Oakland schools, facing civil rights investigation, could adopt “voluntary resolution”

The Oakland school district’s approach to student discipline has become the subject of a federal investigation. But that inquiry might come to a halt if the school board agrees to take action first, voluntarily — which it might do on Wednesday.

Given the disproportionate number of out-of-school suspensions handed to Oakland’s African-American students, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights began looking in May to see whether those practices are racially discriminatory. (Since Oakland is hardly unique in these patterns, I called the Department of Education this morning to see how many other school districts are under investigation. I have yet to receive an answer.)

At Wednesday night’s regular meeting, the Oakland school board will be asked to approve a so-called “voluntary resolution” — a 20-page document that includes remedies ranging from parent education and staff training to schoolwide strategies such as restorative justice programs. It has identified 38 schools — roughly 45 percent — with the most disproportionate suspension and explusion rates of African American students, but the plan would be taken districtwide.

The resolution would also aim to reduce suspensions of the district’s special education students; nearly one in five were suspended at least once during the school year, twice the district’s overall rate, according to a study from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project in April.

I’d like to know what you think of the various aspects of this plan, and how you think it will — or could — help schools and students. Have you seen a school become safer and more harmonious while simultaneously reducing its out-of-school suspensions?


Oakland school district: Office for Civil Rights resolution

Katy Murphy

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

  • Jesse James

    What a difference this could make!!!

  • makeitgoaway

    45% of the schools? So despite all the talk, and the special programs and the costly consultants, and the community interventions, and the after school programs, and Board resolutions, this means that teachers and administrators In middle and high schools are unable to control almost half of the students. The truth is that the best discipline is done in house- assuming that it hasn’t worked, we have a major retraining program on our hands, or this is just so much talk.

    This suggests there are too many inexperienced teachers and administrators, or veterans who do not have control of their classrooms. No wonder so many parents leave OUSD in middle and high school. What good does this decree really do?

  • OSD123

    The simple fact is that Oakland schools are being scapegoated for what is quite simply the obvious result of the utter collapse of discipline and morality within the lower-class African American community.

    OUSD teachers are not going out of their way to unfairly target African American boys. If anything they are too lax in disregarding or excusing anti-social and/or aggressive behavior that in any suburban school would get a child into deep trouble. The bigotry of low expectations has been a death of educational attainment.

    Once again those who themselves will never have to step into a classroom are pushing their personal political agendas on the educational system. We need to impose more discipline, not less, especially for children who do not receive correct instruction in acceptable norms of social behavior at home. Efforts to impose so-called “restorative justice” programs are an ultra-liberal pipe-dream which the thuggish element simply laugh at along with those unreconstructed hippies who push them.

    Ask any child in OUSD who actually cares about their education what they want and you will get the same answer every time – get the thugs and wasters out of their classrooms. One or two disruptive students can kill their hopes of a good education and a safe learning environment. We have spent far to many resources on programs exclusive to one ethnic minority without any quantifiable results except to provide employment to people who otherwise would be working flipping burgers.

    Start holding parents really accountable for their children’s atrocious upbringings through fines up to imprisonment and maybe they might get off their backsides and do some proper parenting instead of blaming schools for trying to protect teachers and other students from their children’s thuggish attitudes and amoral behavior.

  • Ann Joseph

    My child, who isn’t black or white (she is mixed race, if that even matters)just started at an Oakland public middle school. She has asked several times a day, “Why are all the African American kids the worst behaved?” Her elementary had plenty of high-performing African American children that were well-behaved and she can’t understand why these other kids who have come from different schools need to be so disruptive to learning at her new middle school. It is interesting to note that most of the middle class African American kids that were at her elementary school are gone- nowhere to be seen at the Oakland middle school. I have tried to answer her by talking about socioeconomics, that it’s not all about skin color, expectataions set at home, all the usual…She’s not buying it. Her experience, with a few rare exceptions, is that the African American kids in her classes are the loudest, most rude, most disrespectful to the teachers, and most disruptive to the learning process. This afternoon she asked me if these kids that behave so badly could be made to leave the school so that the kids who want to learn will be able to learn. What am I to tell her? That there is a new charter school for 100 Black Boys that she can’t attend, and that her school is afraid to suspend the disruptive kids for fear of reprisal, even if it’s justified? Something has got to change. This is not fair and not right for a single student. No one is getting their needs met and it only seems to be getting worse for all involved.

  • J.R.

    I have noticed that as well, and as you said “it is not about color, but upbringing”. Not politically correct but accurate. I was telling my own daughter(middleschool), that what you do is a reflection of your parents and the way you were raised. This is not a matter of civil rights, it is all about respect learned at home(or not). In the push for fewer suspensions which is tantamount to a policy of obliviousness to disobedience, things will only get worse. Mark it down.

  • Observer

    Fine. Don’t make it about race, make it about infractions. You get X number if infractions and you don’t get suspended to your (un)parents, but they and you must sit to be instructed in one of the multitude of empty classrooms in OUSD staffed by federally funded teachers (preferably with a military background). That doesn’t work you, and your (un)parents must attend a federally funded “expulsion” school where, in addition to 5 hours or academics you all must attend courses on manners and etiquette.

    Who are they kidding? Have they not actually investigated the allegation? All they have to do is walk into any middle or big school in Oakland, even Edna Brewer. It’s outrageous how out of control some of these kids are allowed to be.

