Hearing tonight on Oakland’s “persistently lowest-achieving schools”

Should Oakland Unified apply for a federal grant — money with strings attached — for its schools that made the state’s lowest-performing list? At 6 p.m. tonight, the school board is holding the first of two hearings on the subject. It’ll be held at United For Success Academy on the Calvin Simmons campus, 2101 35th Ave.

Explore Middle School, United for Success, ROOTS International, Alliance Academy and Elmhurst Community Prep are the five Oakland schools eligible for the money (an amount still undetermined). To get it, they have to do one of four things: shut down and send their students to other schools; close and reopen as a charter school; fire the principal and half the teaching staff; or fire the principal, extend the school day and make other changes. Principals who have been in place for less than two years are allowed to stay.

Explore is closing at the end of the year — a decision the school board made before the list came out. The parents and staff at ROOTS and Alliance don’t want the district to apply for the grant at all, since their principals have been at the school for more than two years and they want to keep them. Elmhurst and United for Success have new principals who are protected from the firing requirement, so they want the superintendent to go for the “transformational” model, which would not require staffing changes.

The deliberation process at each school must have put some people in an awkward position, as the decision has a direct bearing on the teachers’ and principals’ jobs. It’s also worth noting that the changes would have to take place in a very short period of time — by the start of the fall semester — making careful implementation difficult, if not impossible.

The school board can apply for a different option for each school. There are no sanctions in place for schools that opt out of the funding.

SOME BACKGROUND ON THE LIST: As I’ve noted before, four of the Oakland schools on the list are middle schools that have opened since 2006 — products of a similar approach to school improvement that the feds are now encouraging.

It’s not a coincidence. The state department of education removed very small schools from the list — including a number of Oakland’s struggling high schools with low enrollment — as well as those that had moved up a total of 50 points on the 1,000-point API in the last five years. Since these four middle schools were so new, they only had two chances to move up 50 points (2007 to 2008 and 2008 to 2009), while other schools had five. 

In other words, these new schools needed to make a 25-point jump each year, on average, while other California schools had to improve just 10 points annually. Elmhurst’s scores rose an average of 20 points a year (+47 and -8), but that wasn’t enough.

Superintendent Tony Smith makes a recommendation to the school board in early June. What do you think should happen?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nextset

    Money is not and never has been the problem with poor performance in the Black schools – or are we referring to the Mexican Schools?

    Most of the things being spoke of are not going to “fix” the problems. Firing everybody does have an appeal because that kind of draconian policy does have a way of forcing change. Change is needed to get improved scoring from the students here, clearly. Whatever the scoring, I’m sure it can be improved.

    But by what means? How much force and discomfort are we willing to impose on these bad students to make them perform better at basic education? I personally would be willing to use real force and a lot of discomfort. I don’t think OUSD or the families concerned has any intention of doing anything to make the (non-performing) chillun uncomfortable. So the performance lags anybody’s expectations.

    I remember my 3rd grade Nun backhanding a boy out of his desk for some flip answer when he was called on. I’ve heard stories of the Catholic High Schools in the East Bay using physical correction in the early 1960s also. I liked the Nun – this didn’t happen often and the kid involved was asking for it. The Nuns were proud of thier kid’s accomplishments just as if they were football coaches – and they used similar training methods. They were competitive. We need that for the black students – competition in academics.

    In the balance we don’t care enough about these kids and their future to fight with them for their own good. And loading up black schools with punitive factors ensures that workers such as teachers and administrators will want nothing to do with black students anywhere.

    So I don’t see any expectation of improvements.

    Failing marks are made by bad students. The punitive measures need to be aimed at students as much as the teachers. We have no intention of doing this. The failures to learn/perform will continue.

  • Sara

    Nextset,You are very often the only voice of reason. I am with you on this one. Why doesn’t anyone blame the children? I work in a school where the administration tiptoes around the persistently awful students – ones who hurt others, talk back to the students and wreak havoc in the classes. Often the parents think the administration and teachers are picking on their kids, so these kids stay and ruin everyone’s day. There are no consequences to speak of for kids who have decided not to do any work – bleeding hearts will say it is because they weren’t taught it but I bet they haven’t observed these “students” sitting in class trying to text or drawing pictures or talking and doing anything but what the teacher requires. They haven’t done any classwork or homework in months or if they did, it was deserving of a D or F. If they found out they couldn’t be promoted with less than a 2.0 maybe that would change but they just get passed on. You can’t blame the teachers for that – it is not their decision. Designate a school for middle school kids who fail – probably best to get them out of the general population- and find teachers who would be willing to get paid more for dealing with them.

