Still Seeing High Numbers for African American Male Student Suspensions

At Wednesday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Tony Smith and a small panel, including two principals, presented the Balanced Scorecard Accountability Report. The topic: suspensions.

One major focus of the report is to work toward reducing suspension rates overall, but specifically with African American male students.

In the 2011-12 school year, African American students accounted for one-third of enrolled OUSD students and 63 percent of the students who were suspended. Of the male students, African Americans make up 16 percent of all OUSD students and 41 percent of suspended students. Compared to other ethnicities in the district, this figure is disproportionate and raises a few red flags.

Latino students, for example, have proportionate suspensions compared to the total students enrolled in the district. They make up 38 percent of all OUSD students and 27 percent of suspended students. Latino males in the district and those who were suspended make up 38 percent and 27 percent respectively.

The report also details possible root causes of student suspensions and strategies schools are and should be utilizing to reduce the number of suspensions and be more proactive to all student success.

The strategies are laid out on a pyramid structure with three tiers of action. The first tier addresses almost all students with early intervention and developing social and emotional learning for all students; tier two focuses on restorative justice and developing manhood for students at risk of suspensions; tier three helps the troubled students on an individual basis.

This data mirrors figures from Urban Strategies Council’s report “African American Male Achievement Initiative: A Closer Look at Suspensions of African American Males in OUSD” for the 2010-11 school year. The trends are similar in that about the same proportion of African American male students in OUSD and getting suspended. They still have a higher rate of suspension compared to girls and are more likely to be suspended in middle school than any other time in OUSD.

Overall, district-wide suspension rates have gone down from 5.7 percent to 4.2 percent in the past year. Suspension rates divided by school level—elementary, middle and high school—do show that African American male suspension percentages have gone down by an average of 4.8 percent. The plan is to overall, not on average, reduce African American suspensions by 5 percent by the 2014-15 school year.

What else can the teachers and administration do to help? Training is encouraged to keep teachers knowledgeable and prepared to treat their students with an attitude sans bias, but if almost the same percentage of these African American students are suspended, what else can be done? How long until true progress can be seen?

How are families of these at-risk students helping or hurting their child’s chances of furthering and bettering their education?

Serena Valdez

  • makeitgoaway

    And what percentage of the teachers are African American? Which schools have the most African American male teachers? The least? What schools have the lowest suspension rate per capita? Which have the most? Which schools have the most experienced staff? which have the least? Which schools have a veteran administrative team? The least? Which schools have the best tutoring programs? The least? Which schools have the best after school programs? Which ones have the most active parent groups? Which have the least? Because then you’ll be able to see the “answer” to this question, slow down White flight in middle school, and start increasing enrollment.

  • Nextset

    Of course the numers are higher. Is this a problem?

    Black students, especially black males, are greater behavioral problems (than some other ethnics) at least at this point in time in this area. There are plenty of good reasons for it too.

    The worst thing you can do is not impose behavioral standards and not punish & remove the non-conforming students from the schools – if the schools are to be anything but holding pens for future prison inmates.

    If a “student” is a behavioral problem, at some point they must be culled from normal schools and sent down to high control schools. Or they can come to heel. Their choice. Race mustn’t be used as an excuse to trash the entire school.

  • Nextset

    Typo – sorry.. The numbers are higher for the black kids.

    Not the schools fault the demographics are what they are. Female headed households and the other such issues do not produce complaint males. These problems are highest in blacks. Therefore the higher black suspensions. Holding down the suspensions and expulsions will make things worse.

  • Juanster

    “Slow down the White flight…” Given the focus of federal “hate” legislation one would think white flight is a good thing for minority students and their families. Why slow it down? Had the likes of many (“white”) George Zimmermans taken white flight long ago many Treyvon Martins would still be alive, right? Having lived in Oakland since birth I came to understand the increasing risk my kind poses to Oakland’s African and Latino American communities. Consequently, I took flight – segregating myself in a white community on a forested fringe of California. Other whites should do likewise! Remove the ‘racist’ element and Oakland will flourish, right? Picking up and leaving requires sacrifice, as in doing ones part to make for a more and perfect urban community, right? It’ll take time, but Nirvana wasn’t built or segregated in a day

