Gun violence takes another young life

Last Friday, I put what I thought would be the finishing touches on a story about all of the Oakland students who have been shot and killed since January 2009. But by Sunday morning, the piece was already one tragedy short of complete.

Eric Toscano, a Skyline High School senior who played on the football team, was celebrating his 18th birthday at home on Saturday night when bullets flew from a passing car. He died at Highland Hospital a few hours later, on Sunday morning. Three other teens were wounded. Toscano planned to go to college in the fall; his coach, Jamaal Kizziee, told me about the day he came by with news of his first acceptance letter.

The story was heartbreaking — and covering it, during a full-blown celebration of Oakland, was surreal: Waking up to news of the tragedy, a family in crisis, and then walking up Piedmont Avenue to catch Mile 2 of the Marathon. Cheering on friends and strangers as they approached Lake Merritt, amid an upwelling of Oakland pride, and then driving across town to the scene of a fatal shooting. Seeing those familiar expressions of shock and grief. Another young life, gone.

If anyone has a photo of Eric, please send it to kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Katy Murphy

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

  • TheTruthHurts

    Katy, this dichotomy in Oakland is what most Oaklanders have experienced. Diversity, culture, creativity, passion, innovation and fun just above the surface of brutal poverty, senseless violence and pervasive dysfunctionality.

    This is the challenge and promise of Oakland. Ignore either at your peril.

    It shows both sides of why folks care so deeply about the future of education – and indeed the city.

  • http://www.movingforwardeducation.com Lacy Asbill

    I believe fundamentally that we can impact these tragedies through a healthy education system. We have so much work to do.

  • Nextset

    Lacy Asbill: The problem with “impacting these tragedies through a healthy educational system” is that you cannot change people’s free choice. Nor can you “educate” people out of doing what they tend to do.

    One of the reasons people are being shot to death in Compton, East Palo Alto, Oakland or elsewhere in CA is lifestyle choice. I know nothing specifically about this latest fatality but the Oakland Tribune runs a story annually about who gets killed – as does the Los Angeles Times online blog about the daily murders there. It is just no secret who gets killed and to a large degree, the lifestyle of the corpse. Reading levels don’t seem to be the problem here.

    Don’t blame this on education. They’d be just as dead with a higher GPA. You assume that if the deceased read more (Hardy Boy’s perhaps?) or practiced math equasions they’d not be where they were, doing whatever they were, when they were killed by whoever it was on the other side of the gun.

    Killings occur in CA because of ethnic cleansing (more popular for now in Southern CA), Norteno vs Sureno target practice (all this a product of our open borders policy), drug activity and related marketing/franchise/bill collection issues as well as more traditional sex & territorial reasons. Education has nothing to do with this. Stop blaming education for the things it is not responsible for.

    This is why we haven’t made a dent in the violence. Because we refuse to deal with any of the actual problems and precursors. People kill people for fun, profit, domination & territory. Not because they can’t read and write. If you raised the GPA of the gangs of Chicago (or any other gang) do you ever believe they’d be less likely to kill people? I don’t.

    Another thing. Killing is usually a man’s game. You are female I take it. Do you think you should consult men before you opine on why men are killing and being killed? Is part of the reason our educational system is such a failure (in managing males) due to the feminization of education in CA?

    The public schools are the last home for social mobility in CA and the USA – but they are not responsible for people killing each other. The killings occur because each death seemed like a good idea at the time – and/or the risky behavior was a lifestyle choice the government didn’t avoid. In the first half of the 20th Century we made such choices more problematic. Now we don’t. So the killings increase.

    Brave New World.

  • Nextset

    Lacy: Just reread the post. If it seems the narrative was directed at you personally it isn’t. It’s directed at the idea or concepts you advanced. These deaths are frustrating for those who have to have contact with the survivors. I am not thinking of you or the decendent personally – just the syndrome.

    These killings are a constant thing. Some people work in areas where they meet those personally involved. It must be tough.

    It seems that there is nothing we can do. The killings will go on and if anything there are going to be a LOT more of them. Unemployed males tend to join gangs, commit crimes and do drugs. We are heading for levels of black unemployment (to name just one ethnic) that are historic for our lifetime. While it would seem that if you could force more reading and writing skills (education) into the endangered species they might live longer/better that’s not the case.

    It’s not the education levels directly that makes the difference in the mortality tables, I believe it’s the class – the ability to think in the longer term rather than short term (immediate gratification). This is an innate thing. We can try to teach for that – imposing discipline – but it is not something in high demand in the lower class. Frankly, they (parents included) hate it.

    Therefore we avoid discipline in urban public schools and try to teach math and reading without it. Emphasis is on self esteem and self gratification, you know. Whatever you feel like doing…

    So if someone disses you, well,

  • Skyline Teacher

    Despite what Nextset writes here, it would appear from the eyewitness reports I’ve heard this morning from students at the party, and the news reports which corroborate them, that Eric was merely a victim of living and celebrating in the wrong place, rather than having made poor “lifestyle choices.”

    This was a party of friends and family, crashed by a large group of unwanted gang members. When the father of the house asked them to leave, they did — and then returned with gunfire.

    In other words, Eric Toscano, who was carrying a B-average and going to the college of his choice, died because he dared have a modest party in his family home in a rough neighborhood.