  • Steven Weinberg

    My recommendation based on 40 years of school site experience is DO NOT SIGN THIS CONSENT DECREE. The District should take the actions they believe are necessary to improve student disciplinary procedures and reduce unfair suspensions, but they should not sign a document making themselves legally responsible for accomplishing all that they hope to accomplish. Based on OUSD’s experience with past consent decrees, they require mountains of paperwork, and the monitors assigned to evaluate the progress are never satisfied.

    I read the list of requirements for every disciplinary referral a teacher makes, even one that does not result in any punishment at all. 21 items need to be included. It would take 15 minutes just to write out such a referral. Let’s say a student takes out his cell phone in class and starts texting and refuses to stop when the teacher tells him to. Normally, such minor defiance would merit a referral to an administrator who would take the phone away for some period of time, contact the parent, and perhaps assign a detention. Knowing that this will happen, the student will usually comply with the teacher’s request in the first place. But under the consent decree the teacher will have to complete answers to 21 questions on the referral, including detailing the student’s past disciplinary transgressions, witnesses, and many more items. The teacher will also know that each referral of a black student will be recorded and possibly held against the referring teacher. The teacher is likely to just ignore the misconduct, and with each case where prohibited behavior is accepted the general school climate will erode.

    The details of this decree look like a full-employment plan for consultants. They place unrealistic burdens on already over-worked administrators, and they will eat up staff development time, allowing less attention to academics.

    If there must be a consent decree, reduce it something extremely short, and only focus on out of school suspensions and expulsions. You can still try to implement ambitious plans, but don’t enter binding agreements that may be impossible to keep.

  • Ann Joseph

    Katy- what is the phone number to call the Dept. of Education? I would like to personally invite them to my daughter’s middle school, so they can see the offensive behavior with their own eyes. I would like to know if they have actually investigated the allegation, per #7 Observer.

  • Murphy’s Law

    It’s mindset

    >>Normally, such minor defiance would merit a referral to an administrator who would take the phone away for some period of time, contact the parent, and perhaps assign a detention.<<

    Let me get this straight. A kid uses a cell phone in class and refuses to listen to teacher. The response is, normally, to send the kid to the principal? Wow…
    If a kid is defiant over a cell phone, they likely will contest the referral and decline to go. A game a poker ensues. Or, kid goes to the office… still on the phone… and the rest of the class sees this as the standard way of responding without losing face.

    In my classroom, and many other teachers I know, this would be the response to a defiant child on the cell phone:

    1. Class directed to read quietly.
    2. Cell phone call from teacher to parent at work, home, wherever.
    3. If no parent can be reached, continue calling all numbers on the emergency card – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, god parents, coaches, pastor, etc….

    This is how a teacher with a rambunctious class in a high-needs school could handle such an event without losing their authority and without sending the child to the office:

    a) “Mr so-n-so, I’ll let you talk with Trayvon in a second, but first… (keeps kid in room)
    Some teachers might send a child to the principal and face detention or suspension, but I know how much you care about Trayvon’s education. I’m calling you first to give you a chance to help him make better choices so he can stay in class and learn. I have a list of adults here like your mom, sister, cousin, pastor, and his coach to call but I wanted to give you a chance first to help him.

    Rationale: This is teacher code. Means: if you don’t handle your son I’m going to put your business in the street. You deal with it, or I’ll deal with it. I’m challenging you to step up and handle this situation, and failure isn’t an option for this kid or my classroom.

    b) If it continues, I’m going to use the law requiring a parent to sit by the child in class for a day or two. I’d hate for you to miss work, but I’d also hate for the students (including Trayvon) to miss their learning.

    Rationale: This is teacher code. Means: if he inconveniences the class, I will inconvenience you. Working adults start getting serious when you mess with their money/job. Non-working adults likely don’t want to be embarrassed. Regardless, their presence will help establish a proper baseline of behavior.

    c) I look forward to coming by the house tomorrow to discuss this with your family. I’ll be there around 6:30. I look forward to it.

    Rationale: No code. Just old-fashioned connection to family. Builds trust. Stops the blame game. And the other kids in the class will consider the teacher as a legit, caring adult.

    Many teachers are completely disconnected from the parents. I know it can be extremely challenging, but when a teacher refers a kid to the office for non-major things it undermines their own authority.

    There are “teachers” who haven’t made a home visit in years…. If ever. How is that possible? We talk about parent engagement but it’s a joke. You don’t have to visit every house. Make it random. Vary the reasons. Could be to share positive news. But GO!! If you don’t you are stuck hoping the parents believe you when you say their kid is misbehaving. If you don’t have the decency to contact them before something goes wrong, why should they support you against their child…. When they know that supporting their child in this crazy environment is key to their survival. Why should they support you if they don’t know you? Should they assume you have their kids’ best interest at heart? Should they assume you are a moral person with wisdom? Go visit the parents. Call them for good things. You have no idea of what their experiences are with other “instructors” and you, unfortunately, have to wade through the mess caused by previous teachers who may have failed in their duties.

    I don’t blame the teachers, it’s the “instructors” I have a problem with. The detached under-belly within the ranks that see themselves as too busy or too good to connect with parents. The Instructors who bemoan a lack of parent engagement but can’t seem to find the time to make a home visit because it’s not in their contract. I have a problem with people who dress like hippies, sip lattes, come late, talk on their cell phone and come with lesson plans that don’t differentiate instruction as required… but they send kids to the office for poor behavior. If you can’t get to their homes (physical disability) then you should be in regular contact by phone at minimum.

