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Forum Speaks on Lowering Violence In Schools

On Monday the Children’s Defense Fund hosted a forum at City Hall for public officials, community organizations and youth advocates to discuss school safety and keeping violence out of the classroom.

Since the shooting in Newtown, Conn. last December, there have been major waves of demand for policy change and action in school safety. To address this call for action, the Children’s Defense Fund, a nonprofit that serves underprivileged children, to evaluate what schools and the community could do to help increase school safety on a local basis.

The forum had two panels: the first discussing the role of policy, the second discussing the role of the youth. There was also a presentation highlighting the results of a telephone survey from California voters regarding their opinions of school safety in the state.

The survey showed that voters would rather take a preventive approach than a reactive approach. Of the nearly 1,200 people surveyed, about half of them said they felt schools in California are somewhat safe and half were concerned with things like violence in schools, the potential for school shootings and the lack of safety in schools.

But it was the youth’s opinion that drove discussion at the forum.

Young men and women representing specific youth organizations in the area all agreed that two things need to happen: there needs to be more extracurricular activities and things to do after school and someone like a counselor to just listen to what they have to say and guide them to a better path.

Youth organizations represented at the forum included RYSE, Youth ALIVE and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“Smooth” Wickliff, a member of Youth ALIVE, pointed out that not only do they need that counselor-like figure, but it has to be someone who grew up in the area. Finding someone who can relate to them and knows what they are going through as teenagers is better than “criminalizing” them and assuming they know the students’ problems, he said.

Participants were also given information of two bills that affect schools: Assembly Bill 814, which will remove attendance requirements in order to receive welfare for poor families, and Assembly Bill 549, which requires school funding for campus safety and creating guidelines for adults on campuses. The goal is to get the public to be part of a solution to violence in schools.

“You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. It’s very cut and dry,” said Joseph Marshall, executive director of the Omega Boys Club. “And a lot of adults and young people tend to be part of the problem.”

Serena Valdez

  • J.R.

    An exercise in “sound and fury that signifies nothing of consequence”. Until the perpetuation(through public assistance and associated programs)of the irresponsible and or incompetent layers of society stop we will continue to have new generations of unstable homes and unstable people as a result. Frittering around the edges with all these band-aid solutions will not work(it does sound good though). As long as we aid and abet out of wedlock births(of and to the irresponsible) these problems will continue to grow exponentially.

  • J.R.

    Case in point “Assembly Bill 814, which will remove attendance requirements in order to receive welfare for poor families”

    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/asm/ab_0801-0850/ab_814_bill_20130221_introduced.html

    No expectations, no responsibility(very progressive I might add)rears its ugly head once again. Don’t worry though, those us us working in the private sector(which actually create wealth, and exchange money for goods and services that are tangible)will be taxed to the hilt to pay for it all! Problem is, there just aren’t enough productive people to cover all these massively expensive government programs.

  • JIE

    J.R. – if you read the fact sheet around AB 814, you will see that we’re seeking to remove the attendance requirement in the state’s welfare program because state law already allows school districts to fine families if their child isn’t attending school regularly. So basically right now the state’s poorest families are facing TWICE the penalties that anyone else faces for the same problem. If the purpose of the CalWORKS program is to get families out of poverty and into self-sufficiency so that they don’t have to rely on public programs then it’s key to remove financial penalties that don’t help. We hope you will consider reading more about AB 814 and truancy laws.

  • On the Fence

    How about doubling and tripling the fines for everyone to keep it fair? Fact is, the best way to foster self sufficiency and for families to get out of poverty is to take advantage of the educational opportunities available. By all means let’s make it a bit more expensive and onerous to keep your kids out of school.

  • J.R.

    There should be no fines obviously, but also obvious is the fact that students must attend school and parents must actively participate with them in order for students to learn. If students and parents cast aside educational opportunity it is their own fault that their future will remain bleak. People always love to blame someone else for their misfortune, but in truth most times it is the fault of the person who looks back at you in the mirror.

  • Nextset

    The only solution is the complete elimination of welfare. It is the source of the rot in CA and the nation.

    We could keep the welfare and impose swift and severe corporal punishment in the schools and juvenile courts. That wouldn’t fix the problems of losers procreating for fun and profit, and not raising the kids because they are not part of anyone’s retirement plan.

    As long as we hand out money to losers to breed, you can’t make the same losers care about the children. They are not part of anybody’s retirement plan.

    Before welfare they were.

  • J.R.

    To further amplify my points, the system to encourage self sufficiency is almost 180 degrees backwards. People do not find themselves in poverty with multiple children, they put themselves and their children in that situation(no one else did). From welfare to section 8 and child tax credits(even if you never work) the system allows irresponsible people to have more irresponsible people and the madness has just continued for decades unabated. To put it simply, no education means virtually no hope.

