Scolding, threats and security escorts — and it’s only August

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The fall semester is weeks away, but after a brief summer recess, tension came flooding back to the Oakland school board room this week.

I wasn’t at the Wednesday night board meeting when this went down, but it didn’t look pretty from my screen.

One minute Joel Velasquez — a Westlake and former Lakeview parent who has been perhaps the most outspoken and persistent critic of Oakland’s school closures — was at the podium, speaking about working closely with the superintendent and school board and becoming “allies.”

In the next, he was being escorted out of the school board meeting room by Oakland School Police after having threatened to stage protests at board members’ homes.

It wasn’t an empty threat; Velasquez and other supporters of the weeks-long Lakeview sit-in did march to Superintendent Tony Smith’s house in July. Smith, his wife and two elementary school-age daughters weren’t home at the time; Velasquez told him at the meeting that none of the protesters were trying to intimidate him or his family.

First, Velasquez was reprimanded by President Jody London and – later – her board colleague, Gary Yee, for addressing Superintendent Tony Smith as “Tony” while he was on the dais. (“Excuse me, can you refer to the superintendent as the superintendent please?” London told Velasquez. “This is not a first-name setting.”)

Visibly irritated by the interruption, Velasquez asked for more time. Later, when he was told his time was expired, he questioned whether he’d received his full allotment and asked for a chance to complete his remarks. His request was denied.

VELASQUEZ: C’mon you guys, really, this is how you want to do this?


VELASQUEZ: Ok, then we can march to your home next, Jody London, President Jody London. Is that what you want?

SMITH: Officers — please no personal threats, please?

VELASQUEZ: When I try to follow the process, and you guys don’t listen, that is what happens. We end up at your home because you don’t listen to the people. This is completely unnecessary. Gary Yee, all of you, we’ll end up at your homes.

LONDON: We need to continue the meeting. Can we help the speaker leave the podium, please?

What did you make of this showdown?

Katy Murphy

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

  • make it go away

    Wow – the police state – OUSD version.

    Don’t call him “Tony” ????

    The board members had planned this in advance.

  • EffectsofReform

    Really? To dismiss and reprimand this parent for not using an honorific during a meeting? Absurd. Absolutely absurd. The fact that the board feels it necessary to diminish a parent over this point, well that speaks volumes.

  • Nontcair

    Total arrogance.

    Article 2 §19 The Legislature shall provide for recall of local officers.

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    Tony Smith is not an elected official.
    The Board members are, and they should remember who their constituency is. It was shameful to see them treat the very people they should be serving , so poorly.
    The only thing this did was show people how disingenuous members of the board are.
    According to RRO…it is advised to the chairman..”Never interrupt members while speaking, simply because you know more about the matter than they do; never get excited; never be unjust to the most troublesome member, or take advantage of his ignorance of parliamentary law, even though a temporary good is accomplished thereby.”

  • Nextset

    Good for the board.

    They do need to maintain decorum. Give them an inch and they take a mile.

  • Yazstremski

    It’s obvious Mr. Velasquez was interrupted and became frustrated…and while I don’t completely agree with his view, he did have the right to speak, be heard and complete his remarks…I was with him right up to his threat to march to all of the Board member’s homes.

    He completely undermines his cause, again, trying to bring the fight off of school property and onto private property. There is no comparison to a raid on OUSD property where they were trespassing, to a private home with young children in it…its just not OK.

    And he may state that he does not know where his child will go to schoolin a few weeks, but that is his decision, all of the Lakeview children were reassigned, its his choice as a parent, to send his child to a new school, or not to.

  • Nontcair

    Mr. Velasquez makes an excellent point.

    The power-mongering Board leaves him little choice but to deliver his message to them loud and clear on the sidewalks in front of their homes.

    The respect accorded to elected officials. IOW, Velasquez should have made an obeisance and only addressed Members as “Your Highness”, and only when spoken to.


  • Jim Mordecai

    Ideally the chair of any meeting will facilitate the meeting and not take sides. What happened here is that the Chair, Jody London felt she was justified to interrupt public comment of Joel Velasquez. Her feelings aside, she wasn’t justified because in no way was Joel Velasquez expressing language that would trigger intervention and interuption of public comment.