    Most teachers don’t confront the “instructors”. They have a code of silence. If you want to keep the DOE out of OUSD schools, then make changes to the way we treat families.

    People wonder why parents flock to some schools and abandon others… it’s not about politics for parents, it’s about knowing that the adults do more than give lip service to wanting to teacher your child.

    I’ll say it again and again. No hard feelings. If you’re not able to teach in an Oakland school and do right by kids, find another place to work. It’s not about you. The conditions inOUSD will never be perfect. The kids will always have issues. Some teachers can handle it, others cant. Same with principals. Stop begging for smaller class sizes and compliant children. The classes are big and the some children are defiant. Are you in or not…..

  • Murphy’s Law

    I almost forgot. The result from the above approaches would be

    1 kids who are considering misbehaving would evaluate the risks and likely conclude it’s not worth it. Handled correctly, doing this once or twice will prevent a year of frustration whereas sending to the principal will likely be an again-and-again scenario

    2. The principal can do their job instead of being a prison guard because of instructors lack of management skills. Heaven forbid, they might even visit a classroom.

    3. The teacher creates a much safer place for children to learn. They have an excuse to buck their peer group.

    But hey, what do I know…. send them to the office, give them a rap sheet a mile long, blame the parents for not being responsive, and then complain about the exodus of kids from OUSD middle schools.

  • Katy Murphy

    You’ll find the contact information for the Dept. of Education’s regional office in San Francisco at this link:


  • Nextset

    Black kids are physically different from white/jewish/asian kids.

    Deal with it.

    I’m black. The first thing when you see a Dr is they compare your workup with black norms. Not white norms. Likewise certain drugs work differently in the different groups of patients.

    The physical differences lend themselves to the different tastes and behaviors. Other groups have similar issues – Jewish males for example have interesting issues we don’t. They have psychologists on speedial, we get tested for Prostate Cancer at 40 instead of 50. That’s life.

    Back to the thread. Blacks go into puberty as early as 9 nowadays – especially the girls. Asians go the latest on the average (15-16?). Get yourself a classroom full of 14 year olds dominated by the different groups and tell me we are all created the same. Baloney.

    The only problem with disciplining black students is white liberals trying to do it – or worse, interfering and undermining those that are attempting to discipline/housebreak the black kids.

    Because fundamentally white liberals and their ilk have nothing but contempt for blacks and want to treat them like indulged pets. Get their votes and let them go do what they want in their neighborhood. It’s not that the libs would ever send their kids to a black school.

    If we want these black schools to actually be schools we’d get out of the way of all the discipline the teachers and staff want to mete out, up to and including expulsion and disciplinary transfers – like white schools do. Too bad they aren’t using corporal punishment because that’s what is needed. Severe Corporal punishment.

    Not going to happen.

  • http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2012/02/three-handy-pages-with-facts-about.html Sharon

    My two-cents is to attempt to share the insights of Elijah Anderson, a Yale sociologist and author of “Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City” (1999). When I read the book, things I had been observing in at my daughters’ schools and elsewhere fell right into place. An excerpt from one of the chapters (“Campaigning for Respect”) in a subsection called “School as a Staging Area” is @

  • J.R.

    Murphy’s Law,
    Good posts, although this is just the symptoms that these enablers are treating(not the root cause)the root of school behavior is in the home. Look at the charts and you can see a pattern develop, this is not about children of color at all. If the study were done on the family structure of those that had a high propensity for suspension, you would no doubt see that the family unit is fractured or broken in some form or fashion(divorce,single parent,raised by grandparent,drugs etc).

  • J.R.

    “Alienated black students take on the oppositional role so effectively that they often become models for other disaffected students”. Once again enablers fail to see that for the most part people alienate themselves(study is too hard , and I want the easy road). Look to the parents, there is the example for the kids and they are indeed the ones who have placed the children in their precarious position. These book writing enablers always strive to say what the “trodden down” want to hear, ah sweet music to the ears. Bottom line is the parents are the driving force in character building, and they are responsible for having children and placing them in substandard conditions. End of story.

  • Observer


    Since you brought it up-again-I am curious how a black person who has apparently experienced little if any of the discipline problems in this discussion in your own life and has stated, implied and inferred again and again that they were not a problem when you were in school, how can you say black people as a race are inherently different than other races when it comes to this issue? Doesn’t the fact that society treats black people differently come into play as the first factor? Inside and out. What I mean by that is the “outside” society of lower socio-economic blacks and the society within that group, the “inside”. Different norms and standards, moral compasses, etc. Same physical persons. I still insist that if you take a newborn baby out of West Oakland and raise it with well to do parents in Upper Rockridge you will not get an un-disciplined, nearly incapable of speaking properly high school drop out who starts having multiple children out of wedlock before they turn 18.

    So tell us—what did you do to overcome your natural, physical tendency toward delinquent,obstructive behavior that the body and mind you were born with compelled you to do? Or do you think the corporal punishment you experienced did the trick? I can tell you, 30 plus years ago corporal punishment was hardly relegated to minorities and it certainly isn’t used today on anyone. So, it didn’t “work” for whites any better than it did for blacks and vice versa. If it did, why are white and asian students so successful in it’s absence?

