On August 29, initially of this faculty yr, there was a capturing on campus at Madison Park Academy, a center faculty within the East Oakland flatlands. One scholar allegedly introduced a gun and unintentionally shot one other scholar.
Oakland Voices’ alumni correspondent Aqueila M. Lewis-Ross chatted with Taiwo Kujichagulia-Seitu, a instructor on the faculty who’s on the college’s security committee, about what the college wants and why folks want to concentrate. Kujichagulia-Seitu is a Performing Arts Educator who teaches dance, vocal music, drama, and West African drumming on the faculty, and he or she can be a mother. The interview has been edited for size and readability.
Are you able to sum up what occurred not too long ago at your faculty?
There was a capturing that occurred between two college students. It was throughout that break proper after the children have been achieved consuming and they also’re on the market by the blacktop. It was an accident. The one who had the gun, he was 12 and shot a classmate who was 13. And it was in the midst of the day when children aren’t in school.
It was a kind of worst case situations. Like each time we now have a drill, children are already in school. It’s like, lock your doorways and all of the issues, however this occurred when children are usually not in school. And in order that simply type of provides a layer of extra hectic-ness to the circumstances as a result of it’s a matter of individuals scrambling.
We now have drills, however I really feel like folks aren’t actually ever ready for weapons on campus. And I’m on the security committee. Now we’re revamping all of the drills: what are the issues which are crucial? Popping out of the pandemic, we are actually in a unique world. There’s extra violence, proper? We’re seeing issues that we haven’t actually seen earlier than in Oakland at a stage that we hadn’t seen earlier than and within the faculties that we haven’t seen earlier than. So it’s type of like that actuality test, like that is the place we’re and that is the place we have to put together for. We’re creating it now, however it’s in a state of affairs the place we’ve already had that [shooting] on campus.
It’s attention-grabbing that you simply say that Madison Park Academy is simply now making an attempt to determine a response. Isn’t Oakland a kind of cities the place plenty of shootings occur? As a mum or dad, I might request that the colleges do one thing to get everybody ready, as a result of it’s taking place within the metropolis.
I feel most mother and father have that assumption. You’re sending your kids to highschool and also you’re trusting that the college is preserving your kids secure. Traditionally, we now have had a variety of violence in Oakland, it’s simply not essentially been on the campuses’ of colleges.
That’s the place we’re and it’s going to need to take lots of people to acknowledge that and it’s going to take extra mum or dad involvement, as a result of lots of people, mother and father particularly, are below the belief that faculty is a secure place. And it ought to be, however what issues ought to be and what they’re in actuality aren’t all the time utterly in alignment.
What’s it like being a instructor at a faculty the place the incident occurred? And what’s it like for you as a mum or dad?
It’s irritating, as a result of I really feel as a instructor, I’m [one of the people] who’s like, “Hey we have to hearken to this factor, hey we have to do that factor over right here.” I’m the individual with the bullhorn going, “We’re all this, however we’re completely ignoring all that.” I really feel like I shouldn’t be within the minority when it’s a fundamental want like security. Issues like preserving doorways locked. You recognize, fundamental widespread sense issues. And in order that to me is draining.
I’m like one of many few lecturers who I really feel like is definitely listening to the children. After all the things occurred I used to be like, “So how do you guys really feel? “Do you are feeling secure?” “What are the issues that make you are feeling secure?” However that wasn’t a schoolwide dialog. As a instructor and as a mum or dad, that was vital to me. And I don’t know if lecturers actually really feel comfy partaking college students in that means. That they had counselors on campus and conversations with college students one-on-one, however it’s like for the scholars who don’t essentially really feel the necessity to go to a counselor, they’re nonetheless observing issues, they’re nonetheless issues, they nonetheless have unstated wants and needs that aren’t being met and we’ll by no means know what they’re if we don’t have interaction them in dialog.
What you as an grownup really feel is vital versus what the scholars really feel are vital are typically two completely various things. Like I’ve heard college students say, “I really feel secure if we had metallic detectors.” However I’ve heard some adults say, “Oh! That’ll by no means occur!” And there’s the mum or dad piece. The place are the mother and father on this dialog? We’ve not concerned mother and father sufficient.
You recognize, the belief that folks have is that their college students are secure on campus and as a instructor and a mum or dad who occurs to work within the faculty, I’m like, mother and father shouldn’t make that assumption. We want extra mother and father to indicate up. We actually, actually need extra mother and father to indicate up and be like, “Hey! What’s happening? Why are we not concerned in regardless of the planning course of is?”
Are you able to inform me the demographic of your faculty and do you suppose that’s one of many explanation why OUSD was sluggish/reluctant to reply?