    Intervention under Board rule BB 9327 Communication To the Board is triggered by “obscenities or offensive language that could immediately provoke a violent reaction…”

    It wasn’t the words Joel Velasquez was using, but the historic context of Joel Velasquez leading opposition to the Board and the Superintendent by demonstrations in front of the Superintendent’s home and occupation of Lakeview school that provoked the interruptions of Joel Velasquez’s public comment.

    Board Bylaw 9327 subparagraph (c) on “oral presentations” addresses the Board’s written rules regarding “Out of Order Remarks”:

    (c) Out of Order Remarks. Each speaker, under law, is responsible for his or her remarks made in a meeting of the Board of Education or a committee. While the Board will not censure any person’s speech, speakers are responsible for their remarks and should present all remarks courteously within the time permitted for such comments. At the same time, Board members are free to express criticism of remarks they believe are prejudicial or biased against other groups. They are free to remind speakers that prejudicial speech is antithetical to the aims of the educational endeavor.

    If any member of the public uses obscenities or offensive language that could immediately provoke a violent reaction, the presiding officer, or any member of the board, upon recognition by the presiding officer, is free to calmly and politely advise the speaker to communicate civilly. This policy promotes mutual respect, civility, and orderly conduct among District employees, parents, students and the public. It shall be the Board’s practice to maintain, to the extent feasible and reasonable, an atmosphere in which the public, the Board and District staff treat each other with respect. The Board is committed to maintaining the educational process and meetings free from disruptions that prevent learning and the free exchange of ideas.

    Under the above Board Bylaws language I feel the meeting chair and the Board member were not justified in interrupting Joel Velasquez’s speech. And, since the Board rules do not provide a right of a non-Board member to interrupt public comment, Superintendent Smith was 100% wrong in commenting without being asked by a Board member.

    Superintendent Anthony Smith owes Joel Velasquez an apology for violating Board rules and interrupting his public comment.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Super

    Great move. This joker’s previous wildly inappropriate actions have stayed with him. Now the board won’t put up with his threats. Love it. I hope he keeps it up. His cause will continue to suffer due to his antics.

  • Nontcair

    Around the country you see more and more of these school board meetings wherein power-mongering board members interrupt, belittle, and demean taxpayers — even threaten them with arrest — for daring to exercise their constitutional right to petition the government to address their grievances.

    In contentitious districts beset by incorrigible failure the boards finesse the loudest, most embarassing outcry by scheduling public meetings to occur at times most inconvenient to parents. Like the middle of the work day. Nonetheless, CCTV/I’Net technology has made it impossible for the politicians to completely evade our scrutiny.

    In a packed hall, in the interest of giving everyone a chance to be heard, I can understand allotting each speaker two minutes, even though most would need much, MUCH more time than that to draw attention to every issue they feel is deserving. But the video seems to show that the room was practically *empty*; I doubt that Mr. Velasquez was the last man standing in what had started out as a SRO crowd.

    He deserved a LOT more time than the statutory minimum which the lawyered-up board permitted him to have, especially when they burned up his mic time by distracting him into using it for a tangential discussion about what constitutes the proper, respectful tone in that sort of meeting.

    That dismissive fiat directing the board to (more important) closed door discussions was just outrageous!

  • Ethan Brady

    Tony’s superpersonal smile, call-me-Tony, here’s-my-cell-if-you-need-it approach is coming back to bite him. Now, everybody, step back, look up.
    Thank you Mr. Mordecai for a most enlightened reading of the situation and the rules. However, doesn’t one board member often say “we are the board, we make the rules”?
    I disagree with the front-lawn protests. But I also think about the families that suffer at home in silence about so many random decisions. My children are not affected but my solidarity goes to them.

  • Jim Mordecai


    The statutory minimum time is three minutes according to the Board’s policy 9327. The Board has ignored its policy of a minimum of three (3) minutes for so long that most or all the Board members assume that the minimum is (2) minutes. The proper procedure would be for the chair to seek a motion to suspend the rules when it is not following its rules. That motion needs a 2/3 vote of Board Members to pass.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Mike Hutchinson candidate for Oakland school board district 5

    I attended the meeting and was disgusted by the whole process. I have been present at nearly every board meeting this year and have seen the board, particularly directors London and Yee, continuously disrespect and demean the community that elected them. At Wednesday’s meeting I counted 6 people in attendance ( 2 were kids ) everyone else whi was there were district staff. One of the three speakers that night was given at least 5 extra minutes to speak without interruption. It was extremely inappropriate for London and Yee to interrupt Joel and prevent him from speaking. It was crazy for “Tony” to ask the police to escort him out. All Joel did was address the supertintendant by his first name, something that is commonplace at board meetings. The most disturbing part of the meeting was when the board congratulated themselves for having their quickest meeting ever. Yes if you reschedule the meeting so no one is there you will have a quicker meeting but who is served by quick meetings. Not the community who was shut out, not the teachers who had no representatives in attendance, and definitely not our students. It was just another example of why our district is in such desperate need of new leadership. Thankfully a majority of board seats are up for election in November.