    It may be a moot point, arguing on how the road was walked to get these kids to this point. I went to middle school and one entirely frightful semester of high school in Long Beach, so I have experienced first hand what OUSD upper grade schools are like as a student. But, it is counter-productive to say the problem lies in basic biological and natural physical and mental differences, genetic dispositions.

    By the way, the early onset of puberty is scientifically theorized to be a result of environment, most notably crappy nutrition, limited access to regular exercise (these two are the key triggers—just count the number of ingredients in a bag of Doritos), environmental stress and physical and mental trauma. All girls and boys of all races are experiencing puberty earlier than previous generations and all have much more exposure to chemicals in air, water and foods, readily available nutritionally deficient foods and environmental stress. Poor people just have more exposure.

  • On the Fence

    The minute I read this I thought to myself, “Jeez, my high schooler may just make it through the public school system, but my middle schooler may not!”.

    I am a public school advocate and parent of two children. I am absolutely against this resolution. Most parents that I know and countless others who have commented on this blog (over the years) have asked for more (and stricter) discipline, not less. Many parents have already thrown in the towel and have left for other districts, or private schools because they could not tolerate the level of undesireable behavior in their public schools. Those of us who stay and promote our public schools often do so after a cost benefit analysis shows us that our child’s education has not suffered despite X number of disruptive, defiant, and otherwise unruly children. We also see that as the proportion of concerned, active, responsible families send their children to our public schools, we create a critical mass and a culture shift away from the chaos.

    If it becomes more tedious, more onerous, and less supported for a teacher to discipline a poorly behaved child of any race, the culture of chaos will increase. The cost benefit analysis of this public school advocate and others may swiftly shift away from the public schools.

    I do not want all 28 of the other children to read silently for most of the period while Mr. Johnson addresses, cajoles, entertains, connects with, empathizes, disciplines, reprimands, and soothes the 4 disruptive kids in the class day after day, or calls the 10 numbers on their emergency form to find a responsible elder. That violates the educational rights of the great majority of OUSD children.

  • Katie McLane

    Over the years, I have found that the kids who seem to be disruptive are usually ones seeking some kind of attention (positive or negative, doesn’t matter…) and if they have some caring adult in their lives, there is often a turn-around. That’s why we sponsor a Volunteer Fair for agencies that work with our youth and give those of us with some extra time a chance to find exactly the right fit with an agency that serves Oakland’s youth. The fair is Saturday, Sept. 15th at Westlake Middle School (2629 Harrison St.) from 1:00 to 3:00. An investment of our time can make a difference in the life of all of our kids.

  • Nextset

    Observer: Why the black kids hit puberty first isn’t the issue – the fact is that they do and we have to manage it. I don’t believe it’s the Doritos though.

    Let’s look waaay back into 1950’s-1960s Oakland. Everybody I knew was from a 2 parent home – except some white folks and not so many there really.

    I believe we (black kids) were as rowdy and any of the little Negroes now are. I know the Irish Kids were even rowdier. The thing is, all of us were physically terrified of our parents. Have you seen angry Italian Mothers from 1964? Their husbands stepped carefully. We lived next door to a well known Italian family. They had a number of boys. Nobody crossed Mommy or Daddy. It wasn’t healthy. Then there were the Jewish Families and their Mothers and Fathers.

    We all got around. The stories were the same. You had better not get caught doing something you weren’t supposed to, embarrass your family or have anybody phoning your parents with accurate stories of your acting up.

    Yes they were physical. Everybody’s parents were capable of violence, not only on our rear ends but on our toys and the cars we had/hoped to have/borrowed.

    And both the Nuns in the Catholic Schools and the Staff in the public schools were not going to look the other way about too much either. They could hurt you physically, socially and with the parents. I have friends and relatives that went to the Jesuit High School in the East Bay. I am told the “Brothers” or whatever they were would hit students who crossed the line.

    It seemed to work. Pretty well actually. Our bad boys became cops, firemen and other civil service people. The bad girls became anything they wanted to be. But first they learned how to behave in public.

    In Catholic School we had the 10 commandments on the wall so we had a good list of what really got you in trouble. Black Kids in public school don’t seem to have a clue about the Penal Code or anything else. Can’t even guess.. Nobody teaches them the Penal Code or the 10 commandments. Need to do both in school.

    The government destroyed black family life with the state welfare schemes. Granted. But the schools still must instill discipline in it’s products or there is no saving them. Even if the family is gutter trash, every time the school looks the other way when a child curses, is violent or undisciplined the school is ruining the child – and damaging the other products who see bad behavior get ratified and reinforced. That’s what I see going on in the black schools. Didn’t happen this way in the black schools prior to Brown vs Board. That’s because back then there was no need to keep the chillun happy and pacified. They were in school to learn (including how to behave and how to survive). Now they are in school as holding pens.

    Too bad. But hey, generally all my friends and family send their kids to private schools. And they will get to the seat of the problem if there is a phone call about the kid acting up.

    Brave New World.

  • Observer

    But, but, but—white parents are not enforcing discipline with corporal punishment. And the divorce rate is pretty high. Ok, I’ll grant that even with high divorce rates or lofty attitudes about marriage and intact families (we call them “blended families”) reaching up to the upper class communities, there is obviously more stability. But—there are no violent consequences when expectations of behavior are not met. There was, and now there is not.