    Sadly, to survive as teenager in such hoods, you need to keep a profile so low you might as well be on house arrest — many of my students are not allowed out of there homes after 4 p.m. by worried parents.

    Word is this was an action of the “Border Brothers” gang. If the police aren’t able to arrest every one of the shooters within the next 72 hours, I think they are criminally inept.

  • http://www.movingforwardeducation.com Lacy Asbill

    Let me clarify: I am not speaking to Eric’s academic performance at all, nor am I questioning his choices. Please refrain from interpreting my comments to further a political agenda.

    Larger than one student or one tragedy is my deep belief that when more students are engaged in and empowered through school, there will be fewer young adults who turn to violence to solve their problems. This is true–just look at the Harvard Family Research Project’s data showing that when youth are more richly supported, community crime statistics drop.

    I refuse to believe that there is nothing we can do. This weekend, Tony Smith shared, “Cynicism is the tool of the cowardly.” I agree. Saying something hasn’t worked before prevents us from doing the work that needs to be done. We CAN make a difference. Otherwise, WHY do we educate?

  • Nextset

    Lacy: The problem I’m trying to describe is confusing “education” with “socialization”. It is one thing to teach reading and math, another to train the students to regularly read and calculate (usage/utilization). And quite another to teach students not to lie, cheat and steal, not to tolerate among you those that do – and why.

    That last phrase gets us into why you don’t live in certain neighborhoods.

    Our urban public schools circa 1965 decided not to teach morals – adopting moral relativity due to a perceived need for multiculturalization. For example, we don’t (anymore) teach students to shun unwed mothers or gang affiliateds.

    Bang, Bang..

    This isn’t cynicism, it’s experience and referencing mortality tables. A good school does impart what some call snobbery. We have made a choice to no longer do that in urban public schooling while it is done in good private schools and the Public Ivys such as Piedmont Unified (How is the unwed mother population up there in Piedmont, anyway?).

    The shooting on Ney is what it is. Unexpected it is not. Now if that had happened on Highland Blvd – or worse, up the hill from Highland Blvd – there would have been Shock – Shock!!

    It is not the school’s fault in the sense that OUSD doesn’t even pretend to take any responsibility for how it’s student’s live their lives. And a better more rigourous academic plan would not have changed a thing. This is not an academic problem and OUSD is not going to do a thing about any of the student shootings – unless they are occurring during class on school grounds. That would be outrageous.

    I complain about urban schooling all the time. Here I don’t claim I can expect the urban schools to fix lifestyle issues. It’s up to the students and their parent(s) to live in such a way as to minimize the flying lead. Sad, but true. The school is not responsible for any of this, they are not lifestyle coaches anymore.

    This is a contrarian point of view. I’m writing these posts because those who feel differently honestly seem to believe there is only one way of looking at a problem.

  • TheTruthHurts


    Despite the racist undercurrents and provocative speech, many of your posts at least hold up logically. This one does not.

    The best summary of your logic seems to be “This is why we haven’t made a dent in the violence. Because we refuse to deal with any of the actual problems and precursors. People kill people for fun, profit, domination & territory. Not because they can’t read and write.”

    Let’s assume for a moment that you’re right and people for these reasons. Why do people CHOOSE to kill for these reasons? Answering that question would seem to get to the “problems and precursors” you speak about. Given you think it’s a “lifestyle choice,” why do you think some are making this choice? You don’t seem to attempt to answer these questions about “precursors.”

    Choice is fundamentally made based on PERCEPTION of AVAILABLE OPTIONS. It would seem that if people are making ill-advised choices, we would want to change both available options and their perception of them.

    There can be absolutely no doubt that education changes available options and hopefully expands the perception of those options. To argue otherwise in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence is simply not credible.

    OK, once the options are available, will people choose them? I think the statistical answer is yes many will. Will it be enough to change entire communities? Not sure. Frankly, to answer this with “yes” we’d probably have to address the perception of options as much (if not more) than the options themselves.

    I will grant you that by the time someone has determined that throwing people onto train tracks is fun, it will take more than a B+ average to turn them around. But, if we want to get to the causes of decision, perception about available lifestyle options is a significant component.

  • Nextset

    I may not have responded to your point that increasing a student’s academic involvement will somehow prevent him from landing in the mortality table we use for his race, age, zip code, etc.

    I see no reason to believe in this.

    Whether we are working on HIV infection rates, truma/car wreck deaths or other forms of casualty I fail to see that you can educate people out their risk brackets. People are in their risk brackets largely because of factors that are not going to change by classroom training (behavioral reasons involving choices). You assume that if you warn someone enough of risks they will stop risky behavior. I don’t believe that is as true and you might think.

    Educate all you want. The reason people choose risk is they like the thrill it gives them and they don’t think they are going to lose the gamble anyway no matter how much they know of the processes.

    To make a difference in behavior you have to fundamentally change the appetites. Education doesn’t so that directly. Religion, Morals, Ethics, and such notions do. When you teach that anything goes or individuals deserve to have things their way because they deserve to feel good, you don’t get delayed gratification, self-denial, or making tough choices.

    Bang, bang. At some point the odds catch up with the student.