  • Jim Mordecai

    I was wrong about Superintendent Smith owing Joel Velasquez an apology for interrupting his comments. I reviewed the video tape and Superintendent Smith didn’t make his comment “Officers–please no personal threats, please?” until after Mr. Velasquez’s time had expired.

    However, if you review the video tape notice that it is Board Member Gary Yee that threatens to end Mr. Velasquez’s speech by calling for a point of order and calling a recess if Mr. Velasquez continues to refer to the Superintendent Smith as Tony. Mr. Velasquez’s threat to “march to your home next Jody London” was the second threat.

    A difference between the two threats is that Mr. Velasquez has a right to protest in front of anyone’s house when on public property but Gary Yee didn’t have a right to call for a recess. Gary Yee’s motion to recess is classified under Robert’s Rules as a privileged motion and is out of order when another has the floor. Mr. Velasquez had the floor.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    Jim, you are always the voice of reason. Thank-you.

  • Observer

    I’ve attended several BOE meeting tover the last 2-3 years. Jodi London (and others, but mostly Ms. London) constantly interrupts speakers regaling them about protocol and taking their time up and then regaling them for expecting more time once she’s done so.

  • http://saveoaklandschools.org Tim Terry

    At the last school board meeting before this one, the board scheduled public comment at 11:30 p.m. At this late hour on a Wednesday night no one can expect parents, teachers or community members to participate. The way the current meeting was scheduled there were 4 adults in attendance. Then Jody London and Gary Yee interrupted the parent speaker and had him escorted out. One should deduce that this board doesn’t want to hear from the public. This boards turn to oppressive tactics speaks volumes to the disarray of the district under Tony Smith. Maybe it’s going to take having 200 smiling people in front of their homes to get the attention of this failed school board.

  • Seenitbefore

    We all need to remedy this situation….in November…. by voting OUT the board members who continue to disrespect our students, staff, parents and the community they were elected to SERVE.

  • J.R.

    Seen it,
    I’m with you all the way on this point, and there is a culture of arrogance and elitism that is all to evident in so-called public servants. Now is the time for everyone to educate themselves on the issues, and vote for qualifications,competence, and real world work experience. No more community activists who have never lived under a real budget. Enough of the insanity(ex:ranked choice is for fools).

  • livegreen

    There’s an interview with the new OEA leader Trish Gorham on Oakland North.


  • Nontcair

    The Gorham interview (#20) showed why public education is such a disaster.

    Gorham opposes expansion of charter schools. Not because they offer an inferior product, but rather because charters are a threat to the traditional, union dominated public school.

    Gorham points out that charters are a backdoor voucher system, and her observation is basically correct. That is, supporters of school vouchers and supporters of charters both want to see tax expenditures on schools beyond those which have long been eligible to receive them.

    IOW, Gorman’s political opponents view public education in the same way that *she* does. That is, as a vehicle to redistribute tax dollars in a way that specially benefits *them*.

    But I thought public education was supposed to be about teaching motivated, resident poor kids how to read?

  • Jim Mordecai


    Right, privatization is a threat to unions as long as charter schools are mostly non-union. However, I regret that both major teacher unions’ leadership has in the past figured that vouchers were a greater threat than charter schools. As a lesser evil union leadership has fought hard against the former while welcoming unionized charter schools.

    But, as Trish Gorham says in her North Oakland interview vouchers failed and charter schools are a backdoor to privatizing public schools.

    But, you over reach when asserting you can read the mind of the Oakland Education President Trish Gorham, and that you know, that out of a multiple of possible reasons for opposing charter schools, the one reason foremost on the mind of Trish Gorham is she thinks charter schools are a threat to unionism.

    In reference to the link of the North Oakland interview with the OEA President listed in #20, I challenge anyone to find OEA President Gorham saying that she opposes charter schools because they are threat to unionism.

    Instead, she indicated it was the privatization of public schools that negatively impacted public schools that OEA President spoke out against.

