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In Oakland, new player eligibility rules and forfeited games

Staff Photojournalist
photo by D. Ross Cameron/Bay Area News Group

Castlemont High has canceled its second football game on Friday because it lacks enough eligible players.

Skyline High, a school of nearly 2,000 students, forfeited its very first football game of the season — also, because it couldn’t field a team. At the time, its coach wrote a widely circulated letter to Superintendent Tony Smith saying the Oakland Athletic League’s new rules were keeping many of his otherwise-eligible players off the field.

The new rules, passed in the spring by high school principals who sit on the Oakland Athletic League policy committee, caused a big stir and plenty of confusion and alarm in the prep sports world. The policy originally stated that a student needed an overall 2.0 GPA, or C average, to be eligible (rather than a 2.0 in the previous marking period) as well as a certain number of credits. If not, the student would be sidelined for the entire school year.

So in the last few weeks, after plenty of, well, `input’ from coaches and others, the policy has softened. The GPA policy went back to the way it used to be (and the same as nearly every other league).

And perhaps more significantly, some players with poor academic records will have a second chance to participate on a team if they show they’re making up credits and raising their GPAs — if not for the fall season, possibly for a sport they play in the winter or spring. The OAL policy committee on Wednesday created an appeal process for players who are behind on credits or who received a GPA below a 2.0 in their last 6-week marking period.

What’s new this year, after all of the changes, has to do with making sure players aren’t falling behind on their course credits. The OAL is following a state law (and California Interscholastic Federation rules, pages 29-30) that requires leagues to monitor the credits accrued by student-athletes. To be eligible, according to the CIF, the student must be “maintaining minimum progress toward meeting the high school graduation requirements as prescribed by the governing board.”

Gil Lemmon, commissioner of the North Coast Section League, says its schools have similar credit requirements.

I visited the SPAAT program at McClymonds High earlier this month; despite its small size, Mack was able to weather the original changes and field a team for its first game. I found out that the high school’s student-athletes are required to participate in the after-school tutoring program, which also provides college counseling services.

Skyline also has tutoring available for its athletes, though — as of a week or so ago — the football program did not require its players to go. (Other sports teams at the school do have that requirement.)

What do you think about Oakland’s academic eligibility policy, and the way it’s shifted in the last six months? What do you think — or hope — it will mean for student-athletes who aren’t on track to graduate?

Katy Murphy

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

  • Nextset

    I’m thinking the students are allowed to think that they only exist to be gladiators for pay. But if the state CIF wants to have a policy of practically retarded “students” being allowed to play, there is no sense in OUSD having a higher policy. OUSD plays in the league – it should follow that policy unless they want to form a new league.

    These boys are in a career path and public school to them is only a vocational school. Football is their vocation. Do they really need an education when they only exist for football? If football doesn’t work out they can go to Jr College later to take basic reading. Are we here to argue with them and fight with them for “their own good”? They’re busy with football now.

    One thing about the black footballers – and unless you have Samoans handy that’s who this is all about. They are an at-risk population for numerous hazards. OUSD would do well to have supplemental classes for them covering the Penal Code, The Vehicle Code, Narcotics and Alcohol Facts & Laws, Child Support Laws, Tort and Insurance issues, Contract Law, Banking and Finances, Predatory Females 101, NFL Policy, etc. The NFL does have these classes (especially PF 101). I’m afraid by then it’s too little too late to avoid much of the trouble. More is needed in secondary school and “college”.

    I have known black professional athletes from CA over the years. It’s really a shame how they (how most of them) turned out. You wonder if they’d had earlier and more intensive coaching on their hazards and risk factors maybe they’d have fared better in the Brave New World.

    Intelligence isn’t everything – anybody can get rich in America. The trick is not having people take all your money away from you in short order.

    While I agree that the students should have a fall back plan educationally in case they don’t get that wonderful NFL career – I think that Men this far into and past puberty have a right to make that decision for themselves.

    That goes for other voc ed kids too. It’s wrong to force education that such people don’t want and (they have decided they) don’t need.

    So I don’t think we should have artificially high education requirements for footballers. Options available at the most.

    Good luck to them.

  • Nontcair

    It is outrageous that taxpayers have to provide kids with football training. What are public schools in business for?

    When will we begin seeing class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of OUSD football players for permanent brain injuries they sustained while they were on the squad? Judging by all the lawyers OUSD engages already, I’m starting to think that public schools exist to keep law firms in jack.

    To be fair, with few exceptions the only education athletes receive comes from the *football* coach. OUSD’s scholastic football programs are second-to-none.

    Why can kids learn how to score touchdowns but not how to read the game programs?

    Why can kids learn how to calculate the score but not (except baseball players) percentages?

  • Nontcair

    OUSD is involved in all sorts of activities that have nothing to do with teaching Johnny how to read. For instance, organizing sports teams.

