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Student killings hit Richmond community hard

By Theresa Harrington
Friday, August 10th, 2012 at 4:25 pm in Education, West Contra Costa school district.

Last Sunday, 16-year-old Ulysis Grijalva was shot and killed in Richmond. It was the city’s 13th homicide of the year and hit Grijalva’s classmates and fellow football players at Kennedy High School hard.

Coach Mack Carminer told the Times the teen was not involved in gangs and was a good son to his parents. West Contra Costa school board President Charles Ramsey said he was concerned about the dangers of living in Richmond.

Three years ago, he said, the district had a record 11 students killed in during one school year. That’s a record no district wants to break.

Such deaths weigh on the minds and hearts of students, teachers and community members. In March, Giorgio Cosentino — a science teacher on leave from Richmond High — wrote an essay describing his reaction to the death of one of his former students. With his permission, I am sharing his essay below, in which he has changed the students’ name.

“March 10

The Death of Ricky

The headlines of the West County Times described a brazen daylight ‘rolling shootout’ on a street in west Richmond. Gunshots and roaring engines shattered the morning calm at 10:45 AM at the same time geese were flying south overhead on this sunny, but chilly, winter day. People were scattering, ducking and taking cover. ‘Just like the wild, wild, west!’ as some children of Richmond would say. Shootouts were nothing new to Richmond, but this one stood out from all others which usually took place in the dark shadows of a poorly lit street sometime after midnight. At 10:45 a.m., stores were open for business, kids with rumbling stomachs sat in classrooms, eagerly awaiting the lunch hour. Mail was being delivered, and dogs barked behind fences to anyone who would listen. Jackhammers nearby loudly busted through cement.

On this day, I was working in a laboratory as a microbiologist in a highly secure compound for the California Dept. of Health less than a couple of miles away from the battle, after taking a leave of absence from teaching science at Richmond High School. And Ricky Clark, one of my dearest former students (teachers are not supposed to have favorites, but we do), was in the process of dying in a hail of large-caliber bullets fired from a Soviet-made rifle more commonly found in war-torn countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

I wish I could preserve Ricky’s innocence by telling you that he was just a bystander, but that was not the case, as evidenced by the AK47 assault rifle found on his lap in the crashed Plymouth at the cordoned-off yellow-taped ‘crime scene.’ On another street somewhere in Richmond, the same yellow tape still dangled from a lamp post, evidence of the previous day’s prequel—another shooting that started the clock ticking for Ricky’s final 24 hours of life.

In the news, Ricky would be a mere statistic. He was 19 years old — an age when an African-American male homicide victim is nothing more than a number added to the yearly Richmond homicide tally. Judging from the New Year’s Eve style countdown of reporting this number, I believe some perverse readers are cheering for Richmond to beat the previous high of 62 homicides, a Richmond personal best set in 1991. Richmond cannot compete with the large neighboring cities of Oakland or San Francisco for total absolute number of homicides, but Richmond does win hands down on a homicides per-capita basis as some of my students have boasted when making their point that ‘Frisco and Oaktown is for suckers!’ The 1991 record translated to 67.2 per 100,0000, 7 times the then national average of 9.5 homicides per 100,000.

When the victims are still children, as defined by the arbitrary ‘under the age of 18 criteria,’ there is usually written a short story about their brief life. Often included is a picture of a smiling young boy, taken at a time in his life when the violence of his surrounding environment has not yet robbed him of his innocence, including his inalienable right as a child, to smile. The fact that Ricky was armed also added to the cool, even unsympathetic, nature of this piece of journalism. No one would ask questions about the short life of this young man. Only those blessed to have known him would see Ricky as a victim as opposed to just another ‘gang-banger,’ ‘hoodlum,’ ‘angry black man,’ or worse.