    I have always made clear that I oppose all charter schools. My number one reason is not because charter schools are mostly not unionized. My number one reason is the idea of charter schools being publicly financed and privately managed is anti-democratic and undermines the idea of public education being democratic when school boards are replaced with charter schools’ undemocratic private governing boards.

    If I didn’t belong to a union, such as the OEA, I believe, I would still oppose the idea of a system of charter schools as bad, anti-democratic, public policy.

    And, I would still oppose charter schools even if charter schools were separately funded and not competing for the same education dollars as public schools. I would oppose charter schools because they are by their nature weaker in public oversight than the traditional school system.

    Perhaps, OEA President Gorham’s number one reason for opposing charter schools is that they undermine democratic public school systems and overall the results do not justify substituting an undemocratic privatization school management for publicly managed schools.

    Maybe, OEA President Gorham thinks the competition between the two systems does harm to the funding of both systems. Charter schools were designed to compete with public schools for survival. Dual system of publicly funded schools means public and charter schools lobbying in Sacramento and Washington over the limited educational dollar intended by the taxpayers for educating students. Lobbying isn’t free and dollar diverted to lobbying is a dollar taken away from a child’s education. Advertising is commanding more and more of the educational budget of both systems as they compete for students. Lobbying and advertising that divert public education dollars may be Ms. Gorham major concern.

    Privatized charter school system has meant the growth of charter school monopolies called Charter Management Organizations. Perhaps Ms. Gorham recognizes the irony of growth of charter school management monopolies that limit choice and the original purpose for charter schools that was suppose to increase parent choice and supplant the public monopoly called public schooling.

    But, until the next interview of the OEA President and a different statement is made, I will believe OEA President Gorham chief opposition to charter schools is that she opposes charter schools because they undermine and destabilize public education in Oakland and other places.

    As a union dues payer, I would hope that charter schools are seldom unionized is a concern of the OEA President Gorham. But, I will not assert I can read OEA President Gorham’s mind or speak for her. If you read the interview by the Oakland North reporter you will learn that OEA President Gorham is fully capable of speaking for herself.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Observer


    You are against a system where workers who have gone through a transparent system to receive a credential that gives the public a benchmark of scientific to warrant the pay derived from tax dollars, but you are against a counter system of a private corporation taking the same tax dollars with no or very little transparency, no accountability and a focus on profit? Because that is the majority of charter schools in the US right now. Have you researched the charter movement? You understand and are ok with what has become the Walmartization of education for America’s children? Streamlined, cheap labor and materials that provide a greater profit margin for the powers that be with a cap at mediocrity in the final product—-that is the charter movement and there really is no denying the poor results. With names like Rupert Murdoch and Jeb Bush as primary stakeholders and profiteers of the charter movement, there’s little effort to even hide the motivation to use public money for private enrichment on the backs of families. Thi is a good place to start your research-http://www.dianeravitch.com/

  • Observer

    Standard not scientific. What an odd auto correct!

  • Nontcair

    #22 wrote: .. you can[not] read the mind of the Oakland Education President Trish Gorham

    That’s for sure, but what else would you expect someone suspicious of public sector unions to infer from Ms. Gorham’s rather categorical opposition to charter schools?

    I liked your principled argument against charter schools as being “anti-democratic”. There are many such public institutions nowadays, and I say let’s get rid of them all. It’s off-topic, but I can’t resist mentioning how public unions leverage their financial and voting strength to negotiate favorable labor contracts at the expense of taxpayers.

    Talk about anti-democratic!

    In case you didn’t catch my drift, I strongly oppose charter schools, vouchers and (with a technical exception here and there) all the other forms of government funding of education.

    Schools as the centerpieces of our communities and an epxression of democratic government? Charter schools “destablize” (valuable?) public institutions? Give me a break! When did teaching Johnny how to read take on such politically loaded overtones?

    I happen to believe that the local McDonald’s franchises and Wal*Mart stores are the centerpieces of our community.

  • J.R.

    I believe schools are a vital centerpiece of communities right up there with business(this is a known fact, and reality because good schools affect property values). What I have a problem with is unions co-opting the societal pillar of educating our children in order to further their own agenda and well being feather their own nests(or become a money stream for political use with taxpayer funded union dues which are mandatory BTW), oftentimes at the expense of those same children.The very day that dues are voluntary is the day I change my mind(it won’t happen in my lifetime if ever).