    Students are safer when they are brought up with a stronger set of rules – dogma if you will – about how to live. The schools claimed that’s the parent’s job then ended all moral “judgments” in the classroom setting. We get students who don’t even respect the criminal codes. And we get students playing roulette with their health and safety as well as everybody elses.

    They also think OJ didn’t do it and ObamaCare is just a great idea.

  • http://www.movingforwardeducation.com Lacy Asbill

    Nextset: You say–“The problem I’m trying to describe is confusing “education” with “socialization”.”

    I contend that high-quality education INCLUDES socialization. An ideal school is both a center of learning and of community. We just haven’t gotten there yet.

  • Pamela

    Now, back to Katy’s point. Eric was a friend of my son. He was a good kid and will be missed by all of his friends and his family. Keep his parents in your prayers. Now, you can go back to your babbling.

  • steph8208

    TRAGIC!! I pray for the family and friends of this young man. What a beautiful boy. Such a waste. I pray and hope the animals that did this are caught and dealt with!
    Oh and I also want to add. It os always the same cowardly individuals on here that make the rude comments and disrespect the dead and their families. remember what goes around comes around. Hopefully none of you will have to experience something like this.
    John 8: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone…

  • steph8208

    TRAGIC!! I pray for the family and friends of this young man. What a beautiful boy. Such a waste. I pray and hope the animals that did this are caught and dealt with!
    Oh and I also want to add. It os always the same cowardly individuals on here that make the rude comments and disrespect the dead and their families. remember what goes around comes around. Hopefully none of you will have to experience something like this.
    John 8: “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone…

    Not a very good article either. He was a great kid

  • Katy Murphy

    The article did read more like an impersonal crime story than I would have liked. All of the human details ended up at the bottom of the story.

  • Nextset

    Lacy: I agree with your post #10.

    I just don’t see how we are going to get there with multiculturalism and moral relativity in the schools. The Elite/Catholic/Religious Schools are able to do this (educate and socialize) because they make it clear that they are not in business to make other people happy – things are to be done their way (and you cannot wear the T-Shirt you want each day either).

    Our public schools are hamstrung by among other things court rulings claiming that the students have “free expression” rights or such nonsense – “rights” they will not have at work or elsewhere where they must fit in or suffer the consequences.

    Steph8208: You personalize this. This is a policy blog, not an obit blog. We talk policy. These shootings occur with some regularity. We are concerned that the school systems don’t contribute to the problem. Some feel the schools can prevent the problems – I’m not one of them, but hope springs eternal. Obviously we have no knowledge of this individual. Everytime a student is killed there is a mention of this problem and a discussion of how the schools are involved. This isn’t the first and won’t be the last.

    And sometimes it takes much longer for the students to die and for the injury to be realized. It’s not all about the student of the day. Don’t take it as such.

  • Nextset

    Here’s a thought for comparison to the OUSD gunshot victim syndrome. When I grew up, most families had guns. We had loaded rifles and handguns (or at least stored with ammo) at all times during my childhood readily accessible to all the children from age 6 up. Most of my friends had weapons in the house also.

    Nobody got shot through HS graduation other than my own brother putting somebody’s eye out with a BB gun riccochet. I wasn’t on the scene for that one.

    When people (fellow students) got hurt or killed through high school it was from car wrecks usually involving alcohol. Even the hunting expeditions didn’t result in gunshot wounds. Must have been the bright vests.

    I have known families in more modern times with guns in the house – some with young children having access. Nobody shot. Of course, the guns were always kept loaded so they wouldn’t accidently go off while unloaded and everybody including the children was very practiced on the gun range including safe handling.

    So it’s not that we didn’t live with guns, or have friends with access to guns. I don’t remember being warned not to play at a house that had guns in them (which I have heard said nowadays). Of course there was a gun in the house, somewhere. We knew to stay out of people’s property. If you wanted to shoot their guns you should ask politely and go to the range.

    We were however, limited to who we were to be talking to. Us vs Them, you know. There was plenty of Us – we went to school with Us. There was no such thing as an open party.

    And this was in Oakland and the East Bay in the 60s and before. Odd to think of it now. All those guns, nobody getting shot.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Nextset, the only reason I engage you on this issue is to help others who might be led astray by such gibberish.

    You say, “Educate all you want. The reason people choose risk is they like the thrill it gives them and they don’t think they are going to lose the gamble anyway no matter how much they know of the processes.”

    You provide absolute NO evidence for this assertion and anyone who has studied this or lived in the environment knows this is simply NON-SENSE. I have lost people who KNOW they will “lose the gamble.” They no longer care. The question is WHY?

    Education and opportunity for alternatives HAS effected everything from smoking rates to teenage pregnancies. You have NO proof to the contrary. Please provide facts for your assertions.

    You still have not addressed the role of education as providing options and the perception of options. You say, “To make a difference in behavior you have to fundamentally change the appetites.” I agree.

    You then say, “Education doesn’t so that directly. Religion, Morals, Ethics, and such notions do.” Even though that is a non-sensical quote, I get your point. People are learning about religion in school right now. They are learning about morals and ethics and standards of behavior. Even participation in school requires more standards than being on the streets.