  • Kristen Wilson

    Hello all! First of all lets be P.C. about things. This topic is sensitive and upsetting enough. Lets use our big words being African-American, Caucasian and so on. I agree that this problem is chronically problematic in Oakland. We have an overwhelmingly amount of households headed by single African-American mothers who are often over worked and grossly under paid. This effects children in more ways than one and all to often they act out. Some children can struggle and strive through things with minimal love and support others can be raised with all the love and support and still get into trouble. There are kids trying to help their sibblings and parent or parents with a less than ideal home situation.The way fo break cycles like African -American disproportionatity in more than just this category is to do something different and restorative as well as preventative! My son is African-American, male, and disabled. 3 set backs this day in age. The playing field does not start off even nor am I interested in playing the blame game, just at doing the best for him and helping him overcome the obstacles he will face in life. Every public system is cash strapped and tapped for resources which is an obvious factor in children being left behind and falling through the cracks. Suspending students from school regardless of race is antiquated and ineffective. Students need to be inspired to learn not see school as a chore but as a chance an opportunity. When kids are challenged and appreciated they learn that behavior. When they are punished and labeled their behavior will reflect that. It is human nature we are creatures of our environment and until culture changes the revolving door will be open and the few will continue to make decisions for the many, many of which they have never met or will truely know. Restorative Justice is the way to go and hopefully the numbers we will study will be graduation rates, homeowner statistics, and employment rates. So we need to invest on the front end folks and save money on the backend. Prove the California Department of Corrections wrong when they project the prison population based on 4th grade statistics. A bean counter for the state will be disappointed but maybe presently surprised.

  • Kristen Wilson

    @ the end I meant pleasantly surprised ♡

  • Kristen Wilson

    Did I miss the stats for Caucasian student suspensions or where they un-notable?

  • Nextset

    Oakland is not Detroit. California is not Illinois.

    The invited Mexican occupation of CA (and therefore Oakland) makes ghetto blacks an endangered species.

    Simply put, the Mexicans will kill them. They are very good at it. And when they do, it’s not like it will be a priority crime.

    And like the killing of Trayvon – many killings will will probably be justifiable homicide with just the least amount of effort.

    You just watch for the green light to go on above the target.

    Wake up and smell the Enchiladas. It later than we think.

  • Rumor Has It

    I haven’t seen a lot of data for brown on black violence in Oakland. Do you have stats for this? I did work in a local public hospital setting and witnessed a lot of black on brown violence, mostly the beating and robbing of day laborers who were thought to carry cash in their wallets. They would be brought in by police and ambulances for treatment of their wounds. My perception based on what I’ve read in the papers is that many of the killings in Oakland have been perpetrated by blacks on other blacks. Is that not true? Other than my anecdotal evidence, I am unaware of the stats, but I am curious as Nextset writes, “Simply put, the Mexicans will kill them. They are very good at it.”

    Back to the topic, it really seems like OUSD is placing their teachers and constituent families in an untenable situation. Middle class families of all races, including middle class whites flee OUSD at middle school due to the perception of unruly and disruptive behavior in the schools. Families who do stay in OUSD want and expect consequences for bad behavior. I can understand the idea of keeping kids on campus, but by all means give them a meaningful consequence and do not allow them to ruin the education of the other 30 kids in the classroom! The idea is to help kids to understand the rules, and to play by the rules that are socially acceptable. To do otherwise will ruin the very tenuous reputation that our public schools currently have, and set the unruly kids up for some very difficult future lessons.

    If suspensions are out, then what consequences will be used in their place? On campus (non-suspension) suspension? What else is available? To do nothing, sigh, or write names on a board with 10 check marks after it just seems too wrong for all involved.

  • Kristen Wilson

    That is what we need to figure out, how to creatively and constructively punish and hold students and parents accountable for their actions or lack of action.Nothing we are doing presently is enough and we need to figure out a long term game plan and implement it effectively and uniformly.

  • Seenitbefore

    ^all good points! And, there are numerous ways to turn the tide of violence and unruly behavior….specifically in the middle school ages.

    One solution? If one refuses to end social promotion…. then we must consider Isolating and grouping specific grade levels based on age appropriate social and physical development.

    For example, the similarities in the learning styles, emotional and body development between 5th and 6th graders and again between 8th and 9th graders are infinitely more compatible and conducive to creating a pleasant and productive learning environment than the current 6th-8th grade grouping. Visit any middle school and compare an immature 6th grader with a street wise 8th grader and you will understand why your child’s MS campus should actually be renamed “Lord of the Flies” Middle.