No one would read about how hard his single-parent mother worked to keep him on a path that did not include guns, gangs, drugs, and violence, in a neighborhood saturated with all. From our phone calls and meetings, it was clear to me that she wanted the best for Ricky, and as a new, inexperienced teacher, I certainly did not merit her approval. I tried. New teachers in low-performing schools are just expected to try—results come later after years of experience, assuming the teacher does not leave for an increase in compensation and or better working conditions. We do not tolerate inexperienced mechanics who cannot solve our car troubles, but we do allow and excuse inexperience and failure with those playing a vital role with respect to the futures of our neediest children.

From the first five minutes of the first day of class, Ricky began his clowning antics, taunting me when I instructed the class to prepare to work. Eager to establish order, I quickly locked my eyes on this medium-black skinned young man with braided hair sitting in the second column of chairs from the right, third row back. With an average build, wearing a white T-shirt, black slightly baggy work pants, he spread out in his seat like a giant amoeba, both of his legs outstretched in the aisles with the soles of his construction-style work boots facing me. I casually strode over to where he sat, slapped my hand down on the table top and gave him my hardest ‘Let’s get with the program’ stare. He flinched, quickly straightened up, shot a brief look of fear, then relaxed and smiled. I then explained the rules of my classroom to him. I believe after a quick assessment of me, he realized that I was not a ‘hater,’ just a teacher doing his job. We had an understanding from that day onward.

Ricky’s warmth and vital disposition made a teacher only want to try harder at mastering the tricks of motivation. The other students also enjoyed his comedic, jocular nature. The boys appreciated and respected him for his cool and cockiness. All of the girls, irrespective of race, wanted to help him. Not missing a beat, I took advantage of their maternal quality and paired them with Ricky. Shy at first, but with a grin and eyebrows raised, I believe Ricky to have been most appreciative of this strategy.

The stale sweet smell of cigarettes and marijuana on his oversized jacket and his bloodshot eyes provided clues into the life that this 16 year old child led when he left the musty-smelling dilapidated ‘ghetto’ classroom, Room 655, out near the back parking lot of Richmond High School. Occasionally, Ricky would blurt out in the middle of my lectures, ‘Mr. C. I love you, man!’ Slightly distracted, I would calmly respond, ‘I love you too, Ricky,’ then quickly resume my lecture amidst the laughter of Ricky’s classmates. I never saw one hint of anger in Ricky, making it even more difficult for me to fathom any scenario that could have led to Ricky picking up an assault rifle. Maybe it was not about anger, but about self defense. Kill or be killed. Take it to the enemy before he does you. I choose to believe Ricky was just trying to survive the day he died.

The last time I saw Ricky was in a bike shop in the neighboring city of Berkeley, three years after I was his teacher, one year before he died. There was some commotion coming from the back of the store as Ricky and a few of his friends had put the store employees on a heightened state of alert. I recognized Ricky’s laughter. Again, wearing a white T-shirt and black baggy pants, he recognized me. ‘Mr. C!’ he hollered across the store, now drawing eye-raising attention of employees and shoppers alike. We gave each other a quick hug and slap of the shoulders while everyone, including Ricky’s friends, looked on, trying to comprehend what they were seeing take place on the store floor — an unlikely reunion of sorts.

We chatted briefly about what we had been up to and the good ol’ days of Physical Science class in room 655. We wished each other well, then laughing uncontrollably, Ricky and his buddies stumbled out the door, bouncing into the street, so full of life. I kicked myself for not treating them to lunch at the next door McDonalds. With some students, a teacher can predict such an ending. With Ricky, I never saw it coming.”

Staff writers Natalie Neysa Alund and Daniel M. Jimenez contributed to this report.

Do you think schools can help prevent such tragic endings?

[You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.]

  • Cokito

    I would like to thank Mr. Cosentino for sharing this essay with us. Go bless you for reaching out to this kid. God bless you for seeing his humanity through the labels, and through the walls that some kids end up building around themselves.