    I don’t know OUSD’s situation but some public school districts actually field teams which play in (and pay dues [tax dollars] to) leagues which include *parochial* school teans.

    State constitutions generally provide sanctions for (if not outright prohibition of) public education tax dollars being used in ways which benefit schools of sectarian nature. See Article 9 §8.

  • Katy Murphy

    True, football arguably has little to do with reading. But if a kid cares deeply about being on the team, won’t he be more likely to keep his grades up (relatively speaking) and stay in school, even if he’s struggled in school in the past?

  • Nontcair

    Once again we public education taking hostages.

    No grades, no play.
    No grades, no drivers license.
    No grades, no employment license.
    Etc and so forth.

    Substitute “make educrat jobs” for “grades” and you see what public education is *really* all about.

    Am I the only person who finds it offensive that the public schools — which hold a virtual monopoly on scholastic sports — use that (unconstitutional) power to maintain its huge “profit margin” on the other side of the business?

    And people used to complain about *Rockefeller’s* business practices!

    OUSD gives the rich white kids AP courses, superior facilities and staff. It gives poor, minority kids culturally sensitive instruction and metal detectors, then it actually threatens to (and even *does*) withhold from those same ill-served kids the one opportunity it affords them to monetize their talents and escape the cycle of poverty: the chance to perfect their pass-catching skills so as to parlay them into a football scholarship at a big-name ($$$ TV contract) school/conference, leading to a lucrative NFL career.

    Outrageous!

  • J.R.

    Katy,
    At one of the last school board meetings director Gallo seems to allude to the fact that student athlete grade requirements have been lowered so much that they don’t carry much weight. If you listen to director Dobbins babble about sports at every meeting you begin to realize how much sports get in the way of “REAL” academic achievement, and or the realities of life(of course there are a few exceptions). School is and should be academics for academics sake. Our priorities are badly skewed.

  • OUSD Parent

    #5 – “OUSD gives the rich white kids AP courses, superior facilities and staff. It gives poor, minority kids culturally sensitive instruction and metal detectors…”

    Nontcair, There are no rich white kids left in OUSD. They’re long gone. The white kids who are still in the system are middle class at best and the schools they attend do not necessarily have better facilities. I get your point, but the rich white segment is not represented in OUSD. Try Lafayette, Orinda and Piedmont for that demographic.

  • J.R.

    OUSD Parent,
    All community activists know it’s whitey’s fault(just ask BAMN,ACORN and NAN).Even though I am not white, overbroad generalized assertions like this make me cringe.

  • Nontcair

    Rich enough to:

    afford private school
    go on to (very) expensive college
    retain a private tutor, coach, etc.
    live in the hills
    have a swim club membership
    drive an imported luxury car/SUV
    take an annual overseas vacation

    I see that OUSD-sponsored football teams, in violation of CASC Article 9, play against:

    St Elizabeth
    O’Dowd

    Of course, expecting the government to abide by the Constitution is such an old-fashioned idea anyway.

  • Jerry Heverly

    When we discuss this at faculty meetings teachers are divided just like the community. Half the teachers feel that football is the only thing that keeps some kids, mostly Black, coming to school and, more importantly, halfway willing to cooperate in class. The fact that they are nearing the end of high school without having read a single book is depressing. They aren’t getting the education that we claim to provide.
    The other half thinks kids should not be permitted on the field unless they are actually becoming literate citizens, which would make rosters much smaller. More kids would drop out and more would make the teacher’s life harder.
    I teach ninth grade. Every year I see athletes who clearly have the ability to be stars on the field in sports like soccer and football. Many of those same kids do little or no school work. At this pivotal age I yearn to have some leverage that I could use to strong-arm them into reading and writing. But the coaches want them on the field.
    If Nexset is right, and the education I’m trying to provide is relatively worthless then maybe the coaches are right. I certainly see kids grow *in character* as a result of the discipline of sports. But I also see lots of kids who get the message that the classroom is pointless. After all they can get their name in the papers even if they can’t read that newspaper.
    Everyone has a selfish interest here. The coaches want glory, the teachers want tractable kids. I do agree with Nexset that the life belongs to the kid. He or she should have the option to decide whether to pursue the tiny chance of a professional career even if I think their nuts most of the time.

  • Nextset

    Look at it this way. The Black Footballers are often primarily at school for the sports program. They think of themselves as potential NFL players, at least College Footballers. And they correctly understand that it is football that makes them welcome at college where otherwise they’d not fit in – certainly at a “good” college anyway. Without Football they’d have to find another vocational high school and take what else, ditch digging?

    As long as they do well in Football and the bare minimum academically they get all the sex, drugs, good times and adulation they can handle. Is this a great country or what? And if they do have behavior hiccups up to and including DUI, rape, drug busts – the program will fix it for them.

    Football is the opiate that keeps a lot of people in school. if they learn how to read in the process, that’s extra. This opiate does lead to college.

