Rockridge neighborhood patrol

windshield.jpgFor all of the progress I’ve been hearing about at Claremont Middle School, it sounds like a handful of kids are giving it a bad name in the neighborhood — most recently, by flashing a gun on their way home from school.

Below is an e-mail string between Kate Fitzgerald, a homeowner who apparently spotted a group of kids with a gun last Friday, and David Chambliss, principal of Claremont Middle School.

This isn’t the first I’ve heard of friction between Claremont kids and neighbors. Earlier this year, my editor handed me a copy of a letter that Jan Christensen-Heller, of the Christensen Heller Gallery on College Avenue, wrote to the manager of Trader Joe’s. She had met him at Claremont’s Community Day, and urged him to adopt a “zero-tolerance” policy with shoplifting.

“I really love it here,” Christensen-Heller wrote. “However, the aggressive behavior of the middle school children needs to be addressed.” (Last week, the East Bay Express ran a story titled “Middle-School Marauders” about thuggery in Rockridge and other East Bay communities.)

“I think that there is a huge amount of tension between the youth in this city and the public in general,” said Kerry Hamill, the school board member who represents North Oakland and is an at-large candidate for City Council.

Hamill said she is trying to set up a meeting with Oakland police, school district police, Claremont’s principal and local shopowners to figure out how to better supervise the students when school lets out.

Any ideas?

image from the known universe’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

Subject: Guns at Claremont Middle School
Date: Mon, 5 May 2008 11:25:42 -0700

May 5, 2008

David Chambliss – Principal

Claremont Middle School

5750 College Avenue

Oakland CA 94618

Dear Mr. Chambliss:

Per my voicemail this morning, on Friday, May 2 at approximately 3:45 p.m. I witnessed eight school boys brandish, what appeared to be, a silver automatic handgun at the corner of Forest and Ayala streets.   It appeared that another boy held the clip.  Needless to say, I called the Oakland Police, and they sent patrol cars shortly afterward to look for the boys.

The boys are black/African American, between the ages of 13 and 14 years old.  As a group, they walk home via Forest and Ayala streets practically every day.

Two years ago at approximately the same time of day, I witnessed a group of school boys slash the tires of 14 cars and trucks parked on Forest and Ayala streets.  (The slashings reflected the path by which they walked home.)  The police were called on that occasion, too.  You may remember that I also spoke to you the following day – or the current principal at the time – about that incident.   You said that you were aware of the boys’ identities because one of the boys had been boasting about the knife at school.

Something has got to be done!  For the sake of your students and your neighbors, I encourage you to implement a weapons screening program and/or a locker check program at Claremont Middle School.

Forest, Ayala, Colby and McAuley streets are popular routes for Claremont Middle School students.  Unfortunately, many of the houses and cars along these routes are subject to petty juvenile crimes, mostly stones (or other objects) thrown through house windows and broken-in to cars – all between the hours of 3:00 and 4:30.  (On Wednesdays, it starts earlier.)

After school, petty juvenile crime is one thing, and, unfortunately, a costly thing for the property owners on these streets.  Students carrying and brandishing weapons is another matter that needs to be dealt with seriously and swiftly.

Since December, there have been at least three “hold ups,” involving teenage boys brandishing guns on or immediately around Claremont, Colby and Forest streets.  I am not suggesting that these are your students (mentioned above).  But, I am suggesting that there is a correlation – getting away with carrying a weapon to school may embolden a child to commit a crime with it at school or after school.

I know you can help.

Respectfully, Kate Fitzgerald



From: Kate Fitzgerald
Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 8:54 AM
To: David Chambliss

Subject: Guns at Claremont Middle School – Follow Up

David – Thanks for your call last evening about the student/gun sighting I reported to the police on Friday, May 2.

I appreciate the delicate approach that you want to take toward identifying and dealing with the actual students involved, and I will be happy to comply by trying to get you pictures of the group of boys involved in the incident.  As I mentioned, I saw the same group of boys yesterday at 1:15 (by my watch) walking down Ayala. I just saw the short boy on the razor going to school this a.m. at 8:20.

I am, however, a little remiss on three points: 1) you want me to be responsible for taking the next step, before you take any action at your school, 2) you are uninterested in conducting locker checks, or 3) you are uninterested in making a statement to your student body -whether over a P.A. or in an auditorium setting, letting them know of the incident, that there are witnesses, that you are conducting an investigation into the identity of the boys and if anyone has information about either the gun or the boys involved that they can tell you in confidence.

I think any of the latter two approaches would show great leadership on your part and, at the very least, strike a little fear into the hearts of the boys that they’ve been found, cause buzz in the school that your staff can overhear, and remind them that need to respect your rules – Claremont Middle School does not stand for guns on or around the grounds or students associating with other kids who have guns.

You also mentioned that in the past five years of your being principal at Claremont, you’ve been aware of only a few other instances when a weapon (a knife) has been brought on to campus. You mentioned that you and your staff have your “ears to the ground” and often hear the buzz of when a knife has been on campus, and yet you did not remember student tire knifing incident two years ago on Forest and Ayala – or that you had called me about it. (Coincidently, your “ears to the ground” statement is the exact same statement you made to me when you returned my call two years ago. On that call, you also mentioned that one of your staff had heard rumors of there being a knife at school that day, you knew who the boy was and the boy would be spoken to.)

Needless to say, I am unconvinced of your having your ears to the ground, let alone having any interest in dealing with these issues.

This is not truancy, not a bottle of alcohol or bag of pot. This is a gun. Call me old fashioned, but I believe such matters need to be dealt with quickly and seriously, not like “untangling a ball of string” as you suggest. You must knit.

In the meantime, I will try to get you pictures of the group of students, provided that I’m at home and not on client calls. I don’t want you to feel like you have no reason for action. Hopefully, the boys wont see me, and I wont get hurt.


-Kate Fitzgerald


From: David Chambliss
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 6:24 AM
To: ‘Kate Fitzgerald’

Subject: RE: Guns at Claremont Middle School – Follow Up

Ms. Fitzgerald—To follow up on our phone call and your email below, let me clarify a few points:

When you saw the young people in the street with a gun, you did the most important thing.  You called the police and got them working on it.  For any incidents in the neighborhoods, where Claremont students might be involved, that is the most important step.  The police will work with us to hold any Claremont students accountable.
I do need your help identifying the students, either by taking a picture of the boys or coming to the school and looking at our pictures to identify the students.  In your email below you express some fear about being seen.  I’d be happy to bring the pictures to you if this makes you feel more comfortable.  The most important thing we can do right now is to determine which Claremont boys might have been involved, determine if the gun you saw actually came on campus, and then respond accordingly.
In a variety of ways throughout the year (assemblies, classroom non-violence curriculum, disciplining individual students), we have delivered a zero-tolerance message about weapons on campus.  Certainly, in light of what you have reported, we continue to deliver that message.  We have talked with staff and students about the specific event that you brought to our attention, and we are investigating it.