  • livegreen

    JIE, What fines does OUSD have in place for families whose children don’t have good attendance? And if they have any, what’s their record on implementing them?

    Sounds like rescinding laws that other legislators enacted a decade or two ago to improve attendance of families that weren’t sending their kids to school before those laws were enacted. aka. rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic…

  • J.R.

    Nextset,
    There is a maxim that is so true, “you cannot legislate morality”, but we can refuse to support politicians whose desire is to be on the public dole(political pay and benefits) for a lifetime and will hand out public money for votes to those who are also on the public treasury(every vote counts the same, paid for or not). There is very little strength of character, dignity,integrity left in the majority of people, and it seems to be a me-me-me world couched in (NOW)meaningless overused words such as compassion and support.

  • Catherine

    JIE:
    The problem is that the families cannot be fined by Oakland if the students are 30 or fewer minutes late every single day of their school careers. I see this day in and day out. The rule is 31 minutes late. The students who cannot read are the ones who are late day after day after day. We generally teach reading first thing in the morning after we explain what we are going to do for the day. However, these students are late and have no idea what we are doing, they did not do their homework, did not stay for the FREE after school intervention I provide and then miss one third of the assignment.

    In order to get attention those same students come in clowning and joking around. Now, we know that one way students in poverty tend to cover up their situation is by joking around (see work by Ruby Payne), however, this takes away learning time from students who do show up on time ready to work. The parents on aid are not working and have very few excuses that are reasonable why their students are not showing up to school. I understand they may have reasons why – so I say that we use the aid money the parents want to receive and send transportation to the child’s residence every school morning and get the child out of bed, if necessary.

    Generational poverty and generations of families that are 16 years or less is the norm in many Oakland neighborhoods. I work with students who cannot wait to be 16 – not so they can get their first job, a driver’s license or be able to become more independent, but they are PLANNING their first or second child by that age. This type of thinking is wrong. These children cannot emotionally, financially, psychologically, educationally, spiritually, or sociologically care for children before they can read and compute math at an eighth grade level.

    Here is what I propose. Identify the students who are the third or more generation of aid receivers. Offer the girls $500 per quarter for having Depo-Provera, or other long-term birth control beginning at age 12. Then give them another $100 per month for attending school on time 98% or more of the monthly school days and another $100 per month for taking an exam and achieving grade-level proficiency OR attending tutoring sessions two hours per day after school. Pay the $300 per month for attending summer school. Continue paying the girls until they are 23 and remain in school and not pregnant. Help them find jobs. Do not give any money to the parents of these girls – the girls making great decisions get the money. The mothers who made poor decisions are not entitled to the money.

    After advanced research on cycles of poverty, I have found that after three generations there is less that a 1% chance the cycle will be broken unless drastic measures are taken, we will continue to have children in poverty, in crises, and without education or hope. We have got to stop seeing those who choose to give birth to babies in poverty as victims AND we must give these girls a reason to take a different path from their mothers, peers, neighbors and friends.

  • J.R.

    Catherine,
    Talking common sense in these times and in this place is like screaming into a blizzard, most people will not hear you and all you get is tired. Things wont change because the political and public sector system depends on the cycle of dependency. Everything from money, political control, and jobs hinges on the survival of the nanny state. The only sector that is healthy(until the tax money comes up short again). Keep telling the truth because people need to know what really goes on.

  • livegreen

    –Where’s the coverage of the massive budget cuts going on at School Sights around Oakland !!! ???

    –I understand about 15 Principles are being laid off across OUSD. True? Details?

    –Where’s the link to Katy’s new column or blog?

  • Rumor Has It

    I’m getting emails stating that OUSD now has offices open to help sign families up for free or low-cost medical insurance. Is this accurate? Who is paying for that redundant service, OUSD or an outside agency? Why is OUSD now in the health care business when they have failed to provide basic education and are in perpetual fiscal crisis? Why has OUSD’s focus begun to expand when they teeter on failure at their primary mission?

    I really wish that OUSD would leave health care to the many, many organizations that exist to provide these services to the community and have the staff/social workers/intake personnel to help link families to medical insurance. I think it is a waste for tax payers to pay for these services over and over again, especially when our school district is hurting for money. Even if there are special grants, I just can’t see any good reason for OUSD to diversify its job description beyond education. I am not compelled with all of the rhetoric that little Johnny would concentrate and graduate were he only to have his toothache soothed. I am sure this is just a brick in the road towards ‘full comprehensive schools’ or whatever they are now called. I thought Tony Smith and his posse would be gone before we’d see any real changes, but i guess I was wrong. Any reports on this?