    So how do you explain the exceedingly low–in fact far LOWER—rates of disciplinary actions in mostly white schools today compared to 25 years ago? These are communities who were taught spanking will damage our child psychologically and prevent trust between you from flourishing and parents have followed this edict and, for this sector, have better behaved children in school then they were 20, 30, 40 years ago. I know my childs school has less discipline problems than mine did and both are about the same academically, culturally, etc. But, Lord, you would be hung out to dry if you considered spanking your child!

  • http://Nextset@Att.Net Nextset


  • Murphy’s Law

    @on the fence:
    It only needs to happen once (twice at most) and kids will get the picture. The investment you make on the front end of taking the 5-10 minutes to make some phone calls will basically free you up for the year. It’s not that you’re attacking the child, but you’re sending a clear message to everyone in the room that you’ll go as far as you need to to handle the situation in a way that disrupts their bubble… and it honors the parents.

    Or…. a person can continue to allow disruptive behavior and respond knee-jerk in ways that likely wont change the dynamics in the class. And although you might get compliance due to an office referral, the teacher sets a very unproductive precedent where they essentially play chicken with the disruptive kids. Those kids will likely keep mental score of how far they can push before getting the referral and if the teacher is inconsistent at all… they will cry foul. Regardless, it will cost WAY more time for everyone involved to keep doing the referrals.

    The other way, you can say. Hakim, your parents told me they don’t stand for that. Pressure is off of the teacher and onto the kid.

    To each his own, but we at least have to acknowledge that if we keep doing the same things… the result wont get any better.

  • Gail

    Some teachers have classroom management skills and some don’t–to a certain extent I think these skills can be learned from experience but to a greater extent I think they’re related to a teacher’s personality and the level of confidence they feel. My own son was–shall we say–challenging to many of his OUSD teachers. But he thrived in the classrooms of teachers who were sure of their authority (interestingly, these often tended to be women of small stature, smaller than he was in middle school). When teachers were less confident he could sense that and gave them endless trouble.

    I’m sure there are students whom almost no teacher could handle–but I also suspect those are relatively few. And, may I say, having seen Katie McLane (#18) interact with challenging adolescents, if we could clone her many times over these problems would largely be resolved.

  • Nontcair

    #7 wrote: Let’s say a student takes out his cell phone in class and starts texting and refuses to stop when the teacher tells him to .. take the phone away for some period of time

    Article 1 §2(a) states that: “Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.”

    Sorry, but the government can’t take away Johnny’s cell phone without due process.

    If Johnny says/texts something libelous about the teacher, her legal remedy is to *sue* the kid (‘s parents), but she no legal authority to confiscate the device.

    The kids can text discreetly at 100 WPM. Their conduct might be inattentive and even disrespectful, but it’s not really bothering anyone.

    I haven’t read the list of items which would need to be checked-off or explained in an “infraction report”, but at least the process recognizes that the kids have rights.

  • Pepe

    Cellphones have nothing to do with free speech. These are 2 completely separate issues.

  • Nextset

    Nontclair: #24 is a silly post.

    But the fact that some people think this way is one reason why the government schools should be closed and the work outsourced to private schools.

    We have trained people to have fantasies of what their rights are. Combine that with weak, ineffective and counterproductive “penalties” both in the schools administratively and in the civillian courts and you have Chaos. I think Texas has less of this than California. We need to be more like Texas – or many of the southern states.

  • AC Mom

    Observer @20 and Nextset @21:

    Observer, I don’t think that schools, even schools that have roughly the same racial composition are “academically, and culturally” the same as they were 20+ years ago. This is true of schools that remain predominantly Af. Am. or White. There have been major shifts in this country which I think account for much of the changes in classroom behavior. To many to list here, but any history or poli. sci. course chronicling America from the 1960’s to the present would provide an apt explanation.

    Nextset: I.Q. may play a factor (I am always leery of macro analyses of I.Q.); however, I think that a historical argument is far more compelling.

    Oh, and Murphy’s Law…thank you for your comments and for your work. If my kid acted up in class….wooo weee! It would be on.

  • Nextset

    AC Mom: I suspect you believe the “historical” explanations because you want to and it makes you feel better than the very thought that biologically related IQ differences exist.

    One of the things about the practice of medicine and law is that one is forced to stop living in your comfort zones and deal with reality and the numbers.

    A class full of 14 year old German Jewish Boys anywhere is vastly different in cognitive power than a class full of either Sub Saharan African Boys of the same age or of American Blacks from an urban area. As is a Class full of the same aged black boys from a military base. We can throw in similar sorts of other groups from Mexican Indian colonists in CA from Mexico, a group of Irish kids or Italians, whatever. We have nearly 100 years of data sets on the various ethnic groups and the group average scores are fixed and stable. Mind you, you need large groups as opposed to small groups of select subjects for the numbers to assert themselves.

    This is why the Chicago striking teachers will NEVER permit themselves to be evaluated by student performance. They may be leftist but thay are not stupid. They understand very well the racial differences expressed in “The Bell Curve” and related studies – if for no other reason because they live with it. I predict they will bring the Chicago Libertard machine to their knees and will quickly get a settlement that protects them from any such teacher evaluation scheme.

    Such “evaluations” reward and promote those teachers who can avoid black students or only agree to teach select black students. And all the teachers unions know this.

    Back to the thread – discipline. Discipline and behavior are directly tied to cognitive issues as well as the school’s permissiveness with the lower class. Bad behavior including self destructive behavior is a hallmark of the lower cognitive orders. It’s part of being dull. Greater force and greater discipline is required to get civil behavior from dull people – always. See Banfield’s “the Unheavenly City Revisited” (one of my favorite books from classes at UC).