  • Linda L

    What a sad story. My husband and I were having a discussion this morning about the imbalance of Olympic medals between the US men and women. Which led to a discussion about the imbalance of women to men in colleges today, a place where many of our athletes are developed.
    I believe our school system may not be able to prevent the tragic ending of the story above but we do have to pay attention to what is happening to the boys in all our communities and may be able to help many. Is our education system failing in educating boys? Do we make them develop fine motor skills and focus before they are developmentally ready?
    Are we too worried about getting kindergarten more academic and we miss what this early failure does to boys who naturally mature later? The elimination of wood shop, metal shop, and auto shop can not be a benefit to our students and especially to our boys who may be more project/hands-on oriented.
    I could not begin to blame a school for the senseless shooting above but we should be worried about finding the key to helping our young men succeed. I think that could save many.

  • Giorgio C.

    Thank you for the kind words, Cokito.

    I am very sorry for the family and friends of Ulysis. I’m sorry for his teachers, too. Our teachers experience tragedy after tragedy when they lose their students. At 16, some kids have begun plotting their course in life. They are so vital, so full of life.

    One of my 16 year old students was run down by a repeat drunk-driver while riding his bicycle. I was watching the news and heard his name and thought this can’t be. He was an athlete (baseball and football) and was helping his mom and he was even interested in being a chef. What a beautiful kid, gone. You see some of these kids say to life “Bring it on. I’m ready. I want it all.” And then this. By being on a team, Ulysis was preparing for life.

    I want the best for our kids in the classroom, so much so that I even suggested eliminating some after-school sports programs in order to ensure we have the best teachers in our classrooms. Now I think to myself, “My God, what was I thinking.” I will never propose such again.

    Regarding “Ricky”, when I began asking other teachers how he was doing, one teacher laughed, pointing to a progress report list he posted on the classroom wall. He had not one iota of compassion for Ricky. Our teachers must be compassionate.

    I do need to clarify that I wrote this essay some years ago, but recently shared it with Theresa in order to help her understand why I made a big deal out of our district not reporting the number of non-credentialed teachers on the School Accountability Report Cards.

    I have not returned to teaching, but if I do, Richmond is where I would want to teach. Perhaps I am not hardened enough to teach there if I let such tragedies eat away at me years later. I don’t know.

    By the way, I am not saying non-credentialed teachers can’t get the job done. We might have some outstanding non-credentialed teachers, but the law still states that this information is to be reported on the SARC documents so that parents can use this information to help them assess their school’s performance. Richmond High is one of 7 schools in the district that did report this information, so kudos to them!

    Forty four WCCUSD schools appear to be in violation of Ed Code for failing to provide the number of credentialed and non-credentialed teachers employed at their respective sites in the 2010-2011 school year. The SARC staff with the CA Dept. of Ed have informed me that incomplete SARC documents are a violation of the Ed Code.

    The 7 Principals who complied are:
    Coronado: 19 credentialed teachers, 1 non-credentialed teacher.

    Hannah Ranch: 21 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers.

    Madera: 21 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers

    Mira Vista: 21 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers

    Tara Hills: 28 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers

    Middle College High: 11 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers

    Richmond High: 75 credentialed teachers, 0 non-credentialed teachers.

    Portola: Reported 20 credentialed teachers, but did not report the number of non-credentialed teachers. This is the only school that provided 1/2 of the information.

    In a recent CC Times article, it was reported that the district has hired over 100 non-fully credentialed teachers. So how come the district does not report where they are being employed? Again, they might be doing an outstanding job, but I still want to make that determination for myself as the law allows me to do.

    Regarding shop classes, I wanted to link my Physical Science class to some of the trades classes offered at the local junior college. I was told no way, that the parents would not approve. We always offered trade classes when I was growing up. My dad always said “learn a trade or go to college.”

    A Richmond High teacher told me that all the trades went to China. Yes, that is why it took my electrician 2 days to arrive at my home, because he just flew in from China.

    The number one objective of our schools should be CONFIDENCE BUILDING. I had students who could not or would not do their school work, but they wanted to help me paint and repair our dilapidated classroom. One student knew exactly how to repair the classroom door. He was educating me! We painted our classroom over the weekend. It takes a village, right? Beautiful.

