Tragedy on the schools beat

I subscribe to an email group in which education reporters from around the country share their knowledge of topics typically associated with schools coverage: academic programs, policies, research reports, school finances, testing and No Child Left Behind.

On days like today, it feels like I should have a different job title.

This morning, I met with the family of a Josue Lopez-Gil, a 13-year-old middle school student at Roots Academy  who was shot and killed last night — possibly, by another 13-year-old boy.

Police say the 13-year-old boy they arrested told them he also went to Roots, a new, small school on the Havenscourt campus.

Police also said there appeared to have been gang overtones.

Troy Flint, the Oakland school district spokesman, said he was told that many staff members at Roots reached out to Josue, an at-risk student who was often truant, and that they regularly met with his family.

Josue’s family also said they spent a lot of time at the school, but that they felt that their son was written off as a troublemaker. They also said Josue didn’t feel safe, and that he planned to attend a different school in the fall.

“He had this fear in his eyes,” said his sister, Yohaira Gil, 19.

courtesy photo

Katy Murphy

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

  • harlemmoon

    Tragic indeed.
    We stand to lose an entire generation to senseless street violence
    I do hope we see this sad incident not solely as a school issue, but one with implications for the police, social services and other agencies in place to help avert such devastating incidents.

  • Nextset

    This is happening a lot – sometimes with other than fatal results. This one was fatal.

    Good parents have awareness of the society their children are moving in. When the child(ren)start moving into drug or gang culture it’s time to take dramatic action. Maybe sending them away to live elsewhere if possible, moving away, something severe. Certainly a major change. Carroll O’Connor made a public service commercial saying “get between your kid and drugs anyway you can” after the drug-related suicide of his adult son.

    I know a paralegal who lived in a city and became alarmed at the situation with her children and their schools. Race was part of it. She and her husband moved to a rural area of her county while keeping their city jobs. End of that problem. The kiddies are still at-risk, they have now (years later) basically been put out of the normal schools into special programs (ie homeschooling/special ed, etc). But they aren’t likely to be shot or beaten up. DUI fatality maybe.

    The families do what they have to do I suppose, to try to contain their risks. Some people refuse to budge at all when faced with mounting risk. Kids with 13 or 14 symbols tattooed on their hands is a really bad sign…

    If the kids get gang involved I advise loading up on life insurance. It’s a good investment. Health Insurance also (at least major medical). Just don’t spend anything on bail, that’s a bad investment.

  • Nextset

    Harlemmoon: With most of these gang kids you can’t save them, let them go. The schools are in no position to chase after people who rush to their destruction. Leave them for the police, juvenile courts, and the morgue. The schools need to concentrate on those who are present and trying, and get rid of those who are truant and delinquent. Failing to do so risks spreading the rot to the rest of the barrel. One of the problems with the urban schools is that they spread rot around until their students are all tainted by it.

    Create an academic program that selects out bad apples, cull them and send them to their own programs. Run the normal schools for kids that will work within the bounds. Spare them from these people.

  • Concern parent

    I have a child going to this school and he is not associated with any gangs, in fact he is an A student and I think schools are not responsible for the kids after school, that’s why they have parents and we need to get involved in all their lifes, even if it is the smallest problem, we need to communicate with our children, have a lot of trust in the relationship, and be aware of the people they hang out with. It’s not only being at school when our children are in trouble but be there when they need help or need a congratulations. I can say that Roots is a great school and the administration is very responsible. We can’t blame the school for our mistakes, the school is not going to change the behavior of a child, WE AS PARENTS need to get involved in our childrens life. Teachers have around 25 to 30 students to care for and they do such a great job, we can’t go on blame them for this behavior on kids. I feel deeply saddened for this horrific incident, as well as my child he is very scared and concern, but he feels safe in school, his concern is in the streets, that’s why being a middle school student, he is not in the streets alone at night, we need to be responsible for our children and we need to be strong with the discipline, this incident did not happen in the school it happen in a street and at night time, why blaming a school? Let’s look for a solution do not dump our responsability in a school. My son will keep going to this great school and I know that he will continue to have great scores because he has me and a big team to back him up at Roots International Academy.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com Sharon

    Last year I attended an excellent Gang Awareness Workshop given by members of California Youth Outreach and its founder, Pastor Tony Ortiz in the gymnasium of St. Anthony’s Church. I believe this type of workshop needs to be given at our public middle schools on a regular and annual basis. High school is too late.

    I wrote a summary of the very useful information which was presented and posted it @ http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2008/04/gang-awareness-workshop-commentary-and.html

    Much, much more word needs to be given to OUSD parents which teaches them about the signs that their children are interested in gangs. It won’t help in every situation, but it would most definitely help with some.

  • Chauncey

    Where are the parents? All I heard were complaints and gripes by the family. Its sad that this had to happen to a boy who was innocent. Yes-innocent because he was doing what any kid would do at his age which is to push the limits of authority to see how far he could go. How many times did he exhibit signs and get away with it? These things do not just happen over night. He developed into his roile as the other kids do as well.

    I spoke and visited with my neighbor, who is a 2nd generation latino immigrant who said that parents, not all, but many first generation let the kids, especially the boys, just be. Often , he said, they blame the schools.

    Instead of parent invlovement in the schools- these parents should hold the fort while the kids are at home. The kid was truant- where was he? Did they sit him down? I dont mean to kick anyone while down- especially while in the midst of a tragedy- but as a father of black adolescents in this At Risk Haven, I need to press.

    All kids in Oakland are at risk due to the ignorance and tolerance for stupidity from alls behalf. If you have teens in Oakland, see where they go. Who are they with? Dont tolerate ignorance.

    If your kids are in a good school, stay and dont give in to what they want! Good schools are usually hated by kids- such is the case with mine!

    Too bad for this kid- unfortunately- many more will follow.

  • Nextset

    Another thought. Many of the children dying by gunfire and trauma have undiagnosed mental problems – with family histories. Any of you ever worked in juvenile courts? Take a look at the mortality rates for CA CYA detainees – a remarkable percentage of them are dead by 30.

    It’s not mistreatment that’s getting them killed, it’s conduct disorders with secondary addiction problems. Think of it as evolution in action. Sometimes the deaths occur before they can reproduce.

    The public schools are where the conduct disordered kids are as a rule. The public school teachers have to deal with them. Truancy is a relief because CD kids are disruptive – often extremely so. As they age towards age 18 they are often dangerous. Such kids have no place in a normal public school – we need them to leave on their own if the school won’t expell them.

    Some CD kids get themselves killed before they can kill others. Don’t use the phrase “senseless killings” – believe me, the killing made sense to someone. And that’s life in the big city.

    Brave New World.