    So what’s not to like by the black students and their families? You won’t get them this charged up with Algebra Classes, Literature Classes and Science or History. It’s all good.

    Forget about academic requirements. They and their families only want it to the degree necesary to cling to their hoop dreams – or football “scholarship”.

    This is not worthless. It’s worth a LOT to the footballers (and the other sports stars). So the humane thing to do is first do no harm. Let’s not flunk the kid out unless the issues are greater than what gets other kids at competing schools flunked out. Why bash our own kids? Second, let’s try to do what we can to make our footballers have higher mortality rates than others. Let’s give them the classroom training on footballer self preservation – teach them to read if we can – and just enjoy the play.

    They are competent to make the decision to go for a footballer’s life. Ditto the basketballers and other sports. These careers are as valid as Dr, Lawyer and Indian chief and they work hard for the 3 or 5 years of the money.

    I’ve known some pro footballers. Their career is all encompassing, until it’s over. It is their decision what contingency planning to do for their next career. Even starting from scratch they have more options open then than a typical black has at the same age not having been a footballer. They don’t need any sympathy from us, they are grown men and they that the right to pursue these careers just like some other people can go do acting, writing, fashion, or teaching.

    God forbid they try to go to law school in this environment!

  • Nextset

    Our history is full of certain kinds of people dropping out of (or cutting back) high school to pursue a music career. Cass Elliott, Leslie Gore, Cindi Lauper, maybe Phoebe Snow – voices like that somehow managed to move to New York City and so forth, alone, to “make it”. Everybody known names of kids who did it. And then there’s Hollywood. I remember hearing about Dionne Warwick taking public transit from New Jersey into Manhattan to record at the Brill Building at 16. There are a legion of others.

    The footballers are no different. Except they are fully grown men who hit puberty YEARS ago. If they want to shut down academics in favor of football, they are not the only ones who do so for their career.

    Remember this: If you’re going to make your living with your hands, you’d better start early.

    It is wrong for us to put artificial barriers in the way of the footballers because WE might like to hang out and read literature. They are black and they are full grown, they are not babies at 16 or 17. Give them the same freedom we happily give Jewish wanna-be musicians. Wish them well and help them make their careers happen.

    Brave New World.

  • Oakland Resident

    Nexset- I enjoy reading your narrow ideas and perceptions. You continuously make blanket statements ” black kids” a’s if you know all or majority of them. I realize you are educated, but you cannot label all or the majority of an ethnicity into your box of one size fits all.

    Jerry Heverly- with teachers like you, no wonder so many of our kids are failing. You stated that it is “mostly Black” that are coming to school and willing to halfway cooperate. Where is your data? Give us facts, not your bias opinions.

  • Observer

    “afford private school
    go on to (very) expensive college
    retain a private tutor, coach, etc.
    live in the hills
    have a swim club membership
    drive an imported luxury car/SUV
    take an annual overseas vacation”

    What? Didn’t you just contradict yourself there Nontcair? These people do not attend OUSD schools and few of the “Hills” schools have had any upgrades at all in decades.

  • Nextset

    Oakland Resident:

    The stats for the OUSD “black kids” are the same as the stats for any other urban school district.

    Profiling works. This is how you manage large numbers. Individual “blacks” can be hybrids, immigrants, Egyptians, Military – the list is endless. Each subgroup has their own pros and cons – and individuals can vary widely.

    Large groups are stable and easily defined.

    As far as my ideas being narrow – they are just the point of view of one person – and a point of view that is not politically correct. It’s up to the reader what they want to do with it. Lots of people want to live in a fantasy world. Especially on other people’s money.

    I know grown children who are having a nice time until their host dies.

    My main point with these posts is that people have choices and districts like OUSD are doing harm to their black constituients – the reverse of what we had when I was in school.

    Save us from white liberals.

  • Katy Murphy

    I’d like to remind everyone to resist the urge to make personal attacks, even if you disagree with or are offended by what someone wrote. Feel free to debate each other’s points rigorously, but there’s no need for personal insults.

    As a side note, I believe the teacher’s comment was in reference to the school’s football players, not the entire student population.

  • OUSD Parent

    #13 – Oakland Resident: What is it that you find so offensive about Jerry Heverly’s post? He’s a teacher in the trenches and can speak to these issues from his perspective based on experience. There is plenty of data which shows that African American boys are failing in OUSD. He is only stating his experiences as a teacher.

