Former Oakland school board member dies at 34

Jason HodgeJason Hodge, the youngest person to win a seat on the Oakland school board, died unexpectedly yesterday at age 34. His cause of death was unavailable.

Hodge, a 1992 Skyline High School graduate, was first elected to the board in 1996 at age 21 and served two terms. He later became the public information officer for Vallejo City Unified.

You can read the Tribune story about him here.

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nextset

    I shudder when I see such a report of premature death. Normally these stories occur privately and are not chronicled in a newspaper. There’s more of this going on than is commonly known I fear.

    The explanations are usually private. You wonder if it could have been avoided?

  • Oakland Teacher

    No, I don’t wonder if it could have been avoided.I instead think about how much integrity he showed during his time on the board, and how much potential Jason had. His death is a real loss for the community and a tragedy for his family.

  • Nextset

    Oakland Teacher: My point of view is different from the blogging educators because my work and the work of family and friends tend to be in crisis management. The people we touch are in the process of having a problem worked on, legal, medical, financial, whatever.

    Being black we pay attention to what’s happening to blacks especially since the presenting profiles are so stark. You can probably feel this in my posts. Having gone to largely all white schools I am well aware of what the norms are on white society – and I work with a lot of stats also. There is this Gap, you see, and the Gap is not stable. It is enlarging. And I’m not referring to the Gap on academic test scores. So I blog.

    Taking education and training is one of the biggest factors in controlling the Gap between blacks and mainstream society. Most blacks are not in the market for private schools. Public Schools are the last trains out of town. It would be nice if CA public schools did better by them.

    We really do not need out students to be fat, dumb and happy. The public and private schools I went to took real pleasure in preventing all three.

  • John

    freedom of speech is great.

    but i really doubt that nextset is African-American.

    yes, we are diverse people… but something tells me this guy is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing!”

  • Nextset

    John: I just love confronting True Believers with the facts they can’t reconcile into their fantasy world. It’s great fun.

    And as far are what race I am – how would you be fit to judge anyway? What is your background? What do you know of first generation CA blacks who were born from WWII black (military officer) migrants to CA who went to white schools? There are plenty of them in the Bay Area. Did you go to Jack and Jill? Do you have any University of CA background in competitive fields?

    Now you tell me what is the approved political positions for such people? Approved by who? And how old are you anyway? Any history in Economics and Economic History?

    Brave New World.

  • Nextset

    I note that the 12/10 new report indicates the cause of death for Mr. Hodge is inconclusive after autopsy and awaits tests. That usually means they need time for the toxicology reports to come in. He was a public figure so his sudden unexpected death is of public concern.

    So we would tend to take a look at the mortality tables for black males of his age. Hmmm. Wonder what it was.

    And I wonder can anything be done to change the quite different mortality table for black males as opposed to everybody else. Would decent public schools make a difference? Or is it just a matter of evolution in action that is not subject easy change. Goes to that issue of people being born different. Different expiration dates and such.

    One thing I know from experience. Health Care Issues are hugely different for the various races. The first thing recorded in a medical chart are the race and sex of the patient. That drives much of the health care issues the entire life of the patient.

    But we can’t see any such thing in education. Because in education we say all people are equal and in medicine we say absolutely not – because to do so might (prematurely) kill your patients. Hmmm

  • Gordon Danning

    Nextset: 1) Surely you can admit that, in an online forum such as this one, a person can readily claim to be something he is not. Whether your race is or is not relevant to the discussion at hand is, of course, a different question.

    2) It is REALLY too much to ask to wait for the toxicological results to come in before casting aspersions on Mr. Hodge? He might have been a drug abuser, as you imply, but people (yes, even young African American people) sometimes die suddenly for other reasons. I would have thought that someone who is as “old school” as you would have better manners. “Brave New World,” indeed.

  • Nextset

    G.D.: Hodge is an individual and whatever his individual problem may have been, it will likely come out in the wash. You are right about trying to avoid discussion of individual personal lives. I never knew him.

    My points about premature death stand. Lot of it going around. I hear too much the comments “how could this have happened” when it was happening right in front of the family, friends and hangers-on faces. On this event I went off on a constant nagging problem I work with.

    So to continue that thought – School years are when the seeds of disaster typically could have been detected. In my area the health dept tells me the typical HIV new Dx is a black female age 24 infected for 10 years. Don’t even ask the stats on the other diseases they also track. Does anyone know the current stats for Alameda Co? Then there’s the pediatric TB outbreak discovered through Oakland’s Children’s Hospital some years ago that got so out of hand the State of CA had to take over the Alameda Co TB Control program.

    How many Nurses does OUSD have on staff?

    Quite aside from the fate of Mr. Hodge, there is a lot of things the school district would do well to try to work on as they handle so many students grades 1-12. Try not to have graduated with notably shorter lifespans as well as notably lower reading scores.

    I am afraid that the urban schools are going to be known for markedly higher mortality rates, even 5, 10, 15 years out. To the extent this was avoidable the schools should discuss and try to do better on those rates.

  • Nextset

    Sorry, typo: 2nd to last paragraph “Try not to have graduates with…”