    You also change the appetites by changing the perception of risk and reward. Education has the power to do that. Sports can do that. Success in just about anything does that. Kids gravitate toward what provides success(socially, financially or otherwise). Some of those things lead to greater social, emotional and financial prosperity and some lead to death and prison. I’d prefer a little educational success.

    If you want to talk statistics, show the economic mobility statistics based on EDUCATION. Show the gun violence statistics by high school graduates compared to dropouts. Heck show, the violence statistics based on being at grade level in 3rd grade.

    Please come armed to the discussion with more than a provocative opinion.

  • Nextset

    TruthHurts: Sure does. You don’t have any monopoly on “truth”. Still if it’s stats you want I will see what turns up.

    Your 2nd to last paragraph is interesting – you seem to want to find stats to show “education” – such as being at grade level in 3rd grade – tells the tale.

    Is it “education” that made the difference, or the intelligence of the particular students who would have done as well with any teachers? The standardized tests tend to reflect the demographics/IQs of the test subjects.

    Pouring “education” over the slow/aggressive is not going to change their temperment, their risk/reward calculus or their behaviors. Discipline and moral restraint is what determines a person’s recklessness not education. As it so happens the disciplined tend to take more education.

    Your “educational success” is nonsense as the troubled people I see in court are not educational material, don’t want it, never did want it, and as long as they are in a free society with welfare, they’re going to keep right on doing what they do. And that behavior runs in familiy lines.

    Perhaps you believe that if we turn up taxes, soak the workers, and pour the funds over the public school populations we can magically make all the social pathology vanish. That was the Kansas City experiment which was a massive failure.

    No more taxpayer money for social failures.

    You believe you can “educate” people/children out of the mortality tables – spend your life doing so. It takes (a lot) more than education to change this. Calcutta Level poverty, draconian penal systems, religious beliefs, and even burning ambition have held back the jungle from civilization across history. We have little of these things left (although some immigrants & ethnics tend to have more ambition).

  • Nextset

    Gun violence by high school dropouts:

    Being a high school dropout is a hallmark of low IQ/mental illness or such. Of COURSE that class of person has higher levels of homelessness, unemployment, institutionalization (prison or nuthouse, it doesn’t matter). And yes, they tend to be trigger happy (gun is probably stolen and not kept clean either).

    But most high school dropouts should be dropouts. These are people who cannot perform to the level of a diploma. Would you have us print up diplomas – as in the Wizard of Oz – and just give them out? Would you have us imprison them in a boarding school and lash them until they do their homework and give them a GED/diploma?

    I deal with dropouts all the time – as grown adults. They are pathological, typically with diagnosed conditions such as ASPD. They’ve been in and out (mainly in) of prison since puberty. You may see people who are not so far gone. Most of them are trainable, not educatable. There is a difference.

    Maybe we should limit the Bill of Rights to High School graduates and up. Especially that Gun Right. In any event they are not first class citizens and don’t want to be. “Citizenship” isn’t their thing.

    My point is that you cannot force feed “education” as you use the term to such people. They only value knowledge they can use at once. Vocational Training suitable to their individual function level is appropriate and do-able. With training and proper controls they can live a relatively productive life.

    We have taken this (Voc Ed) out of the public schools to a large degree. Perhaps we should adopt the European Educational systems. The academic programs attempted in the urban public schools are a waste of time and money for much of the student body as shown by the dropout rate.

    This is related to the gun violence thread because bored unemployed/unemployable boys/men (girls are not normally the shooters) tend to be the core of the street gangs. The lower class of the UK are managed differently starting occupations closer to puberty. We should do the same.

    I would have no problem copying Oregon legislation and outlawing all self serve gas pumps in the state. Likewise having urban schools run a hotel maid program. Honest menial work in very large numbers should be facilitated in CA. At least for the 15 year period we are about to experience now. Maybe a tax credit for domestic servants also.

    All of this would do more than the call to “educate” gang bangers.

  • Pepe

    Nextset, Truth Hurts made a request that you continually ignore on this blog. Where do you get your “facts”? You accuse others of not citing information, but I have never seen you reference any credible citations for your misguided beliefs. Time for you to “put up or shut up” as we used to say. It is obvious to many that your arguments are a house of cards that stand only due to the frequency with which you restack them.

    Mentioning the “failed Kansas City experiment” is a classic tactic used by people with blinders on or who cannot properly analyze situations. There is a lot of information about the actions and results in KC, and most sources conclude that it is not even close to being a good example for showing that pouring money into schools does not work. There were too many other factors that led to the failure. The only people who cite this as a reason we should not properly fund schools (that I have read) are right wing nutjobs who ignore reality to further an agenda.

    There are a lot of stories and research that show the role of education (or other positive influences) in reducing violence and increasing our youths’ chances to survive and succeed. Your dropout experience is limited to what you do. There are plenty of dropouts (and “gang bangers”) who figure it out and end up being really successful due to their intelligence.

    Schools play a role in these tragedies because in many cases, schools are a large part of the community that supports our kids and families. You believe that schools should not be involved, but based on my own personal experience and on the experiences that are happening far too often in Oakland, schools have to be a part of the grieving and healing process. If schools were not a big part of the social net supporting our kids, we would see a lot more dropouts.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Nextset, evidence please. Pretty please.

    Causation please, not correlation. I thought you could do better.