    Seventh (7th) grade is an entirely different beast in a child’s life and these fragile tweenagers would be better served if housed on a separate campus with a much more in depth curriculum focused less on facts and figures and more on emotional development and creativity. 7th grade is when the 6th graders who figured out how to survive and thrive either become bullies themselves to the younger crop of new kids or continue self isolating and withdrawing into some form of identity grouping such as jock/goth/popular/bando/druggie/sexual/etc.

    On the flip side… the kids who barely made it through 6th grade without completely flipping out from being terrorized by last year’s 7th and 8th graders…now have their PTSD reflexes on full alert. You know, “fight, or flight”! Their parents do not recognize the signs, or refuse to believe that their “little angel” is now regularly defiant, violent, and destructive at school. It must be the teachers’ fault!

    The teachers hold no power over these frightened little hellions who are acting out…because by now, the kids have figured out the truth…. that middle school simply does not matter! Whatever they do, or say…. or don’t do, or say…. does…not…matter. They WILL be promoted to 8th grade… and they WILL be promoted to high school. So….. it just doesn’t matter to the majority of them. How do they know this? Look around! That kid who flunked every class and beat the crap out of your kid last year… got promoted to the next grade level… just like your (former) well behaved, straight A student!

    Your kid has figured out why people still refer to age old adages like “if you can’t beat em, join em”..”when in Rome, do as the Romans”…. “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”…and so forth.

    There is no way around it. The current format and grouping of “students” in the Oakland Public Schools is not working. If we stop and look at the factors rationally… and actually decide to make choices based on the NEEDS of the KIDS…… there are clear steps that can easily be taken to help these learn and grow into positive and productive human beings with a hopeful future. Or, we can keep turning out angry, ignorant, self-centered (wo)Men-Children and wait for the next installment of PTSD activities in Oakland. BANG! They are on the news everyday at 6, 12, 5 and 11.

  • Nextset

    Kristen Wilson:

    “That is what we need to figure out, how to creatively and constructively punish and hold students and parents accountable for their actions or lack of action.Nothing we are doing presently is enough and we need to figure out a long term game plan and implement it effectively and uniformly.”

    What you fail to reach is that this mess is completely created by the government and the sheeple who voted in this government. It’s not an accident. The trends we complain about are going to get worse not better. Communism/Marxism/Collectivism is like that.

    The way to fix it is to undo all the collectivist legislation since the 1920s. No Welfare, No Social Security, limited voting rights. This will not happen in our lifetimes short of decimation.

    So the way to deal with the problem is to segregate your kids and your interests away from the untouchables and those running them. I think that’s referred as “white flight” – which nowadays includes Asians and lots of others. First you move to Orinda, then Texas or Idaho I suppose.

    No, you don’t join them.

    Back to the thread, The Black Suspensions beggar the point of segregated schools. We suspend/expel the non-compliant blacks (or others) because our idea of school doesn’t include them in it. It’s wrong to be the least bit bashful about this. Just confuses everybody. So I’ll repeat:

    “…our idea of school doesn’t include them in it.”

    It would be simpler to do as SF Unified does and have ghetto schools where those inclined can act out and not get expelled, and Lowell High School where the deficient either can’t get accepted or won’t want to go in the first place. Simply have a low class campus and a high class campus, never the twain to meet. Except in football.

    Then you don’t have to discipline so many blacks or whatever.

    Schools are not in business to fix parents, change parents, or discipline parents. They are in business to function as a school for normal students. Others needs to go to specialized campuses. The reason we are having this discussion is the pointless exercise of integrating incompatible groups into a “school” and wondering why everybody is so unhappy.

    And to make it clear, I’m black. I went to Catholic 1-8 and public 9-12 in the East Bay, I had classmates of all races in all schools. I got a great education but there was no acting out allowed anywhere I went. Even in public school we were lined up and told what the rules were and anyone who got out of line was corrected for a time but expelled in short order if it wasn’t going to work out. They (screw-ups) were sent down to schools just for them. It didn’t happen often, but my High School expelled as late as 2 weeks before graduation.

    The vast majority of those who couldn’t measure up either left voluntarily for a more appropriate school for them or never dared enroll in my schools in the first place.

    And really everybody was happy. Especially the faculty and the parents. Not like now.