  • J.R.
  • J.R.

    sorry: one too many “the”

  • AC Mom

    Not to bring the discussion off topic, but students have many different career/academic aspirations in OUSD. I agree with Nextset in so far as if a student has football as their chosen vocation, it would be beneficial to the student to provide an education relevant to that profession–especially making sure that they have a Plan “B”. Moreover, I think that a discussion about other career paths and how a child’s/young adult’s primary and secondary education can be linked to that career goal. I hope that in my lifetime I will see the end of a one size fits all approach to education…of course I doubt that will happen. The current assumption is that every kid could/should is going to pursue a BA. Or for the kid that could be a PhD in physics, there’s no program to push him or her. This is not a problem unique to OUSD. Here’s a recent op-ed in the NY Times that talks about the issue of school districts and how not enough support is given to academically talented students.http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/opinion/gifted-students-deserve-more-opportunities.html?pagewanted=all

    Can or should schools provide an education more tailored to the needs/aspirations of their students? If a kid wants to be a diesel mechanic, environmental engineer, secretary or whatever, can schools provide an education supportive of those career paths during the school day? Will private and charter schools pick up that mantle?

  • Nontcair

    No contradiction.

    I’ve met several OUSD parents in recent years who individually fell into several of those categories. For each one who I happen to meet there must be 10 or more just like them in their social network.

    Each spring I read one of those 1/2 page newspaper ads congratulating public high grads who have committed to attending (sometimes *very*) expensive 4 yr colleges in the fall. There are so many names that I have to use a magnifying glass to resolve them.

    When I drive past certain OUSD schools at AM/PM drop-off/pick-up time I always see vehicles better than my own in the “10 min” lane — some even with obviously the nanny behind the wheel. Of course, the selection of fine autos is usually more spectacular at some of the public schools in the districts #7 mentioned.

    It would be illuminating to hangout at the pool, tennis court, practice tee, etc of some of those medium to highly exclusive sports clubs in the area — especially around 8:30 AM — and strike up a conversation with some fashionably attired member about where her kids go to school.

  • Seenitbefore

    I’ve written and erased 3 lengthy comments on this. I feel like there’s really no point. Oakland is so, so wrong and broken on so, so many levels.

    Bottom Kine? Our kids are not being successful… no matter what their color (although for some reason, it does “seem” to be more prevalent amongst our black students)…because they have not been REQUIRED to be successful.

    We have created a school system where any/all behavior is accepted and any/all “contributions” are praised and valued equally. Everyone is special and unique and valuable! Okay…. to some degree that could be true in some respect. And even I, have feigned marvel and oohed and ahhed over a “less than perfect, or even understandable” artist or academic attempt by a bright eyed and enthusiastic little child. (being honest can make even grown people cry sometimes)

    However…. after about the age of 7… the kids start to mature. Human beings are not designed to remain little children forever! Along with their physical development, comes mental capacity…. to reason…to question…to discern for themselves. When this happens, the students notice that some people put in more effort than others or produce “better” results than others. By second grade…. the whines of “that’s not FAIR!” are pretty much a constant in the lives of our kids. And they begin to resent it when they see others being rewarded for doing NOTHING while they are putting in the effort to do good work.

    The result? Bluntly put? We encourage, create, and reward lazy kids and we dismiss and play down the efforts of kids who are actually interested in learning. “School” in OUSD is a joke. The BEST and BRIGHTEST of the OUSD 13 year public school students (if there ARE any…) is so far behind academically, socially, and maturity level that it is CRUEL to be shipping them off to a University with kids who have actually completed the courses in K-12 and EARNED their high school diploma.

    Because WE have imposed our children to live in this ridiculous fantasy land where everyone gets a sticker and everyone goes to the next grade…and everyone plays football, no matter what their grades are…. our kids have no respect for the education system, nor the people who are trying to educate them…. because it is an UNFAIR and unrealistic system. It just doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant and stupid and a waste of time.

    Set some standards for learning and achieving. Teach our kids that failure is a HUGE part of success. If we allow them to experience the consequences of their actions… they will learn and grow…and hopefully not keep making the same mistakes.

    And…. isn’t THAT what we are supposed to be doing?

  • J.R.

    Seenit,
    Very good post, perhaps someday it will sink in. It’s been this ways for decades so I wouldn’t count on real change anytime soon. We will get lots of feel good rhetoric and official sounding task forces though. True accountability will never happen I am afraid.

  • Teaches at Oakland School

    Nontclair, Stop making judgments about people on something you know nothing about. I am one of those supposed rich people but I am sure I make less than you do. We eat out about once every 6 months and don’t buy take-out food. I rarely buy clothes and go to a concert once a year. I belong to one of those clubs for my child’s sake and send my son to private high school and he has had a private tutor. I also drive a crappy old car because my son’s education is more important to me than a shiny new car. I can drive by houses down by the Coliseum and see better cars than mine. Some people value cars over books and I have never, ever met a family from Montclair that has a nanny. Where do you get your information from? I earned what I got because I worked hard in school and worked hard in life.
    I know a lot of the white kids who are in the public high schools. Yes, there are a lot of white kids in the AP classes but they are open to anyone who is willing to do the work. They are not rich. They certainly do not have nannies. Most of them do not belong to clubs. They live in bungalows in middle class neighborhods. Their parents are well-educated though.
    Do you really think there are metal detectors at Skyline and Tech and O High? Do you have any idea who goes to Skyline? It’s not the well-to do white kids. Go take a look sometime and see if you can spot one. At Tech you will find more but it is not the majority, especially since only 7% of the OUSD is white.
    At least imposing a 2.0 GPA gives some of the boys incentive to do some of the work. It is ridiculously easy to get a 2.0 and I thought they were in school to get an education so they could get a job, not to play sports.