  • Nextset

    The reason OUSD has all the dropouts in my opinion is that OUSD does not have the vocational programs they need – preferring the fantasy of college prep or even the traditional high school diploma when it is not wanted or valued. We need more emphasis at OUSD on alternative schools and Voc Ed. Compare the dropout/alternative school situation at other places – Piedmont Unified for example.

    Academic routes are for those who are ready, willing and able to meet those requirements.

    And shrinking budgets will eliminate the luxury of spending more money trying to force college prep on those who are not cut out for it. When times are fat we can justify the extra spending to “save” your gang bangers. Not any more and not for the forseeable future. It is more important to protect K-8 than to protect grades 9-12. I expect to see a reduction is high school operations within the next 2 budget years. Fewer classes, larger classes, home, internet and independent study.

    And I doubt there will be a huge difference in the bottom line. Much of the high school “education” that is supposedly going on (OUSD – Los AngelesUSD) is window dressing. It can be reconfigured to reduce payroll. I doubt the test scores will materially change.

  • TheTruthHurts

    Brave New World – no facts, just random assertions based on untested assumptions – No thanks.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    Here’s a fact-based perspective on us as nation, in relation to violence and other things.

    We are unique among so-called “advanced” nations for our higher homicide rate (4.55 per 100,000 pop.) Canada, Australia, Chile, Switzerland, Spain, England & Wales, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, Denmark, and Singapore are all less than 2.0. Mexico is at 17.8.

    And we love to incarcerate people. At 715 per 100,000 people, the U.S. has far more prisoners/capita than any other country in the world. Russia is #2 at 584. Singapore is 388, Taiwan is 250, Israel is174, Mexico is 169, China is 119, Germany is 96, and Finland is 71.

    Of all the European countries, plus Mexico and Japan, the U.S. has the second highest child poverty rate. Mexico is 26.2% and the U.S. is 22.4%.

    The big picture is that we are a deeply troubled country, with a large impoverished class, that happens to loves its guns. Inadequately funded school systems with low levels of social capital, no matter how valiantly they try, are unlikely to make much of a dent at reigning in our nation’s violence.

    Here’s a bit more about the social forces at work, as portrayed by a comparison of ourselves to Finland. I’ve chosen that country because there’s been a lot of talk about the success of Finnish schools in recent months:

    -Teenage birth rate (The number of births to women aged below 20 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19): # 1 United States: 52.1, Finland: 9.2. [More mature mothers are more likely to provide a more stable home, along with more educational benefits to their children.]
    -Infant mortality rate (deaths/1,000 live births): United States: 6.3 deaths, Finland: 3.5 deaths
    -Soft drink consumption (litres/person/year): #1 United States: 216 litres, Finland: 52 litres
    -Television viewing (hours per person per week): #1 United States: 28 hours, Finland: 18 hours
    -Marriage and Divorce rates (Number of marriages/divorces per 1,000 people per year): The U.S. is # 1 for both rates, @ 9.8 and 4.95 (51%), Finland is 4.8 and 1.85 (39%)
    -Child maltreatment deaths: #1 United States: 2.2 per 100,000 children, Finland: 0.7 per 100,000 children
    -Cannabis use: United States: 12.3%, Finland: 2.49%

    But also…

    -Paid maternity leave: United States – 0 weeks, Finland – 105 days
    -Trade union membership: The U.S. is at 13%, #17 after the European countries, New Zealand and Japan, where it ranges from 82% to 22%. The overall average is 38%. Finland is at 76%. Think there might be some sort of academic benefit correlation???

    More stats at http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2010/03/very-important-collection-of-other.html

  • TheTruthHurts

    Thanks for the facts. They are appreciated. I certainly didn’t say education was a panacea, but that economic mobility has cultural, psychological and social benefits that can reduce the desire/need for violence.

    I’m sure that (and access/culture of weapons) makes a difference.

  • Nextset

    Those mean ole guns just went and shot somebody again?

    No. Sprinkling education over people does not change the underlying attitudes towards violence. Violence – as we are using the word – is present for reasons other than reading or writing skills or classroom training. You will no more change the “culture” of violence you complain of here by ‘education” than giving Tony Soprano a 4 year degree would change his criminal tendencies.

    The violence is engendered by things other than education levels. If you want violence to stop you need to do other than increase the OUSD budgets.

    For one thing, street violence declines when liberal concealed/carry laws are enacted. Florida I believe experienced interesting results when they liberalized concealed/carry. Street criminals make an effort to avoid locals and attack tourists exclusively. Once concealed/carry percentages reach as little as 10% of the population street crime becomes problematic.

    Swift and Sure death penalty laws help a lot. Failing that legislate a premium for killing street criminals in the act. In CA now, a killing of one who has made forced entry into a home is presumptively lawful. There was a time some years prior when the CA standard was no presumption. A jury could require the parties discuss things first I suppose. As a result whatever increased lawlessness we see does not so much feature people forcing their way into other people’s homes while the residents are present (it happens, not so much). We can legislate policy of deadly force until surrender for hot pursuit of criminals.