David Chambliss

Claremont MS

Subject: RE: Guns at Claremont Middle School – Follow Up
Date: Fri, 9 May 2008 07:44:12 -0700
From: David.Chambliss@ousd.k12.ca.us
Ms. Fitzgerald—Just to follow up … I would still like to have you look at pictures of our students to see which may be involved.  Please email me or call the school to let me know your availability.  Again, I am willing to come to you with the pictures if this would make you feel more comfortable.  Thank you.

David Chambliss

Claremont MS

Subject: RE: Guns at Claremont Middle School – Follow Up

Date: Fri, 9 May 2008 08:45:17 -0700

David – Yesterday, I got the name of one of the boys: (suspect) – hispanic, probably 13, about 5’4″ and a little chunky. He was walking with the ‘gun group’ today at 1:20, after being released from school.  I was outside at the time the walked by. While I did not see him with this group on May 2, it’s obvious that he wants to be with their group. If you pressure him, he would likely talk about the group and gun.  I can also tell you that the leader – a very short boy, approx. 5’0/5’2, on a scooter/razor – is wearing a white hooded sweatshirt today with gray/blue letter (I could not make out what is says). He just went by my house at 8:00 a.m.

Background on (suspect): The ‘gun group’ came home early yesterday – 1:15 – while I was out in the yard and started hassling me.  I changed the subject and asked them where they went to school. “Claremont Middle School” they all piped up. “Why are you guys out so early,” I asked. “It’s test day,” (the suspect) and couple of others said. The other boys, meanwhile, ran off to Ayala street, because the short boy with the scooter/scooter (who is the one who had the clip on May 2) called them over, where they checked out cars and threw limes at each other and then started walking down Ayala to McAuley.  Shortly after they left, I got in my car to circumnavigate their route and get you photos. Their route ends at the community center at 59th and Shattuck. During their walk home, the group split up. (The suspect) and his foursome took a left at Canning. I took a left at Telegraph, so I could get a photo of them from the front. Only, they were running down 59th, chased on foot by Bernhard VonZastrow (whose house window they had just broken). Ben caught (the suspect), released him after learning his name, called the OPD and filed a report. I spoke to Ben after this happened. I also spoke to the OPD officer at the community center.

Note: I received a series of emails from concerned parents who have children at your school. They are incredulous and outraged by your inaction to enforce your zero-tolerance on guns policy at your school, i.e., that you have not made a blanket statement to the students about this incident, conducted locker checks or said anything to them about the May 2 student sighting.

Jane Brunner’s office also called me. She is contacting the State Administrator of the Oakland Unified School District and will follow up with you shortly.

In the meantime, I will still try to get you ‘good’ photos, i.e., of them from the front without putting myself in harms way, and I will send them to you, your colleagues and the police – by separate email.  I also have my own business to run.

David – On a personal note, I cannot begin to tell you by how disappointed and frustrated I am in you. Be a leader – say something to your student body. Do something that shows them that you’re serious about no weapons. Enforce your no-tolerance policy. Kids don’t remember. And, kids with guns don’t care. Don’t idly wait for me to make things happen for you.

-Kate Fitzgerald


From: Kate Fitzgerald

All – This afternoon, David Chambliss and I conducted an afterschool surveillance on Forest, Ayala and McAuley streets to identify the eight boys involved in the May 2 gun sighting.  Using cell phones and our cars, I pointed out two of them, inc. one of the leaders, and David was able to identify them from his school records.

I also pointed out two of the four boys who were involved in a ‘smash and run’, i.e., breaking a house window, yesterday afternoon on Canning Street. (One of the boys was apprehended by the homeowner, Bernhard VonZastrow, who also filed a police report.)

David – Thank you for coming over and doing this with me.  It’s tough tactics like these that get the attention of bad kids. I wish you the best in enforcing your ‘zero-tolerance’ for guns program.

Kate Fitzgerald

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Caroline

    These are police issues, not education issues. Kate Fitzgerald is wrong to dump this all on the school.

    I understand that it’s the school that brings the kids into the neighborhood, but outsiders tend to blame every single thing kids do on the school and expect teachers and principals to be police, 24/7 babysitters/moral guides (not just at school), and otherwise gods. That’s wrong. Their job is to teach kids academics. The other issues are COMMUNITY ISSUES; you can’t dump every problem involving kids on educators.

    I’m a parent at Aptos Middle School in SFUSD. For a period, the streetcar line adjacent to Aptos was out of commission due to construction, and Muni replaced it with insufficient buses, leading to big crowds of kids forced to wait at the bus stop. The school principal used to get calls complaining about the kids waiting for the bus after school — not even their behavior, just the fact that there were a whole lot of them there. The principal doesn’t run Muni — hellooooo.

    Kids with guns are a police and community issue. Teachers and principals aren’t police. Members of the community need to understand this.

  • Nextset

    Caroline – Here’s the way this thing works. The school gets a reputation. If the school is a nest of dangerous, aggressive kids no one will hire or associate with kids from the school. Properties in that schools boundries will fall in value relative to similar homes in the boundries of better schools.

    Having a school full of unhousebroken brats kills the reputation of the school. One of the things a school wants to accomplish is make life better for it’s students by giving the student a resume of having served time in a “good” school. If you let all this go you have just another ghetto school full of despised ghetto kids.

    I have always taken the position that schools do teach citizenship, morals and personal discipline – at least good schools do. Ghetto schools don’t. They are just way stations until the ghetto kids get killed, put in prison, or get their own welfare apartments to shoot dope in.

    The school needs to get aggressive with their kids if the kids are acting out and wrecking relations with the community. Some of the readers here are just too young to understand what I mean by getting aggressive with their kids.

    Yes, this is a school problem and it is a principal problem. If he can’t get control of the kids he should be replaced with a better principal who can. And understand this, I went to a high school when on occassion the city police were called and handcuffed a student or students and led (dragged?) them through halls of the school in front of everybody. The principal call the cops and the principal asked for an arrest. It didn’t happen often, but there was absolutely no question what my principal would do if lines were crossed.