  • J.R.

    Rumor,
    A big part of the problem has and continues to be that government does its best to destroy the family unit and make everyone dependent on said government. Parents(these people do not really qualify for this title)do not take or have ceded what used to be expected responsibility for their own children and now the state has taken our money through taxes and tried to fulfill that role. The government is not the solution, it is the problem(and I am not a fan of that hollywood fake Reagan).

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/contra-costa-times/ci_22908325/lack-dental-services-factor-grades-attendance-state-schools

    Parents are supposed to be examples of positive behavior for their children and be responsible, and they are failing in a major way(and then there are the problems of children born out of wedlock and teen motherhood). On the other end the marriage and family unit are under fierce attack. This does not bode well.

  • Nextset

    The way you fix the problem with tardy students is to close and lock the classroom doors when the bell rings. You have students on the door to do it. They love shutting doors in the face of their classmates caught outside the room at deadline. Nobody gets in late without an order from the office.

    Several decades ago I was a Sub in a public middle school that began this policy. All those caught out of classrooms after the bell were rounded up and suspended (After a break in period of a month where they were merely given detention).

    The tardy problem went away. The core problem children transferred out to other schools.

    Problem solved. I really did like that school district. It was a white suburban school district that had a growing minority population which it was determined to get/keep under control. Yes, there were poor whites (trash) who were trouble. They were handled rather severely to prevent contagion to the middling whites.

    The teachers weren’t sure the administration could get away with what seemed draconian measures – but the sure did. A month or two later the kids were running to class and tardies were down to nothing.

    We all had a good laugh about it.

    Worse thing you can give a school child is a good time. They work best when they are running on their little hamster wheels.

  • J.R.

    Nextset,
    That would work(absolutely), but in this liberal indulgent paradise(California), all of the poverty pimps will object to such measures and scream racism. People do not want to live in a responsible manner(they would rather have the government take care of them). Money,housing,cash or EBT,even cell phones, what more do you need?

  • Nextset

    The thread is on lowering violence – having the kiddies running to class to avoid being locked out, and getting rid of the bored, non-functioning students IS the main way of putting down violence.

    When you have bored non-functioning types lounging around the property (like the ex-cons from state prison now infesting the urban Jr. Colleges) you are going to have all kinds of violence and crime.

    The fact that blacks have a higher propensity to be these problems compared to say Portuguese or every other distinct ethnic group argues that we should start with removing those problem children, not avoid confronting them because they’re black.

    Anyway, making an example out of any high visibility problem has a salutary effect of others who might become the problem next. If the urban schools were staffed with ex-military blacks instead of the liberal PC blacks (for example the crooks in Atlanta who just got themselves indicted) – the way they used to be – we wouldn’t be in this mess now.

    So you want to lower violence in the schools and get rid of the disgraceful metal detectors and the other accouterments of a county jail – get rid to the screw-ups. Get them out of normal schools entirely. You can do it if you want to.

  • Nextset

    OUSD has to either do what I propose or get used to closing a lot of campuses as families pull their kids out to the Charters and Homeschooling arrangements.

  • J.R.

    Nextset,
    The root core of these issues all have one thing in common, they begin at home. That is the key to how the problem can be fixed( all these other ideas about counselors and more money for low performance will not work). Do not allow unfit and or unprepared parents to breed incessantly and subject these innocent children to such conditions. Make no mistake society is not giving these kids the short end of the stick, their parents(for the lack of a better word)are.

    http://www.contracostatimes.com/contra-costa-times/ci_22908325/lack-dental-services-factor-grades-attendance-state-schools

    Parents are not fulfilling their responsibilities, and the state is trying to fill the gap, that is the problem. Of course the government loves to have any excuse to siphon and re-distribute more money from taxpayers in order to have more control. Jerry Brown will be pushing to re-distribute even more money to so-called low income districts and it wont make any difference at all except to grow union membership.

  • http://ousdblog mark

    How to end violence is the topic:

    notice this paragraph in the article above:

    “But it was the youth’s opinion that drove discussion at the forum. Young men and women representing specific youth organizations in the area all agreed that two things need to happen: there needs to be more extracurricular activities and things to do after school and someone like a counselor to just listen to what they have to say and guide them to a better path.”

    This speaks of a lack of connection or meaningfulness existing in the schools. I go back to that great teacher at O.U.S.D. and say again that teacher has the ability to “connect” with students. He lets them truly know with small private talks and well designed lessons that are scaffolded to INCLUDE all students. Plus, he is good at his trade of TEACHING.