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com former oakland teacher

    I knew this kid. I am a teacher and I knew him when he was in elementary school and I saw him on Sunday. He was a sweet, funny, intelligent kid who was having a ton of problems in school and wanted to turn that around and go to college to get out of the ghetto. He wasn’t at risk of killing anyone else.

    Don’t assume that because he was a victim, he was in a gang or not worth as much as a straight-A student.

    I also know the kids who were with him when he died. The OPD took them to the suspects’ house to identify them, without any regard for the witnesses’ safety. Then they took them (all minors) to the police station for four-plus hours without being able to talk to their parents. The kids are traumatized, grieving, and scared for their own lives.

  • Nextset

    Former Oakland teacher: My comments are without any knowledge of this particular kid and family – but I do know the syndrome well enough though. Juvenile court is full of psychopathic adolescent males who are on the way to terrible lives of crime and lots of victims.. And they like to attack each other and each other’s friends and hangers on.

    Please post us with how the stories go on this.. how the friends, families and neighbors fare.

    I will still say that the “turn that around and go to college to get out of the ghetto” line is bunk. Kids in these situations are not college material to the extreme.. they typically aren’t high school material either. Lightning does not come out of the sky and strike people down at random – much. People who get themselves dead at an early age are normally in various high-risk groups and the odds caught up with them.

    When you talk to the high-risk crowd or their mothers, they insist that they are “special” and the risk factors – some of which are even on actuarial charts nowadays – don’t apply to them. Well they do. How many of these factors just might apply here:

    Separation from bio father? School truant? post pubescent under 18, police history? juvenile court history? bad zip code/ghetto dweller? Out after hours? Older male companions? Criminal Companions? Gang affilliated? Gang Tattooed? Gang Apparrel? Conduct Disordered? Familiy History of institutionalization (prison or nuthouse)?, substance abuser-trafficer/family history or substance abuse-trafficing? Habit of carrying armaments? Automobile use? Sexually active/promiscuous? Other risk factors for early teen male?

    Add up the factors and tell me what he was at risk of. Maybe not “turning it around and going to college”. I hear these delusional lies all the time from the defendants, their friends and families. You want to see them survive but I’m not issuing the life insurance policy on this.

    As far as the police investigation – so what? Police services are in business to solve murders and that normally is unpleasant and exposes witnesses to danger. That’s life, and another reason to keep your kids off the streets at night and out of harms way.

    Too bad about this sort of thing. All I can say is that I want it out of my (normal) public schools completely. So I suggest we don’t chase these kids down and beg them to return to the normal public schools. If they are delinquent they should be expelled or transferred out fast to keep the normal kids safe.

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com former oakland teacher

    I am not this kid’s mom, but I knew him. He was following steps to turn his life around. He took care of his nieces when his sister was at school. He gave his fourth grade teacher perfume that he bought with his money because his parents wouldn’t help him. Just because someone’s parents may be less than ideal and not enforce rules does not mean the kid is hopeless or a bad person.

    By the way, I have several former students who were in this kind of life and severely “at-risk” and DID turn it around. Straight A’s even though no one in their family ever finished school. Summers at college while still in high school even though their whole family had drug problems. Sure, there are some psychopathic kids. That’s not most of them. Most of them are wonderful, normal kids who have the disadvantage of growing up in a horrible place.

    Maybe you know different kids than I do – I don’t know your experience or credentials. But I’ve been in East Oakland for 10 years – teaching for 8 of them – and I don’t come from this environment. I have seen kids fail spectacularly and kids who have all the same factors working against them and manage to shine in spite of everything.

    The two kids who were with him? One of them was flunking out of school last year and turned it around to a B average this year. He got a second chance from a public school and took advantage of it – he’s like a whole different kid. The other is a straight A student and athlete. Yes, they live in the ghetto. No, they’re not involved in gangs or drugs. They were walking their friend home at 10 pm.

    And about the police – that you say “so what?” to? Minors are legally allowed to talk to their parents if they are being held – even if they are suspects. These kids were not suspects. The police exposed them to the suspects and put them in danger. They also failed to inform them of their rights as witnesses and people in the line of fire. I, and another former teacher, have been tracking down phone numbers and resources for the survivors and finally got ahold of the Victim and Witness Assistance Office. They gave me a lot of resources and information, which the police were supposed to give to the kids’ families and failed to.

    This sort of attitude of writing kids off is exactly what is perpetuating the problem. If you have never actually worked with these kids and tried to help them turn things around, you will never see that they can. I suggest you stop blaming the victims and put your time to good use helping solve the problems.

  • Nextset

    Former: Your additional info helps everybody understand more.

    I am not writing off kids. I am protective of the kids who have a chance to do better in society. I am less protective of the damaged-goods kids in that light, but If the at-risk kids were handled in at-risk programs and not in standard schools I think they’d have better chances to make it in the world.

    And as far as psychopathic goes, that trait can be a real advantage in the word with some training and discipline. At 13 everyone needs a program. They just don’t need to be in the same campus.

    And let me remind you, our immigrant families live smack dab in the middle of this horrible place you describe and some/more of them wind up like Sonia Sottomeyor – or my law clerks. I’ve known some people who went from Ghetto to University. There is a big difference, they were never delinquent.

    I strongly suspect you are using minimized facts about what happened here – all the signs are pretty familiar. Even that “walking the friend home at 10pm” story.

    It doesn’t matter if the kid was “bad” or “good”. I have known evil A students and saintly D students. The trouble I refer to is disfunctional students and the utter unwillingness of the urban public schools to separate them from the rest of the herd. So you have chaos in the schools, the grounds, the parking lots and in the student society as a whole.

    As far as this lost boy – well, somebody had a reason to hurt him that made sense to them at the time.

    And exactly where is/was his father?

    People get hurt largely because they don’t manage their risks. These risk factors are pretty well known. I want the risks managed in the public schools also. Just like they are in the private schools.

  • http://www.brokensaints.wordpress.com me

    Nextset –

    We are all damaged goods. All of us. In some way.

    What is your point in saying: As far as this lost boy – well, somebody had a reason to hurt him that made sense to them at the time.

    Who knows what that was? That is no reflection on who the kid was. If it was a white kid in the hills shot for “no reason,” I doubt anyone would be writing him off as “that’s what happens when you walk home at 10 pm.”

    Also, what relevance is his father? Plenty of people grow up fine without fathers – look at our President.

    Sometimes people get hurt because they are innocent victims. If this was your child, I doubt you’d be saying “People get hurt because they don’t manage their risks.”

    This kid was someone’s child. Have some compassion.

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com Former Oakland Teacher

    Nextset –

    I think you are indeed writing off kids. Someone’s socioeconomic status, race, or neighborhood does not decide if they will succeed. I have family members who grew up in the best neighborhoods in Marin and went to the best private schools and ended up homeless. I know kids (as I have said) who are from the ghetto and are straight-A students and GOOD KIDS.