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

    There is a tremendous amount of research that shows positive reinforcement to be far more effective than force/punishment/discomfort.

    While it would be wonderful to see all of our students demonstrate intrinsic motivation, we CAN inspire student motivation with positive discipline. Whether through positive reinforcement or through incentives, I have seen students turn their motivation around through positive channels.

    This makes sense–think about it. Do you go to work every single day through your intrinsic motivation, or does it help that you get paycheck?

    When students look into their communities and see certain activities rewarded with status, prestige, and money, and see that they receive little of this at school, what does this tell them about how to be successful in life?

    I’m not advocating paying students to be in school, I’m merely pointing out that positive discipline and incentives can create powerful changes in student motivation.

  • Nextset

    Lacy Asbill: I was inartful when I repeated the story about the 3rd grade Nun. We don’t have to get so violent. My point is that they saw everything and ignored nothing (handwriting, diction, manners, dress, etc). They may have been 99 pounds and 5 feet 4 or so but they did have a costume on and went nose to nose with rowdy Irish Boys from very large families. They’d also go nose to nose with the large family if any had the nerve to come in and challenge any Nun (They knew better, no one did). Even with the children of blue collar workers – and I went to school with them – the Nuns turned out a product. Our OUSD ghetto schools have a problem with their products. It’s not money needed to fix this. It’s stronger attitude.

    It’s not the money spent it’s the willingness of the staff to confront and challenge the students out of their comfort zones into thier highest performance. This is what is not in common supply in the black student’s classrooms. How do I know? Because they (students) don’t use Standard English. If the school staff can’t even get their attention on speech and diction you don’t expect them to correct anything else.

    We need schools and staff who are able to force the black students to change into something other than ghetto blacks. Urban schools operate on the doctrine that they are not there to make ghetto dwellers into something else – something mainstream. So they social promote people, not teaching them to use standard english or standard much of anything else. Puberty sets in and by age 18 you have the unemployable. Old story.

    And now we think we might want to dock the pay of the teachers because the kids don’t score well. That makes sense… Or spend extra money to keep doing the same failing programs.

    Dick and Jane readers don’t cost that much. And people can have fun in a tough school. I certainly had fun watching other people get theirs when they got caught. Most of us learned to be careful and do what’s expected. We need more of that taught.

  • Nextset

    Lacy: I don’t agree with you on positive reinforcement. Pain is by far the best teacher. Especially when you have limited time and money to teach survival skills. And Survival is what this is all about for the blacks.

    “Pain” can be a obvious as a caning, or as subtle as no fruit cup for lunch. Kids are like puppies sometimes. Housebreak them.

  • Nextset

    Sara, I believe the failing students should be publicly designated failures and removed from the normal schools. That is if they don’t transfer out first. Continuation schools are the best place to manage the mentally ill, personality disordered, anti-social and addict children. They shouldn’t be allowed to associate with the normal kids in normal schools.

  • Nextset

    Another thought. This is not just a matter of bright and dull students. Dull students can learn basic reading and writing, just not a easily. Dull students can learn deportment, I have seen that done all the time when I was growing up. Stronger correction is required for the dull, but boy did they learn. Dull students I have known seem to be very very good in some things. My teachers balanced strenght in one thing with weakness elsewhere. People did not flounder completely. In High School skills varied. Everybody seemed to find their good subject. Not all were good at college prep. Jailings, Car Wrecks and ER visits were kept to acceptable levels. I avoided all 3 but took some chances in the east bay car rallies…

    I’m worried about OUSD students who can’t do anything and are proud of it, who wear their anti-sociality on their sleeve, who think someone has to give them a sandwich or a place to sleep at age 18.

    I see too many dull students (white or hispanic) who are making a living wage at 20 and too many black students who are not even as dull as the others who can’t function in society at all except as an inmate. This problem is not one of dull students winding up in the gutter, it’s the black students (dull or not) winding up in the gutter and the other ethnics at the same cognitive level not. To me the difference is the presence of appropriate life schooling/coaching. We don’t want to do anything to/for the black students that they aren’t asking for or they don’t readily accept. And that is why the lowest achieving schools stay low. It’s not the money.

