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Another arson fire at Oakland elementary school

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 5:48 pm in buildings, elementary schools, investigations.

Sobrante Park Elementary School in East Oakland has been plagued by suspicious fires in the last couple of years. This time, a 10-year-old boy – a student who was suspended from the school — was arrested on suspicion of arson.

What a way to end the school year.

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  • Filly

    Do you know what kind of help they need to end the year well? How sad for that school and community!!!

  • Debora

    Katy:

    Are they going to have a clean up day? Do the teachers need books for their classroom libraries?

    To the teachers, aids, others who work with children at Sobrante Park Elementary School: Please let the community know what you need. We really want to help.

  • Katy Murphy

    I didn’t have a chance to call the office during school hours today, but a teacher I’ve been in contact with is checking to see about a supply replacement list and any other ways people can help.

    I’ll let you know — or maybe someone else from Sobrante Park will post something before then.

  • damion scott

    i used to go to that school and i remember the state of mind of the children that attended Sobrante park, these were children who have nothing and don’t want to get an education. I blame it on no home training but even that isn’t the root of the cause its the neighborhood that Sobrante is in. children need to be taught something must be done. people, Ask tough question to your congress. Do something or our inner city neighborhood will be burned to the ground, and the pity of it all is,we will be the one who burn it down.

  • harlemmoon

    Again, a tragic event occurs at a public school in Oakland.
    There’s an obvious pattern.
    Let’s not look away this time. Let’s not be so apologetic.
    Rather let’s address the pathetic parenting, inherent hopelessness of the community and “I couldn’t care less” posture of our brooding, languishing children.
    Next time, it may be more than a school being burned to ashes.

  • Nextset

    HArlemmoon: Maybe OUSD needs to have facilities that are more resistant to firebugs. Especially in areas where firebugs are a part of the landscape.

    Managing underclass populations is nothing new. The first thing OUSD and it’s staff need to do is stop expecting the underclass parent(s) to be anything other than – underclass. Stop expecting them to ever behave as middle class (even lower middle class). Stop talking to them like they are other than underclass. And run the underclass schools the way you need to run underclass schools.

    Everytime I hear a teacher complaining that the parent’s aren’t good enough I feel we have the wrong people teaching these kids. Do we need to fire the staff and replace them with returning military personnel? Stop expecting the underclass to ever be social equals of the school staff. Run the schools without expecting anything from the trash parents. Make sure you communicate to the students the way it’s going to be and that you (school and teachers) are not in business to please Mommy or Daddy. If they don’t like something – we don’t care. It’s not that they pay taxes anyway or even support their own kids. They don’t get a vote or even a voice in school affairs. At least not at the classroom level.

    The underclass kids must be told early and often that the public schools are their only ticket out. Unless Otis and Latifa, or Jose and Josefina (I’d mention Jethro and Betty but they moved to Pittsburg) want to end up behind bars, dead at 30 or in a homeless shelter, they had better get with the program at school and figure out how they are going to make it.

    And that includes turning in the firebugs. When something like this fire occurrs it’s important that the students must be made to suffer. If the school rushes in with such aid and comfort they don’t suffer from this fire there is no disincentive to police their own.

  • harlemmoon

    Nextset, is there no attempt to raise the lower/underclass from their ways? Surely, there is a way to “teach them to fish” so to speak. Along with our expectations, we must also give the lower/underclass the tools, resources for self-improvement.
    While I do agree that a more militaristic approach might be required. There are models that show that with consistent, reinforced high expectations, some do indeed meet the bar.
    Giving up on people must never be an option – as we’re only as good as the weakest link.

  • Nextset

    Harlemmoon – that is not true.

    Schools are not different that a hospital/ER/Mash Unit. There are some people who will do well no matter what the school fails in. There are some people who are just unfit for the school program and you can’t save/educate/change them. There are a lot of people in the middle who can be improved substantially by a good education program.

    The reason OUSD is so worthless is that it refuses to either triage or to fit the programs to the students and crams the one size fits all program into the students – mainly due to refusal to admit that people are very different.

    As a result, the elites flee to real schools, the dull students hang out and fail (drop out), and the middling students are dragged down by being in an uncompetitive and unchallenging environment that they are told is normal and is a real school. The atmosphere is undisciplined because the dull students (bottom half who stay?) would be extremely uncomfortable from the word go if OUSD started running like Piedmont. If OUSD ran a “no excuses” regime, can you imagine the uproar by the (bottom 50%) students and their “parents”?

    You can teach the 3 (or more) groups, but never in the same program. OUSD will not, for political reasons, maintain different school systems for the different social classes. They should.

    As far as being militaristic, remember my story about the Asian and Black Biology teachers in my (UC Berkeley-run) Oakland Tech summer school? They weren’t militaristic, they were glamorous. But if you missed 3 classes you were out, and if your scores dropped below a minimum level you were told (advised) to leave or be flunked out. No excuses, no hand wringing, no raised voices. And the seating was assigned and you didn’t talk out of turn either. My parents never once set foot in the place. They didn’t have to.