    As for the minimized facts – well, I have the newpaper facts and eyewitnesses who I have known for years and know their character. Do you have additional information you’d like to share with us or are you just guessing? The kid I have known the longest does not lie to me – he tells the brutal honest truth even when it makes him look very, very bad.

    Also, I’ve talked to the detective in charge of the case. That’s the story. I’m sorry there isn’t moer of a plot to it to fit what you expect, but that’s the truth. Also, this is not the first time an innocent kid has been shot in Oakland. We’d all like for only the “bad” people to get shot but it doesn’t work that way.

    You’re right in saying that these kids need special help that they’re not getting. But how does that make kids bad?

    Also, you say: And let me remind you, our immigrant families live smack dab in the middle of this horrible place you describe and some/more of them wind up like Sonia Sottomeyor – or my law clerks. I’ve known some people who went from Ghetto to University. There is a big difference, they were never delinquent.

    What? First of all, all of the kids involved were immigrants. So your point is moot. Also, the straight-A student who witnessed the killing (and barely missed being shot) has never been delinquent (why are you assuming she has?) Ever. This was the latest she’s ever been walking at night and her mom was pretty upset over that because she’s a great parent. One of the other kids was across the street from his house. Not selling drugs on the corner. I’ve walked across the street from my house at night before. Doesn’t mean I should be getting shot at.

    I’ll stop reading the comments now because it is infuriating to see that someone could have so little compassion for children who were the victims of violent crimes. Sure, some kids get shot because they’re in gangs. These didn’t. And I’m not sure why you want to argue the character of kids you don’t know and ignore the information of someone who knew and knows them.

    I hope other people reading this can take away that this was a tragedy and that this kid was worth just as much as our president’s children. He did nothing to deserve this and it is infuriating to read that anyone thinks he did.

  • Pepe

    This is indeed a tragedy–the academic performance and potential of this child do not take away from or add to that.

    While I often agree with Nextset’s focus on maintaining high expectations and not accepting excuses, he unfortunately tends to apply the limited world-view from his own experience growing up and his experience working with criminals in the courts to make exaggerated generalizations and force kids into one of 2 labeled groups. This is in spite of many accounts of people who actually have regular contact with the students in Oakland schools that contradict his assumptions.

    FOT, when something senseless like this happens, the majority of us in the Oakland community do grieve–we recognize that it is tragic. Do not let the extreme views of one person add to your grief. Thank you for sharing what you know about the life of this innocent child.

  • Nextset

    Former: Be infuriated. The shootings and stabbings will continue unabated.

    Your haste to state that the victims of these shootings are not important or are being written off because if race is telling. You protest too much.

    So I will repeat myself again. It is the duty of OUSD and the public schools to protect the non-delinquent kids from the delinquents. By protect I mean protect from the association.

    Children who are at high risk for violence and crime – by virtue of among other things their delinquency – need to be in educational/vocational programs on their own campuses designed for their needs.

    If you take from this that I condemn “these kids” as “bad” and not worth as much as Obama’s kids – you are overwrought, probably because of your contact with the family spoken of here.

    Delinquents may be so because of unfocused energy, creativity, and indiscipline. Some delinquents are a lot of fun to work with. Bad is your word. Different with issues is more like it. As in needing to be in a “Different” school.

    As far as what actually happened to Lopez-Gil, time will tell. Obviously somebody thought it was a good idea to shoot at him. Eventually we will probably learn what was going on. Maybe he was walking down the street minding his own business and was hit by a stray bullet. Anything’s possible, unlikely but possible. And that is his family’s business and the business of the Police, the Court’s and the City of Oakland. My point in discussing what happened to a stranger is that a lot of underclass youth wind up dead and these deaths follow risk charts. Somebody (schools?) should do a better job managing underclass youth – so that they wear better.

    And believe me, OUSD will never train underclass youth to take care of themselves. To do that they would have to abandon the “You’re going to college” nonsense for underclass kids and get real with the Voc training and life skills at 12 (6th grade) or so, which the UK does.

    In the US military, high scoring enlisted are selected by invitation to go to service academies or Officer Training School. Coming in as lower class doesn’t mean that you can never make the jump. In our education system we take the lower class and bore them to death in academic programs until they run for the doors and drop out, with no skills at all they can use to survive. I’d prefer our (lower class) schools get a secure base of basic skills and promote selected candidates to college track.

    I looked over your last post again… I just can’t help you with your thinking here. You walking your dog and not getting shot isn’t relevant to the teens issues. You aren’t them. I’m not arguing their characters – I don’t know them. I asked about what their risk factors are (by the way, where is/was Dear Old Dad??). You denied some things but gave us little info about the other factors. Understanding what issues the kids might have assists in understanding what issues surround the untimely death and perhaps predictability of problems with the decendent.

    And speaking of untimely death, this is a trauma death and at-risk kids I speak of have high risk for that. But have you looked at the risks of premature death by other causes (disease, etc) for minority youth? It’s an aside I know but I wonder if OUSD’s at-risk youth schools ever try to address health education – tell the minority kids that there risk for death, dismemberment, disease are sharply different than Ken and Barbie and therefore they’d better proceed differently with their risks in mind. (ie the ethnics are different not the same…) Doubt it.

    Sorry to run on. This isn’t personal. I don’t know this family and I don’t know you. I know death by trauma. I know the gun and knife club. I’ve been to some of these funerals. Minorities have been shooting each other at night in Oakland because somebody looked at somebody funny at least since I first heard of it in 1960. Some of the better stories involved BBQ and love triangles. Often the aggressors drive off unharmed and the bystanders wound up on the operating table. Old story.

    What is the solution for this? Better public schools expressly for the disfunctional Oakland Students. More male teachers for the boys. More Vocational Education and Teen-Labor programs to tie the underclass/working class boys to the adult male world of work. More Union programs. More residential (boarding) public schools like the one on Treasure Island for at-risk youth.

    Sorry if the dialog upset you. I go crazy for awhile when I spend time with the families and the investigations.

  • Chauncey

    The kid was out on a school night at 10 pm, as were the accused. Is this acceptable to you all? If you have kids and you say that this is okay- then your kids are at risk because of you!

    Where are the parents? He was scared- I would bet he had others scared as well.

    Nextset is right though, that college boun – expect success crap will not apply to all. What then? I do feel as if though some of these kids can be guided with some parent toughness and support system- but if these kids did have that, then they would not be at risk right?

    Parent involvement needs to be revisited. Instead of pushing the parents into the school- push them to the home.

  • http://www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com former oakland teacher

    Pepe –

    Thank you. You have wisdom and compassion.