    TruthHurts – you are wrong about education as a fix for this problem. You don’t have anything to offer us. If you want street crime to stop, exterminate street criminals. And like any extermination effort that should include stopping their reproduction. Three strike laws do tend to work that way. Preventative detention of psychopaths in the prime criminal years does slow down the reproduction. Trying more and more juveniles as adults for gun crimes does this also if the sentences are long enough. Changing prison conditions to get more forced labor at less costs would be nice. Other states do it.

    This is not an education/OUSD problem. This is a matter of Oakland & CA not keeping itself clean.

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Nextset, this is getting humorous.

    You said, “TruthHurts – you are wrong about education as a fix for this problem.” Never said that. In fact, just up at post #25, I did say, “I certainly didn’t say education was a panacea, but that economic mobility has cultural, psychological and social benefits that can reduce the desire/need for violence.”

    You said, “If you want street crime to stop, exterminate street criminals.” So if we exterminated all the “street criminals” right now by lightening bolt, do you believe street crime would stop? Guess what, I know criminals and I also know where some criminals come from because I’ve seen them go from 4th grader to criminal. “Exterminating” the current crop WILL NOT solve that problem.

    Have you taken a look at how much we spend on prison, prosecution, legislation and the death penalty. Yet, we as a nation have horrific comparable violent crime rates. Hmmm??? How could this be? We punish more, have more people in jail and yet have more crime. Hmmm?

    All the steps you mentioned might reduce crime and yet, we’d still have more of it than most of the “first world.” How could that be? What’s different? Wealth disparity, access to weaponry and a me first mentality. With these in place, crime will reproduce itself I don’t care what “strategies” you employ.

    BTW, I agree with you about open carry laws, but only in environments where organized crime is not already in control. When organized crime runs the show (see any number of third world countries), open carry just means easier intimidation.

  • Filly

    Have you thought of running for the school board?
    I think you would be great and add some depth and intelligence to the board. It would be thankless but might effect some needed changes to the system. Thanks again for your informed and well thought out responses.

  • aly

    nextset- are you familiar with the harlem children’s zone? just curious what you know about it and why it seems to be working.

  • Gordon Danning


    Isnt it clear by now that Nextset isn’t real? I’m guessing he is really Sacha Baron Cohen.

  • Samuel


    Have you ben to Mexico rural areas , or Central America rural areas? Materniy leave, S***, women have to giver birth in the morning and make food, without electricity, the same night.

    When you grow up in REAL 3rd world poverty, the US is a walk in the park! There eas no free food give away or WIC in the hills of Durango when I was a kid.

    No I believe America’s post depression liberal slant is a case of chickens coming home to roost. Political correctness, ACLU slants, special interests (which includes unions) all line up to get their piece of the pie and use us as the excuse to get it.

    America has lost its edge. One day the Obama Administrations policies will also come home to roost, and god help our children then. His, and his cronies kids will taken care of-our have to be lions but they are being raised as sheep!

    On a side note;

    Oakland is something else a blogger throws out unsubstatiated data from another blog- and one calss for her to run for school board? Good Lord!

    Frankly, business people and less parent, charter,union, community and educational activists are the needs of the OUSD board .

    Do you know that the debt of OUSD; not Oakland, but the school district is bigger than the debt of the entire state of Colorado?

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/ Sharon Higgins

    Samuel: Perhaps, then, you feel that César Chávez was just another of those union special interests who selfishly lined up to get some undeserved piece of the pie for the farm workers, somehow using ‘you’ to do it.

    It’s odd to me that someone who grew up poor in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. would bash unions. A big reason this country has been so attractive to immigrants is because of the higher standard of living we have had for the average person, something which is largely due to our unions. You can be certain that big business would be giving much less to its workers if it were not for the work of the unions.

    You loathe the practices of OUSD with its board of community members, and imply that business would do a better job running the District. But what about what business just did to the economy of this country? Do you reserve any of your criticism or loathing for that? In talking about debt, the federal government just gave $4.6 trillion dollars of OUR hard earned money to banks and Wall Street to keep them from going bankrupt because of THEIR greedy, incompetent and crooked business practices. The rescue permitted them to turn around and earn record profits. So, as school districts across the country now find themselves facing unprecedented cuts and get criticized by people like you, the bailed out Wall Street businesses still owe two trillion dollars and aren’t in any rush to pay OUR money back to the feds. How do you rationalize your idea of business superiority in all of this?

    Even before the Great Collapse of ’08, the U.S. had already undergone a massive shift in income inequality. It’s been since the Reagan years that the corporatocracy has been running more and more of our government; their sympathizers sit on the Supreme Court. They’ve kept the masses passive with enticing, mindless TV shows that spew a constant stream of propaganda convincing us that we ought to spend our time acquiring cheap, worthless, and unnecessary stuff. More facts from Bill Moyers Journal 4/2:

    -In the 1950’s and 60’s, the CEO’s of major American companies took home about 25 to 30 times the wages of the typical worker. And in the mid-1950s, 36% of the United States labor force was unionized.
    -By 1980 the big company CEO took home roughly 40 times the worker’s wage. By 1990, it was 100 times. By 1989, the unionized United States labor force had dropped to about 16%.
    -By 2007, executives at the largest American companies received about 350 times the pay of the average employee. By 2000, only 13% of our labor force was unionized.
    -The United States is now one of the most economically stratified societies in the western world. A 2008 study found that the top .01% — or 14,000 American families — hold 22.2% of wealth. The bottom 90%, or over 133 million families, control just 4% of the nation’s wealth.