    There are special schools for the at-risk/dull/disordered/mentally ill etc kids. They need to go there. The rest of the kids need to be given what amounts to quotas & standards and culled when they don’t meet them. That’s how you get the kind of progress we need to have in public education. Along the way we need to have school nurses, we need to have counselors, social workers, security/police staff and the usual complement of school employees available to provide services to OUSD kids. This process is not a fun or stress-free as the OUSD classes I read about on this blog. We have entirely too much stress-free.

    Learning is not stress-free (for the student). And a good school doesn’t prattle on about how “wonderful” their 10th graders are when they do something they’re supposed to.

    And as far ad raising the underclass – well you can’t do that if you are required to respect their “culture”. The school must be ready willing and able to tell them (underclass youth) they are wrong and had better change – even if their parents won’t change. Change their manners, their language/speech, their morals, their mating habits, all of it. I don’t believe OUSD does this. It needs to do it. It the family doesn’t like the school’s dissaproval of their culture they should take the kids elsewhere or homeschool. Now as far as who is to judge what is good and what is bad – the people have spoken on a lot of things, let’s start with respect for the law of CA and the authority of the government, the school and adults. Much of the “bad culture” we speak of is already proscribed by the 29 statutory code books of this state. From there we move into hygiene, etc.

    OUSD is built for the needs of the lower class. It’s high time they met those needs. I’m not giving up on the students, but I think our urban schools gave up on them in the 1960s when they stopped enforcing standards so that people could get more comfortable.

  • Oakland Teacher

    Nextset: think Brown vs The Board of Education, Topeka 1954 when you talk about segregating students according to class, ability, or disability. The ruling has been widely interpreted numerous times to apply to just those factors; everyone should know that legally it applies to far more than race.

    While I do support self-selecting options like AP classes, what you are talking about is illegal, regardless of one’s personal opinion. I am surprised you would overlook a long-stood ruling by the Supreme Court.

    I do not think that every thread on this board needs to be interpreted as reinforcement of your dogma. Time to expand your vision! A 10 years old suspended student who lights a school on fire needed something other than a segregated classroom/school. I think we can assume the same thing may have happened regardless of how punitive his classroom setting.

  • Nextset

    Oakland Teacher: I disagree that Brown Vs Board today requires forced combining of students in classroom regardless of inability to do the work. I disagree that it prevents, say San Francisco Unified from setting up a High School (Lowell) where students face a set of standards that are calculated to keep non-performers out and to feed to Ivy League.

    “Educators” have used the Brown case to refuse to set and maintain standards in various programs and to allow entire districts to crash and burn. Brown doesn’t require this at all. Brown certainly didn’t create a problem for Oakland Tech/UC Berkeley’s Demonstration High Schoolo Summer Program from strictly imposing prerequisites on applicants for it’s classes or from flunking out anyone who has an attendance problem or can’t do the work. Yes this has a racially disparate result – at the moment at least. Racially disparate results are not a problem when objective standards are followed.

    As far as your 10 year old firebug – well this society is so busy not maintaining standards of any kind in places such as the schools that special needs kids – and neglected/abused kids – are not identified and provided services/referral up to and including institutionialization. Some of the bad behavior we ignore and accept as “culture”. What’s really going on here is the devaluation on people, especially blacks, who are not supposed to be held to any kind of objective standards because we don’t want to fight with them or their people.

    And the first people responsible for this abdication of responsibility are white liberals. There was a time when public school teachers looked and thought more like Bill Cosby, not Jane Fonda.

    The injection of my world view probably gets shrill. Can’t help that – the ongoing damage being done to people who only have a short number of years to learn the lifeskills to support themselves is pretty gross. The difference between the conduct of real schools and the ghetto schools is pretty stark. I am old enough to remember what things were like in public schools before this rot set it. My relatives taught in some of them – attended some of the all-black urban schools also before 1960. Maybe it’s just that my parents and all their friends were once in the Armed Services. Maybe we are just not used to (even now) the wholesale discarding of black children to thug culture.

    I often say that some people will be OK no matter what the government schools do because they are smart enough in their own society to take care of themselves. Some people tend to be much less so. The Public Schools are not here for the upper class. OUSD are similar schools are here to establish a floor below which the town’s kids should be falling below. That floor is underwater and the drop out kids were not serviced at all. The “graduates” of OUSD are not being sufficiently trained. OUSD needs to change it’s program – or the Charters will pick off so many there won’t be much of a school left. OUSD needs to out-Charter the Charters.

  • Catherine

    Are we implying that it is okay to turn a blind eye to bad parenting that harms children if the parents are low class economically? And, if we accept this because that is the way it is done aren’t we doomed to have another generation with no respect for basic societal norms?