  • Nontcair

    I don’t dare set foot in Oakland public schools but here’s an abstraction from an OUSD RFP (19-MAR-2009):

    [OUSD] in collaboration with the City of Oakland is requesting proposals from experienced contractors capable of providing a state-of-the art surveillance camera system which will be installed at 26 schools in [OUSD]. Additional security features are part of this proposal that include metal detectors …</I

  • Jesse James

    Nontclair,
    Why do you spend so much time on this blog? What do you hope to accomplish? There are so many places that might value your enthusiasm, time, opinions, knowledge and experience. Why with so little direct experience do you feel you are accomplishing anything but filling space or distracting others from considering issues?

  • OUSD Parent

    #25: Nontcair, it is obvious that you have not set foot in an OUSD middle or high-school. If you had, you wouldn’t make your comments about all of the rich white kids getting preferential treatment via superior facilities and courses. Rich white kids are getting superior educations in districts outside of OUSD. The few rich white kids in OUSD (and I still stick to my position that there are no “rich” kids left in OUSD by middle or high school) get the courses that the minority kids get. If they’re willing to do the work, all groups have access to crammed AP classes. And those kids who are accepted to top universities out of OUSD are of varied ethnicities coming from families with varied means. So, if you are going to post comments about groups of people, at least try to know what you’re talking about by visiting the campuses not just making sweeping generalizations.

  • makeitgoaway

    Castlemont forfeited its game to Encinal this Friday because they had 5 players arrested, adding to those on academic probation…

    The OAL is a terrible sports league which produces very few D1 level athletes- a shame considering the athletes there. Their teams are regularly thumped by surrounding leagues in most sports.

    Given it’s poor sports reputation, I applaud the move to enforce minimal academic standards. The fact there is a debate on this blog about getting D’s and going to class is one of the reasons OUSD is in such serious trouble.

  • Nextset

    makeitgoaway: The universal cure for bad behavior by the team is to fire the coach. No discussion, just call him in and fire/transfer him. Give the next coach a free hand to discipline the team (up to and including terminating team membership or benching the entire team. End of problem.

    If the black footballers here are excessively criminal it is because the school has failed to properly motivate the coach. Criminal behavior is NORMAL in this group. It is controlled by a good coach – an alpha male – who the team is afraid of. If you are having excessive criminality, the team is not scared enough.

    For those who want to argue about it, criminality is normal in such a group for many reasons and I couldn’t care less which ones or how much. The point is that a good coach controls his team completely, up to and including their deportment on and off campus and their diets, their dress, their diction, everything about them. If there is a scandal you fire the coach. New coach solves your problems for you.

  • Nextset

    Nontcair: I wonder what kind of OUSD schools you say you drive by and see whites attending..

    Are they primary schools or are they secondary schools such as Skyline High School?

    This makes a difference because the clear distinction by cognitive ability occurs with puberty, the brights continue to grow in ability and the dulls stay at the cognition of a (white) child even though they may grow to 6 feet and 250 lbs – and 30 years old.

    The White Child Standard is important since all our standard measure of cognition are normed on Whites, not any other group. Just like the standard weight tables… I know a black woman who was barred for employment because she was fat – as measured against a table from white women in Iowa in 1945 (that fact about the table was discovered during her race discrimination lawsuit). The employer really had no idea where that stupid weight table came from and really didn’t care, it kept the Negroes away. Until the lawsuit anyway. She won the case and got an award and they went and found a more contemporary white women table I suppose.

    Back to my point. Every time liberals want to confuse other libs and clueless people they use primary school stats to claim the racial gap is going away or nearly gone (Praise the lord and pass the cash!). The “difference” becomes manifest when you compare teens. So they won’t compare teens.

    White students may tend to show up at certain primary schools in OUSD. They will have been removed by their parents by Secondary School. By that time the suitability of an integrated one size fits all school in any urban area is no longer up for discussion.

    OUSD could keep the whites if the followed San Francisco’s lead and ran a segregated school for the brights (Lowell High). Oakland won’t do this for political reasons. The whites made a decision to abandon OUSD to the blacks long ago, and the blacks happily accepted that decision. It would have been far safer to copy SF because it would have protected the reputation of the district.

  • oaklandedlandscape

    The athletic academic standards are already low. They set a low bar. Very low. If you can’t field a team, fix your school or close your athletics program. This is a sad thread.

  • J.R.

    Pitiful is what it is, and worse than that some of the highest paid teachers in the state are PE teachers/coaches. Screwed up priorities run rampant.