    It was a good public school. They maintained standards. And they would react if they found out a student was getting into criminal anything, anywhere.

  • oakie

    I am puzzled. I talked to a parent last night and he said “I’d like to send my kid to school X, but it’s not my closest school, and it’s overbooked.” CMS is undesired, afaik, by every parent in Rockridge. For me, there is no way in hell I would send my child to that school (check out their performance scores!). So what really puzzles me is why the school/district doesn’t have the cajones to take these 5% problem kids and tell them they can no longer attend CMS. That would not only make the situation better for the 95% of the students that are not the problem, but would also send the message to them that if they do step out of line, they will go also. When you have a neighborhood that is rejecting their own local school, and a district which can’t figure out how to enforce the most basic civility from students, it can never be fixed. Is a solution to this problem so incomprehensible? Or is it just no one thinks outside the box?

  • hills parent


    I think that the school district needs to hire you to train its Principals on how to keep our schools safe. I commend you for your perseverance.

  • Nextset

    Okie: You may understand all this behavior better if you look at the problem from the point of view that OUSD is deliberately creating the situation they have, and intends to keep it that way. Any claims to the contrary are just PR disinformation.

    We can’t assume these government agencies mean well. Look at the situation again and see if it makes sense once you run the assumption that they deliberately set out to create whatever it is they have.

    Is OUSD in the business of making sure it’s schools fail to educate, have failing scores, and are violent places? Consider this: “appeasement”.

  • oakie

    I agree with Hill’s Parent: Kate is being a saint. But I fear Nextset is on the money. It is a real shame, but at this point I vote against every bond measure for this school district: they do not deserve a penny extra. They are a disservice to the students. If Harry Potter went to the School of Wizardry, CMS is a school of criminality. I hear people say it’s only 5% bad students. But if that’s so, you either do something about the 5% or the problem is the entire school. If no one from this neighborhood sends their kids to the school, why is it in our neighborhood? It’s a social contract thing. I remember when I arrived in Oakland there were about 55,000 students in OUSD. Right now there are 39,000, and once there’s local control to screw things up again, maybe the number will go even lower. When they’re deciding which schools to close, I’ll be ready to propose CMS for closing: it is exclusively a detriment to the neighborhood. It’s a lot of land and would make a great park. Then we-in the neighborhood-can take our kids there and get use out of it.

  • Caroline

    How is it the schools’ fault if thuggish kids enroll there? Agreed that OUSD needs to take a tough line with the problem kids and get them out of the regular school and into a setting where they can get help — but I don’t think that help should even come out of the school budget. That’s not an educational expense. Again, this is a community responsibility and it’s irresponsible to dump it all on educators. It’s a policing issue, a mental health issue, etc.

  • Realist

    Perhaps the neighbors and the shops in the area should develop a zero tolerance policy. The Oakland police and OUSD police should be called early, and often, in order to intervene before smaller problems turn into bigger ones. The shops should not allow kids under 18 in the stores before 6 p.m. on weekdays unless accompanied by an adult.

    I often see groups of middle school kids from Claremont running wild in the library. It is an unfair burden on the library staff to attempt to maintain control of these children. The security officer the library has had to hire intervenes as best as he/she can. As recently as last Thursday two police cars and an OUSD police car were on the scene at the library due to the mis-behavior of these students. Soon the library may have to implement the “no one under 18 without an adult before 6″ rule like an east coast state did recently so that other people are able to enjoy the library.

    Does anyone know the name/number of the OUSD police officer assigned to CMS?

  • Jose

    The principal is hired to run the school. His job is to provide a school setting where students can get an education. This means preparing them to act like human beings and become productive members of our socity.

    Caroline states, “Their job is to teach kids academics.” Based on state and national test results, the principal of this middle school is failing as a leader.

    Why are you blaming the students? What do you expect when the principals allow them to act like thuggs?

  • Nextset

    Caroline: I hear the words you are using all the time in criminal practice. “How is it the schools’ FAULT…”

    One either has a grasp of the concept of responsibility or not. The concept was taught in my Catholic grade school and reinforced in my public high school. If it happens, it’s my fault. Simple.

    You see, it IS the schools’ responsibility to control the students on campus, adjacent to campus and enroute to and from campus. It always has been a schools’ responsibility.

    News to them they would have us believe.

    Another concept you have introduced to this thread is that it’s not their “job”. I hear that one a lot also. The people who speak it are often put out of their jobs – by their organization closing.

    Your position on these things is a common one. The response of the community is to vote against every single school funding measure and to refuse to hire or trade with products of your school system.

    And here we all are.

  • Sharon

    Blame the principals all you want, but at this point in time schools such as this one DO NOT have the personnel resources that it would take to effectively manage the numbers of disruptive, street-oriented students that they are required to enroll, and still be able to accomplish anything else. Always keep in mind that there are other kids at the school, making up the majority, who are ready and able to function appropriately whenever they were given a chance. They are the majority but they are nearly invisible next to this smaller group.

    The schools contain a subset of highly difficult, pre- and currently criminally inclined students (perhaps 10%?). Nearly everyone who is working at the schools has a HUGE amount of their time burned up by the aggressive and chaotic kids; administration and security are not just twiddling their thumbs. Because of this phenomenon, everyone and everything else gets ignored, or “left behind” as the popular terminology goes. These kids can overwhelm everything.

    OUSD has not set up alternative settings for these students so that they can be focused on and trained properly. Only 20 middle school students were enrolled in an OUSD alternative school in 2006-2007!!!

    If these kids attended school at an alternative and specialized setting, the other kids, the majority, who are capable of behaving appropriately (and their parents!) would let out a huge sigh of relief, everyone could buckle down to work, the district’s test scores would increase, and teacher turnover would nearly come to a halt.

    This is the type of alteration that would have made an enormous difference in our public schools that could have been designed and supported by the millions of outside dollars that were spent on the Expect Success program instead. A program such as the one I am suggesting would not only have an impact on raising academic achievement, but it would also have an impact on reducing Oakland’s crime rate. Sorry, but many of these kids are eons beyond the help of conflict management/anti-bullying programs.

    The community needs to stomp its feet and demand that OUSD creates alternative provisions for this type of middle school students, so that they can be force fed the attention they need. This age is about the last opportunity to make an impact, after that it will be too late for many of them.