  • Teacher for Equity


    It sounds like you lived your life through merely statistics and news bites. My father had a saying I’m sure you’ve heard of: “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before you judge them.” Have you ever volunteered in the innercity? Have you ever worked in a soup kitchen? Helped with an afterschool program? You sound as if you grew up with privilege and never had to leave it.

    This boy’s details are important, only to understand the larger problems we have as a society. How come African Americans are grossly overrepresented in jails? Can you say that it is merely from them all being in “bad” homes? If many are fatherless, why? More importantly, if society would truly support innercity youth, give them a fighting chance without having a deficit mentality for them, how upset would privileged adults be when they see that they actually have to work hard to get a job that everyone is qualified for and is equally valued?

  • Katy Murphy

    This might not have been clear in my story, so in case it wasn’t: Josue was Latino — his mom, and maybe his dad, was from El Salvador — and I believe his dad is (or was) very much in the picture.

  • Nextset

    Teacher for Equity (Socialism): Your comment is left wing nonsense. Society owes the underclass nothing. Your notion of privilege is delusion. The difference between the lower class and the upper class is one thing: the ability to think in terms of the future. Not money, not skin color.

    An elderly widow of a college instructor may be poor, but she isn’t lower class. A single mother lottery winner may be rich, but she is lower class (and usually can’t keep any money for long).

    While you provide excuses for the indigenous lower class to avoid changing and assuming responsibilities, people from India – 3rd generation with dirt floors – flood into the USA and become wealthy and use the public schools to do it. Ditto VietNam.

    And working in the courts is a lot like working in the soup kitchens. Same people. I have been around the lower class since I started working part time at 12 in Oakland. It is no mystery for me whatsoever, nor to social scientist who have been charting class behavior since WWI and before.

    Since you asked, AA are overrepresented in US jails because of an avg IQ a standard deviation below 100 (another way of putting it, a large block at 2 std dev below 100), combined with a diseugenic government welfare system that promotes single mother reproduction that drives all other behavior (matriarchy gives you rouge-elephant males). The large block of unsocialized lower IQ males are highly at risk for institutionialzation. And that wouldn’t produce the mess we have on our hands without the destructive public education the teaches indiscipline and blocks skill acquisition. The syndrome is no different that Indian Reservation problems because of unchecked alcoholism or any other social problem excerbated by nutrition, healthcare and habits that become medical issues.

    Breaking the cycle of unchecked aggression and prison is not a big problem. We did not have these problems generations ago because the single mother rate was lower and the public schools got the lower class into the labor force.

    Handing out “privileges” because someone has a reflection in a mirror makes things worse. No one is entitled to welfare, food without working, medical care because they exist, or anything from the labor of others because they need it/want it.

    So your notions of “support” are quite different than mine. For the health of the nation and society I believe in strong public schools. I do not support giving a crust of bread to people who won’t earn it. It seems to me that some people want to grow the underclass to provide power and position for themselves. Those politicians have had their way since the civil rights movement was hijacked – and I see no real care or concern for anyone in the American Socialists and Collectivists. They will have a police state as soon as they possibly can organize it that would make the Nazis envious.

    Your social justice movement cannot exist in a free society with strong controls on tax increases. Your social justice concept depends on confiscation of wealth from those who produce and police state controls on the thoughts, associations and speech of free people in order to keep the underclass going and government elites in limosines. Well the emperor has no clothes – you are rapidly coming to the end of your reach. The USA is about to move into superinflation (engendered by collectivist social policy). Watch what happens to your social controls when hoarding starts and government control is destroyed overnight. Think of an economic “Katrina” all around you.

    Pepe: Whatever happened to this boy is NOT senseless. That’s like a smoker complaining that her lung cancer is senseless. Get over that notion. Whatever happend here, it is highly likely that somebody made a decision to pull that trigger (as well as being armed at the time and place) for reasons that made sense to them at the time. We need to know more about those decision in this instance to really understand what happened to the decedent and what is happening in that neighborhood. Saying this is just another senseless killing is dismissive of the life and death on that street. Think of it as an autopsy. Autopsies are really important, so important that they are constantly required by law (unless attending physician certifies natural death of patient in care). Many families object, too bad, they have no say in the matter. Here society (in the agency of the police and courts) will “autopsy” this death by investigation to find out why and how he died. That information is aggregated and leads to new social policy. None of these killings are senseless, they happened for a reason and knowing the reasons establish risk factors which we can work with to try to avoid this in the future.

    Brave New World.

  • you too

    Ha! I had a feeling that this commenter would pull the Nazis into it. Check out Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies:


    Very predictable.

    That’s the first thing that makes me feel better about this discussion – that between the Nazi comparison and the ridiculous assertion that African Americans have below average intelligence, I can completely write off what this person has to say.

    (also, anyone who is saying that another ethnic group has low intelligence should check their spelling so that it’s not just horribly ironic)

    As my father always said, “Never argue with a drunk or a fool.”

    My prayers go out to this child’s family.

  • Nextset

    You Too: Check your wording. It’s not said that AA have lower intelligence – there are brights and dulls within each ethnic group. What is said is that the AA IQ distribution for whatever reason currently gives us a large block of the dulls, bringing the average down.

    Now if you can’t handle that, reality bites. We could say the same thing about alcoholism and Native Indians or Irish. Or Diabetes rates for blacks, or any number of attributes for any number of ethnic groups. Different groups have different height averages and distributions, different average onset of puberty age, the list is endless. Yes ratio of brights and dulls differ in different ethnic groups. And this is news?

    So why do we have the AA prison incarceration rate? It sure isn’t racism. Differences in behavior are driven by physical differences to some extent. Aggression, risk taking, bus driving skill, whatever. People are different, they are the same before the law, not elsewhere.

    If you don’t like the reality – work it differently.

  • you too

    can someone “disemvowel” this guy?


  • Nextset

    You Too: Maybe you’re correct about the Nazi comparison. The proper one would have been to Stalin’s Soviet Union. They were treaty partners with the Nazis and had similar ideas about the power of the state to command speech, thought and the economy. The results were ultimately the same, overreaching and collapse. Ever thus to Socialism.

  • you too

    no, seriously, can we get this guy banned or disemvoweled? How is a story about a tragic death of a kid the right platform for some idiot sharing his McCarthyist white supremacist feelings?

    Although I did get a laugh at:

    matriarchy gives you rouge-elephant males

    really? I’m supposing you mean “rogue” but I’m having a great time imagining elephants with rouge on.

    Take your elephants and go home.

  • Mr. G

    I’m pretty sure that Nextset can take care of himself, but two things strike me about this.

    First, Nextset is black. As a black man, I suppose he could be a white supremacist, but it would take some doing.