    Any sign on weakness or lack of resolve with the dulls gets you far greater aggression from them. Anyone who works with this population knows this and it’s not that they don’t like you, it’s just the way things are.

    Remember – in my experience some of the class dulls who were ridden severely by the Nuns in grade school and then the teachers and the coaches in high school did very well indeed. And that goes double for the bad girls. High cognition is not everything in life. There is a lot of money to be made and a good life to be had with fair to middling cognition trained and honed into occupations where they have the advantage.

    This is what the (white/black) liberals cheat the black students out of today compared to what I saw when I was in school. Our poor and dull classmates were disciplined and knew how to press their advantages legally. These kids now don’t. They’ve been cheated in their education. They’ve been spoiled and ruined.

  • Nextset

    I think it was Stalin that said there is such a thing as being “too smart”… as he liquidated his Jewish executive in the USSR…

    However he was fine with staffing his American Spy Corp with Jewish agents. It got him the bomb and much more…

    Cognition is not everything in life. And it is not distributed equally across mankind anymore than any other attribute is. It does create issues for public schools. We managed it fine until the one size fits all nonsense was applied to public schools. You want’s see that in private schools where people get their moneysworth or they are gone.

  • AC Mom


    Alot of assumptions regarding my opinion of IQ…There’s enough “history” around how such data and testing has been used for harmful intentions, particularly against communities of color. Can IQ be useful? Yes, and I like my IQ just fine.;) However, if we accept your statement that IQ’s have been consistent throughout the decades, and that IQ and behavior are related, then how do you explain the reduction in the number of suspensions, etc. of some students and the increase in discipline of others? A historical explanation could include changes in perception and use of corporal punishment, the decline of two parent households, etc. It would include the broad cultural, economic, and political forces that have impacted American life over the past 20+ years. In short, IQ cannot be the sole explanation for changes in the rates of disciplinary action of Af. Am. boys.

    Based upon your post above, I see that we don’t disagree on the basic premise that things are different now than they were then, and so the outcomes have changed.

  • On the Fence

    Murphy’s Law:

    I like your idea and it is plausible that it will work for some kids. You may also possess a unique ability to interact with the kids and families in a way that produces the result that you desire. However, many of the children that continuously defy, disrupt and wreak havoc in OUSD classrooms will not just require your 5 to 10 minutes approximately twice or so at the beginning of the year. If only it were so easy. Many of these kids have had multiple interventions by a whole lot of skilled, caring, culturally astute teachers, like yourself. Many of these families have had multiple contacts with the schools.

    I believe you when you suggest that this has been effective for you, however, again perhaps you have a gift that is unique to you. The issues with undesireable behavior are usually pretty complex and twenty minutes of even suberb classroom management skills don’t eradicate them. We are not talking about Johnny who talks too much with his seatmates, we are talking about the child who routinely pushes desks and walks out saying “I don’t give a fU@K” among other disruptive, impulsive, socially unacceptable behaviors.

    OUSD has a number of students who fit that category. I hear about these students as do many parents with children at OUSD. They make it difficult for the other kids to learn and the teacher to teach. Even with the best dang therapist money could buy their behavior will not likely change in a few short sessions, let alone 5 to 10 minute interventions. Growth and change would be a long term, extraordinarily expensive process, that both the child and the family would have to buy into in a setting outside the classroom. In the meantime, if a child is not capable of maintaining themselves in a productive manner in the classroom, by all means, send them out.

  • Stacey Smith

    Katy: The District’s proposal does not indicate steps that would specifically target support for students with special needs and while “special education” is listed as a population to collect data on and for reduced suspensions, I wonder:
    1. What is the number or percentage of African-American students who are disciplined who are also students with disabilities?
    2. Will the “Lead Project Manager” and “Subject Matter Expert Consultant” have expertise in working with African-American students with disabilities?
    3. The agreement says that all schools will use a response to intervention framework to address the disproportionality, but by definition RTI is a general education intervention and students are referred to special education when RTI is not effective because it is not set up to meet their unique needs. (Although a student can be referred to special education at any time, just to be clear, and is not required to go through RTI first to qualify for special education.)

    And since I’m asking, do you know if anybody has checked to see if any of these students have been tested for the district’s gifted and talented education program? Gifted and high potential students can be low achievers and have behavior/discipline issues and these students also need differentiated interventions. Will the two managers on this project have the ability to counsel schools in this area as well?

    I sure hope the board asks some tough questions about data and assumptions before signing off on this thing. Something has to be done to address this serious issue but it has to be the right thing or we just lose more time. I can’t say what is right, but I do hope the questions above have been asked.

  • Nontcair

    #26 wrote We have trained people to have fantasies of what their rights are.

    Free speech, as well as the other rights guarenteed by the Constitution, has become a fantasy because too many people have been trained — often by schooling but generally by temperment — to deny other people’s rights.

  • Nontcair

    So the government can endeavor to keep us surveiled at all times but Johnny can’t use his cellphone camera to expose a bad public school teacher.

    So the military can come into the public schools to make lengthy, direct presentations to recruit foreign legionaries but the kids can’t receive text messages there from peace-niks holding opposing viewpoints.

    So Occupy Protestors can loudly takeover a public park continously for weeks but a schoolkid can’t quietly talk on his cell phone for a few minutes.

    I think I get it.