    Instead, our schools have a one-size-fits-all offering. Those who do not fall in line have nothing. When they return to school to try to catch up, we often destroy their confidence further, not build it. We need to help those who stumble to get back up and keep moving FORWARD. Any progress is good.

    One teacher once said to me “No children are afraid to come to my class.” I didn’t always approve of his methods, but for some, the biggest hurdle is getting the student into the classroom.

    Our schools must instill confidence in all of our children. The rest will fall into place. These children who lack confidence and-or support often head down a path that is not solely injurious to themselves. There are always many more victims. To those who lack the compassion to help some of these kids, do it to help yourself and your own family.

  • Giorgio C.

    @Linda L.
    Some of my childhood friends were on a different path. They made the most out of those shop classes and are doing very well today. We need to convince well-intended parents that this option should always be available. With some trades, you can trick a child into learning math to make calculations and also improving their literacy skills if they have to learn to read a manual.

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    Theresa, thank you for covering an important story lying behind the statistics that we all, unfortunately, tend to skim over in the paper.

    The comments from Georgio C. and Linda L. got me thinking again about the “practical” and “vocation-oriented” classes that many of us grew up with. My own middle school and high school offered classes in wood working, home ec0n, auto mechanics, metal working, and drafting, and they were very popular with boys and girls. (Even though fewer than 20% of the graduates in my blue collar rust belt town went on to college, my high school also offered 3-4 years of Spanish, French, German, Russian, and Latin, as well as advanced Calculus, Chemistry and Physics. I guess educators had a different vision of “meeting diverse student needs” in those days…)

    Although “learn a trade or go to college” has typically been the driving rationale behind such courses, I think that view obscures other important benefits from including them in the curriculum. So much of K-12 education is about “learning things the right way” and navigating the learning process itself. And that is understandable. There are typically a limited number of ways to solve a math problem. Each word tends to have a single correct spelling. The Civil War ended in a specific year. Animals do not engage in photosynthesis. It takes a lot of quiet study time and thinking to master all of that important material. The problem is that many students are not “wired” or motivated to go from one problem or question to another, year after year, without any tangible results. You got an “A” on the Chapter 6 test? Great — on to Chapter 7.

    Most educators ARE wired that way, of course. They liked school, adapted well to the whole process, and went on to become teachers. I think that kind of personal experience can make it difficult for them to understand students who don’t move through life in the same way. In our current system, about 30% of students in the U.S. do not graduate from high school with their peers, and of those who go on to college, about 40% do not get a degree within six years. That’s a LOT of attrition and suggests that the system itself is failing to meet many needs.

    One thing that many of these seemingly “vocational” classes did was allow a student to tackle a discrete project from start to finish and produce a tangible work product. I kept my wood working projects for years after high school, even though I did not become a carpenter. I was proud of them. My brother, who went on to college and two masters degrees, will readily tell you that his favorite classes in high school were in auto mechanics. Does he fix his own car now? Not often. But those classes offered him tangible lessons in how to recognize a mechanical problem, investigate it by disassembling things into their constituent components, and then resolve the problem by fixing the right part and putting things back together correctly. If you think about it, that sequence essentially reflects what many of us adults do in our own working lives — whether we work on the shop floor or in an office cubicle. The typical sit-in-rows, read-and-listen, talk-and-write paradigm in schools is certainly important for students to master. Many subjects demand proficiency with that learning model. But could we possibly have a bit more empathy for students who also want to get up and DO something once in awhile?

  • Anon

    Jim, I love reading what you have to say. You have a gift of putting things together that can be understood by all.
    With that said. I am not gifted like you so please be patient.
    I believe that the 10 to 20% of students have language based learning disabilities.
    Reading, writing and math is very difficult for them. Now if we break it down I believe that some of the poorest people in communities or the uneducated parents contribute to this by not having the where withall to help. Most of these disAbilities are hereditary. Shop classes do give a child the opportunity to use what their minds seem to have a natural ability to finish. Yes I am saying what you said but adding another layer of generations of learning disadvantaged children.
    By not educating these children we are letting them fail. Most of the failures will result in dropping out, drugs and jail. Not always but most likely. This is the reason they look at 3rd grade reading scores to judge future prison population. If a child is not at grade level by te 3rd grade they will always be behind, and be a below average student that is waiting to fail.