    I believe the teachers must know how to relate well to the tough urban students. How to include them into all lessons.

    Why does violence occur? This question revolves around the concept that the student engages in violence when they have not “bought in” to the learning environment. No buy in, results in violence.

    To get students to buy in, the teacher must teach in ways that reach all students. If a student is in 7th grade and reads at a 3rd grade level, well, that teacher can use the miracle of computers and set the student up for success in designing groups in a way that does not ostracize the student.

    Show me violence, and I will show you a student who is uncomfortable about their reading level or math understanding level, and they know they are spinning their wheels when sitting in a class where the teacher lectures a one size fits all approach.

    O.U.S.D. has to hire more teachers that are effective, and more administrators that are not only inspiring, but are fantastic in how they run the school. Too often, administrators are playing a dictatorial game of management, instead of a truly shared approach to successful pedagogy.

  • J.R.

    Mark,
    If the parents(who may not be hardworking,diligent,respectful,courteous etc) cannot help these kids grow to be decent individuals, can you really expect schools to do so? They cannot even fulfill the primary mandate and mission of education(not solely their fault, mainly the parents fault), which is teaching the children. It has been this way for decades(starting after social programs were put into place in the 60′-70′s. Midnight basketball, counselors and buy-in are all band-aid distractions from the real cause of the problems(which are unstable,unprepared people raising unstable unprepared children. For decades the foundations of the family unit in poor communities have been laid on sand, and for decades we have spent huge amounts of money to try and shore it up to no avail. More money and resources wont work, it never has.
    The topic is violence, the root cause is home-life, and being raised by people who cant or wont be good examples to their children. Until you address the real root cause there will never be change. These kids cannot function normally and independently and be self sufficient and you ask them for advice and clamor for their buy-in? The world at large will not cater to them, so you are doing them no favors. This is probably why many end up in prison, the world won’t meet their needs in their time, the way they want. And when they go out and “get whats theirs by whatever means” they usually end up head to head with law enforcement, which is no real surprise.

  • On the Fence

    I have not always seen eye to eye with J.R. and we may part ways on other topics, but I am 100% with him on this one.

    Sadly, we have not been able to spend our way out of this problem, and we certainly need to stop shifting the blame elsewhere. It is not an issue of poorly engaged teachers, or too few after school programs. I could not say it better than was posted in #21.

  • Nextset

    I’m not arguing that rotten “parents” don’t have rotten children. As far as I’m concerned we should forcibly sterilize such people – as we used to in this country.

    But…

    I have seen way too many people from broken homes, welfare mothers, alcoholic and violent parents, absent and dead parents, foster homes, etc. etc. do really well when they were brought up in functional schools. This was just as much true in the 1920s and the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. It’s even true today. Granted these at risk kids might have issues – some of which drive them into becoming rich but rather nutty. Granted some of them (I saw) were Jewish (ever read Phil Spector’s bio?).

    Being black is a huge risk factor for all kinds of problems associated with that IQ thing. But… I’ve just known too many blacks who went from welfare to professional class – granted with issues (that’s part of the fun I suppose)-

    So what I’m saying is that I know from experience that a good functional school with strong discipline does make a difference and does bring in a LOT of social and economic mobility. No matter how shiftless the parents are. We can’t fix the parents but we can fix a “school”.

    OUSD has no intention whatsoever of giving strong discipline to blacks students, quite the opposite. They will take black kids of two parent families and induce real downward economic and social mobility – through indiscipline.

    Because OUSD is just not there for “the kids”, OUSD and similar schools such as Atlanta Unified, exist to provide payroll, benefits, retirement and social standing for the school board members, the administration and I suppose the teachers. This also includes using the schools to indoctrinate students in collectivist thinking and democratic leftist politics.

    Which doesn’t help the chillun one bit either.

    It’s a Brave New World.

    The Charters are probably the only way out for the urban black kids and their families. And that creates an entirely new set of problems with assortive mating and occupations. Blacks were better off with Oakland Tech and El Cerrito High in 1960 – because of the wide exposure the black students got.

    We have traded good segregated schools from the 1950s to terrible segregated schools now. 1955-1965 style Integration only worked as long as the white schools were free to treat the black kids as if they were white – which wasn’t for very long.

  • J.R.