    I’ve said it before, I know too many white ex-foster kids making good livings as hospital techs and other tech jobs. I’ve asked them where their black classmates from tech school are and they just laugh. There weren’t any. They either didn’t apply, couldn’t pass the entry screens or dropped out when someone corrected (yelled at?) them. Too bad the public schools didn’t get them ready for such things.

  • Cynthia


    “Pain is the best teacher”? “It’s all about survival for the blacks”? Children are “like puppies”?

    Please, please, tell me that you have

    a) Got yourself sterilized, and
    b) Attached a sticker, similar to those little “donor” stickers on driver’s licenses, that reads, “Do not, under any circumstances, allow me to influence children.”

    Jesus Christ.

  • Cynthia

    Ah, the second part of my comment should read as follows:

    b) Attached a sticker to your driver’s license, similar to those little “donor” stickers, that reads, “Do not, under any circumstances, allow me to influence children.”

    Jesus Christ.

  • Nextset

    Cynthia: I thought about that line shortly after writing it. It does sound severe. Yes, when we look at the numbers nationally the black middle/profession class is very thin and feels like it’s getting thinner. The bulk of the urban blacks are at the bottom of the economy. There is reason to believe that we can do a far better job in educating this block – and I mean the high school dropouts as well as those who finish high school – to survive in the USA’s economy and literally survive the high black mortality tables. And the urban public schools need to get on with it and not wash their hands of the blacks that show up at 1st grade but are vanished into the prisons and the welfare rolls before age 18.

    Jewell Taylor Gibbs (East Bay Author and educator) wrote a sociology book about Black males as an endangered species.


    This was decades ago. I am not the first CA black professional to raise this issue. I agree with her premise. Mis-education has a lot to do with it, as well as higher standards to keep a driver’s licence/occupational licenses and other legal/societal changes.

    The education issues we speak of for urban blacks is very much a matter of life and death, survival in economic, physical and social terms. Deal with it.

    As far as you and your opinion of me personally – believe me, it’s probably returned. Your personal comments here most likely suit your own class. But I don’t know you. Are you a teacher? An OUSD teacher?? Exactly what do you make of the math/verbal scores the OUSD blacks are turning out?? What do you think their “survival” rates are going to be in the Brave New World? Who is going to hire them?

    I see the welfare state crumbling in a blaze of inflation or budget cuts. People need to be working. I don’t see the OUSD as a work training program and I think you are about to see college enrollments slashed in the next 12 to 60 months as the student loan program becomes the next Sub-Prime scandal. The black default rates on the FISL is already a problem, the HBC’s need annual waivers to keep eligibility for more student loans. People need jobs both college educated and non college educated.

    If there is a problem with the product of the public schools, if they are not getting basic language and deportment skills – they are going to fare very badly in this Brave New World. This is not the way things were before we “integrated” in the 1960s and cut standards.. Which is odd because the urban (black) schools aren’t integrated at all and we still have the cut standards.

    Another thing: The “Black” candidates bubling up in the professions seem to have interesting backgrounds. Rather Egyptian, some of them. Immigrants, some of them. Is it possible some of the stats on black successes are a little, mixed?? Are we getting into conditions where Carly Simon and Carol Channing are presented as black role models?? When we work quotas, this stuff happens… You’d be surprised how faintly black you have to be nowadays to meet a quota.

    For the bulk of the black students the high school diploma is the terminal degree. We cannot afford to have the urban high schools that still cater to black students (as opposed to LA Unified’s Hispanic Students) continue to produce babied uneducated fully grown children. Bright or dull we can do better by these kids, starting by their learning proper English.

    Meanwhile we import 3rd worlders as fast as we can while the black representation in one career after another dwindles in favor of La Raza. Prison Guards, for example.

    Brave New World.

  • CarolineSF

    My smart 19-year-old claims that “ghetto” pathologies will lessen over a couple of generations just due to intermarriage, which of course is increasingly accepted. I mean, he has a good point — segregation obviously begets the distinct characteristics of a culture, for good and for bad, while intermarriage dilutes them.

    I quote my son just because it’s the view of someone from a generation that seems to have overcome discomfort with and hostility to intermarriage. Anyone in his age range (and I don’t mean just left coasters; truly anyone) who actually had a problem with it would be a serious outlier, a freak.

    It probably will be that the most impoverished, oppositional and disengaged members of low-SES communities of color will be the last to intermarry — but does anyone really doubt that it’ll happen?