  • oakie

    I think that’s going too far in demanding from the school. But the school assigns the students, or can reassign the students if they demonstrate they are not behaving –even when that behavior is not on campus. The trick is to keep it simple. To allow a child not from this neighborhood to attend CMS should be revocable. And I don’t mean waiting until a second incident with a knife or gun. That is supposed to be what they mean when they say zero tolerance. The school’s saying it. They are just not doing it. If they put the hammer down hard on the 5%, I would imagine the affect on the other 95% might make us happier about the school being in our midst. If they don’t, I swear we should put that school at the absolute front of the list for the next round of school closing. And–by the wya–why aren’t we asking Jody London and Brian Rodgers if they will agree and support us on that.

  • Nextset

    Sharon: If OUSD wanted to fix the mess, which they don’t, they would convert entire schools such as Castlemont to “Alternative” schools and transfer in all the prison bound students. Schools such as, say, McClymonds, could then be designated at “normal” schools where attempts to maintain order would be resumed. Skyline could then be made an academic school where the highest standards would be maintained. All three schools would be district-wide enrollment. A student would know what they had bought into if they tried to enroll at Skyline or McClymonds. Castlemont would have the lowest common denominator standards.

    I agree with you that the principals in place today have no support from OUSD to do much of anything. You see, they are doing exactly what OUSD wants them to do. Only we have any problem with things.

  • Sharon

    As far as alternative schools for middle school students go, there could be two types available: the rigid, highly disciplined ones and the touchy-feely ones. This should make everybody happy, since people seem to adhere to one camp or the other.

    More importantly, the outcomes of the differing approaches could be compared and analyzed. This information would help to build even better future models. Of course, the schools would need to be controlled for funding, student characteristics, student body size, etc. They would also need an independent body to monitor the sneaky things the schools would inevitably try to do to make themselves look better.

  • jim2812

    The Ed Code indicates that issue of student behavior going to and from school is a school responsibility. This does not change the liability of a parent for the acts of their child going and coming from school. Nor does this exclude the involvement of the police. In fact their is a requirement for schools to have a safety plan that encourages involvement of the police.

    Parents of Claremont students might want to look at the school’s safety plan and see how it deals with misbehavior of students off campus.

    When I was at school and had a problem with another student we might make a date to settle the problem off campus. Both of us assumed it was our business and the school had no jurisdiction when we left campus. We were wrong. However, in practice, once a student leaves campus it is unusual to have school personnel interest themselves in what happens no matter what the Ed Code states.

    “44807. Every teacher in the public schools shall hold pupils to a strict account for their conduct on the way to and from school, on the playgrounds, or during recess. A teacher, vice principal, principal, or any other certificated employee of a school district,
    shall not be subject to criminal prosecution or criminal penalties for the exercise, during the performance of his duties, of the same degree of physical control over a pupil that a parent would be
    legally privileged to exercise but which in no event shall exceed the amount of physical control reasonably necessary to maintain order, protect property, or protect the health and safety of pupils, or to
    maintain proper and appropriate conditions conducive to learning.
    The provisions of this section are in addition to and do not supersede the provisions of Section 49000.”

    Jim Mordecai

  • Jose


    I remember seeing you at an OUSD school board meeting almost two years ago. You had a problem with the principal at the Indian school.Do you recall, I was the student who helped you off the floor? There was also two other adults who gave you a hand that night.

    The OUSD security asked you to leave the building. Why did’nt you make a date with him “to settle the problem off campus?”

    Like many adults you tell students how we should act, however, you have another rule for yourself.

  • Robert

    The problems of CMS start well before the students enroll there. Administratively OUSD has been a MESS since even the days of Marcus Foster. I dealt with his replacement, Ruth Love. I really don’t blame Mr. Blackburn for only accepting a caretaker role. He apparently saw the trends.

    It starts with the ‘political football’ nature of school funding. Proposition 13 was used as a scapegoat for many problems.

    Speaking of political creations, schools are often treated as ‘outsourcing’ deals with the same level of social responsibility. It is “un-PC” to tell students they are not ‘achieving’ and that they need to apply more, to expect more and demand good behavior. Try it, as a teacher, and how many principals will stand behind you in the face of an upset parent? You wonder why teachers are less inclined to go the extra mile? Some do, I will concede. Think about yourself those many years ago. Were you a saint? :)

    Since I’m on a soap box, the teachers unions have a place in the damnation list. There was a “professional association” and a “union” which merged. Right now, other than the prison guards, I don’t know of a much more militant union. Unlike the prison guards, they have your childrens’ attention more than you do ofte enough. To use a strong word, there seems to be collusion between the union and the educational education bureaucracy (aka the schools that “teach” teachers) in so far as resisting measures of performance. Try touching the subject and you’ll find you may feel like you’ve tripped over BART’s 3rd rail.

    Frankly put, we pay the bills and should set the expectations for the schools. With “local control” returned to OUSD, I’m still not sure how we can avoid business as usual and force performance from the schools.

    Budget is a key question, but first step is to try to understand where the money goes now. I’ve been trying to understand the City’s and not even looked at the District’s. Getting money away from ‘programs’ and in to the schools, removing dead wood, and keeping reasonable decision making in the classroom will be extraordinarily difficult unless parents get involved and have a Zero Tolerance policy toward their School Board and it’s behaviors.

    Other than for weapons, a Zero Tolerance policy toward students is probably not going to be wise. How to pick the people making the choices is an open question, but the saw “hard cases make bad law” applies.

    Mac is a rough school. Predominantly black, at least it was in 1980 when I last was on campus. Why pick on it? OUSD has a continuation high school and Alameda County has Rock LaFleche (in Rockridge). I don’t know how much good they do, but then I don’t really trust our schools to really keep the student in mind, either.

    If our *elementary* schools do not start students properly and make sure they have the basic scholarship, civil behavior and invest the right resources (diagnosis of learning issues, behavioral problems, etc), by the time they get to the middle grades, the problems are bigger and costs (financial and social) higher.

  • Caroline

    “Your position on these things is a common one.”

    I don’t think it is, Nextset. What I see is the entire world blaming schools, teachers and educators for every possible thing that happens in their orbit. I think I’m a total contrarian to argue against doing that, actually.

  • Jose


    Now you “argue against” it! Will you give us your word that you will stop blaming schools and educators?

    The “entire word” blames them. How do you know the rest of the world is blaming schools and educators?

    I do know you blame them sometimes from your past comments.

