisdiction over X, Y or Z?" What this job has is an opportunity to inspire. What this has is an opportunity to bring together a coalition towards a big vision.
Katayama: Are there any immediate or long-term initiatives that you have planned?
Silver: The biggest initiative that the mayor and I want to do is literally put together a cradle-to-career plan with specific ideas and benchmarks where we're going to have tangible impacts for kids.