    Second, even if you don’t agree with him, it is short-sighted and foolish to recommend censoring him. I might not agree with what he has to say, but I’d give up all I’ve got to defend his right to say it. That used to be where liberalism and patriotism came together. I’m not so sure that’s true anymore.

    I hope his family doesn’t read all of this nonsense, because to them, he was a good boy. Far be it from anyone to ruin the only thing they have left – their memory of him.

  • you too

    Where does Nextset say he is black?

  • http://www.examiner.com/x-356-SF-Education-Examiner Caroline

    Nextset is a regular commenter on this blog, and he has frequently identified himself as African-American.

  • Small Town Kid

    You Too –

    This has always been a forum where people can express their opinions within the guidelines set by Katy and IBA. Some of Nextset’s opinions are unpopular and I don’t agree with some of them, but I don’t see anything that he is written that would violate them. I’m sure Katy would step in if she felt they did.

    Frankly, asking to have someone banned from a forum is more McCarthyite than anything Nextset has said on this subject. I prefer a free exchange of ideas.

  • Nextset

    Well I suppose these back and forths get everybody thinking. That’s the point. As far as the typos – I jump on the blog in the middle of other things and am in a hurry. This is not edited script – I try to slow it down but not always. So typos occur especially when late. I’m not overly concerned about it.

    Of course there will be calls for censorship. When we get into public discourse about policy such as education policy people expect their sacred cows to be protected. I can BBQ a sacred cow, I’m not observant.

    It’s hilarious that left wingers believe you have to be in their club if you are black. They obviously don’t get out much. Also, don’t think that because I may say something such as the IQ issue that I created the issue or are expecially comfortable with the way the numbers lie. Well, the numbers as you call them are all around us. NCLB mandates collection and publication of performance stats by race. These numbers are IQ proxies as are SAT and similar scores. Juvenile Court records and probation reports carry scores which are IQ proxies or overt IQ scores. The Military and the NFL use the scores for selection/placement/promotion.

    To the extent we see a ton of people with impairment of function and people without such problems, we have scores and averages which set the two groups apart. There are contentions that credit scores also reflect on the basic intelligence of the subjects. We’re getting off the topic of street violence only slightly. People involved in street crime as perps or victims tend (in groups) to have significant issues with Intelligence. It’s a risk factor.

    There are people with low scoring who raise and support a family (maybe not a large family) and stay out of trouble. The differences for them include better education programs, occupational training, and integration with the working world and the social support one gets from belonging to a workplace. We see even lower skilled immigrants following this model. We can do the same for our home-grown if we tried harder.

    When you are working in educational or social policy you want to teach people to identify and manage their risk factors. We take large numbers of people, say LA Unified’s or OUSD’s population, refuse to work with known and classic risk factors, dump all people into similar programs (such as requiring Algebra 2 for graduation?) and wonder why Jose/Otis doesn’t come to school anymore. We need a dull track as well as a bright track.

    People are different. Not good and bad (althought it may well play out that way) but to start out, just different. If we want out public school students to wear better we have to anticipate the problems that come with risk factors, including single mother household, including sex, including intelligence scoring – and provide school programs that keep the students involved and working towards self sufficiency. I don’t think OUSD is doing this, certainly not enough. It seems to me that OUSD wants one size to fit all.

    Then when these killings occur, as a defensive mechanism, educators say “senseless shooting”. No this is not senseless. it happened for a reason.

    I can shout the scoring numbers to the rooftops – it wont change a thing to these crybabies here. I’m only one person and sure I can use the scoring issue differently than someone else. So talk about it when the question is “Why are AA overrepresented in prison (or morgue).” Somebody else answer these questions. The racist thing is pretty childish especially when the context is minority on minority crime and the mean old white man has already moved to Brentwood.

    And in the Brave New World – the groups are self segregating. Remember that. If things go the way they have headed you will have very little social mobility. People will be born into a group, speak a different language, go to that group’s schools, housing, and occupations. People will marry/mate within their group, and the children will play only within theit own group. Think of the old British Class system but stronger. We are about to trash the public colleges now with the budget cuts. They are vital to social mobility in CA. The secondary schools are pretty well shot as an engine of social mobility (except for immigrants). It is bad for our society to reduce social mobility.

    And we argue here because some people can’t handle an open discussion of the mere existence of group differences by scoring (whatever the reason). Sad. As far as a call to ban the subject, the sad part is, No One (outside your points of view) wants to talk to you at all. It’s unusual that I’m even here having this exchange. I went to University level education. Among the intergenerational professional class that populates that level, these issues are a no-brainer. They are busy making money and taking care of their clan/group/class. Most people who are the “haves” would no more talk to those they identify as the other group than they would send their kids to your schools. And some of them are democrats.

    If this dialog annoys someone, maybe it’ll get them to think on these issues. And maybe they’ll think twice before claiming that all the bad results that happen to our schoolkids are “senseless”, “random”, “tragic” or other words that imply that somebody was just standing around and got hit by lightning. There is a reason why these things happen to the people they happen to. Our schools can do more for these at risk kids.

  • cranky teacher

    Internalized, self-directed racism [or sexism, homophobia, etc.] is a real phenomenon.

    Nextset’s eagerness to believe the worst about people who share his own skin color seems to me a pretty good example of that.

  • Nextset

    Cranky, you’re white, aren’t you? Tell us more.

  • aly

    i’ve been gone awhile, but i am amazed and disappointed in what has been written here.

    nextset: you continue to maintain that the other CHILD that shot josue “had a reason,” yet you also admit you’ve experienced oakland and know that looking at someone sideways can get you killed. these are kids that kill each other over possessions, words, looks… they are CHILDREN. i’m sure in their eyes they have a “reason,” but does that mean it was something worth dying over??? all of your criticisms seems more appropriately aimed at the 17 year old that provided his 13 year old brother with a gun. why is it so difficult for you to accept the account from FOT? your myopia here is saddening.

    as far as the police putting these child witnesses in danger, you better believe that is why people in this city hate the police. in case you don’t know, “snitches get stitches,” and until the police help protect people that CAN provide information, it will continue to be the dominant culture. so you sure ought to care because by exposing these poor kids who just lost their friend as people that are now “snitches,” you may as well have just lost them, too.

    this whole thing is tragic and i really cannot believe anyone would try to pin it on the young man in this case. if you have some time for a fresh perspective, nextset, i’d really like to recommend “fist, stick, knife, gun” by geoffrey canada. he runs the harlem children’s zone. i’m sure you’ll have a million bones to pick with it, but i want to believe that you are able to learn still, too.

  • Nextset

    Aly: Your problem is that you cannot separate your emotions from any kind of logical process. So you are going to be constantly unhappy.