    We seem to say, well at least they’re in class most of the time. It’s a start. And then when these men and women can’t read in high school, ill-equipped parents who have not made sure their sons and daughters were in school expect us to tutor them for two or three years to make of for 10 years of missed education.

    Since when did we decide that a low bar was better than a high one? Since when did it become okay to allow children to come onto school grounds if they are suspended – isn’t there an evening custodian? And, since when was it okay to suspend a student rather than making the child’s mother and father or guardian come and sit in the classroom with the child for all of the three days of “suspension?”

    Being a parent is a responsibility, it is not a fundamental right. There was a woman in the Central Valley who was offering teen girls $250 if they would go on long term birth control (IUD or Norplant) which provides birth control up to five years. She had a $10,000 fund of her own money to reduce teen parenthood, thus reducing the number of kids in the system. She had personally adopted 3 or 4 kids out of the system.

    As a tax payer, I would support an annual bonus to parents on financial assistance who got their kids to school on time every school day, no excuses. I understand the problems that most of the parents at Sobrante Park have with executive functioning – long term goals, able to research the steps needed to get their kids into college, able to plan their money over the entire month, making 7:30 dentist appointments so their children arrive on time to school at 8:30, but these are the requirements of a parent. Not just a good parent, but a parent. Also, the majority of the parents speak little or no English.

    I clearly understand that people come to America to find a better life. However, when you choose to live here, you must abide by the laws of the land. Those laws including getting your kids to school, ready to learn. If the parents can’t perform these tasks they need to attend parenting classes and ask for the education they need to become good parents, or be willing to let someone else raise their children while going on long term birth control to avoid having more children they are incapable of raising with societal norms.

    It is really frustrating to support schools and parents who are not invested in educating their current children while feeling they have the RIGHT to have more children they will not be able to care for either. When, as a society are we allowed to say “enough” to someone who is a bad parent?

  • Nextset

    Catherine: I believe the government promotes diseugenics – perhaps deliberately so. The way to get control of degenerate people reproducing is to simply stop supporting them (and let them and their kids die).

    But as far as the schools go, OUSD and the like are in no position to make over the parents. They are what they are. The schools must concentrate on the kids in the buildings. Those kids who are ready willing and able to do the work should be attended to in schools for them. Those kids who can’t/won’t do the work for whatever reason need to be in other schools where reasonable efforts are made to help them change. Reasonable efforts do not include spending double the amount of money on them, physical combat, or subjecting school staff to abuse or harm. We should do what we reasonably can to get the impaired kids into a job ladder and then wave them goodby.

    And stop worrying about fixing the families – at least in the typical public schools. Schools are not here to work on anyone other than the enrolled students. Parents who don’t speak English are not a problem. We dealt with that on a large scale a century ago.

  • Nextset

    I need to qualify the 1st paragraph of #12. As long as we allow the bad families to retain their kids, we need to stop supporting all of them and let the natural consequences flow. But at some point the (younger) kids are forcibly taken because the parents are deemed unfit. I believe that process should be streamlined and occur much faster – and once the unfit label has attached, later children should be removed automatically. But forced sterilization or coerced (money?) sterilization is called for and should be worked into our welfare programs.

    Virtually all the families I know undergo sterilization of one spouse when they reach their limit of children. I do not believe welfare recipients have any right to refuse it and still leech off the taxpayers. And I do not believe a child has a right to bear a child or to be sexually active. These are school policy issues to the extent that schoolchildren who do should not be allowed around the normal kids.

  • turner

    That’s cold, Nextset, but true. And nothing is needed more than the cold hard truth.

    turner

  • Filly

    Do they need anything at Sobrante Park? Will there be any community event? Are they holding summer school? So much energy spent on dissecting and reacting to events. It’d be great to spend it on positive action. Katy, did you find out if they need anything? I’ll try calling tomorrow.

  • Chauncey

    I read a recent blog where the writer wrote that legal residency should be tied to school attendance and performance. That is good, but what about the whites and my folks, the blacks.

    I like the thought and would love to see my people held to a similar standard but this is American land of the free and home of the excuse.

    Sobrante park was the schoole where parenst shoved the principal , a few years back, and the principal was almost fired for defending himself!

    There lies a huge proble.

    These parents ain going to get it for the most part, its all the luck of the kid.

    By the way, Black schools got worse after Brown vs Board of Ed. Blacks were tough on their own kind, whited devloped guilt . In actuality, the case gave birth to this tolerant acceptance, achivement Gap and aceptance of failure.

  • Lucia Alexandra Delgado

    Oakland is a VERY dangerous city,that now children are doing this?!?! Never going to this school! NEVER EVER! But this 10 year old parents’ could like this and the ones who should be arrested are this kid’s parents!! That is all I have to say.

  • Lucia Alexandra Delgado

    It is very sad that even a kid does this kind of thing!!! :(

  • Lucia Alexandra Delgado

    That kid NEEDS help.