  • Nexset

    oaklandedlandscape: How are we supposed to “fix” cognition? Vitamins to 14 year olds?

    If the other schools in the league can field a team, Oakland can also. But only if they can install a coach who understands this game and allow him to hand pick students that can meet the low academic standards and the relatively high deportment standards of the team and league. How difficult is that?

    I just don’t think the school should impose higher academic standards standards on the footballers because of some fantasy of what liberals think a black footballer should be like – Denzel Washington instead of OJ Simpson.

    No, OJ Simpson, a drug addled gang banger from Hunter’s Point SF with a long history of woman beating – Brought under control by a good coach and put through the (college, Pro) football industry and then into a secondary career in entertainment. It all would have been fine if he’d not done too much Coke and lost it on that girl and her friend.

    There is no reason the team can’t function as required. Good Coaches have been doing it with these footballers for generations. Just stay out of the way.

  • oaklandedlandscape

    nextset: you are missing the point. great coaches are one aspect. you need great teachers to motivate student athletes. this is the “adult” teamwork that empowers young people. not just black footballers, but brown soccer players too, and everything in between. the higher the bar, the greater the learning. it’s not about athletics. it’s about character building. that’s what i mean by fixing your school.

  • Seenitbefore

    So… explain to me HOW you expect the teachers to motivate these “student athletes”????

    Maybe we should make school more “fun” and less “work”?
    Maybe furnish the kids with pencils, paper, notebooks, free lunch, a free band instrument and a free sports uniform so all the have to do is show up and learn?
    Maybe we could make sure that every kid feels like they are getting strokes and praises for “trying their best”.

    In May, I told a 6th grader that he was ineligible to attend our class field trip last school year because he was flunking EVERY academic subject….straight F’s in Math, English, History and Science for the ENTIRE year. He had 25 tardies to his chosen elective class in ONE 6 1/2 week grading period and a C in P.E. He mostly roamed around the school campus barely going to any classes for his entire 6th grade year.

    He looked me dead in the eye and with ALL seriousness said to me, “Why are you worrying about all that? I’m still going to the 7th grade! Why can’t I just go on the trip? That’s not fair!”

    And you know what….. He’s RIGHT about one thing!!! He is a 7th grader now…..

    We really taught him something….didn’t we?

    What would YOU do to motivate that kid?

    I know what I did….. I didn’t take his behind on the field trip!

  • oaklandedlandscape

    seenitbefore: you assumed i meant lowering expectations. i meant the opposite. this requires collaboration with coaches, parents, administrators, and teachers. all adults must be on the same page and hold to the policies and eligibility regs. maybe this just happens in the charters.

    btw – i’m glad you did not take that student on the trip. unfortunately, the school system is working against all that you do.

  • Oakland Resident

    Seenitbefore- continue to hold your students accountable! However I believe that an effective educator will motivate and inspire his or her students to do their best. We must communicate in a way that kids are able to understand and relate. An effective educator teaches the California Content Standards, character development, self esteem buildinding, and social emotional learning. The job is challenging, but there are a lot of effective educators in Oakland(bad educators also). Finally, why wasn’t that student retained? Did you have the support of your administration? Did you have sst and cost team meetings? What interventions were done to assist him?

    Katy- You state don’t make personal insults, but you allow people to label and stereotype individuals and groups all of the time. Please explain your rationale behind this decision. Where is the filter? How do you decide if a comment is ok to make or if it needs to be censored? Do your personal biases play a part in that decision?

  • Harold

    i’m with #37. It seems to be “ok” to generalize about ethnic groups, by gender, but not a specific individual – on this blog.

    @Seenitbefore – Thanks for having standards, even if you are not supported by OUSD. I have brought up this ‘social promotion’ problem previously. Someone always has a study ready to site – where they say “making a child repeat a grade doesn’t work … or its bad for their self-esteem, blah blah blah …”. The kid you didn’t take on the field trip – i hope he turns it around. I really do. If he doesn’t get it together soon – it’ll be three years of middle school failure. Then high school teacher(s) will have to deal with a student with skills, far below grade level.

    I’m not into test scores and API. But, high schools in OUSD will never get their index up, as long as they have to babysit: middle school, socially-promoted, academic failures. This is a district policy. Until it changes, I don’t take anyone on Second Avenue seriously. Dr. Smith is good at finding funding for his projects – how about a remedial medial school?

    No, Teachers will receive more Professional Development – from well-paid consultants regurgitating the “differentiated instruction” scam.

  • Harold

    excuse my typo… “remedial *middle* school”

  • Katy Murphy

    That’s a fair point, Oakland Resident. I encourage a civil tone — in part because I think people are tired of nasty exchanges in online forums — but I very rarely censor comments because it’s so hard to know where to draw the line.

    Once I start deleting comments, then yes, my personal biases (conscious or unconscious) would inevitably come into play.

    Only once have I banned a commenter from the site altogether, and that was only after repeated warnings about racial insults/slurs went unheeded.