    And, to answer your question, yes. When I was in my mid 20s, I spent 3 ½ months traveling and learning Spanish in Central America and Mexico. To all: I apologize that this thread doesn’t fit the original post, but I wasn’t sure where else to reply. Happy Easter.

  • Samuel

    So Sharon, you think Jimmy Hoffa Sr. and the gangsters that manipulated unions in the East are also good folk. Bad people come in every groups, and eventually groups such as the teachers unions must evolve.

    Cesar Chavez sparked a need in the fields- but what does the union stand for now- do you know? My families live and work in the agricultural belt-some hate and some like the union. Now as far as the school union- they need to evolve-thats all I am saying. The UFW sells wine and owns grapefields – isnt that an evolution from the past UFW? My hats off to them they are smart.OUSD is not!

    The bailout of OUSD and many other school districts is an indicators, same as the real estae bubble burst- that people have taken advantage of a broken system.

    If business minded board members can cut, sell and create wealth- doesnt tha require the same tools as the CEO’s who create personal wealth? Let em do it for the kids-(this is about kids right? I know how teachers union focus on teachers). Students will benefit from sharp minded public managers of education- they will see that the system is broke as I do.

    Communist riddled slants are old Sharon, especially in CA.- CEO’s are not the only characters that crashed the country-regulators and politicians (elected officials) also stood by, watched and profitted- or were they innocent in your view?

    This is a captalist driven country and has ben succesful due to that. The forefathers of this nation had the foresight to let private property drive the core of the wealth, they devised ways to create more from there (both bad and good)! Corruption exists in all fields-including education.

    Do you know how much the pay for educators , school construction and consultants has increased in the past 40 years? Look it up.

    By the way- 3.5 months of “Traveling” is a summer break- try decades of youth spent selling gum on a Mexicali bus as my brothers and sisters had to do.

    They are now banker, and accountants. I love America- and hate marxist slants that plummeted my home country for years- but at least here in the US -its all armchair quarterbacking.

  • Filly

    Samuel, please move this discussion to another post. It offends me that your back and forth and your posturing is on a post for murdered children.

    BTW I take issue with your comment on my asking Ms. Higgins to run for school board. If you re-read her posts you’ll see they are fact based, well researched and thoughtful. We need that on the board. We need someone will take kids’ experience and facts to push for change. From what I’ve read your posts are based on your own personal experience and are very emotional. Please move your responses to a more political post.

  • Nextset

    Filly: Poor thing, you got “offended” in public discourse. Maybe you went to a rad-lib school where they taught you that you shouldn’t get “offended”. Maybe you never got over not being invited to birthday parties either.

    You don’t get to disinvite someone else to speak because you are uncomfortable. You are really not that important.

    As far as I’m concerned Samuel adds to the conversation. It’s always amusing to compare immigrant opinions of the 3rd world lifestyle to US rad-libs. A little dose of reality for the delusional.

    Brave New World.

  • Filly

    Haha Nextset. I would love to buy you a drink and just watch you go on and on. Better than talk radio. Best of all, I probably wouldn’t have to say a word. You just rant about what passes in front of you. I am offended that Samuel has turned a post about Oakland kids who have been murdered into an attack on others and is off topic. I asked him to move it because he clearly wanted sympathy and acknowledgement of his tragic beginnings. He can get there elsewhere. I did not ask him to stop talking as you are asking me to. There are kids who are dying and that was what this post was about. If you two need space for crying about your unfair lives and personal attacks, I just wanted to say I thought this was an inappropriate venue. I for one think it’s sad when people turn a tragedy in our community into their own bellyaching. And that I think is quite conservative, sir. Now go on and ramble about whatever because I will not read nor respond to your judgments again. Drinks on me, gasbag.

  • Nextset

    Filly: Some people just can’t debate.

    As far as the kids getting themselves killed – I’ve watched a man die from a headshot who was just sitting in a restaurant having a beer. The shooter was never caught. It was a shot from an auto outside. No one can be sure if the shooter ever knew he’d hit someone.
    The decedent really should not have chosen that bar to have a drink in. It was known to not be a good bar.

    A whole lot of people are dying and are going to die in CA urban cities of flying lead. Ken and Barbie are not at risk. One would hope the people concerned would take a lesson in risk management.

    That’s not going to happen – especially when the at risk population are under age 30. Relatives and friends of mine do trauma calls. Family has done trauma calls in Oakland since the 1940s. This is nothing new, just the increased frequency of it. Lots of people in Oakland are experienced with murder and it’s aftermath and they may have something to say about it.

    Maybe some of our debating may make a difference – that’s why it’s important the Tribune maintains these forums. People can vent and others can learn something the easy way.

    If you can’t handle debate – why are you here?

    No we aren’t here for condolences – we are here to talk policy. Condolences are on the Obit web pages. These murders are going to happen week to week. And when they do we will meet here to compare appraisals of what is happening and why.

    I think our “problem” is risk management. I don’t think it’s a gun safety issue (or literacy problem). Nothing wrong with those guns. They didn’t fire themselves.