  • Giorgio C.

    The irony is that our district that does not offer shop to K-12 kids does use funding for offering the trades at the Adult School. Our district which is responsible for our k-12 children cannot afford to educate our children, but our district is spending millions on the Adult School?

    Here are the trade classes offered
    http://www.wccae.info/trades.html

  • http://www.k12reboot.com Jim

    @ #6 Anon — You make a very important point. Most of my time in education was spent working on products and instructional approaches for students with language and reading challenges. For many years, the language foundation of reading was well understood by speech language professionals and by neuroscientists who focused on learning, but much less understood by people in the so-called “reading research” community. Fortunately, that knowledge gap has diminshed over the past decade. Your estimate of 10-20% is almost certainly low. In nation-wide samples, many researchers find that 30% or more of students in upper grades cannot read with the kind of comprehension that would allow them to be fully functional in the workplace. (And interestingly, about 30% never complete high school…)

    You are correct that 3rd grade reading proficiency can offer an indication of future academic achievement, but many people are not aware that testing children as young as 4 or 5 on their oral language skills can provide a strong predictor of reading difficulty. As I recall, students performing in the bottom fifth of those assessments are 4-5 times as likely to be struggling readers or non readers by the later elementary grades, and subsequently, at much higher risk of dropping out. So why don’t we screen ALL incoming students for oral language proficiency? Well, the tests are expensive to administer (requiring a one-on-one session with a trained professional), and even if the district finds a student to be discrepant, they have to be very discrepant (bottom 10% basically) to qualify for special intervention. So districts don’t do it unless a parent or educator requests the assessment. The primary reason that children are referred to special ed in PreK-2 is some sort of language challenge. After Grade 3, when kids are supposed to be reading, the primary reason for referral is a reading challenge. But basically, the two groups share many problems along a common spectrum.

    The language/reading problem is compounded in a world with large percentages of English language learners. While it has been demonstrated that being fluent in two or more languages provides a student with clear cognitive advantages, some ELLs never become fully fluent in ANY language. That situation makes higher-level academic work difficult for them, and can impede their success in the workplace. Given the demographic trends here in CA, this is a challenge that deserves intense focus. But as in so many other areas, I wonder whether the typical district’s one-size-fits-all mindset will be up to the task.

  • Anon

    There is a law in California to test for dyslexia (an unexpected delay in reading)
    However, the law states that it is suggested that schools of higher education start teaching teachers how to recognize it.
    The schools do not recognize this problem so most children will fall through the cracks.
    The only way they recognize it is if you fight and threaten a law suite. The reading programs that these children need are already owned by MDUSD but they refuse to use them.
    Not sure if it is true but I was told that they don’t use them because the major text book companies offer a kickback for using their products. If this is true this is corruption at its best.
    The most unfortunate part of not educating these children is they seem to process a natural ability to think outside of the box and possess the critical thinking and problem solving skills that we are trying to teach the readers.

  • Giorgio C.

    @#9Anon,
    For my entire life, I have struggled with learning whenever the process involved verbal instructions. This includes school, schoolyard activities, dance classes, employment, etc. I have a hard time following directions. I am the shortest tool in the shed. I am one shy of a six-pack.

    With my first job at a pawn shop, I had two bosses (co-owners). One of them who had zero patience wanted to fire me on my first day. He often said to me “Man, you are slow! Were you in the Coast Guard because you sure are out to sea!”

    The other boss said “Hey my friend, you seem to have a problem that will follow you for the rest of your life if you don’t figure it out.” He let me keep working. We need more Greg Borelli’s in the world. He died too young of diabetes. He is remembered by the Greg Borelli Classic Car May Madness event in San Rafael. What a saint he was. Note to the co-owner JB if you are still alive, I forgive you.