  • Nextset

    Nontclair: You need to go to law school. It would help..

    You might get over the idea that a “right” is either what you want it to be, or an absolute.

    Rights are never absolute. Freedom of Speech for example as you’d like it to be does not apply to commercial speech. Political Speech is the highest form. You trying to sell vitamins – hell no.

    I can go on – but you can no more read about one of your “rights” or nearly any other legal point such as inheritance laws – then go out and pontificate about what it means – than you can prescribe drugs accurately.

    If law was that easy we wouldn’t need lawyers and the judges could all come up with the same rulings themselves.

    The way it works is that law is a history degree and definitions and aspects of law are affected by geography (self defense in New York is not the same as Los Angeles), history and precedents – differences in time and place.

    So stop telling me what is legal and what is not.

    But if you keep doing it, even at random, you might actually be right once. That’s the way it works. I’m not always right, but like a physician, with experience I will know better when a proposed statement (or RX) is likely wrong or just really dangerous.

    So you have the right to sing the blues… go ahead and do so.

    As far as the rest of it, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You can get shot arguing with a cop or an armed victim – about your “rights”.

    Because other people have rights also including the right to deal with you if you happen to be in the wrong position at the wrong time in the wrong place.

    if you like the law – start taking classes. It’s fun.

  • Nontcair

    What part of “may not restrain ..” do you not understand?

    I don’t understand exactly what you mean by “political speech is the ‘highest form'”. Perhaps you mean that the expression of political speech needs to be protected at almost all cost?

    If that’s the case then why would you be willing to restrain a kid who’s eager to use his cellphone to call the White House and lodge an urgent complaint? For instance, that his dad has been placed on “alert” to be deployed to Afghanistan for the third time?

    Frankly this “crisis” is one of the government’s own making.

    #1) The federal government pumps money into schools which, by virtue of their accepting it, forces them to abide by unconstitutional federal guidelines.

    #2) The state government mandates compulsory attendance, which forces kids who don’t want to be there to show up anyway. Is it any wonder that some kids exhibit behavior problems there?

  • Katy Murphy

    UPDATE: The Oakland school board just voted to table the Office for Civil Rights decision and to take it up later, after a study session. I don’t believe a date has been set.

  • Nontcair

    OUSD would have to agree to the following terms (see pg #3):
    Appoint a Lead Project Manager who will have day-to day responsibility for supporting the implementation of the Agreement.

    Right. Hire another $150K bureaucrat.

    Then taxpayers are left wondering: “Where does all the money go?”

  • Nontcair

    pg #4 5) Create a District-wide Student Discipline Handbook.

    More $100K+ administrators, $75/h consultants, and $40/h word processors.

    More $500/hr fees for politically connected law firms to ensure compliance.

  • Nontcair

    pg #4: 12) Establish a cross-functional and interdepartmental VRP Team with overall responsibility for implementation, compliance, evaluation and annual reporting to OCR under the Agreement.

    It just keeps getting worse and worse.

    As if OUSD doesn’t suffer enough already from government regulations.

  • Nextset

    Nontclair: You need to see somebody about this…

    If you go through life thinking – like a narcissist – that only your interpretation of anything means something – you have a problem.

    You don’t get to pick out words and phrases in the Constitution, or a statute, or a contract – and believe that you can bet your life or somebody elses’ on what you say or what you want or what you see.

    ALL of the bill or rights is subject to Supreme Court explanation of what it “means”. I know that is a difficult and painful thing to have to accept – deal with it.

    So lets try a law lesson:

    The bill of rights has a list of rights and privileges. The exceptions to this are not found in the Constitution, they are found in case law – otherwise known as history, historical precedent. If you only read the Constitution and ignore case law – you will have a Constitutional Fantasy. Don’t do that because you can get yourself and others who rely on you hurt or worse.

    For example, the Constitution says you have a right to a Search Warrant. Case law (Supreme Court Case law not a traffic commissioner opinion) gives numerous instances when a warrant is not required damn the Constitution (exigent circumstances).

    For Example, in the event of a Presidential Asassination attempt much less a completed assasination, there is an emergency exception allowing the government to conduct all needed searches forthwith to determine who’s behind it, etc. While this is rare you get the point. A more common exigency is screams coming from inside a residence, or blood or even water coming under the door.

    You won’t find a thing about any of this in the Constitution.

    Speech cases likewise are written across time by the Appellate Courts limiting Speech. It gets to the point that the Exceptions are far larger than the rule. And don’t forget the exceptions to the exceptions. And then you have the regional differences in matters the National Supreme Court has never reached or settled yet. The West Coast Appellate Courts may have a position opposite the New York District on the same issue. So again, the law, even in this area, may be different depending on the Zip Code with different controlling appellate decisions on the same fine point.

    So get off your “I read the Constitution yesterday and I’m right” horse. Quote a controlling Appellate Court decision – you may be right.

    Reminds me of a whining annoying female who called and complained about a warrantless search at 2am when the caller was asleep in her bed. She got awakened and the entire bedroom was tossed by the cops. This was the same annoying female that sat in the courtroom while her roomie/lover pled to drug manufacturing, etc and accepted probation with a search condition. As in “you agree to warrantless searches”. She shared a bed with the man. (actually she was a junkie herself)

    She whined so loud about the unfairness of it all I laughed out loud and told her to grow up and stop bothering people with her childish whining. Then I hung up. You get similar nonsense from mothers from hell who take in their parolee relatives into the shack, then think they can stop the cops from walking in and catching all the drugs, stolen property, guns, and underage sex partners lying all around the property. Maybe they read the Constitution too. Of course they fell under one of the exceptions to the 4th amendment search warrant requirement – consent. By accepting parole/probation he waived warrants and by having him in the house/bed she waived it too. It’s extra that she had actual knowledge of the search condition which is why I was annoyed at her complaining and wasting my time.