  • hills parent

    The bottom line is that the OUSD district office needs to step in to enforce both the law and the school/district policies. Failure to do so will result in more criminal-like behaviors from our youth, not to mention flight of families from the public schools. How much longer can OUSD be the best advertisement for private schools? As a public educator in another school district who believes in public education, I have chosen to leave Oakland in the next year due to this failing school district and have selected another community with a school district responsive to community concerns.

  • oakie

    I wish CMS could be declared a public nuisance for repeated failure to comply with the schools obligations under the Ed. Code (thanks Jim for the citation). Seriously: OUSD will continue to lose student enrollment and will be closing more schools. I would love to see a concerted effort to get CMS to the top of that list. The neighborhood would improve by leaps and bounds, crime will go down, and we desperately need good park land.

  • Caroline

    What past comments, Jose? I think you have me mixed up with another poster, or have misinterpreted me.

  • Jose


    I do not have you “mixed up” with anyone else or “misinterpreted” you.

    Are you saying you have not blamed educators and schools in the past? This is either “Yes” or “No”!

  • BB

    I disagree that this is an OPD issue. Schools are responsible for enforcing rules and expectations AND, more importantly, for keeping students safe. Clearly, this is not what is going on. As resident of the area, I can tell you that despite my yearning to want to support these kids, the culture at home and at school has taught them totally inappropriate behavior, values and conduct. They need clear expectations and real consequences. I know that the local vendors are furious and frustrated.

  • jim2812


    The answer to your question is not yes nor no. I think your question is really about Caroline’s criticism of charter schools. In fact Caroline has defended public schools while criticising charter schools. In my view, charter schools are undermine democracy and deserve being criticised for being the means of privatization of public education.

    Are you not the Jose that wants to start his own charter school?

    Blaming educators Jose started with the Reagan administration and the publication of a Nation at Risk. The NCLB law has in effect put the responsibility for class differences on the shoulders of educators. I believe this is part of the strategy of declaring public education a failure so that it can be privatized.

    In reference to Ed Code 44807, I was making the point that in ancient times, when I was a student (a student in South San Francisco and not Oakland) I thought, and most of the students in my classes thought, if we left the campus and got into a fight off campus it was not the business of the school. In my day if you were challenged you had 1 on 1 student fight at the local park.

    However, I now know the law says a student’s behavior going to and from school is the business of the school. The law also says a student’s behavior is the business of the parent and the parent is liable for what their child does. Both parent and school have, under the law, a liability and responsibility, regarding a student’s behavior coming and going to school.

    I don’t remember thanking the people that helped me up after I fell into Ben Chavez at the school board meeting two years ago and I belatedly thank you for that kindness Jose. Perhaps you remember the names of the two adults that also gave me a hand. And, I thank them also.

    I am not sure why you wrote I should have made a “date” with the security guard when my problem had been with Principal Chavez. The security guard was just doing his job in my mind.

    Ben Chavez, the Principal two years ago of the American Indian Charter School, has been less than kind to me at school board meetings while both of us were in the audience.

    However, as I have been a continuing critic of both charter schools, and his boastful, bullying, style in administration of the American Indian Charter school. I therefore understand that he is not happy to see me at the school board meetings he attends.

    After my fall both Ben Chavis and I were separated and ejected from the school board meeting and not allowed to return.

    Ben Chavis is no longer the Principal of the American Indian Charter School and I do not remember seeing him since.

    However, if I should run into Ben Chavis again I plan to do nothing that would cause another embarrassing ejection.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    BB: OPD has to move in with jack-booted law enforcement and keep the school informed in real time about what is going on with the kids. A team of cops can be very effective in overpowering child thugs. Most of them have never had a real man confront them before. They can be brought under control if OPD ever tries to do so. It’s not clear to me how cowed OPD is by this “mayor”. It’s possible OPD will take the position that if the politicians don’t want black criminals subdued, they’ll just let things go until times change.

    It worked for the Bakery gang. And it worked for the SLA. And it worked for the Black Panthers. Don’t think for a minute that OPD wouldn’t refuse to confront this problem unless and until there is a clear mandate for trash pickup.

  • Jose


    I have no interest in starting a school.I will enter college in the fall. Thank God! I had great teachers.

    Could you allow the lady to answer my qustion?

    I do not know the other two men who helped you up that night. I do recall on was White and the other Mexican.

    I was standing behind you when the Indian school principal tried to walk by and you blocked his way. That night you were the “bully”! I was amazed how fast he put you floor. Those of us behind you also went down on the floor. Belive me, we herd what you said to him and witnessed his reaction.

    When you stated in your comments,”We might set a date to settle the problem off campus.”

    This was not what you did at the board meeting that night. As an adult you have one standard for yourself and another for students.

  • Public school fan

    Could we get this topic back to what happened at Claremont Middle and what can be done to stop such future incidents?

    Claremont Middle has long had problems with unruly kids wandering around causing havoc both before school and after school. Why isn’t there a security officer placed outside the school at both times to monitor kids’ behavior? Maybe the Rockridge shopping district should hire one?

    I drive by that school nearly every day, often right after school lets out or right before it starts. Kids are constantly pushing each other off the curb and into traffic — and then laughing at the horrified look on the drivers’ faces. Fights start at the corner and continue as the kids walk home. Large groups of kids stand in the middle of College Avenue and obstruct traffic and laugh at the situation.

    While it may not the be role of CMS administration to stop all of this behavior, perhaps it should be. Someone should monitor what happens right on the doorstep of the school. The current behavior of the students is not exactly a great advertisement of the school. I keep hearing that this school is on the way up and that Rockridge neighbors would love to send their middle school kids there rather than private school, but this will never happen as long as these this type of behavior is what the public sees as it drives by the school.

  • Jose

    Public School Fan,

    Do you relize the point is that many of you adults tell us how we should act as students, however, you have a different standard for yourselves?

    Jim says one thing as an adult educator and does another.

    I believe in accountability. Therefore, educators like Jim and school administrators should be held for their actions. Otherwise, what can you expect from students?

  • Katy Murphy

    Have there been meetings with OPD, Claremont administrators and/or Rockridge residents about monitoring student behavior before and after school? If so, what came of those meetings? Since this isn’t exactly a new problem, I’d like to know what solutions have been tried.