  • Nontcair

    #26 wrote: good schools affect property values

    Here we go again: The role of public education is to provide the societal pillar of protectionism for those of us who own real property in proximity to a school.

    How dare the unions co-opt that essential role as a means to protect themselves!

    Am I the only one around here who finds it offensive that poor people in the flats have to pay high sales taxes to fund institutions that are meant to keep hills home prices high (and out of their reach)?

  • J.R.

    One simple function, to provide a (free*)taxpayer funded education to all children. that is what children receive, and it is up to the individual to make the most of that opportunity. Government oversteps its bounds when it tries to be an employment agency, social health and welfare office and so forth. Whether you like it or not, effort,hard work and diligence do pay off(as they should). Why should anyone try harder if there is no compensation in it(whether it be satisfaction or remuneration)? Why should anyone go the extra mile when their positions and security are (for all intents and purposes)locked in by statute? The real problem is people being handed benefits without regard to merit(and even merit taking a back seat to seniority). Under this socialist type setup people tend to want to be paid the most for the least amount of work and effort which ultimately hurts society at large.

  • Nontcair

    #28 wrote: to provide a (free*)taxpayer funded education to all children.

    Actually, Article 9 §5 requires only a single free school in OUSD. It could be as large as O.Co or as small as a room in the library.

    There would be nothing unconstitutional about charging a user fee (“tuition”) to OUSD students enrolled in PS # 2, 3, 4 and so forth.

  • J.R.

    The state law is clear, the problem is perception and semantics.


  • Nontcair

    I’m too lazy to search CA’s Education Code. Perhaps it does require that *all* common schools be “free”. The CA State Constitution certainly does not.

    Please don’t ask me to believe that since a bunch of super left wing justices in Sacramento have “ruled” on §5 that therefore up means down and down means up.

  • J.R.

    I am not saying I agree with it, only that it has been interpreted that way. I believe that all public resources belong to citizens of this country(and no one else), end of story. I have never been accused of siding with liberals before, so that was pretty humorous.

  • Observer


    Wait! You oppose all government funded education, ie: public education, on principal? Then you believe parents should pay out of pocket to educate their children? Well, I’ve been to many countries where public education doesn’t exist. Generally what you see is a huge divide between the many poor and the very few rich with a struggling working poor trying to get ahead and educate their kids. Their kids usually get the equivalent of 8th grade or so and then give up to try and put food on the table. That’s your utopia for the US or do you have another idea?

  • Nontcair

    That’s not my idea of a US utopia but it’s a framework I could live with.

    Boy. You intimate that a 100% privatized education system couldn’t be worse than what we have now (and there’s plenty of reason to believe that it would actually be a lot *better*) and right away someone stands ready to accuse you of being some sort of monster who wants to turn this country into either a serfdom or a Somalia.

  • J.R.

    I oppose all public education on principle? Is that what the facts in all my various posts say? The US has been at or near the top in per capita education spending for decades and yet our children(even our best are not as well prepared as children from other nations(our kids have gradually declined since the seventies and eighties. We have been(especially unions) overly concerned with pay,perks,power and pensions and not even worried about the preparation or performance of our children. Much of our current system works(primarily due to the dedication of certain educators,and staff. We have some parents,students and teachers that care(and kids achieve), and we have some that don’t(and kids struggle).


    What I’m telling you is that the system is not set up to encourage, and promote excellence, it is set up for mediocrity where the length of service is rewarded rather than competence and excellence.

  • Nextset

    I agree with JR. Better for the State to reduce and generally eliminate it’s operation of schools. Let them go private.

    The State of California is no longer able to safely operate a school – from K to University – State Schools can no longer be safely run.

  • Observer

    #35–JR, my post was directed at Nontclair.