  • Nextset

    Oakland Resident: I’ll address your post #37 because you fail and neglect to even address the opposing opinion. A good debater does.

    You object to “generalizing” or “stereotyping” people because your tender ear doesn’t like it. I think I know why.

    You would rather see black, brown, or other specific groups (Indians? Jews?) Come to harm at the hands of those who are paid to get them to self sufficiency because you wish to impose your political correctness on other people. Who died and made you king?

    You are no different that those who would try to tell physicians not to keep racially distinct charts and administer tests & procedures largely set because of the sex or race of a patient. They do that not because they have any fixed idea of how Otis and Latifah “are” – but because of the need to maintain screening and to look for the things that the patients are at risk for. They last thing you do is listen to the parents saying how THEY don’t think anyone needs to screen this kid for VD, Diabetes, drug use, sickle cell, and whatever else. Likewise the patient cannot be expected to have a fair appraisal of risk.

    When you are educating ANY particular group you as an educator either actually know or should know what the risk factors are for your groups and why. So nobody working with black footballers has a right to throw a tantrum because a weekend resulted in traffic violations, DUIs, domestic violence, drug busts, fights with a list of adversaries, family upsets, and/or police contact.

    Do we not know the bastardy percentages with urban blacks? Do we not know the onset of puberty for the different groups? Do we have a clue about cognition for the different groups? Exactly why are they in football again???

    So It’s clear to me if not you that anybody responsible for the footballers is supposed to be on top of all of this – it’s not a Mormon Choir (that has different risk factors – check the sex crime stats for Utah!!).

    I suspect you want to suppress any public discourse in this area because of a your own need for power and control and your own indifference to the worsening stats for urban blacks and footballers. You’d see them dead before you’d want this discussion and a serious effort to knock down the mortality rates.

    Ultimately – ALL our discussions about black education is about Black Mortality rates and Black poverty rates. They increase as liberal policies do. The Libs answer to that is more Welfare Programs, More taxes for everybody else and less freedom both economic and political. Doesn’t help the mortality rates but it’s great for accumulating power for the libs.

    Guess what – you don’t have to power to silence this discussion.

    Back to the thread: The footballers are working on a career and are only interested in what’s needed for that career. That does not include Algebra or any academic subject. White Libs attempts to increase the academic requirements for them are falsely billed as “helping” them. Actually it’s part of the Lib all round lust for power over others – especially over blacks.

    We realize other vocational groups (such as jewish musicians to name one group) historically leave school early for their careers or otherwise chose “alternative” secondary school paths and that’s OK. But we want to dictate terms to the Black Footballers.

    Well you can expect a response like mine to that.

    Or is the problem here that you never want any political opposition to anything you want to say and do?

  • Nextset

    Harold: The districts like OUSD create their own problems by not segregating the school by cognition – like we used to.

    Those who don’t manage the academic track are best transferred to another campus for vocational or maybe “alternative” track where such student can do far better at more appropriate coursework for them.

    And make a living with it.

    Confining such students in the academic track results in the Chaos we see now at OUSD – and Los Angeles USD. It hurts the entire academic program to the point whole schools degrade.

  • Jim Mordecai

    #38, Harold:

    Social promotion was ended by the State Legislature in the 90′s. District can’t promote students that don’t meet standards including standardized tests.

    Under Ed Code only the classroom teacher can move a low scoring student to the next grade if the teacher puts in writing exception to the Ed Code requirement that social promotion is ended because standards drive promotion.

    The District’s principals are a combination of ignorant of the Ed Code and/or understand they work for the District and not the state.

    During the State take-over the District’s standards based promotion policy was dropped and, although required by Ed Code, it has never been replaced. The District has a graduation policy but has not for over a decade had a grade-by-grade promotion policy. OUSD may be the only District in the State not complying with the Ed Code requirement to have a “standards based” promotion policy.

    I have for years brought the lack of a Board promotion policy up at School Board meetings the fact that the District does not have a promotion policy. But to no avail.

    But, with Russlynn Ali’s Department of Education Office of Civil Right Compliance Voluntary Resolution Plan about to be passed by the Board and with lawyer Ali’s Office taking over discipline policy in OUSD for the next five years, maybe the Board will have time to pass a promotion policy. I’m not holding my breath.

    But, then again this Board doesn’t even know its existing policies and gives 2 minutes to public speakers, instead of 3 minutes as written in its Board Bylaw.

    Even when the Board is repeatedly shown its written policy on the time a public speaker is allocated, it doesn’t follow it own written rule.

    Jim Mordecai

  • Nextset

    oaklandedlandscape: While you have a point about the Footballers needing to work with and respect the teachers I think you are placing to much value on the teachers in this instance.

    Football is an occupation. Footballers are in the public school only for the vocational program of football. The ones I’ve seen have little interest in academics and a career as a Dr, Lawyer, or Indian Chief. They have no illusions about what they are built for and what they are not. More to the point, Football is all encompassing.