  • oakie

    I’m not interested in these personal attacks, and I don’t really care what happened at some meeting in the past. Back on the important subject of the long running behaviors exhibited by students at CMS and the apparent failure of the principal to abide by his obligations under the Education Code (thanks again to Jim for providing that nugget of useful information), please be aware that the RCPC is holding a debate on May 15 (this Thursday) for all offices on ballot June 3. Location: College Avenue Presbyterian Church, 5951 College Avenue at Harwood. The debate includes the School Board election (we have Brian Rodger, Jody London and one more I forgot). That would be an excellent time to ask salient questions on this matter. They should be on notice that I will be there and ask about putting the school at the top of the ‘to be closed’ list because of the failure to comply with the Education Code.

  • Katy Murphy

    The third school board candidate for the North Oakland seat is Tennessee Reed.

  • Resident

    I am so glad that this issue is getting some attention. I am far from alone in saying that it’s time for Claremont to become a neighborhood school. The kids who are vandals and thugs have worn out their welcome in this neighborhood, and the residents and shopkeepers are sick of their behavior. Nobody should have to walk a gauntlet of predatory kids who have no respect for anybody, and yet they gather day after day in front of the school, running into traffic, threatening passersby on foot and on bikes, screaming and fighting, throwing their trash and scrawling graffiti on the bus stops. I have witnessed packs of these kids roaming the neighborhoods, pushing Trader Joe’s shopping carts into cars parked on the street, throwing rocks, tipping over garbage cans, throwing bottles and trash into the street and onto people’s lawns.
    The question is, do we put up with it, or do we fight for the change that we want? Rockridge is a beautiful neighborhood, with people who care about keeping it clean and safe and friendly. Claremont Middle School is a blight on the area because of the kids who come here to attend school. If the kids who actually live in this area were to attend the school, it would be a much better situation for everybody. This is a problem that should’ve been corrected long ago, and many of us are completely fed up.

  • Nextset

    Resident: Is Oakland Police Department unwilling and unable to maintain basic police services in Rockridge?

    This story is a good example of why neighborhood schools are for the children of the neighborhood and why busing and (cross neighborhood) integration are so bad. Outside children have no stake, no investment in the neighborhood – and the vandalism and noise is their way of marking their (new) territory so the locals have no illusions that it USED to be their town.

    It’s an anthropology thing. Nothing personal.

    Sometimes the territory marking is done by graffiti, sometimes by loud radios, sometimes by Spanish language on a PA system. This is what is going on. The neighbors are expected to put their houses up for sale and move to Orinda. Didn’t you know? This has been going on for generations now.

    If you want to save your homes and their value you have to fight back by using your influence with OPD to openly combat the interlopers, or just physically confronting them yourselves. Or have the school closed. (Maybe you can sue the district and it’s staff for public nuisance?) Moving away is the usual decision.

    It’s all just history repeating. Smart money saw this coming and sold their homes in 2005.

  • Caroline

    Hi Jose — My position is pretty consistently to defend teachers and public schools against the relentless barrage of contempt and attacks they get from all and sundry. So I would say the answer is: No, I do not have a record of blaming schools and teachers.

    Jim is correct that I am a critic of charter schools. (Though I don’t bash their teachers, or any teachers.)

  • Public school fan

    Clearly CMS and OUSD need to be thinking outside the box on how to improve both the school and the neighborhood (i.e., problems caused by its students).

    Here’s one suggestion and I would appreciate some thoughts on it: why not turn CMS into a city-wide academic magnet school. The school has easy access via street, BART, and bus lines. Kids from all across the city could apply for entry, but there would be stringent entry requirements (like grade point, testing, and academic interest) and stringent conduct requirements.

    True, it would not be a real neighborhood school, because the preference would not be to neighborhood kids, but it would certainly serve both the neighborhood and the city in a much better way than it currently does. Oakland is in dire need of some academic emphasis and it would be a great way to keep kids from going private, charter, or out of district if they gained entrance. Is this at all realistic? Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Why wouldn’t this work?

  • Public school fan

    When I said CMS should be a city-wide academic magnet school, I meant that it should do so as a middle school. And it should be a general academic magnet school, not one focused specifically on science or engineering. I think that a city-wide academic magnet middle school would be beneficial in so many ways for Oakland.

  • Another Hills Parent

    If one middle school is deemed an “academic” magnet school what would OUSD be communicating to the families who attend the other middle schools? Their schools do not have academic focuses?

    If Montera loses all its middle class kids and their families to such a school (and let’s face it -“stringent entry requirements” always favor the middle and upper classes) what happens to Montera?

    The OUSD is better off changing the feeder patterns into Claremont. Make it so that the majority (at least 65%) of entering 6th graders are from Peralta, Kaiser, Chabot and Hillcrest. And no more out of district transfers from Richmond.

  • oakie

    The operative phrase is “stringent conduct requirements.” In fact, you could leave things entirely alone, make it an academic magnet school, or make it a school of vodoo. If these 3 words were handled, there would be no problem with it’s presence in our neighborhood. Period. So, Public School Fan, I will support your idea. I have been in Oakland 25 years, and I personally see zero chance that those 3 words will ever be followed by OUSD. And with the miserable drop out rates, academic achievement levels and enlodged special interests that are clearly not interested in putting the students first (and in this I am sure to disagree with you point of view), I prefer to put CMS at the top of the school closing list. And, in fact, the enrollment numbers and it’s trending, are on my side: they will continue to close more and more schools because enrollment will undoubtedly decline over the years because nothing is fundamentally changing. Changing the “theme” of CMS is merely rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. The rotten-ness is at the core. I wish it were different (I went to public schools and, in fact, most public schools in California are doing a pretty good job–but not OUSD). The students are those who suffer the most from the situation. Too many human lives are being left to rot. And that is the real tragedy. And shame on those responsible for this logjam that should have been solved long long ago.

  • Caroline

    Any school with admission requirements — even if the admission requirement is just that you must apply rather than being assigned by default — will wind up without the most troubled, dysfunctional, unmotivated kids from the most troubled, dysfunctional, unmotivated families — and those are undoubtedly the kids who are out of control.

    If you picked up those very same kids and plunked them down in — is it Joaquin Miller Middle School? — over the hill in 925-land — they wouldn’t behave any differently. That’s the view based on my experience as an involved parent at a diverse urban middle school, anyway. I am not even familiar with CMS, but I am familiar with diverse urban schools from the inside — it’s apparent that Oakie is not.

    Agreed that the procedures from handling oppositional, disengaged, out-of-control kids are badly flawed. But if you put a different set of kids in the exact same school, you would see an entirely different situation.

  • Public school fan


    I respect your point of view and in many ways I agree with you that OUSD seems concerned only with teaching to the lowest common denominator. And I agree with you that CMS needs a radical overhaul.