    While agree that we probably do put a good amount of money into public education as those other countries on the list you link, we still fall short financially and socially in how we support our children. I personally think the schools are doing all they can to “teach Johnny to read”. I went to California public schools when they were in the top ten and my children attend them know. The quality of the curriculum is still very good if not better. The quality of teaching is actulally a lot better. The teachers are better and more roundly educated and since they are not allowed to fall back on nefarious forms of discipline, they are much more advanced and creative in their methods. The main difference is that I and my peers must fundraise like crazy to pay for PE, library (ridiculous that anyone would think it better for children who rely on adults for access to the outside world to use public libraries instead of on-campus ones for reading and research), music, art, and anything remotely extra-curricular that was completely expected and guaranteed when I went to a first rate urban, public school system. I look at your list and I see countries that don’t penalize families but place value on them as a backbone of their society and culture. They do this by providing health-care, extended family leave and (say it isn’t so!) free, quality childcare! Poverty is held as a shame for all,not only the impoverished as it is here. There’s an attempt in OUSD to take on these roles and I believe (as you and the more conservative idealogues on here do, I believe) that will be futile. No school district should take on the health, dental and mental health care of not only its students but their entire families. Yet no one is doing it! It must be so frustrating to know that simple things like breakfast and someone reading to Johnny at night go a long way for Johnny during the day, yet it doesn’t happen. I listened to a whole show about POC falling further and further behind in OUSD and other urban communities across the country and while more support for families was discussed ad tnaseum, not a single word about family planning was mentioned. It was like the elephant in the room: discussion of single mothers of color, but not of the fact that many are mere children theselves when they have babies. Socially and culturally, those nations on your list that spend the money we do on education but achieve a greater success don’t get squiggly when it comes to providing access to sex education, family planning, birth control. It is not a taboo subject because it is expected that children will not have children they are not prepared to have but they will—gasp!—-probably have sex. That’s one. Two is when people of moderate means become parents they are not demonized for having an expectation of their community to be supportive. Let me tell you, we are a two income, educated household of decent means, good family and community support and it is unbelievable how much harder and more expensive it is to raise kids now then it was 25 years ago. It takes a lot more money, time, commitment and strategizing to bring a child up and there is so much more working against you. That is not just my perception; I have four grandparents and two great grandparents who have dropped jaws as they observe a complete demise of the public education they all held in high esteem and were taught to respect and support all their lives.

  • Nontcair

    Here we go again.

    The unwise but modest political goal of teaching Johnny how to read needs to be stretched into a grotesque and destructive political goal of (say it isn’t so) complete Democrat socialism.

    What’s ridiculous is hitting up taxpayers to support all these redundant government bureaucracies, especially when even the *first* incarnation of the institution was very likely unnecessary.

    No doubt that when we reach the point where single-payer healthcare has become the reality, you would still support fully equipped medical clinics (mini-ERs) in the schools.

  • J.R.

    Yes it is harder and more expensive to live and raise children(example: my parents bought their home fifty years ago for $12,500 thirty-some years after that I took out a mortgage for mine at 200,000+, way over tenfold, but my earning power is nowhere near tenfold). The boomer generation had the advantage of buying very low, and selling outrageously high(not to mention full Soc/sec, in which they get orders of magnitude more than they put in, but thats life and the luck of the draw. What is not just chance is making the best decisions each person can based on their circumstances. Personal responsibility has been lost in this country, and we don’t acknowledge that it is parents who in fact are responsible for their own children living in poverty. Through our church we help, but it will never be enough because people are generally too self involved to think ahead. Its sad that people struggle in this world, and sadder still when people are the cause of their own problems.

  • Observer

    Nontclair, you could use some reading comprehension. I quite clearly stated I don’t believe that is a school’s role and any effort will be futile. I’m not at all happy that any OUSD dollars will go to this effort while schools are funding large parts of their own curriculum themselves. But, I can understand how it’s come to be: no one is doing it.

    My point to JR is that every one of the countries listed in that link that spend as we spend on education have socialized medicine AND supportive programs such as childcare at low or no cost close towhee parents work. Every single one. I don’t understand how we can continue to compare what we lack in education as a country to those that show success and then completely dismiss the major components of their success simply because it might challenge the cowboy mentality of “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” and if you don’t, expect a kick in the head. Punitive, always, always we go to punitive.

    JR: the church?! In Oakland what has the church done for this community? The Vast majority of churches in West Oakland and the flatlands still preach abstinence to congregations of multiple generations of children born out of wedlock and that homosexuality is an immoral abomination to the same congregation of straight black girls and women who enjoy the highest rates of transmission of AIDS in the world. Again, punish those for not advancing the way you want them to and accept no alternatives. The church and people who keep this mindset in power refuse to teach any other method of personal responsibility because it makes them feel like they are giving up whatever false sense of power they hold by hanging on to antiquated dogma.