    Sure, this means that the distinct characteristics of a culture — positive, negative and neither — will be diluted too, as is certainly happening with my kids, product of a Jewish-WASP marriage. But that’s not going to stop it from happening.

    Brave new world!

  • Nextset

    CarolineSF: The kid is wrong. And his view and experience at 19 will be very different from his at 25 and 30.

    Black Ghetto types don’t marry, period. They lie about being married, and much else. But they don’t know anyone who is married, their parents and extended family have not lived in a marriage, marriage and it’s courtship rules and maintenance rules are completely foreign to them. The concept sounds like something classy, thus all the lying about intending to marry and being in a marriage. But it cannot happen.

    There is a danger your son has acquired a common habit of projecting his ideas and thoughts of what people should be onto strangers. This is very dangerous and can lead him to underestimating all kinds of risk and danger (in dealings with strangers and other people generally). I once had this conversation with a bay area politician friend and his then 19 years old son in the context of whether the son should be allowed to go out at night. My hypothesis was that in conversation with him it was clear to me that he was incapable of recognizing danger posed at night in an urban area (as opposed to hanging around his own neighborhood). He was too much a babe in the woods to be let out unescorted. Too sheltered from street people to be running around urban bay area. He threw a fit and stomped off. His parents laughed so hard they almost cried. He was a product of a Jewish mixed marriage also.

    While there are upper class teens with street smarts, that’s not common and in my experience is related to the parents coaching and placing their kids in an environment where they learn what goes on at an early age. It happens with family businesses, for example.

    Have your son read books such as “The Gift Of Fear” by DeBecker. It’s a good start.

    To the ultimate question, the ghetto pathologies do not wane over time. Once established they are cronic and lifelong – mainly because they are a way of thinking about self and others, and fundamental present-orientation.

    Even worse, in this Brave New World your limits of social, economic and occupational mobility are connected to building blocks and subject to long term or permanent impairment. Black students who pick up criminal records which is very easy for them to do face lifetime consequences such as sex offender registration, moral turpitude convictions (shoplifting), bar from gun or bullet ownership, and occupational bars from a bad day at age 18. When your teeth are not attended to (common) you can end up like a cashier at Safeway I recently noticed who as in his early 20s with disfiguring dental problems. His were so bad I do not believe he would be considered for a public contact job – however there he was at Safeway that night. He’d better keep that job. Health issues take a lot of time to get into but check out the racial stats for HIV & other STDs, Diabetes, etc. Very bad way to live and die. I can also point out that marriage is important in the mobility I describe. If male or female you aren’t having a stable long term marriage your economic reach tends to be limited.

    The damage that is done from puberty to 20 by untreated ghetto culture sets up the individual for high risk of lifelong poverty, health problems & and a miserable life. Compare the black stats to those of East Indian Immigrants (or other immigrants). I had a college intern once (20+ years ago) who was Indian, foreign born. Her family arrived with nothing, her mother had severe health problems (cancer?) never learned english. They lived (6 people) in a 2 bedroom very ghetto apartment, in a terrible neighborhood, for years on arrival to CA.

    To see her now (a lawyer) and her Doctor husband you would never know she had ever been poor. She worked in a city park as a teen. She came to me from that. She had me at “I had the drunks thrown out of the park”. I called the law school dean and pushed her admission to law school when it was time to apply. She was fierce, ambitious, and eager to prove something. She was given important work to prove something with. She produced very well.

    You can be poor without being ghetto and you can live in the ghetto for a time and still end up in Piedmont and similar lifestyles. I’ve seen that happen (it often takes a marriage). I have never seen someone with ghetto values and dialect make it in the high life for very long. Seen them try, though.

    One of the things OUSD can do for it’s poor black kids is to train them to pass better with the speech and deportment and coach them in what is out there and how many others with no more than they have made it up the ladder of success. Then remove those who are not getting with the program from the schools of those who do.

    A final thought about your son. Take him to a Marriott Courtyard somewhere. Then take him to a Motel 6. Marriott has no smoking and credit (not debit) cards required. Motel 6 practically rents by the hour and has real interesting characters hanging around. Stay the night at each. Tell him this is segregation. Take him to Blackhawk Safeway then take him to Ghetto Stop and Rob. Buy a carton of milk at each. Tell him that is segregation. You can do the same with a Dr visit in a MediCal Clinic and a private office that doesn’t accept MediCal on Pill Hill. Likewise a Credit Ghetto Dentist office and a private upscale dentist. And for fun, try cashing a check at Ghetto Bank of America branch and Piedmont’s B of A Branch. I can go on.

