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The West Oakland shots heard across the city

By Katy Murphy
Friday, December 14th, 2007 at 6:47 pm in safety, teachers.

laraburenin2.jpgTuesday night’s drive-by shooting at McClymonds, which injured three teenage boys on their way out of a basketball game – including a JV athlete who had played earlier that night — has upset and frightened people throughout Oakland.

Andy Kwok, the rookie teacher I’ve been following, teaches one of the students.  He’s not ready to talk about it yet.

Lara Burenin, a new teacher at East Oakland’s EnCompass Academy, was also at a school basketball game on Tuesday night. The West Oakland shooting made her think hard about her students’ safety, and her own. She wrote a compelling post on the Tribune’s My First Year blog about what it’s like to teach in an area ridden with violence.

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  • Sue

    Mostly, I try to avoid the violence – it always feels like the rubber-neckers who slow down for accidents on the highways. But during the autumn, my niece was one of the students held during the shooting at Oroville’s high school, and that personalized our local problems in a way that nothing else has. It seems our kids aren’t safe anywhere – urban or rural.

    How do we make it better? How can I, personally, do something that will help make things better? Is there anything that anyone can do?

    I’ll be interested to read Andy Kwok’s blogging on having one of his students shot – if he writes one. But I’m afraid that’s just more “staring at the accident”, and it won’t accomplish anything useful.

  • Katy Murphy

    I know what you mean, Sue. As a reporter, I sometimes feel torn about how to cover violence and tragedy at schools.

    If I ignore an incident of violence, particularly in an area where it happens often, I’d be sending the message that the crime — or the victim(s) — doesn’t matter. On the other hand, the story could hurt the school’s reputation.

    Of course, since my job is to inform the public about what is happening in the schools, I usually don’t have much of a choice.

  • Sue

    Katy, I think that you are doing a much better job than the previous education reporter.

    You’re right, you don’t have the choice to turn your head and look away. I’m grateful that I get to make that choice most of the time. Where I have the opportunity, I try to shield my children, too. But as today’s student-blogger has pointed out in another entry – this is the world we live in here in Oakland, and our schools are preparing our kids for real life.

  • Doowhopper

    To Katy:
    I have been subbing in OUSD for six years and rarely have I encountered a truly violent situation. Maybe twice a year a fight will break out in a classroom or someone will get jumped and robbed. Thats from MY experience and I only work the high schools.
    However, the real impediment to a healthy school environment are the small aggravations that add up to major headaches when combined. I speak of the incessant tardiness, the vile and racist language, the eating in class, the presence of cell phones and I-Pods, the general disregard for common courtesy.
    A small example- I happened to drive by one of the high schools yesterday on an unrelated matter when a female student yelled at a high volume, “B—-, get your a– over here”
    Lets say I was a parent with an Eighth Grader and was giving this school consideration for my child to attend and this young lady spouting obscenities was the first impression I had of the school.It just MIGHT play a role in me deciding that this school is for or not for my son or daughter.
    Just food for thought.