    How do you teach a child who was irresponsible enough to have a baby in high school (who is themself a child of a teenager and has only half siblings and never a father)personal responsibility? You can’t most of the time: it is counter to everything they know and understand about their own existence. The only chance is to give incentives-not necessarily monetary ones, but not abstinence–to not make babies they cant support and incentives to take care of the ones they have including getting them to school and making sure they do well.

    We should be handing out condoms like candy at Halloween.

  • Nontcair

    I understood you perfectly.

    You oppose schools taking an ever more active social welfare role not on principle but rather because you believe such efforts will be “futile”.

    Your support of school libraries, art/music programs, etc. indicates that you must believe those programs are not futile (you’re wrong). Presumably, had you reason to believe that kids who received public assistance through the education bureaucracy do better than those who get it the usual way, no doubt you’d be ALL FOR IT.

    And make no mistake. It’s not a feeble attempt. Public education *is* childcare.

    Family planning. Really.

  • J.R.

    A person who will not help themselves can never truly be helped in a permanent and lasting way. Hearts and attitudes must change before people and communities can change. The people you see as victims(and their parents) did most if not all the damage to themselves by making difficult situations even tougher. This is the true root cause of most problems we face as a nation. I agree with non than in many places to some people school is nothing more than childcare, it’s a sad fact but it is also true.

  • J.R.

    Why is it called family planning when most of the time it’s unwed,irresponsible people who cannot even take care of themselves in the first place(couldn’t plan a meal much less a family). These silly euphemisms(family planning)must disappear from our lexicon before we have a nation filled to the brim with underachievers.

  • James Jones

    Protesting in front of their houses is crossing the line, in my opinion. What did he think his words would do? Did he think that they would be so thoroughly convinced by his argument that they would renounce their previous positions and fall in line behind him? The parents need to stop coming to these meetings armed only with their opinions. They need to organize themselves into city-wide/county-wide Parent Associations.. and they need to act, not talk. When 10,000 kids don’t show up for class on monday and tuesday.. the school board will schedule a meeting and give you all the time you want to talk. But walking in there with no significant numbers behind you is like walking into a gunfight with a popsicle stick.

  • Nextset

    Interesting thread here.

    No the schools can’t fix or solve these problems. Welfare created the problems we have with the lower class.

    Eliminate all the welfare programs, all the drug treatment programs, all the feeding programs, all the free health care programs, extended unemployment programs, SSI, – all of it.

    As far as the schools go – eliminate social promotions and establish application and testing for enrollment in high school. Then flunk out no shows, failure to perform at grade level and behavior problems.

    We would find that the endless growth of screw ups would stop. When they have to find someone to feed them they might learn how to be useful.

    When you want to get rid of pests/vermin you start by removing their food supply.

    Until the USA learns this lesson there is nothing the public schools can do to spend it’s way into getting the kiddies to behave. Actually the budgets are not going to be there.

  • Observer

    Wow, you two are really determined to be contrary.

    I believe the social welfare program OUSD is implementing is wrong, misplaced and will be futile. I do not believe that is a school’s “job”.

    There is myriad evidence that art, music, PE in schools provide immense benefits to the learning process, particularly in science and mathNoRmally, what a waste to even try to debate the benefits of exercise, hand eye coordination, etc. In a well-rounded education. and Nontclair, your rant against libraries in schools as a waste and counter productive to ” teaching Johnny to read” is just bizarre. There’s really no logic in that argument. You play right into the profiteers hand who seek to make billions off of tax payers by subjugating their children to sit in front of screens 7 hours a day taught by computer programs.

    JR: I believe you are a parent (Nontclair is not). We are talking about teaching children to help themselves, not adults. Surely you had to teach your children self-reliance. They certainly aren’t born with it. Surely you did not do this entirely by yourself, you and their mother were not the sole providers of survival techniques in your child’s life, no? I’m not sure why you are insistent that people cannot be taught to help themselves, young or old. This happens all the time. I was involved in teaching a village in Thailand how to drill for and maintain fresh water wells after the Tsunami.Their government would not provide this for them and we struggled mightily against the bureaucracy to get permits because the official stance was that these people were too backward to be trusted to maintain the equipment and operations. The government wanted the whole lot of them to uproot themselves and go to the city where they would go from being peasant fishermen to vagrants hustling (of course then their land could be developed into 5 start resorts).This village is now thriving, better off than before the the Tsunami.