    Life is not a matter of who you like. It doesn’t matter what you want. Good and Bad does not enter in legal/logical analysis, it’s how the rules are followed (Bad people win Lawsuits & criminal cases, Good people lose and properly so sometime.) Other people do not turn right or left because of your concerns. I know this is hard for you but you have to start to get it. When this fairytale world you and some of the others around here are living in falls down and goes boom you’re not going to make it if you can’t even see the way a brick falls.

    You (and other critics here) are clearly emotionally upset with me which presupposes that my opinions are important to you, that I owe you a duty to see the world your way, and you think I want things to be the way I say they are, therefore I must bear ill will. Sad..Sad for grown people to still think like a child.

    And you still hide behind the word “tragic” which connotes “random” as Tragic accident.

    In thinking about the “waking up dead in Oakland” syndrome I do acknowledge that people are actually killed in their beds (or shot at a piano) by gunfire coming through windows and walls from the feral thugs Oakland is populated with. And that’s too bad. really. Smart people no more live/work in Oakland than they vacation in Tijuana. Those that do are running calculated risks. I suppose that comment horrifies you also. In 2009 you haven’t noticed something called “white flight” and wondered why it exists? (That flight is actually multicultural. The syndrome is called white – as in there goes your tax base.)

    This post can go on but I need to get going and you should get my drift. In your 2nd paragraph you angrily imply that I am saying that there is reason that is “something worth dying over”. Are you this dense? Your angry post is typical of the “s*** happens” crowd. No. People let this s*** happen. Understand how people tick. Manage risk.

    As far as the cops go, a constant problem here. People have this fantasy that the Cops are here to protect them. They are not. Get that? Policy is controlled by governing panels and state law. It’s nice if you personally get some individual benefit from a DMV clerk, or a cop, or a judge. But they are not employed to benefit anybody individually. If you call 911 and they don’t show, you have no cause of action. Interaction with any branch of government, especially police services, can and will put you in all kinds of jeopardy if you aren’t managing your own issues. That doesn’t mean they don’t love you, or hate you. They have their own job to do, not your job. Here they are likely hell bent on identifying whoever did this before the hours tick away that statistically mean the case becomes unsolvable. (Some cities have policies now that if a suspect isn’t identified within a certain time limit after a murder that case goes on the back burner.) If you bother to learn how things work you can avoid disappointment. You are angry because you are disappointed. Are your expectations realistic?

    Your emotion directed towards me is beneath you. I’m just an individual bringing a point of view to the table. I owe you nothing and you owe me nothing. Reject all of part of my points and state your own points of view with your experience and training. You might be the more accurate point of view sometimes.

    This blog allows people who normally wouldn’t speak to each other exchange points of view for open response. It is valuable. I don’t live in Oakland any more. I uesd to. relatives still do. While I wish these terrible problems did not exist. I know that they are going to get much worse excerbated by Government policy at all levels. I suppose you live in the East Bay. Just what do you expect your city to be like in another generation based on the policies of OUSD and the East Bay authorities?

    Outsiders complaining about police procedure typically haven’t got a clue about what is normal or what was really going on. That’s not a big problem since nobody really cares what outsiders think anyway. Still it is wasteful that they are worked up and unhappy about something that has been and is not going to change. Too bad, So Sad. You could write a nice letter to the Police Chief asking if your understanding of the way the witnesses were handled is actually true and does it comply with the Chief’s approved procedure in such cases. If you don’t like the answers you can then copy everything to the Civil Grand Jury which is the watchdog of government. I rather suspect there is (as usual) a lot more to this story than will ever be publicly revealed at this point in time.

    This will not be the last “Tragic death”. They happen a lot in Oakland. There are good reasons why.

  • you too

    I’ll tell you why I’m advocating banning Nextset in this instance.

    I am all for a free exchange of ideas. I love debates. I love arguing with people who I disagree with. If these were comments on a post about schools’ budgets, leadership, or education policy, I would be all for this debate.

    However, this is about a child who died. These comments of Nextset’s, while appropriate in a debate, are cruel in this context. In addition, he seems to think he, and only he, has all the answers and all the reason. Another poster commented on the specific situation, with personal knowledge, and Nextset ignored all of those observations and kept harping on the lack of a father (even though Katy said the father was around) and how “immigrants” do fine in Oakland (even though Katy said the family was one of immigrants). Why bother arguing details when he obviously doesn’t actually know the details?

    Combined with the absurd statements about low intelligence in various ethnic groups (with no facts to back that up), and the Nazi and Stalinist comments, I think that Nextset’s rants are entirely inappropriate, misplaced, and cruel.

    In addition, childish retorts such as: Aly, you can’t separate emotions from logic so you’ll always be unhappy are, themselves, completely illogical. How would you know from a few paragraphs if someone is destined for happiness and why? And why would you assume that everyone complaining about the police procedure is an outsider?

    Like I said, I appreciate debate. But Nextset is no more accepting of anyone else’s opinion – even when they appear to have intimate knowledge of what happened – than others are to him. Combined with the totally inappropriateness of this being the forum to debate different racial intelligences and his way of bullying everyone who disagrees, and totally dominating the forum, I stand by my desire to see these comments moderated more effectively.

  • Nextset

    You Too: What are we going to do with you? Let’s see. You can’t suppress other people. Not in public discourse. Katy does set the limits here and I am trying to observe them. Other than that, if you can’t hack it in public discourse go somewhere and talk to people who always agree with you. That is if you have such a place.

    The difference between reality and your dreamworld is that reality bites. It’s the biting that keeps us nimble and moving forward in life. You want a happy refuge from the world. Well this isn’t it.

    And the sad thing is – in your life you have probably arranged things so that you do not ever hear a discouraging world. (Home on the range?) So whenever things get tough you are going to be angrier than you should be, feeling let down, betrayed, and just unable to cope. Meanwhile some people are going to already be out the emergency exits. With their kids.

    If your Rose Colored view of the world is so accurate you’d have no problems in public discourse making your case and defending your position. instead you call for cessation of debate because you feel somebody got their feeling hurt. Bwawwwhhhh!!

    You mention bullying, you protest too much. You don’t know what real bullying is including when you do it.

    I am not a sage, a researcher, or anyone that claims to have a line from the almighty. I’m just an individual who has been around and works in areas where I see a whole lot of people with problems, working through their problems. I also see a lot of people winning their way. Other people here are much more plugged into the day to day battles of education. My point of view is the life that the products of education live. Disagree with me. Inform me. But if you just don’t want to hear something – for example my take on people getting butchered in the streets of Oakland and people getting warehoused in the CA prisons – why are you even reading an educational blog in the first place?