  • Luis Mota

    The other day NPR mentioned the reduction of suspensions, but the twist in the last sentence was the most interesting part: the district struggles to improve the situation but it is difficult to distribute resources effectively because “there are too many schools”…

  • Luis Mota

    Looking forward to an article about the AIMS show a couple hours ago…

  • Observer

    The last public school I attended was middle school. It was considered a very good one, high test scores, kids went on to high school prepared and graduated for the most part. But it was in a large urban, diverse district and had many social issues, fights younger siblings of gang members fwarring with each other. When students were suspended, they were required to go to the detention center where they had to spend the entire school day, every day of it and do the work the teacher taught there. There was one teacher and one juvenile corrections officer. If the kid didn’t show up, a truancy officer was charged with contacting the parents. The kid could spend their suspension in juvy.

    It totally worked for most kids other than the ones hell bent on becoming criminals. Lots of the 1500+ students that were suspended we’re only suspended once.

    I’m sure this was dismantled because someone somewhere sued and the powers that be were more than happy to defund it. Seems to me in Oakalnd this would be a cheaper way to go ultimately. Parents must drop off their child at the appointed time and pick them up at the appointed time or face penalties. Tray on Martin was visiting his father because he was on suspension. He’d be alive today if he hadn’t just been tossed out and he and his family left to their own devices. His mom actually did the best thing she could have which was get him away from his bad influences for that week and send him to his father. But he was still doing nothing with his time. Pre-teens and teens should not have unlimited idle time ever. That’s the worst way to address a discipline problem.

  • Nextset

    It is wrong to force decent black and brown families to send their children to sit with gang children.

    Degenerate children should have their own schools and should be kept out of normal schools. We used to do that by having academic schools distinct from continuation schools.

    Now we do it by having among other things Charter Schools (like AIM?) which put ghetto repellent in place to keep gang kids out.

    So either the Urban Districts do likewise, create and maintain gang & ghetto free campuses, or they will see their enrollment shrink until they clearly are the continuation Schools.

  • Gordon Danning

    In my experience, the primary reason that African American students are suspended more often than other students is that they are more likely to engage in behavior that merits suspension. They are certainly more likely to be confrontational when interacting with staff (or perhaps they are more likely to challenge what they see as unjust requests — though many kids have a remarkably capacious definition of “unjust request.”)

    Moreover, it is common knowledge that OUSD administrators go out of their way to reduce suspensions in general, and suspensions of African Americans in particular. Indeed, it is my understanding that those are two of the criteria that the District uses to evaluate administrators.

  • Rumor Has It

    Gordon writes, “In my experience, the primary reason that African American students are suspended more often than other students is that they are more likely to engage in behavior that merits suspension.”

    That is the elephant in the room…

  • J.R.
  • J.R.

    We have(and have had) males who although physically mature are emotionally and psychologically pre-pubescent mama’s boys in perpetuity. These are the same men under the delusion that they are Johnny apple-seed spreading their DNA far and wide. The irony is that these are the very last type of people that humanity needs to be able to survive and thrive. Humanity has doomed itself by catering to the lowest common denominator!

  • Nextset

    Blacks reach puberty significantly earlier than whites and asians. That combined with Single Motherhood as a norm explains the difference in acting out.

    And the acting out is a form of protest for being placed in classes they don’t want and cannot function in. We should be speeding up the process of removing them, not slowing it down.

    Fortunately we now have Charter Schools so everybody can select the school that serves their needs. AIM – and academic schools, or Afrocentric schools that don’t teach anything.

    Those with the cognition who want to, Black, Brown, Yellow or White can enroll in schools such as SF’s Lowell High. I don’t want Lowell and such schools to dilute the quality of their program by tolerating acting out for a minute. Enforce standards of performance to the hilt and the students will sort themselves.

    Isn’t freedom grand?

  • http://ousdblog mark

    There is a way to reach (have and create meaningful and rewarding exchanges of information for all students).

    There is a way.

    The way is not watering down the expected norms, instead, it is to create a truly meaningful environment for all students.

    Playworks is a program that is good. It is at O.U.S.D. Playworks transforms P.E. into a time of fun and joy, while also covering the standards for what is expected in grade levels.

    Let us learn from Playworks, and create environments in school classrooms that are fun and engaging, as well as meaningful.