  • Nextset

    Filly: Another thing. Your addressing epithets to a stranger in public discourse is the sort of childish behavior that would lead one to suspect you are either a child or a poorly educated adult acting like a child. Perhaps a product of an urban public school where such behavior is a norm. Can you tell us more about yourself so we can see if we should be impressed or concerned about your opinion?

  • Union Supporter-But

    I would like to toss a problem into this ring. I work in an Oakland public school. We have at least one first grade students and several other students beyond first grade who have gang tattoos on their necks.

    Even if you have great students who work hard, study hard, learn all they are taught in school, just by having the gang affiliations on campus, we run risks that we would not want to take. So what is the solution?

    Great kids, doing great things could simply be in our school and someone wants to get back at Dad, Uncle or even Mom and whoever is near is in danger. So far we have chosen an attitude of “respect for parent’s rights to parent children as they see fit.”

  • TheTruthHurts

    @Union Supporter-But, I can’t see an easier answer to this one. I also imagine that “branding” will get worse over time, so this is not going away.

    There have been gangs as far back as I remember to the point we had to legislate clothing, jewelry etc. We may have to cover up the tattoos, but the underlying problem is the same. We will still need to find a way to educate the innocent and keep them from the guilty.

    Heck, we educate the guilty because we believe in second chances. The key is providing a safe environment and that’s not easy. Unfortunately, to keep safety, we’re headed the way of the prisons, bit by bit.

  • Pamela

    Eric’s funeral was this past Friday. And still, the whole conversation on this blog has nothing to do with him or his passing. He was a great kid. The whole school turned out. Most of the teachers at the school attended also. It was, on the whole, a great send off for a great kid. Ok, Back to your blabbering.

  • Skyline Teacher

    Pamela, I agree with you that the hijacking of this thread was disrespectful.

    Frankly, however, my anger at Eric’s death is not softened by a “great send-off.” The practiced ease with which this community moves on from such tragedy is perhaps a part of the problem.

    Eric was a kid who was a TRIUMPH — a struggling student from a struggling ethnic group in OUSD who gradually, slowly turned it around. He moved from all D’s his freshman year to all A’s and B’s his senior year. Every family member, friend or teacher who had a hand in that should be celebrating this victory this June when he would have graduated at the Paramount.

    Instead, he was dragged down by the crabs in the bucket: His peers in the hood who aren’t getting out, no way, no how. He thought he could safely have a party — complete with security and family support — like any suburban kid on his way to college, but no, that is not a right everybody gets in this country.

    I wonder if the shooters were angry at this local kid with the beautiful friends and the future. Was this gang related, or just raw resentment?

    Here’s what else I’d like to know: What the hell are the cops doing to find out who did this? If they can’t catch the shooters, what does it tell all the kids who were at that party? There is no justice?

  • Nextset

    Pamela and Skyline Teacher: This isn’t the obit page. Part of the reason you are not reading personal comments about the student here is that we didn’t know him and even if we did, public discourse isn’t the place to get into the personal lives of people. My understanding of this blog is that it’s a place to discuss public policy, specifically policy of public education, urban schools (code word for black/brown schools) and the like. We certainly don’t want to affect the family in a time of mourning so we really don’t need to get into the decedent’s last days and interpersonal relationships. You are bringing these things up, not the other posters you disapprove of.

    This student – and I’m not using his name, etc – is going to be another entry in the Oakland Tribune’s annual photospread of murdered people. The Los Angeles Times had a weblog continuously running the stories of the Los Angeles murders carefully noting the race, the time of murder, occupation, and all such demographic info of the victims and any suspects. We are fortunate that these media outlets or people working in them continue to do these stories for some people in the future can read them and get out of the way of flying lead. Or maybe reconsider their parties. Or their travel patterns, or staying out past midnight, or whatever.

    Skyline Teacher says it again “he was dragged down by the crabs in the bucket”. It is exactly that kind of thinking, taught over and over in the urban public schools, that leads us to all these casualties. Our public schools are teaching public school students that “sh** happens” or “someone did this sh** to you” rather than “you let this sh** happen to you – it was avoidable”.

    Personal responsibility for anything doesn’t really exist on any level in this system – especially when you get hurt or are unhappy. Sorry, this isn’t what you want to hear. You think I’m not being “nice” (yes, probably true- when nice is defined as saying anything to make other people happy). I don’t ever do that professionally.

    There is a reason why some people don’t wear well in this Brave New World and some other people wear better – as in not getting preventable diseases, not getting shot, not getting arrested (much less convicted), not getting addicted, not getting pregnant outside of marriage, the list goes on.

    I say much of the problem we have with the different mortality tables for the different people is the abject refusal of the public schools to ever impart the notion that you are primarily responsible for everything that happens to you and yours, and should do enough homework and take actions to stay off the casualty lists.

    I suppose the reasons I even bother to write this is that I’ve been to the funerals, the sentencing dates, the hospitals, etc. with people over and over and over and it’s typically certain people who have the problems and others that just don’t. And when you tell people they are dancing on thin ice and need to change they reply everybody’s doing it. Yes, everybody from their schools.

    If this is a tragedy it not a senseless one. There is a reason this murder occurred and it will occur over and over if the same situation is created in the future.

    Educrats should teach less victim worship and more risk management. Your are not their friend, you’re not their mother, you’re not their social worker, you’re their teacher.