    Tell us why you think the Oakland Murder victims are dying and other people are not? Why do you think the CA prisons are filled with Black products of the public schools in 2009 but not in 1959? And even if I don’t think racism explains the Black Diabetes rate or the HIV rate, or much of anything else, tell me I’m wrong and give all of us here some insights we can use to work other explanations for things.

    Lots of people, including me, are not happy with the decline of the products of the public schools we have seen since 1960. So we blog. I hope that policy changes but instead I see evolutionary changes away from Public Schools leaving most of those remaining in them chained to the bottom of the Brave New World (including the bulk of the black folks).

    And what’s you position in the world that you are the arbiter of who should be able to speak? Student, Teacher, Taxpayer, “Activist”?

  • Nextset

    Cranky: Your post #31 intrigued me. That “believe the worst” line.

    An experienced physician notes the race of his new patient at once. Then based on race she orders certain tests – Gloucose, HIV, STDs, Prostate PSA, whatever. In ER work they might suspect ceratin drug use based on experience in what is popular with different groups of people.

    A Public Defender dealing with a new client is well aware of what is going on by race, sex, age, etc. Certain questions are asked and answers taken with a grain of salt. You never ignore your experience and your references – regardless of what the subjects are not saying or saying. Not if you’re any good and you want to keep the client/patient from crashing.

    When it is prudent to do so you had better believe “the worst” or your work will end up being deficient compared to your peers in practice. especially when people’s lives and futures depend on your judgment.

    Now in education?? Let’s see. Why don’t we impose Algebra 2 as a new graduation requirement and just increase the hours of math training, because after all, with good enough teachers anybody will learn, right?? And since college grads tend to make more money we can just make everybody do a college bound track. If they have a problem, just increase the pressure, study time, teacher student ratio support and everybody will be the same.

    People are different. So it seems. I didn’t create this. I just want a sane education policy that doesn’t do harm.

  • Nextset

    Cranky: Do you admit the onset of puberty differs greatly by race, and that that puberty affects educational operations and performances?

  • Nextset

    Has everybody seen the 2008 Oakland Homicide map?


    There does not appear to be a significant number of schoolkids.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Response to “You Too”: Since Katie does not seem likely to censor people, I think the best we can do is to NOT respond under any circumstance to internet trolls. I do agree that to criticize/critique a family whose 13 year old was just shot and killed is cruel. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to be in their shoes.

  • Nextset

    Oakland Teacher: How do you read rhetorical questions about a shooting situation as criticism? Do you contend all this was aimed at them personally? Isn’t the truth here that you actually don’t want a dialog – you are (as usual for some teachers) mainly interested in political correctness and shocked – shocked! when you don’t get any. If my suspicions about this is correct this is exactly why OUSD kids are unprepared for life in college or industry. They are coddled and maybe so are you.

    I don’t address the family personally. They aren’t here taking public positions. I address the issue we discuss brought up by specific writers. If you don’t want a dialog, don’t make the statements calling for one. But as a teacher you probebly know that. This isn’t your classroom and you don’t control debate here. It’s public discourse. In public discourse you get the other side of the issue every time, even when that side is being raised to be dismissed.

    I can just imagine how you run a classroom, suppressing every avenue of an issue that doesn’t run to your approved resolution. And as I’ve noted, critics here really don’t know what cruel is, they are so busy crying wolf.

  • Nextset

    For those interested in Urban Murder, the Los Angeles Times has a blog that tracks all the LA Murders. It is highly detailed by race with some photos included.


  • you too

    To Oakland Teacher:

    Great point. Thanks.

  • aly

    the last thing i have to say about any of this, because nextset does seem unreasonably self-assured in his perception of things, is that the police oughtn’t use the slogan “to protect and serve” if they AREN’T here to protect us. i could have sworn that was their job.

    while i appreciate OPD has a difficult job to do in solving crimes, their methods may have turned one killing into three. the two young people that were exposed due to carelessness are likely living in fear now because people who matter know that they “snitched.” only time will tell, but if you want to live in a world without rose-colored glasses, then remember the whole ugly picture.

    finally, for what it’s worth, i’m a pretty happy girl who lives in east oakland. as much as you feel my emotion was beneath me, which i appreciate, i feel your immediate “blame the victim” approach was beneath YOU and that you have more sense than to use a public forum to blame a 13 year old for being killed.

  • Pingback: When little kids face big decisions - The Education Report - Reporter Katy Murphy’s blog on Oakland schools()

  • Nextset

    Aly: You will eventually learn to control your emotions so you don’t read other people incorrectly. Let’s try this again.

    No one is blaming a 13 year old boy for getting himself killed. I don’t blame a 5 year old for wandering behind a SUV that’s backing up and getting run over, either.


    MOST children who wind up on the mortality tables dead of unusual causes of death – do so because they were involved in high risk behavior. Too bad, So Sad. While I know nothing of this boy, Aly, we do have a problem with teens indulging in high risk behavior of all kinds and the “parents” or whoever is in charge of them failing to supervise and control the kid or to keep the kid in a reasonably safe and stable environment. And that’s generally why any particular kid winds up on the autopsy slab at 13 while Ken and Barbie in Piedmont are either home in bed, at school or at play minus the flying bullets.

    Now if you can’t read my dialog without falling into a frenzy that I have some kind of dislike of this poor dead kid personally, you are going to have a real problem taking higher education in a field where the chips have to fall where they may. And I expect and require you to deal with all this because things are about to get real bad in this Brave New World and you are going to have to toughen up.

    Now back to the Cops. I hate to shock you, but they are not your personal bodyguards. It’s nice if they provide service to your satisfaction but that’s optional. If you run your life to involve yourself in Police Affairs I can promise you that you will get hurt. The system is not going to protect you at the slightest cost to their primary goals. Never has, never will.

    I recently rebuked a store loss prevention employee for providing his home address to an officer arresting a criminal (gang member, etc) in the store. I reminded him that the police reports are handed over to the defense with all his personal info on it (nobody really sits around redacting all that info). Why did he give it out? Because the cop asked for it. He assumed they won’t “hurt” him or some such nonsense. He’s a good guy. Please… In the future only store address and phone to be used and the cops can pound salt. And no social security number are to be provided either.

    Cops do their job which in case you haven’t figured out doesn’t include being your personal bodyguard. That doesn’t mean they don’t like you it’s just that you are not a priority. The city is the priority.

  • Nextset

    Aly: Another thought on this. I think you are unhappy with the situation as I laid it out because you have been trained to think of all situations with yourself as the center of things. I’m not complaining, just pointing out your frame of reference. You don’t appraise a situation from the needs/perspective/goals of other people, in this case the homicide cops who are working on a deadline to break a case. You attribute your concerns/wishes for yourself or in this case the witnesses as a priority for all others. You take this for granted.