    I have personally seen a student whom was thought to be “unreachable” by an administrator, actually make it, in time, by adults never giving up on that person.

    I saw that student in a store and offered to get him a soft drink and his friends (hadn’t seen that student for a year or two) and I was amazed that the student was so polite and respectful… calling me “Sir.” etc. and by the way, he refused the soft drink etc. I was so impressed because, here was a student who had for some reason or another, come around, and was in a program of job teaching etc.

    At least the student came around for a moment of time.

    So, to get down the African American suspensions, the mindset of many adults need to change. The schools have it right in making the idea of all schools being attached to the community (Mr. Smith’s vision etc.).

    Too many suspensions are probably due to the root cause of the curriculum not being considered meaningful or valuable, and the READING LEVELS OF ALL THE SUSPENDED STUDENTS BEING LOW.

    I say, the O.U.S.D. should devise some kind of chart that shows the reading and math levels of any child suspended (so long as the info is kept in a general way with no name attached to the collection of it).

    With less God Dam Administration training courses, and more effort of connection, the suspension rates will fall for African American male students.

    We got too much junk in the paying of monies for think groups and slick paid consultants at O.U.S.D., when if the district just went out and taped successful teachers and schools, we could all learn how to better engage those students who are unruly at all levels of education.

    I believe!

  • http://ousdblog mark

    One more important thing to consider with regard to the rise of African American male student suspensions.

    I had the pleasure of knowing a very dedicated teacher at O.U.S.D. who taught in high school. This man had extensive experience. He had knowledge.

    I was amazed to learn that he had the skills that helped all young adults do well in his classes (or at least the vast majority). He connected with students. He scaffolded his lessons. His attitude was successful in communication with all young adults of all age groups.


    This leads me to the statement that O.U.S.D. has abandoned the skilled teachers with many years of experience for the setting up of vast TEACH AS YOU LEARN sort of agencies, where the adults put in the classroom have little or no experience. The result is that often, the African American males are not taught in an environment where they respect the knowledge, because, the teacher is “green.”

    The “green” teachers are abundant in O.U.S.D. because, well, in my opinion, because they are “on sale.” What I am saying, is, the O.U.S.D. administration has sold the idea of hiring young inexperienced people who do not have full fledged teaching credentials because of the money savings.

    Oh, by the way, that nice, experienced, successful, high school teacher I spoke of… he has gone through countless of tough trials over the decades with administrators that come and go, who would like to see him go, to “buy,” two teachers that are on sale, who are “green.”

    O.U.S.D. needs to honor the brave and wonderful seasoned teachers who have been there for many years, who are teaching well! To know if they are teaching well, the teacher observations need to take place.

    O.U.S.D. often does not even observe the teachers for their promotions, and this is well known by all.

  • Nextset


    Interesting posts above. But you assume that OUSD actually is in business to “educate”. Once you remove that assumptions you are better able to understand their behavior. They are not there to educate anybody, they have nothing but contempt for the students and their families. The reason for existence at OUSD is to provide jobs, benefits and most importantly retirement funds to the administration and board members. Beyond that, it is there to provide social status for the administrators and board members.

    To the extent jobs and benefits are provided for teachers that is (only) to add to the social status of the administration as being the employer of so many serfs.

    The students are regarded as cattle. And not exactly Harris Ranch quality cattle at that. It’s nice if they learn anything but it’s not required.

    No matter how low the literacy and employability numbers go for the Negro students, the administration will not see any diminution of their salary, benefits, retirement or even social status.

    Right now the mortal threat to OUSD is the Charters which will eventually reduce OUSD and schools like it to a small fraction of their former size. That reduction will reduce the payroll, benefits and possibly retirement of the Administration. We are seeing the same process in Chicago and Los Angeles. The process seems unstoppable but along the way OUSD will condemn and close any Charter it can. It doesn’t matter the reason.

    However there is only one way all this is going to end. Empty campuses. For the time being as you pointed out they are busy hacking the payroll by getting rid of more expensive teachers and replacing them with transient cheaper teachers. That process will continue and you will see strong movement to strip all public teachers of pay and benefits. As the USA moves into superinflation the primary method of pay cuts will be the cessation of COLA. Any worker with a brain will see this coming and leave if they can for better employment or better pastures. Texas is popular.

    Now this is just my appraisal based on my life experience and training in economic history, organizational behavior, and my own understanding of liberals and race relations in general, and the evidence of my lying eyes. Gee, maybe I’m completely mistaken.