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. And of course you can waive a while lot of things by conduct even if you didn’t care or realize the significance of what you have done. Your problem.

    You could be right, but you need appellate cites covering your fact pattern not some crazy notion that the Constitution says you can do anything you want.

    Because you usually can’t. Not always and not anywhere and not anytime.

    Maybe you’re young. Maybe you’re a student. Are you?

  • J.R.

    Well, just what we needed more layers of pencil pushin’ jobs. We could just pay people to shovel mud out, and then shovel it back in if we really wanted more jobs. Keep kickin’ that can down the road.


  • Nontcair


    I see you can’t understand plain English. You’re in not-so-good company.

    The overwhelming majority of the officials you defer to can’t understand it either.

    How many OUSD bureaucrats are working full-time to satisfy the inquiries, suponeas, etc stemming from this Federal Government OCR investigation?

  • livegreen

    –Katy I’m very curious if the Feds are singling OUSD out. If so, how does that make sense given OUSD is within State norms? & OUSD is financially less able to fund adhering to a consent decree?

    So I guess I’d like to know how the Feds expect us to finance this?

    –Are the Feds and the UCLA study based ONLY on touch generalized stats about what race receives more discipline (in school)? Not who brings more problems IN to the school? Or which parents fail and don’t support their children at home?

    –Regardless of ones interpretation of root causes for the failure of African American families (be they societal on the left or individual on the right, or in between) UCLA and the Dept of Education is holding OUSD accountable for their life and upbringing outside the school. Is this explained at all?? How is this fair?

    –I seldom agree with Nontcair but looking at his excerpts of the Consent Decree gives great great pause.

    Want more proof that a Consent Decree will sap resources? Look at the Consent Decree over OPD: it now has more Investigators implementing the NSA than it has investigating ALL the murders, rapes, robberies, burglaries in Oakland.

    Education will take a back seat to the Consent Decree. It would b less expensive to fight it off in court. Is this an option?

  • Teacher

    I would be very interested in knowing how suspensions break down by parents’ marital status (or if there is ANY presence of a second biological parent in the child’s life) compared to racial breakdowns.

    If parental marital status is an even higher correlation, maybe we need to look at other solutions.

  • On The Fence


    I was not clear how this data looked at children who were suspended more than once. For example, does the 1 in 5 AA children suspended represent that it was truly 20% of all AA students, or were there children suspended more than once and each suspension was counted as an event?

    Can anyone shed light?

  • Katy Murphy

    The UCLA data analysis I referenced looked at individual students who were suspended one time or more during that school year. So if a student was suspended three times, he or she would be counted only once.

  • On the Fence

    Thanks Katy. That’s helpful. I understand the point that out of school suspensions do not provide the suspended student with academic instruction while out of school, and perhaps no supervision. And I would support in school suspensions where the child was given support to complete the days lessons and could be kept off the streets, computer, TV while suspended. What I do not support is for discipline in the classroom to be further eroded, or for a disruptive student to remain in the classroom to disturb the education of the other learners.

  • Nextset

    Nontclair: By now I’m pretty sure you are a student.

    The law is not about Plain English. If it were maybe the Bar Exam would be easier to pass. Take a look at the stats at CalBar.Org – which are broken down by race – and see what I mean. Students who spend years working on “The Law” fail, including EVERY black 1st time candidate July 2011 from the state bar accredited law schools.

    The reason for it is the need to understand, articulate and apply not only the rules of law, but the exceptions and their exceptions covering 14 areas of law (average lawyer only practices in 3 or 4). It is not as easy as you say it is.

    So don’t get mad when I’m popping your balloons. It’s for your own good & safety. And that of anybody you contaminate by telling them you know what you are talking about.

    Same thing applies when amateurs try to practice pharmacy or any other profession. It’s not as easy or straightforward as you want it to be.

    So no, you can’t say it’s in the Constitution and I can do what I want. Sorry.

    However Abortion is not anywhere in the Federal Constitution but thanks to federal judicial fiat we all have a newly discovered right to abortion. We also have the civil war that follows when law is rammed down the throats of a people who never voted for it.

    Before you get too upset about this I haven’t told you my own feelings on Abortion law, only that it is clearly not a federal issue it’s a state issue until and unless the states amend the federal constitution one way or the other. Maybe my problem is that I’m interested in Plain English and American Law sure as hell is not. So maybe I agree with you more than you think.

    So if you think all this is a Plain English problem you are a danger to yourself and others. Have you met people with their own ideas of what the Vehicle Code means?? I have. We have sanity hearings on such people at the extreme points. Posse Comititus or whatever..

    Deal with the real world here. Even if you don’t agree with something like Roe vs Wade.

  • Nontcair

    “may not restrain ..” can mean only one thing.

    You’re just another sophist trying to make me believe that down is up and up is down.

    That licensed “professionals” who purport to contradict the meaning of three simple words are taken seriously by their peers shows you the overall dismal quality of the group, how it is completely *politicized*, and how it exists for its own empowerment and enrichment.