    That type of thinking will get you killed.

    You can get hurt in a hospital, in an encounter at a party, in a business transaction, talking with the government, in all aspects of life – if you don’t examine a situation or a proposed course of action from the perspective of everyone else. You (and others you project on) are not the center of other people’s universe.

    Once you get over this hump you will be more accurately be able to predict outcomes and consequences as you go through the days. right now you are probably being caught by “surprise” too often and you are getting angry too often, more angry at the outrage of disrespect than the actual issues as bad as they may be.

    I am not saying I want the witnesses hurt, I am saying that this situation is no surprise, happens all the time, is going to keep happening, and people really should be more careful in how they live their lives so they don’t have this happen to them. It doesn’t happen to me or my freinds. We arrange our lives so it doesn’t, and when trouble arrives that wasn’t forseen and avoided, we act minute to minute with no illusions about taking care of #1 and no concern about who is hurt in the process.

    And it’s not that I’m just older than you. My parents, grandparents and greatgrandparents were the ones that lived. More than a few stories were passed down. Our line has always had very sharp elbows and the Irish/Italian Nuns helped sharpen them here in CA.

    None of these stories here about bullets flying and isn’t it a shame can impress people from the old school. Those that lived learned how to stay out of trouble and manage their lives. And we all have guns too. But we don’t live in a war zone.

    The generation under me in the extended family is largely interracial and international. The “other” side of these kids families are very tough people also. The hybrid kids are going to be really formidible competitors. We still have to work on the sharing thing – I worry about too much self centeredness. I can’t yet imagine what they will be at my age.

    PS and as far as “Protecting the Public” just where was OPD when that Bakery Gang was allowed to exist for decades. As with the Black Panthers and other such criminal gangs, as long as they primarily victimized minorities (beatings, extortion, rapes, etc) they avoided being crushed. Remember this when you wonder why some people aren’t ebing “protected” and some are.

  • Pepe

    Nextset, maybe others would be more open to listening to your ideas if they weren’t prefaced by condescending judgment and packaged in a false sense of absolute truth. I’m not talking about hurting feelings–I’m talking about civil discourse. You often write in a style designed to make people react with emotion, and then you seemingly take pleasure in condemning them for that. The good insights you do have are over-shadowed by all of this other stuff you do. Your comment about Aly no being the center of other people’s universe made me laugh–don’t we all live in Nextset’s brave new universe?

    We should not call for people to be censored, but we also should not criticize individuals for their OPINIONS/FEELINGS. That is not dialogue. Attack the idea, not the person.

  • Nextset

    Pepe: Well said. I’m digesting it.

    It hurts to listen. It hurts more to be on the losing in on the Brave New World. I’m thinking about what your are saying. My problem is the daily dose of pain – other people’s pain – I wade through for a living.

    I have learned the hard way that talking gently and softly to other people as they recline on the railroad tracks sipping the margarita just doesn’t seem to get them off the tracks. Especially the teens and adolescents – they do not respond to or even remember gentle and kind words.

    And I see people go from having some problems to having desperate problems in a matter of months, although some take a year or two.

    So over much time I have not cultivated a kindler gentler approach. Neither have the others I hang with.

    While I haven’t been to an autopsy I read the reports on occasion. I read a lot of reports of people’s follies. I’ve had people sitting in my office talking about killing themselves so their families would at least have the insurance money. Lately I’m talking to people who’ve been laid off in their 50s too soon to draw retirement, no healthcare, supporting multiple adult kids living in their home. But I supposed that’s balanced by the friends who are doing just great, millionaires and well diversified and educated. I watched a man die once, his head was blown open from a bullet and his brains spattered. In a bar close to a friend’s house (I have told them they need to move for years, they don’t see the need). Nobody was ever caught or arrested on that – supposedly it came through the open door. It’s interesting to me it was just a “random” thing.

    So you see, from my point of view, the haves and the have nots are moving to opposite sides of the room pretty quick. So are their kids.

    And it’s much later than many people think. I don’t think that most people are as safe as they think they are. I believe that there is work to be done to get people more security. That process starts in grades 8-12. A whole lot of kids are missing the last train out of Berlin. If I was short with Aly it’s because she sounds like a typical victim shaking her fist at the world wondering why these things are happening instead of keeping herself clear of a falling rock because she “gets it” about these rock things. I’m not sure of her age but she should be sharper in this day and age. And I’m sure she goes through her days and her education without hearing anything of the sort that I point out. And that’s my concern about public education – the kids graduate utterly devoid of the things that well educated kids of the same age have been exposed to, including contrary points of view.

    You are right about not attacking the person. However the persons on occasions will have to check their own perspectives and I say so. I see Aly walking into beartraps if she doesn’t see the springs and jagged metal. That’s my point. I’m don’t always make it as smoothly as I want in the quick moments I jump in and out of the blog. I’ll try harder.

    As far as the condemation issue you raised, I can’t help you with that. I’m not sure you know what real condemnation is. Some of the younger readers here take everything personally even from a stranger who they will never meet. Get over it. Public discourse is not a walk in the park. Expressions of caution, rebuke, disapproval or whatever is not condemnation. If someone posts an entry claiming that something is wonderful they must expect some will say it is not. If someone writes that (in this case) the cops are blue meanies they sould anticipate that someone else might possibly say they did their jobs, you misunderstand their jobs. And all of us go to sleep with our own opinions, possibly tempered by results of trial balloons.

  • one more

    Pepe brings up an excellent point. It’s one thing to scare someone straight. It’s another to say things like:

    Aly: You will eventually learn to control your emotions so you don’t read other people incorrectly. Let’s try this again.

    That’s offensive and uncalled for. It also is what makes people stop reading what you write. As far as you know, Aly isn’t an at-risk teen about to join a gang and get killed. And, in fact, I’m not sure that sentence would make anyone listen to you. It would be nice if we could all state our opinions – which may offend, but I am fine with that – without the ad hominem attacks. I’ve worked with tough kids in the inner city. I’ve had to be very harsh with them. But there’s an art to when to be harsh/scare them straight and when to decide not to be offensive. I don’t think this forum is an appropriate place to condemn people as constantly being unhappy, as you did with Aly (from one comment, really, you can tell someone’s gong to constantly be unhappy?) or to call others’ opinions “delusions.”

    I am assuming that all commenters are adults and it seems that most (not all) can pull off expressing their opinion without condemning others or just being flat-out rude.

    You’re right in saying that “expressions of caution, rebuke, disapproval, or whatever is not condemnation.” If someone says “The Oakland cops suck” and someone else says “No, they work really hard,” that’s disagreement. If you say “You are deluded and you will never be happy because obviously you think you’re the center of the universe,” well, that’s just being mean with no justification.