    The best the teachers and students of OUSD, LAUSD, Chicago Schools and all the similar “schools” can do is find greener pastures. Now having said that the Asian students will probably do as you’d expect them to do in spite of attending such schools. Still they will see ceilings socially/culturally when they run into the Asians from real secondary schools while competing for mates and jobs.

    Brave New World.

  • Catherine

    As a middle school teacher with roughly 1/3 of my students being African-American (full or mixed), roughly half Hispanic/Latino, and the remainder Pacific Islander, I have 75% of the problems created by half of the African-American students.

    Here is what I have noticed from the African-American students (boys and girls) who cause problems – and take significant learning time away from others; 1) Everyone of the mothers had her first child at an age younger than 17. 2) All live in households in which there is no father-figure present or that father-figure does not work and plays video games (reported and written about frequently by the students). 3) None of the families consistently eat dinner together. 4) Not one of these parents came to a school conference without a minimum of six phone calls and my waiting by the curb to track them down as they picked up their kids. 5) All of these students has the capablity of working at or above grade level. 6) All of the students have iPods and other devices in which they have music that includes violence against women, extreme cursing and violence. 7) If these students were in a school in which parents exercised their right to have a violence-free environment in which students are free of sexual harassment, these students and their parents would have to be removed completely and their parents would be financially liable for their children’s ongoing violent and inappropriate sexual behavior.

    In the elementary school six blocks from me three students were shot with a pellet gun by an African-American student. The student was suspended for one day – in school suspension to keep the rate low.

    We are very lucky that these students are not in the hills schools where parents would access the legal system against the parents, schools, school district, and principals who do not act in favor of students harmed by violence.

  • http://ousdblog mark

    Dear “Nextset” and “Catherine” (posts just above)

    first to “Nextset,” thank you so much for your insightful comments. I laughed, but what you said is true. I am nieve about the idea of the top brass being concerned about their salaries, but I suspect you are correct. I did once see, as public record on the school board minutes that one administrator that was in charge of oversight for say 6 schools, well, that person got $30,000 to attend some kind of learning seminar for administrators, and you know, well, I think that money could have been spent better and on the children instead of the adults already pullin in a monthy salary of over $100,000. Thank you again, “Nextset” for your interesting comments, I especially liked the “Harris Ranch” comment.

    second to “Catherine,” well, I fully disagree with you. I believe you are a teacher who has not been able to transcend into the ability to RELATE with your students. I am guessing you are of a different race and background. You see, in my post, I pointed out a fine teacher who had knowledge. He could get along and COMMUNICATE with all of his students. He broke through in making sure each class was meaningful to all students, and the students, the vast majority, bought into learning with this teacher. He was highly into preplanning. He offered different scaffold choices to learning that connected with children of many learning levels. He used computers. He used vast graphic organizers, and his personality exuded confidence, happiness, and success for all. I say, you “Catherine” are in the wrong school district to teach at, and maybe a different social strata would be better for you. Just my opinion.

  • J.R.

    The conclusive evidence(district-wide grades, grad rates, rates of remediation)say that Catherine is exactly on target “she is correct”. The first step is admitting that there is a problem, and there is way too much denial going on. There are some teachers I know who get along great with kids, and word gets around so kids really want to get in these classes(they show movies, do art, play kickball). The question becomes “is there rigorous learning going on? The answer is no! These kids are not even keeping up with grade level work. They are slipping further and further behind and then is jr.high, high school and college everyone wonders what happened and why did this child fall through the cracks. Too much denial going on, and always has been for decades now.

  • Nextset


    I enjoyed your comments. I am a trial lawyer – I have to explain college level concepts to proletariat jurors. I lave a limited amount of time to get concepts through. So I try to make my point in a way that an 8th grader can understand – sometimes in a manner that is painful enough to get through.

    Life is not pretty and it’s going to get a lot less pretty in an accelerated manner.

    As far as Catherine is concerned she seems to understand about the black kids as being troublemakers. What she doesn’t understand is that her very presence in her “school” is part of the problem not the solution. So don’t work for crazy houses, you don’t stay in failure factories. At least if you were working in a jail facility (that had the sign up) there would be no pretenses that you were zookeeping. The solution for Catherine and teachers like her is to leave. Fast and loudly. It’s the presence of well meaning (white?) liberals that got the public schools into the mess they are in.