    I could be wrong about this, but isn’t CMS in line for such an overhaul since it has suffered so many years as a PI school? After a certain number of years as a PI school, isn’t the district required to do something radically different with it? If so, then why not do something positive for everyone, including the neighbors, and turn it into an academic magnet school that would draw talented students interested in learning (not trouble-making) from all over the city?

    This seems to me to be a more beneficial idea than simply closing the school. The last thing we need is yet another charter school taking over an empty campus, when the facility could be put to a great use by OUSD making it into an academic jewel, thereby keeping intelligent, caring students and families in the OUSD system.

  • Public school fan

    Another Hills Parent:

    CMS is already supposed to be a feeder school from most of the same elementary schools that you so noted. The problem is that very very few of the families that go to those elementary schools want to continue on to attend CMS. It is probably a miniscule amount. CMS is supposed to be a neighborhood school, but isn’t because of its reputation and test scores. Thus, the school would be largely empty without the kids coming in from other places. While I understand that some Chabot families are trying to support each other into continuing on to CMS (and not moving out of district or going private), the school is such that parents of caring students do not want their children to go there. The test scores (while not indicative of everything) are just simply dismal. You will not be albe to convince those families that the school has changed unless something radical is done.

    I don’t think that creating an academic magnet middle school demeans the other middle schools. Many many other urban school districts have similar magnet schools. Why not here? OUSD already has magnet schools in other subject areas, so why not a purely academic one on the middle school level?

    Every middle school ought to have something to offer to families to make them want to attend their neighborhood school. Right now, OUSD has a surfeit of seats in middle schools because large numbers of people across the city choose to exit the OUSD system at middle school because they feel that there aren’t enough good middle school options. For some that means private school, for others charters, and for other moving out of the district.

    I don’t think that designating a middle school as an academic magnet school means that the other middle schools do not have an academic focus (although, in all honesty, I don’t think that they currently do). Every middle school should have an academic focus — that’s what school is about. But this one would just have a stringent entry requirement. Not every kid at Montera would be able to get in. And not every kid who could get in would want to go to such a school. The enrollment could not be one in which every kid who qualified could go there. There would need to be a limit on enrollment numbers — presumably there is a capacity number based on building codes anyway. And of course many people would prefer to attend their neighborhood school if it were decent enough and not drive across town to CMS. I really don’t think that Montera would suddenly be emptied out.

    Why not try it? Other school districts do similar things. OUSD itself does similar “magnet” type things. Unless test scores rise precipitously at CMS this year, it seems like a better use of the facility.

  • oakie

    Well, Caroline, maybe I am “clearly” not familiar with dysfunction urban schools from the inside, I am very familiar with a working productive school, as I spend many hours every week with my daughter at one. If your comments were directed at what I said, then, as my 3rd grader teacher used to say, “you’re not listening.” Entrance requirements and selection are not the issue that is the core problem as I see it: failure to have “stringent conduct requirements” is. I wonder why that got changed…… it has very little to do with middle class or not. It has everything to do with conduct and expectations of what the standard is. It is precisely the soft racism of low expectations. And OUSD is full of that. I have absolutely no objection to the out of area students who are at CMS. It’s their conduct that is unacceptable and that is what I advocate must be changed. There are many schools across the country that have demonstrated that kids coming from the lowest economic ladder are capable of learning, such as the KIPP people. Even in Oakland, no one ever wants to talk about the fact that the elementary school in Chinatown, although among the lowest economic demographics in the city, actually is outscoring the best in the district, including Hillcrest (or at least I remember that happening one year recently). As I said, it is shameful that we continue, year after year to fail these kids. But I don’t really think rearranging the chairs is what is the core problem. And if we don’t fix the core problem, then I vote to shut the school and turn the land into a park, desperately needed for the residents of Rockridge. To me, that’s the choice. Fix it, or lose the land.

  • Public school fan


    You certainly won’t get a park on that site (I assume you were joking about that anyway). The land’s too valuable. Chances are that you’d end up with a charter school. And, of course, OUSD has no control over charters. You might end up with just the same problems in a different guise. I don’t think that changing CMS into a radically different high-performing OUSD school is akin to rearranging the deck chairs. If you place very different standards on the school (conduct and academics) than are currently expected, I think you’d see a much different outcome.

    And, by the way, Lincoln (the elementary school in Chinatown) was just named a California Distinguished School (along with Hillcrest and Think College Now) and OUSD certainly trumpeted that fact, including in a press release that certainly focused more on Lincoln and Think College Now than on Hillcrest. So I don’t think that OUSD is somehow trying to minimize Lincoln’s laudatory achievements.

  • oakie

    I am glad to hear that Lincoln is getting recognition (and didn’t actually mean to imply they were hiding the school’s performance, just that there is a tendency to look under the wrong rock for solutions). My point is that it’s the low expectations that’s the source of the failure of the system. As to charter schools, I know we don’t agree (I agree with Deng Xiao Ping who said “Black cat, white cat: it only matters who catches mice.”) I wonder if, when you say “changing CMS into a radically different high-performing….” that’s presuming the result and I don’t see making that assumption. IS it possible to take the existing student body and start holding them to a high standard of behavior, including when off campus until they have returned to their homes? The Education Code specifies that is the clear responsibility of the school. Why would we want to remove any existing students unless they were not meeting this standard? Isn’t it true that any change to the student population (except, specifically for not adhering to a high standard of behavior) is throwing away these kids for the purpose of appearing successful at their expense? I’m not joking: just straight inquiry. Really want to know.

  • Mr. G


    As a supporter of charter schools, I must ask you to stop giving Caroline this valuable information about “stringent conduct requirements.” You see, she is an opponent of charters, which are succeeding, in large part, because some of them actually manage discipline problems effectively. She thinks charters just cherry pick. She thinks they get the kids who are well behaved, motivated, and have involved parents. She thinks that it is just the entrance requirements. My concern is, if she comes to realize that it is well beyond this, it could have dire consequences. If she realizes that the most successful charters actually change the behavior of students who have discipline problems, she may learn the way to make traditional public schools in Oakland more viable. This would hurt charters. So, please, just keep it a secret.

    What are you going to do next, provide her information about how you have to set high expectations and hold the kids to them, regardless of color, income, or any other excuses they can think of? It really is unreasonable for you to give away all the secrets at once.

    I’m just thankful that no one in a position to change the system would believe what you’re saying anyway.