The demographic is like 78/79 p.c Latino, like 18 p.c Black, and the remaining different (Asian college students, Center Jap college students), and we had like one white scholar or two as soon as upon a time. It’s a flatland faculty. We’re in Sobrante Park. That’s as East as you will get. That’s deep, deep East Oakland. Individuals wish to assume that classism isn’t a factor, however it very a lot so is, that racism isn’t a factor, however it very a lot so is. So what we see in OUSD is that the flatlands get the least providers and the colleges within the hills get extra. They’re extra attentive to the hills faculties the place people who find themselves extra prosperous of their college students. That’s simply the very fact of what it’s and has been traditionally. We now have flatland faculties which have an enormous environmental air pollution factor taking place now at McClymonds and a number of the different faculties the place the water is unsafe to drink. Fundamental well being and security issues and requirements that aren’t being met. And also you go to the hills faculties and it’s completely completely different. I.e., the heatwave. It felt like a sauna in our faculty and I train dance. I advised my college students, “We’re not gonna dance, you’ll cross out from warmth exhaustion.” My daughter teaches within the after-school program at Redwood Heights within the hills and requested if that they had air-con and he or she mentioned, “Yeah.” Hills faculties have air-con, they’re fantastic, they will proceed life as regular in the midst of an enormous heatwave. Right here, no air-con. It’s kinda like at a sure level, will we even attempt to instruct children? The children have been worn out. It’s easy issues like air-conditioning that will make an enormous distinction. So yeah, we get the quick finish of the stick on a regular basis.
If you happen to had the chance to sit down with present, incoming metropolis officers, faculty board reps, what are some issues that you’d need them to give attention to?
One, I might not need to sit down with any of these folks on my own. I wish to see a bunch of oldsters, college students, and OUSD workers members–I imply custodial workers, librarians, lecturers, kitchen workers–not simply lecturers, as a result of we who work right here see it. And I’d wish to see that they perceive that this isn’t only one squeaky wheel, that is a whole group of people that see all the things that’s unsuitable and who’re demanding that they repair the issues which are unsuitable with the intention to do justice for our college students. Nobody ought to need to advocate for fundamental requirements just like the issues we have to maintain college students and workers secure. We shouldn’t need to have months and months of requests fixing half of the inoperable safety cameras on our website. The second it breaks, there ought to be somebody right here fixing it and changing it, proper?
We’re not asking for something outrageous. We’re not even asking for something tremendous revolutionary. You bought employed or elected no matter it was to do a job, please do your job, so we will do our jobs. I can’t educate children in the event that they’re not secure! If one thing occurs in that chain the place one thing is damaged, there’s like one damaged piece, there’s a lacking hyperlink that impacts the remainder of the chain.
[Since the interview, Madison Park Academy announced that “Staff was recently informed that we will not lose any of our teaching positions and that the safety issues we identified on our campus (i.e. the need for security cameras, air phones and radios) are being installed, or have been ordered. Furthermore, OUSD is planning to install a motorized gate to help keep our campus secure and hire additional culture keepers (security guards).”].
How does it make you are feeling when there was a capturing at King Estates, after the capturing at Madison Park Academy?
God all the time drops a couple of pebbles like, “Hey, by the best way you should take note of this.” Oh, and also you didn’t get this primary little trace or nugget of knowledge? Right here’s one thing else proper. So by the Grace of God, no one was killed in both capturing. The coed right here survived the capturing and didn’t maintain any life-threatening accidents. We have been very, very fortunate. That it was just one individual right here. And that the individual didn’t die. And now these different six folks additionally didn’t die.
We’ve had two shootings at this level [within OUSD]. I’m an OUSD workers member, an worker, do I do know what the security updates are for all faculties inside OUSD? No! And that’s unbelievably irresponsible to me that as a workers member and as a mum or dad with kids throughout the district, I’ve no extra info than somebody who is completely not affiliated with OUSD in any respect.
With all that has been mentioned, do you have got hope on your faculty, for OUSD, on your college students? Do you have got hope proper now?
I completely do. I imply, our college students are powerhouses. They’re very outspoken. They’re very conscious of what’s taking place. They need to be engaged within the technique of devising options after which placing them in place. I occurred to say in one among my courses that I’m on the security committee, they usually’re like, “We now have a security committee? I need to be on the security committee.” They’re not leaving their security within the palms of another person. They need to be engaged. I do know mother and father who can be engaged in the event that they knew what was taking place and had that info. If folks have been clear with them and mentioned, “Look, there’s faculties in our OUSD which are getting gun threats of violence frequently, what are the issues we should always do?” I do know there are mother and father with options. I do know that there are workers and lecturers. I do know there are college students with options; the issue isn’t the shortage of the power to plot an answer, the issue is we don’t have the knowledge, we’re like being stored out of the loop. So I’ve hope which is why issues simply should be made public.
We had lots of people reply and advocate on our behalf who aren’t essentially affiliated with Madison Park Academy and that’s what provides me hope. Individuals do nonetheless care about their fellow human beings and there would be the individuals who will completely step up if they’ve the knowledge, they usually know what to do, and who to contact, and what are the issues that we want help with. So that provides me hope. The way in which that the group confirmed up. All these items which are good and loving and type and true exist inside of individuals. If we will faucet into that and we will have the knowledge to maintain folks secure, and if we will all arrange round that, then I’ve little question that each one of our college students can be secure and our faculties can be secure areas the place college students are literally studying and rising and thriving.