    Hold on to your hats because Jerry Brown wants to do major damage to education and in turn the economic engine high tech industry in this state. Much of the prop 30 money(assuming the money actually materializes) will be re-distributed to low performing districts with large percentages of low income and ELL kids. What this means for an example is LAUSD which gets well above 12-14K per child will see a 2-3k per child increase, and OUSD at about 10k per child will jump to 12-14k per child. These districts already spend more per child than many districts in the state and are outperformed by large margins by districts that dont spend nearly as much(these districts will whither with flat funding,which in essence is a decrease because of rising costs). How much proof does everyone need that the issue is not that money is the major factor, but home life and parental guidance.

    http://www.ibabuzz.com/onassignment/2011/09/07/a-closer-look-at-spending-and-test-scores-in-east-bay-schools/#comments

    the liberal doctrine of fairness is anything but: Those kids in the middle(who are some of the brightest and who would have been destined to be engineers,doctors,scientist will suffer educationally by having to cut(less teachers etc) because fairness says that those whose parents have not fulfilled their responsibility must have a larger share of tax money, even though the parents pay little or no taxes(thats fair right)? We will be cutting off our nose to spite our collective face all in the name of collective fairness. Monetary re-distribution of wealth to this extent is egregious and the worst thing is, that it will not fix the problems we have

  • makeitgoaway

    What’s a better way to do it JR? the Kids are sinking under the current system which perpetuates mediocrity.

  • J.R.

    Separate by ability, and multi-tracking. Hire ex-military with backgrounds in education or social work and fast track those with ability to be classroom monitor-teacher assistant with difficult students. Get the parents in family training making use of a mix of volunteer retired teachers,principals etc and other concerned citizens who could lend their expertise. The more people get involved and help(while still letting the teacher run the classroom)could lighten the load on parents and teachers alike. We must get rid of the system that encourages single mothers to raise kids alone. Expectations must be high not just for students, but for parents as well. If people cannot handle parenthood(and the responsibilities that go with it), they should be smart enough to avoid it at all costs(stay single). No more rewarding stupidity(and that is what it amounts to). Coddling has never worked, and yet they keep doing it because politicians like the easy money of dependence on government(for themselves and their constituents)and anyone that works for our massively bloated government(city,state and country included).

  • Nextset

    JR:

    Triage, don’t try to fix the parents. You only have so much energy, waste it and the whole thing goes down in flames.

    Run the schools like a MASH unit. With discipline. The teachers can teach, they can’t be social workers.

  • J.R.

    OT,
    Tony Smith is gone, last day is in June.

  • J.R.
  • Luis Mota

    like somebody posted in the Chron:

    Top 10 paid Employees 2011, All Compensation
    Oakland Unified School Dist.
    $352,218 Smith, Anthony Martin Superintendent
    $258,609 Hal, Vernon Eugene Deputy Suptdnt Bus. & Opration
    $241,115 Minor, Jacqueline Patricia Legal Advisor
    $230,462 Santos, Maria Dpty Sup Instrctn, Ldrshp, Eia
    $208,879 White, Timothy E. Assoc Suprntndnt Fac Plng&Mgmt
    $200,808 Mcwilliams, Marion Lynn Assistant General Counsel
    $185,721 Chou, Geekin Technology Information Officer
    $183,199 Marshall, Brigitte Associate Superintendent Hrss
    $182,814 Hernandez, Janette Teresa Executive Officer Regionl Ntwk
    $181,085 Kean, Kimi Executive Officer Regionl Ntwk
    $222,491 Average

    $400,000 US President
    $213,900 US Supreme Court
    $212,179 Governor
    $162,000 US Senator
    $56,000 US Navy Seal

  • Luis Mota

    I am very sorry if anybody suffers or is in bad health. I wish the best recovery in the comfort of family support.

    However,

    this guy is jumping the long sinking boat. He was sooo into the district that he had to make some personal reason public to get out. 3 years ago he said he would visit all schools. I am still waiting for his visit to our school.Perhaps it will be his farewell treat.
    What’s going to happen with the wondrous strategic plan? Ok, time for the cronies to go too.
    Good bye “Tony” and friends, “our” saviors!

  • http://theresalozach.com Theresa Lozac’h

    Slightly off topic – but a pertinent question for whoever is monitoring this blog. Other OUSD teachers and myself were wondering if anyone keeps track of the amount of times a given school in OUSD goes on lock down for safety reasons? If so, it would be *fascinating* to plot API and lockdown numbers – I bet you would find something interesting. Being an ex-OUSD teacher, I know that the average lockdown takes 1-4 hours of instructional time – just sheltering in place. Then – there is the emotional consequences of feeling unsafe at school, worried that someone is going to come in to your class and shoot you….basically PTSD in our school kids. This – we know – impacts academic performance. Not to mention the emotional toll on the educators that have to keep everyone safe – not a great work environment.

    Please look at this – please publish the numbers. It is important to realize the true extent of the problem.