  • Caroline

    Well, it’s no secret how the KIPP school in Oakland achieves good behavior, since it gets rid of a very large percentage of its students between 5th grade and 8th.

    If you just dump the troublesome kids on other schools, you will undeniably have a much more orderly school! (Perhaps KIPP is dumping them into CMS?)

    From the http://www.sfschools.org blog:

    Here are the figures for KIPP Bridge’s class that finished 8th grade in 2006:
    Total enrollment, all demographics:
    87 students started 5th grade in 02-03;
    60 continued to 6th grade in 03-04;
    50 continued to 7th grade in 04-05;
    36 continued to 8th grade in 05-06.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: Those are fall statistics, so we don’t know how many actually finished 8th grade and were promoted to high school.

    Similar pattern for the class that is to finish 8th grade in 2007:
    82 started 5th grade in 03-04;
    78 continued to 6th grade in 04-05;
    47 continued to 7th grade in 05-06;
    number who finished 8th grade unknown.

    African-American boys:
    35 started 5th grade in 02-03;
    19 continued to 6th grade in 03-04;
    15 continued to 7th grade in 04-05;
    8 continued to 8th grade in 05-06.
    Again, those are fall figures, so we don’t know how many finished 8th grade and were promoted to high school. This means 77% of the African-American boys who started at this KIPP school either left or were retained to repeat a grade (this is unknowable unless KIPP chooses to tell us) by the FALL of 8th grade. We also don’t know, unless KIPP chooses to tell us, how many of those eight finished 8th grade and went on to high school.

    38 started 5th grade in 03-04;
    31 continued to 6th grade in 04-05;
    17 continued to 7th grade in 05-06.

    African-American girls:

    38 started 5th grade in 02-03;
    30 continuted to 6th in 03-04;
    22 continued to 7th in 04-05;
    15 continued to 8th in 05-06;
    number who finished 8th grade unknown.

    31 started 5th grade in 03-04;
    33 were in 6th grade in 04-05 (this bump could reflect some retained from the grade ahead to repeat 6th, or newcomers);
    17 continued to 7th grade in 05-06.

    As an amateur doing this on my own unpaid time, I haven’t researched attrition for non-KIPP schools serving comparable demographics. Boatloads of money have been poured into studying KIPP schools (too bad some of those megabucks couldn’t pay to fix the leaky roof). One would presume that some of that money would pay for someone to do those comparisons. If so, I haven’t seen the results anywhere.

    KIPP supporters have defended this attrition by pointing out that low-income families often have unstable living situations and move frequently, a sadly valid point. But it’s not clear why 56 percent of African-American girls would move away as compared with 77 percent of African-American boys.

    To point out the obvious: any school that loses 77 percent of its most academically challenged subgroup, its true target students, is not solving the problems of public education. And any school that could keep 23 percent of a subgroup and disappear the rest could easily see that subgroup’s achievement soar, no matter what pedagogical methods it used.

  • oakie

    Holey moley. I had no idea what I was stepping into (a minefield). I just googled Kipp Oakland and found Kate Murphy’s (!) 2006 story about KIPP Bridge. It reminds me of some 17th Century war between the Catholics and the Protestants. I wonder if I have a dog in this fight. As to these statistics for 02-06, the sole metric you’re showing is attrition. I’m not sure how to deal with this: is this the only way to judge the success or failure of the experiment? As a parent, I was fortunate to be able to walk away from OUSD, but for a parent stuck in this system without an escape, isn’t that parent better off if they can choose to put their kid in KIPP or not? How is giving the parent a choice deleterious for that parent to (presumably) provide their kid the best option? If my kid kept to the behavior standard (as I would consider my responsibility to make sure), won’t my kid get a better education than if she’s in a school, like CMS, where they obviously do not keep to that standard? If the argument is that KIPP takes away funds for non-KIPP students, well, the entire system is clearly failing and enrollment is dropping dramatically–and it’s the failure of the school to perform that is the fundamental cause of dropping budgets (mathematically, as in ADA), not the existence of an alternative for the students. If the arguments is ‘what do we do with all those kids that don’t behave to the standard,’ the answer will have to be that those kids need a very different environment to succeed (and why should my child pay the price of NOT removing them from a school with a high behavior standard). Always, competition will lead to better performance of the providers of the service. Fundamentally: this is a service, provided to the parents, to education their kids. I believe it is the essential responsibility of the parent (as the consumer of educational services) to ensure the best for their kid. The state will never do that job for me. And I respect every parent, whatever their economic status, to be capable of doing the same. Being poor does not mean you are stupid or indifferent to providing what’s best for your kid.

  • Mr. G


    Oh yes, retaining underperforming students is a terrible idea. Just pass them on and let them be someone else’s problem. Don’t do what I imagine KIPP does. Don’t tell them they need to spend another year learning the material. Let the kids and parents complain, then ultimately leave to a traditional public school that is perfectly happy promoting them along to higher grades(as long as they get the ADA!).

    I would buy a copy of Atlas Shrugged for everyone on the school board if I thought they would read it. Instead, I’ll accept that they will continue catering to the lowest common denominator, and I’ll find a way to be part of the solution.

  • oakie

    It bugged me that I couldn’t really grasp the argument Caroline was making with her statistics, criticizing KIPP Bridge.

    “Well, it’s no secret how the KIPP school in Oakland achieves good behavior, since it gets rid of a very large percentage of its students between 5th grade and 8th.

    If you just dump the troublesome kids on other schools, you will undeniably have a much more orderly school! (Perhaps KIPP is dumping them into CMS?)”

    Gosh, my original argument about CMS is that they should do what, apparently, you are implying KIPP Bridge does (with apparent indignation). Is that so? My take on all those kids I see out on College Avenue is that most of them are good kids that are just lost because they are not held to any standard. No doubt the ones demonstrating thuggish behavior, like smashing car windows, are clearly in need of removal to something very different. What is necessary for them is not what I want for my child. But, so what? Their behavior is dictating that they must be removed. Maybe you are implying that of the CMS student population, if they are kept to a high standard, like KIPP, that, like at KIPP, 70% of them would have to be removed. Do you believe so? But even if that is so, why shouldn’t we do that anyway? I’d much rather have the remaining 30% who are behaving right to have an opportunity to have an enriching school environment in a good neighborhood like Rockridge, where the residents are not unhappy to have them there (unless you think Rockridge residents dislike them for other reasons than their behavior…..). It has always been my supposition that Rockridge would in no way object to CMS if the behavior of the students was appropriate.