    People are flocking to “their” Doctor/hotel/bank/store for a reason. Ditto the schools. People do what they want and take what comes with that. Vive le difference.

  • Ms.McLaughlin

    Nextset, I’m curious. It’s fairly obvious that you’re not a teacher, but have you spent much or any time at all in any of our schools? You write as though you’re quite certain as to what takes place or, more often, what does not take place in Oakland classrooms, so I’m wondering how you’ve come to this position of expertise.

    Also, you might consider that some of the more careless stuff you include in your analyses here…e.g., “chillun” (what’s that about? Have you been reading old Bobbsey Twins books from the 1920’s or some such outdated wierdness?) and the pronouncement that “Black ghetto types [however you define that for yourself] don’t marry, period.” do much to undermine your more valid points, and probably inspire more than a few readers to skip past any text boxes with your name on them.

    You’re also dreadfully fatalistic about a whole lot of kids being doomed to chronic, insurmountable “ghetto pathologies,” as though children from certain backgrounds turn into little stone people at an early age with no possible chance of personal growth or social maturation. Is it fun for you to maintain such rigid opinions of these kids, or are you projecting your own rigidity in their direction?

    Didn’t want to make this all about you, however. And some of what you say is true. There is some degree of destructive social promotion happening in some of the schools, and undoubtedly also some of the resignation and “tiptoeing” described here, whether out of discomfort, resignation, exhaustion, or distorted notions of charity on the part of certain teachers and administrators.

    But it’s certainly not universal. There are absolutely teachers in Oakland who recognize the life-or-death nature of getting our students educated, and who have no problem fighting with them on a day to day basis if necessary (in figurative terms, not by backhanding them) for their own good. There are indeed teachers who hold their students to high academic standards, who require standard English in their writing assignments and class discussions, who will not tolerate texting, earphones, cursing, screaming, vandalism, or any other behavior in class that compromises a productive learning environment, who remove those students who insist upon trashing the school day for everybody else, and who flunk or retain those who choose to sit and do nothing or to ditch class whenever the mood strikes them.

    Contacting parents, grandparents, or other caretakers can be profoundly effective. So can explaining in no uncertain terms how stupid it is to join gangs, or deal drugs, or steal for a living, or risk their lives at these idiotic sideshows, and reminding students that their lives are worth much more than that, and that teenage funerals aren’t honored celebrations but wasteful, infuriating tragedies that break the survivors’ hearts for years and years afterward.

    No, some of the kids don’t like those tactics, but that’s tough. Sure, some of them challenge the rules and try all the harder to “run the class,” but No. Not happening, not a possibility, no argument, no compromise, no tolerance for self-sabotaging bullshit.

    Sure, that kind of commitment from a teacher can take a lot of energy and lead to noise, complaining, and tantrums, especially early on. But noise, complaining, and tantrums are part and parcel of dealing with children of ANY racial or economic background who haven’t grasped the necessity of behaving with basic respect for oneself and others. Our kids are no less inherently capable of behaving civilly, nor of learning, than are any children anywhere. Sure, some of them lack as much structure and support at home as we would wish for them, but teachers don’t get to make that call, and in those cases its all the more crucial that the kids get it from us. That can happen and it IS happening, not as widely or as consistently as it should be, but that can change if all the adults in all the schools make the commitment.

    And the children’s orientation can change too, even, in most cases, if they first arrive with narrow, negative ideas about their own potential and toxic patterns for interacting with the world around them.

    That said, I share some of your desire for more definite consequences when the kids sell themselves short. Right now, for example, the state tests that tend to yield such shaky scores carry no penalty when the children do poorly, whether they haven’t mastered the material or because they bubble in zigzag patterns without reading the questions. Ideally, of course, the kids would simply take pride in earning high scores on those tests, and some of them do, but those scores should really help determine whether students advance from elementary to middle school and from middle school to high school. At that point they should really be combined in some way with the high school exit exam; there’s no point in testing them twice anyway, and the disruption that the testing process itself imposes upon the school routine is enough to warrant streamlining the entire process.