    Later, in college, a professor asked if I had ever been tested. He suggested I do so, but I blew it off. I dropped out of college twice, but finally achieved a BS in Microbiology.

    At age 40, after so much frustration with having difficulties with learning, but also in any situation that required much conversation, I sought testing. I was diagnosed via a series of computer diagnostics, resulting in a diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder with scores that were interpreted to mean that my impairment was severe. My scores were no better than that of an amoeba. Maybe this is why I was so patient with my students. I know what lack of patience is like.

    When teaching at Richmond HS, I had one student who just stared blankly and did nothing or said nothing. I read his cumulative file in which an elementary teacher commented “Nice kid, but I don’t think he’s getting it.”

    I brought this to the attention of the counselor who discovered this kid needed help and wasn’t getting it. He was in 9th grade and his disability had not yet been diagnosed. What happened?

    This is why I am an advocate for experienced, qualified teachers. They also play an important role in the detection of these “disabilities.”

  • Anon

    Giorgio, Yes they play the most important role. Unfortunatley we do not have many advovates that teach the teachers what to do. Some teachers will stand up no matter what. most that I have come in contact with just follow the leader.

    I am happy that you found out what the problem was and addressed it. Thank you for helping the student that needed it. This is a real problem….waiting until they are in high school or later to address the problem. We have over 30 years of research on this just this topic and noone will listen (or very few)
    It is truly sad to me. I am an advocate for children with LD. I have been very succesful over the years getting what is needed. It is unfortunate that I can only help one at a time and the schools won’t open their eyes and help them all. It is not only the right thing to do but it is the best thing to do for the future of our country.

  • Giorgio C.

    To #11Anon,
    This is why I am fanatical about documentation. Many, including teachers and administrators, resent any attempt to require such because it takes time. A previous comment (yours?) mentioned the possibility of lawsuits. A continuous paper trail will make this even more likely, thus we have motivation to do better.

    How are we documenting the discovery of those who have fallen through the cracks? Is an investigation performed by an impartial, outside entity to determine the cause of failure to detect these failures or are they internally sanitized?

    I had completed an evaluation request for one very troubled student. At first, I was told by the counselor “You can’t save them all.” The kid later showed up at school with a loaded gun. I asked about the request I placed. The response was that someone lost the paperwork, that he was never evaluated.

    Then we have the incomplete SARC documents…..(heavy sigh of frustration). Documentation is everything. Show me in writing what our school system looks like on a day-to-day basis. Only then can we detect those who need help with diagnostic accuracy approaching 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity with the desired predictive value.

    In response to your comment, I would like to see the documentation that shows that 30 years of research is being ignored by our district. In my current highly regulated profession, anything not documented is assumed to not have been done. It will be incumbent upon the district to produce documentation to the contrary.

    You and Jim have provided some specific examples. If I wanted to investigate your concerns, could I? If not, it means the paper trail is lacking. I would like to see documentation of the MDUSD’s thought-decision process that resulted in them not using the program that you cite. If kickbacks are a motivating factor, documentation should point to such if their argument to not use these programs is proven to be scientifically invalid.

  • Flippin’ Tired

    Anon @9,

    You say, ” The reading programs that these children need are already owned by MDUSD but they refuse to use them.”

    The name of these programs, please. My child is dyslexic, and I know of no special program the district is using to supplement my child’s learning.

  • Anon

    Flippen, the district owns the Barton reading and spelling, And Wilson. I have not heard if they own Slingerland . I was told by Barton that they do indeed own the license and the district confirmed it when I asked. They also hold the license for Wilson. They refuse to use the programs. They insist on using read 180, Read Naturally, and now Lexia. None of these programs will work for Dyslexic students. I have extensive knowledge on teaching dyslexics. The only programs that will work are the above mentioned. They also need to learn math and writing in a different way. These programs will also work with adults but the later you wait to get help the longer it will take to remediate.
    Why the district does not use the programs I do not know. I am not sure why they would not want to.