    To do the Football career track they do need to be able to meet the significantly lower academic requirements for a football college program. They know that. They do need a lot of help meeting those lower requirements – they do need to be able to read and write to the level of an average white child. But that’s all. So while they can really appreciate survey courses and remedial reading, if you come at them with traditional college prep they are going to get really angry with you. because they know they don’t need it and it will detract from their football planning. Plus they might get lower grades there than the survey courses. They need watered down coursework they can get Cs and more in.

    Didn’t Huey Newton got a PhD from UC Santa Cruz (right..!). Did any of you ever know that drug addled phychopath?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_P._Newton

    There are college degrees and there are college degrees. And there are ways to get damn near anybody through anything no matter what you have to work with. Traditional path will no more work with the Footballers than with Mama Cass (risk factors included LSD and Heroin). The trick is to sit them down (with the Coach hovering ready to punish non compliance) and put together a program for THEM as a footballer that will likely get them most/all of what they need and want.

    Depending on what you have to work with and the time you have to do it it may include not as much academic rigor as somebody with a different occupational plan.

    So the trick is not to make the Footballer fit into an academic model for the other kids – for the school at large. The trick is to run a program realistic for them – as Footballers. If you work with the coach and tell them that is the plan, things will be better than if we try to make footballers fit into our ideas of what we’d want for ourselves or our own children.

    And the Coach usually is in the position of knowing what is best for the player, not the teaching staff. And yes, he should be paid more. He has a far more complex job with more responsibilities than a classroom teacher. These football coaches are in the business of promoting their players to the colleges and maybe beyond. And they are supposed to manage (or end up managing) their student’s personal lives and behavior in ways the classroom teachers don’t have to.

    Coaches are doing college/job placement in ways the old school black teachers promoted a Chemistry Student into an undergrad program and then to Med school. Or Dental School as a fallback if the Med thing didn’t pan out. Other teachers had a track record of placing female students into career paths the same way.

    You don’t see that in the urban black schools so much now except with Footballers. So why rock the boat?

    Brave New World.

  • Oakland Resident

    Nexset- I am far from a King. I have been reading this blog for numerous years and I realize your method of operation is to bully, label, belittle, stereotype and generalize folks.

    The energy and time that you put into this blog would be better spent volunteering at a school. You would have a greater impact in childrens lives and the many issues that exist in our public schools. Our children need folks to invest in their lives, especially those who don’t have the family support system.

  • Lisa Capuano Oler

    It is so much easier to lower academic standards than to teach children. Is this the African American Male Achievement the district wants to see? I want to scream.

  • Nontcair

    #36 wrote: collaboration with coaches, parents, administrators, and teachers. all adults must be on the same page and hold to the policies and eligibility regs.

    No. NO. NO.

    The policies and regs are the agar upon which the bacteria of public education feeds. We don’t want the consistent application of pols/regs but rather, the total elimination of them.

    Who exactly are these Jew musicians who dropout early? I might be able to think of one “celebrity” example: Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr). If I *really* try, perhaps several more of lesser fame.

    I guessed Simon & Garfunkle, but wiki reports they dropped out of *college*. As did Bob Dylan (Zimmerman).

    There are a bunch of Jewish classical/Broadway musical composers and performers who I can think of, but I’m confident none of them dropped out before they had reached a level which would have qualified them for a conservatory.

    Perhaps you mean Stevie Wonderberg?

  • Nextset

    Lisa Capuano Oler: Are you contending that the OUSD teachers are not even teaching the chillun? Exactly what is it that does go on in class?

    You can teach all you want. A student can only learn a given subject if he or she has the aptitude to do so.

    My calculus instructor tried – I had no aptitude for that subject. I sat in class and had the same instruction as all the others sitting around me. I sure don’t blame the hardworking instructor for my dropping that class. My interests and skills were elsewhere.

    Oakland Resident: Sorry, I know this is difficult for you. If you think this process of discourse is bullying you haven’t been out in discourse much. This is not bullying and this is not nearly as rough as an Oakland City Council meeting – or many other such public hearings. Try a hotly debated small claims trial or a landlord/tenant case.

    I have heard that in public high schools anyone who tried to state and defend an unpopular view is cursed, shouted down and given bad grades by the instructor for being politically incorrect. Or is that Jr. College? Or is that at UC? All of the above?

    You protest too much. You cannot stay above water in a debate so you complain your feelings are hurt and retire – since there is no way of silencing the opposition with threats of violence and harsh looks.

    It won’t work with me and it won’t work with anybody else who is comfortable in public discourse and with their own judgment and experiences. Try it on children. This is the adult table.

  • Nextset

    Nontclair: Can you tell us something of yourself so we can understand where (what experience and training) your point of view comes from?

  • Nontcair

    My dad is from Kenya and my mom spent much time in Hawaii.