    Similarly, right now in Oakland we have an open enrollment policy by which students can enroll in pretty much any school they wish to attend as long as they’ve done so before the rosters are full. That’s great, and it gives children the opportunity to bypass their neighborhood schools if they feel safer or more academically challenged elsewhere. But once they’re attending schools elsewhere, there should be some minimum standard for remaining. Children who travel from point A to point X every day to attend school should be required to attend consistently, maintain a C grade average, stay out of trouble, and maybe earn satisfactory scores on the aforementioned tests in order to remain. Those who habitually choose to disrupt class, vandalize the premises, exhibit failing grades or poor attendance, roam the neighborhood, get into fights, break the law, or otherwise make themselves unwelcome guests should, after a certain number of warnings, lose the privilege and be sent back to poop in their own nests. Institute that policy alone, and just watch those test scores soar!

  • Nextset

    More memory about that story – the boy involved was 18 and graduating from HS soon. He wanted to use the parent’s car to go to some kind of urban event – maybe a concert, not sure now. Perhaps the Cosby murder was in the news then, I forget, but the parents had concerns that the particular car would attract the wrong attention. The location, timing and nature of the event raised the issue of vampires in attendance and he not being experienced enough to be in the middle of it (Maybe next year?). They said no and since I was believed to be a liberal on issues of teens getting worldly experiences the teen thought that I would pursuade his father to give him what he wanted. My analysis returned “hell no”. Sonny didn’t want to hear it and got emotional which further pursuaded all of us he wasn’t ready.

    Back to the thread. What do the OUSD schools need to accomplish with the “low achieving schools”? Is it reasonable to focue on getting those kids into colleges – or is it reasonable to primarily concentrate on basic skills, deportment and survival coaching (ie training to obtain/keep housing, employment, health, avoidance of legal problems, occupational ladder instruction).

    I’m coming to the conclusion that college prep in low rank prole schools is very counterproductive and basic training on a range of skills calculated to avoid homelessness, poverty and premature death is the way to go. The few who do have colege potential can be supplemented elsewhere.

  • Chauncey

    Ghettoness is not going to disappear. That is like saying blacks will dissappear due to inter racial marriages. Do you really know just how ghetto ghettoness can get?

    OUSD aint going to do anything new that has not been tried before with that money. OUSD gets grants (Gates, Chevron, Dell) and all other kinds that I have heard of over the years, and still they cannot solve the problems.

    How about we get that money and invest it in truancy prosecutions, create magnet schools, and get the hell out schools for those that don’t care and families dont care.

    As for Latinos, you want immigration rights- only for those that go to college or military service.

    Not for those type families that come to this country and expect handouts or free rides!? Latinas moms with kids that attend my sons school about three times a year, want signatures against the principal because she demands too much. Please!! This culture is learned , taught by American excuse makers!

    Go back to Mexico where your kids have to work for about three bucks a day if this country is “too much”! Please take some of my people (blacks ) with you!

  • Sue

    Funny, I didn’t see any claims that something was going to “disappear”. I don’t believe any thinking persons, regardless of age or youth, would be making such a claim. “Crackers” haven’t disappeared. Nazis haven’t disappeared. Lots of historically disfunctional groups still have a few remnants hanging around the fringes of society in its dark corners.

    I saw a suggestion that a disfunctional subculture would *lessen* in the future. And that seems at least plausible. It seems to me that there are fewer KKK members than there were 40-50 years ago, and a lot fewer nazi organizations than prior to WWII.

    Whether or not the pattern will continue for those we’re calling “ghetto” (originally, that was a term for segregated European Jewish neighborhoods, I believe) I can’t say. Don’t know if “barrio” culture will change, increase or decrease, either. But it doesn’t seem crazy to me to speculate that it might.

    It does seem a little bit less than realistic to set up a strawman argument about *disappearance* of subcultures just so the strawman can be knocked down. Where’s the discussion of factors that could help reduce the disfunctional attitudes/behaviors/cultures and replace them with something more functional? What’s the value of alienating anyone else looking for the same results, but looking at the problems from a different perspective?

  • CarolineSF

    I thought when I was writing that post about whether I (or my son) literally meant “marriage” — which really wasn’t what was meant. But I couldn’t think of another term except “interbreeding,” which sounds awful.

  • ousd funemployed

    Caroline, perhaps “cross-pollination” would better suit your delicate, liberal sensibilities. ;o)

  • CarolineSF

    I know, I’m such a wilting little hothouse flower. (Actually, I’m famously un-PC in language — being an editor, I’m pretty much into cutting the BS — but I was concerned about offending others.) Anyway, I guess no one here will live long enough to know who was right. Maybe all our cafe au lait-skinned great-great-grandchildren will find this discussion during archeological research.