    The ghetto blacks are the problem – they have been bred by the government to be a subspecies of untouchables. This would not have been allowed to happen if the public schools were still segregated and run by black ex-military hired through military preference civil service systems such as existed through the ’50s. The only way to reverse this is to face up to what we have created and to fight it openly.

    And those “children” that don’t toe the line would be transferred into continuation (read “jail”) schools to avoid contaminating the black students who are doing well.

    As far as the ghetto schools we need to get rid of the college prep nonsense and focus on discipline, deportment, basics and vocational skills. Those few that can handle college prep and then want to should be transferred upwards. Unemployability, Welfare, Prison, Disease and Premature Death should no longer be the typical fate of black secondary schools (Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Oakland, etc).

    Like it is now.

    And I don’t care how rotten their Sires and Dams are (and I do not agree they are so much worse now than before) – the schools work with the students more than the adults at home do. We turned out employable people of all races and languages from the ghettoes of the USA during the worst of 1880-1950 through depressions and wars, and displacements. With the teachers having the ability to move and discipline students we can do so now.

    The difference is that then we were candid about what we had to work with (including IQ testing) and we went to work. Now we lie to ourselves and others and claim the little angels are just as good as you and me.

    Brave New World.

  • Rumor Has It

    Agreed J.R. Catherine is not the problem. She has very real insights into these issues from both an anecdotal stance, from research and from OUSD data. She also seems to be highly devoted, if not passionate, about her profession. OUSD is lucky to have long term committed teachers, like Catherine, who are not afraid to look at the situation for what it is and share their insights. When speaking in gross generalizations (as sometimes we do on this forum), there will always be a few outliers who buck the expected trends. That would be true for students/families who beat the odds, and for a rare teacher who seems to walk on water. It is not realistic to think that the great majority of our teachers are somehow the wrong race, or wrong fit, or somehow not living up to their duties and responsibilities. They are not the cause of the massive graduation and learning gap.

  • Nextset

    I don’t want it thought that I disapprove of Catherine personally – I certainly agree with her appraisal of the problem children. My only point is that the solution to the educational problem with the underclass children in the urban schools is the complete destruction of the current business model of these so-called schools. They need to close. Their school boards need to be dissolved.

    If teachers like Catherine were to walk off in a huff, proclaiming the Emperor has no clothes, that day would come sooner.

    We (as a society) are destroying the urban public schools. They are being wound down and replaced with Charter Schools. That process has a little side effect of increasing assortive mating. Children are sorted at 1st grade into different and non-compatible societies where they will meet, begin careers, marry, take housing and associate with the same, based on what schools they went to even within the same metropolitan area.

    Thus we are ending the use of public education as a leveler or melting pot. Inferior people, social and economic inferiors I mean to say, will not have the opportunity to rise in society they used to have by going to large public schools such as the ones operated in the 1950s-1960s in such garden spots as El Cerrito, Pasadena, Richmond, Oakland, etc.

    Too bad, So sad for them. I suppose they should pick a better 3rd grade.

    And as a product of Public High School with classmates from broken homes and relatively modest incomes who did REALLY well, better than Dear Old Dad, I have seen first hand how well social/economic mobility can work. Now I can see it in reverse.

    It really was amazing how far children of severe alcoholics, divorced parents and/or lower middle class parents and grandparents can go on a CA State University degree. But they had primary and secondary teachers & administrators who could really discipline and were not made to sit next to losers in their classrooms. Disruptive students were expelled so fast you didn’t catch their last name. This was true of even the black kids. Yes, there was a time in Oakland where disruptive black kids were bounced out of Oakland Tech so hard their rear ends would hit the pavement. And black students were kept busy meeting demands of the faculty or they were next. And some of the teachers and administrators looked like Angela Basset and Dennis Haysbert with an attitude. There was no ebonics either.

    It all paid off later.

    Ask any black civil servant of retirement age what their school life was like. Granted the parents back then would react forcefully to any complaint from the school about the kid. Yes that helped. But even if Mommy was a foster mother, when you graduated, the diploma meant something.