    Family planning should be taught to CHILDREN. Thats why it is called Planning—it is for people who dont already have children. But, why not extend it to the 15 year old boy and girl who already have achild to prevent another before they are 18? You tell young children bluntly, plainly and often that they need to wait to become parents until they can provide. My parents taught me and my mother told me where to go. And, growing up in a progressive area in the West, that direction was reinforced at school and any school nurse would tell a teenager to go to Planned Parenthood if asked. Not now- now you’d lose your job (but we don’t have school nurses very often anymore. One more thing we had when public education was working that the Nontclairs deemed unnecessary and now public education is failing and the Nontclairs who stripped it are saying, See! It doesn’t work!) You tell young children, school aged, to PLAN their lives. You tell them this in detail and often. Next set would say this is what, “White people” do. Well, there are plenty of lower socioeconomic white people who do not do that (more of them than black people actually). But it is what upper socioeconomic class educated parents do. They tell their children where babies come from, they tell them about birth control, they stay involved and attempt to manage their teenagers lives. The children of welfare recipients should be getting the same social education (through schools? Not my preference). But the church would never let that happen.

    Again, you provided a link that was supposed to tell me that the US is spending as much on education as the other first world, economic power countries. I agree, but counter that we don’t come anywhere close to those countries in what we spend to support our families (much less our elderly, sick, mentally ill).You mentioned the church and that seems to be the prevailing theme in the main political debate: if we would all go back to the Sunday church going society we were 100 years ago, all this would be taken care of. Let’s turn to the Church, not the government. One: that’s NEvER going to happen. Two: the government IS ourselves if we choose to make it that way.

  • AC Mom


    Just to clarify…do you oppose tax-payer funded, government mandated education because you believe that they have strayed from their core function, or if this were the 18th century you would be advocating against the school house in the town square?

    I happen to think public schools can be useful for reasons that have already been stated on this thread. However, I think that OUSD should focus education rather than trying to integrate social services into its programming. The healthcare clinics that you alluded to in one of your posts, are a good example of OUSD straying from its core mission.

  • Observer

    Next set, have you been to developing//3rd world countries that have no social safety nets? What you have are not children learning self-reliance and magically transforming themselves into “useful” tradespeople. You have beggars, scores and scores of beggars and slums as far as the eye can see.

    Homeless street people in the droves we have now in the US were unheard of until we cut the safety nets to the mentally I’ll and now they cost us at least 3 times as much as they would have had they remained housed on our dime.

    Again, you cannot compare us to high functioning, strong economies (relatively, even with the downturn) and ignore the fact that they do not ignore the welfare of their families and aren’t obsessed with individualism.

  • J.R.

    Families need to be whole to support themselves, if they cannot support themselves they are nothing but wards of the state supported by taxpayers. It’s like that well known truism “any two fools can reproduce and have children, but it takes dedicated, mature,loving people to raise a family right”. The state and or it’s functionaries(school system) can never replace the well functioning family unit. Liberal attitudes of “free love”, “mix and match families”, “welfare” , “section 8″ , have all resulted in tearing the fabric of society and dumbing society down to the lowest common denominator and trying to bring redundant social services to schools wil not fix these problems and will make them worse.

  • nontcair

    I totally oppose government mandated education. Repeal all compulsory attendance (truancy) laws.

    For that matter, aside from natural law kinds of standards — the so-called “negative” (thou shall’t not ..) commandments — I’m no fan of government mandated *anything*.

    The 18th century model you referenced was perfectly acceptable to me, inasmuch as the schoolmarm was generally compensated by the *parents* of the kids who attended the school. Room and board, a small stipend. That sort of thing.

    A general purpose room in a small community center, reserved for maybe 2 hours per day to teach basic skills to poor kids, would be a modern day equivalent that I could live with, so long as taxpayers weren’t also hit up for the cost of the instructor.

    The whole thing “managed” by the Dept of Parks & Rec.

    Ask yourself: What “problem” do we need public schools to “solve”? I dare say that most people in the developed world nowadays would be ashamed that orphans, the abject poor, etc, who were desperate to receive some sort of education (certainly *not* pre-Stanford), were being denied that opportunity based on lack of financial resources.

    When you consider how charitable Americans are, the actual number of kids who would fall into that crack would be quite small. Maybe around 1% of all kids.

    That’s a “problem” with a limited scope which could be adequately addressed by the government, ie through the light hand of taxation. Property taxes, sales taxes. It doesn’t really matter. Indeed, the whole thing could be set up (in-perpetuity) with a very modest, one-time endowment, plus on-going private donations.