  • Flippin’ Tired

    Looks like I’ll be calling an IEP. Thank you for the information.

  • Anon

    Don’t think they will use them or have people trained to use them. Go to :
    http://www.dys-add.com/index.html
    E-mail Susan Barton and ask for a list of tutors in your area. Depending on the age of your son and if he also has ADHD Will determine how many hours a week. Usually 2 @ $50 to 60 an hour. Ask for reimbursement. Within 1 year you will see a child that could barely read diary of a wimpy kid read all of them. You will also see his spelling start to improve. There are 10 levels that will take him all the way to H.S. also have the official diagnose kept up so you can apply for a foreign language waiver later on. It is typical for dyslexics to have trouble with foreign language. Once he is able to read then you will start to work on fluency. You can’t push decoding and fluency at the same time. Also there is nothing wrong with books on tape if you can’t read to him daily. Keep his mind going with words.

  • Giorgio C.

    @14anon,
    In response to “Why the district does not use the programs I do not know”, you deserve and should be able to get a response. All decisions should exist in writing somewhere. There should be a way for you to get this on the board meeting agenda or there should be a way to get your board to get the response for you or you should get the response via the public records act request.

    At the end of the day, hold the Superintendent responsible by electing to school board those who are responsive to your concerns. You and some experts and teachers should draft a formal opinion on this item and present it to the board. If the district cannot defend their decision, then the board needs to find a new Superintendent. If they do not, you need to elect new board members.

    This is the chain-of-command.

  • Anon

    So back on topic. Some will fall and pick themselves up, some will never see adulthood but with the right tools and self esteem most can make it. I know many of you may think I am not all here with that statement but I believe kids want to do well and are unable to deal with facts that they are perceived as less. In some situations you may have a child that excels but it is uncool to rise way ahead. We need to tr to find a way to give all of them a chance. I am not saying that it is all about the teachers or the parents it is about a broken system. It is time for a change. Let school choice and vouchers come into play. The week will be gone and the strong will stay (teachers and admins). If a student isn’t able to obey the rules they can’t go there. Use the research that is out there to teach struggling students. Help push up the ones that Need to be challenged. Embrace our different children stop being afraid of autism, dyslexia, cognitive impaired. We need all of them.

  • Anon

    Geogio I agree with you. I am 1 person with a special Ed child and other children still in district schools. I hate to admit it but I can’t stand and fight alone. I fear for the retaliation on my children and myself. Not to mention that while I have the desire I don’t think I alone am capable of this. If I could get some other well versed people behind me. Some people who understand the inner workings of the large district I would be willing to do the work. I am not good at public speaking and often find it difficult to talk to people who out right lie to my face.
    I vote and I can tell you that there is only one board member that I voted for. I want nothing more than an education for all of our children. They are the future of this country and they deserve a good education.

  • Giorgio C.

    @19Anon,
    Feel free to contact me. I’ll preserve your anonymity. We can talk in person over coffee. I am willing to do what I can to voice your concerns. I also understand your concerns regarding retaliation. They are valid. I am wishing you and your child the best.

    Giorgio
    gcosentino1964@gmail.com

  • http://IBA-Buzz.com Sheryl Gordon

    The stories about all young people who are killed in violence are sad. Of that there is no doubt.
    Is there a preventative way to stop many of these senseless acts? I believe so, but it would be so very difficult to accomplish. And would need to be put into place WAY before a child ever entered a school system. Youngsters who are born into “at risk” parentage, must be availed of mentors as infants. Mentors who are deeply committed to the child they serve, and yes, it would be a service for all the growing up years with the adult person showing the positive ways one will succeed in life, to the child he or she is involved with.
    Alas, this cannot happen, as most adults aren’t able to commit to such a long-term investment. Helping a child to follow the right path is a daunting undertaking, especially for at risk children.
    Imagine though, if it were possible, the results-breathtaking!