  • Nextset

    I picked those two actors as examples for a reason they are not light skinned. Neither were the tough public school teachers I remember. They were rather dark. With excellent command of the King’s English too. When they went nose to nose with a black student and it’s mother the race thing wasn’t the issue. There was a class distinction – the teachers were not interested in pretending to be on the same level. They were not there to be anybody’s friends they were there to turn out a product that was the best possible. If it wasn’t going to work out there were other places for little Johnnie to go.

  • yvonne

    i don’t understand why the blatant bigotry is allowed on this board and goes unchallenged. i like reading the comments but i can hardly get through a string of them without being blasted with the ugliness that degrades poor children, and specifically black children.

  • http://ousdblog mark

    Thank you again “Nextset,” I enjoyed reading your comments. Though I might not agree with everything you say, I especially agree that teachers such as “Catherine” are trying to do their jobs in ways that will not work, and they offer no change of ideas to the problem. There is something to be said for the hiring of more black and hispanic teachers, for race is part of the gamechanging in the education of tough urban areas. I believe race is a factor in good teaching because the teacher of a certain race has a strong handle of the culture of the students. Too often culture is kicked out of the classroom and the school is not of this earth.

    That great teacher currently working at O.U.S.D. understood how to relate to students for he understood the culture of the student. He knew how to walk in their shoes. He knew when he was being “played,” by the students. Instead of ejecting the student, he had talks with them that were meaningful.

    That teacher is to be honored at O.U.S.D. but, for some reason, administrators gave the teacher a hard time. It was because the teacher was honest. I believe that O.U.S.D. has many dishonest things going on inside the administrative levels and you got to go along to get along. That teacher walked the walk that he was not going to go along to get along so long as what he was asked to do was wrong.

    He has integrity.

    Maybe O.U.S.D. administrators at troubled schools lack this quality called “integrity.” Then, if teachers sense this, they are unsure of the elements of the functioning of how the school works, thus, the status quo becomes alive and well, ensuring a continuation of the same, and as you said “Nextset,: administrators looking at their monthly paychecks more than in the eyes of the students who have educational challenges.

    What I am very upset about is the fact that O.U.S.D. has such low reading levels for children. That is truly a bad thing.

  • Nextset

    Yvonne – what exactly is it your are referring to about being blasted with ugliness?

  • Catherine

    Just talked to my principal who is African-American and has been told to reduce suspensions, and has done so. Half a dozen parents went to the school board meeting to complain about the bullying done by a specific African-American student I have sent to the principal’s office to stay about 10 minutes and be sent back to my room. Mother will not participate in intervention. Father has not been in the picture for 10 years. What can we do? principal wants to know.

    Suspend, I say. No, no, besides suspend. Wait for a lawsuit from the half dozen families with bullied students I respond. We have to think of something – brain storm, brain storm. Have you tried calling the family. Yes, I sent you four emails in March alone. Have you met with the family? Attempts documented in the email. Well, what are we going to do? principal asks. Suspend, I respond. No, no principal says again. I have referred for counseling. You said that too many African-American students are in special education. I have done everything I can, I say. No, no you haven’t because the student is still bullying. Only consequences happen in my classroom, not the office, not at home, no suspension.

    Forty-five minutes of my prep time devoted to doing everything except making student accountable for own actions. Welcome to Oakland.

  • J.R.

    This is one step above la-la land, where parents are not expected to raise their own children. There is no such thing as a school to prison pipeline, its a parent to prison pipeline. That’s right, these parents have majority responsibility for the destinies of these children(not society, or the schools), look in the mirror people you’ve hurt your own child by being a rotten parent.

  • Nextset

    J.R. – I don’t completely disagree with you, BUT:

    US Public Schools dealt with children in two time periods in the 20th Century where parents were largely absent and/or in great distress (working nights, transient, little food and shoes, etc).

    Those time periods are the great depression and WWII. I have relatives and friends who lives through both.

    To the extent they could they managed children of Oakies, Southern Blacks, European Immigrants as well as Mexicans. Some of these families had no teeth, were diseased, could not read and write well, and so forth. In WWII the fathers were mostly gone and the mothers worked often night hours.

    So I have NEVER bought into the notion that primary and secondary schools can’t manage children. That’s a fallacy that libs take – who also believe the kiddies needs to be kept comfortable, not confronted and not talked to severely.

    So while parents in the urban schools may be subhuman trash (or not), the schools are responsible when their students are out of control.

    Good schools keep control of the students, bad schools don’t. This is true regardless of trash parents.

    Brave New World.