Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Oakland Military Institute

Jerry Brown, former Governor Moonbeam and current mayor of Oakland, California, was able to create the Oakland Military Institute on the site of the former Oakland Army Depot. It started as a military-style junior high, each year adding another grade until now it's a full-fledged secondary school.

And some people don't like it. See, some people don't celebrate enough "diversity" to "tolerate" one military-style school in a city of hundreds of thousands of people.

But for some Oakland residents, the school that supports the young men's dream of becoming officers and gentlemen is an affront to their personal values.

One of the residents most opposed to the presence of a military school in the Oakland is City Council candidate Aimee Allison, a conscientious objector to war who is writing a book, "Army of One," that highlights efforts to counter military recruitment in the nation's high schools.

As a practical matter, Allison believes that for all the school has been given -- nearly $7,400 a year per student -- it has underachieved. Other Oakland public schools receive about the same amount per student...

It's true that the school's academic performance has been average compared with schools of similar size statewide, with similar ethnic makeups and resources, according to the state's academic-performance ranking. The military academy ranked fourth among 21 Oakland middle schools on the state index in 2005.

So it's average across the state, and doing better than the vast majority of Oakland middle schools, and that's not good enough. Hmmm.

Here are Oakland Unified's testing results for this past spring. Here are OMI's results. (You might have to change the district to Oakland Military) Neither is stellar, but if OMI isn't costing any more per student and is getting results at least as good as other schools in the area, what reason other than anti-military bias could there be for wanting to shut it down?

"I'd like to take that level of resources and put it into a school that reflects peace and the things that are important to the people who live here," Allison said.

Well, wait a minute.

For more than 500 families, a school that emphasizes discipline and organization as part of the overall high school experience is an important community resource.

Ah, the truth comes out. And interesting comment by the article's author.

Bruce Holaday, the school's superintendent, said military school certainly isn't for every Oakland student and simply represents another option for Oakland students.

"It's true that one size doesn't fit all, but what we're offering -- habits of good character, looking sharp, being polished, polite and well educated -- a lot of families do appreciate," he said.

Libs certainly don't like "one size fits all" for testing or other programs, why do they want it for public schools? Well, in actuality, they don't.

If this were truly about equity in the distribution of Oakland's schools, why wouldn't Allison raise a flap over Brown's Oakland School for the Arts?

Apparently they only want their sizes. And I'm truly impressed with this reporter for bringing up "the other side" so well in this article. That's not something I expect too much from the Chron. Oh, and go here (county=Alameda, district=Oakland School for the Arts) and check out the School for the Arts' test results, particularly Algebra I :-)

Mayor Brown has some thoughts on the subject.

"This might just be red meat for some of her more extreme acolytes," Brown said. "This is a very high-quality, academic environment, and if people want this choice, why can't they decide for themselves?" he asked. "OMI is a college-prep school that's grown from zero to 500 kids at the same time the public schools are losing 1,500 students a year, and it's unconscionable for an Oakland politician to take away an educational opportunity that parents want."

If Brown were half as good a governor as he is a mayor, California would be much better off.

It goes without saying that I support this school. I support school choice, I support discipline in schools, I support a military lifestyle for those who choose it. It was suggested that I apply for the Commandant position at that school once, so it's quite clear I'm a big fan.

I hope Mayor Brown--and the students and families that make up the Oakland Military Institute--win this one.


Anonymous said...

Matybe they can open the Okland Abortion Academy -- then they would be incredibly "pro-choice", demanding full public funding regardless of the affront to the values of anyone who opposed it on grounds of it being an affront to their personal or community values.

Now, if there is a genuine argument about underachievement, let's hear it made.

Ellen K said...

Wow, with that kind of perspective, I expect that the city will demand that all religious schools close based on the idea that they don't allow religious diversity. Wait, maybe instead of closing a school that seems to be working for its students, how about "Aimee" seek a lasting peace between the various gangs that I am sure infest the already wavering public schools? You really want peace, well rather than taking potshots at the president, roll up your sleeves and mentor 30 or so kids. Or better yet, try teaching.

Superdestroyer said...

Isn't the schools success an argument for ability tracking as much as for a "military academy." Since students and their families have to opt in and since students who do not like "discipline" can opt out, I believe the real benefit of the school is in showing that schools can help their average students by eiliminating the disruptive and disinterested students.

Also, I will believe that "military academies" are as good as advertise when I see middle class Asian-American families sending their kids to such schools. When a military academy is an all black school in can (and usually does) become a "Step and Fetch It" school where singing (calling Jodies), dancing (drill team marching), and shining shoes all become more important than academic learning.

Anonymous said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Parents who send their children to military schools should receive a full property tax refund -- especially in moonbatty areas like Oakland.

Darren said...

Superdestroyer, do you have any evidence that OMI is what you have described above, or are you just tossing out some red meat to try to stir up the carnivores?

Ellen K said...

To be fair, many educated families choose more rigid, rigorous religious and/or military schools in hopes of achieving higher academic goals. If the scores don't show this, then all that's left is status. As for Asian parents choosing such schools, I have found that many of my students parents who are from Japan, Korea and China are VERY concerned about education even to the point of enrolling them in weekend language academies to maintain their native language skills. One of the biggest concerns they have is the influence of American pop culture, especially in the form of rap and hiphop. Because military schools by nature don't encourage diversity, I think it would be very attractive for Asian parents with strong educational agendas and a desire to avoid pop culture's nasty side effects.

Superdestroyer said...


My experiences have been entirely different. Asian families do not join JROTC and avoid the areas schools that emphasize discipline. However, parents night for the science and technology magnet program or the parents night for the IB program are overwhelmingly Asian and white.

Yet, when the adjacent county proposed a military academy, it was the black community that supported the move with talk of discipline and guidance. Why is it that black males are placed in schools with uniform inspections, drill teams, and pop music marching band. I think that most Asian-American families would feel that learning how to shine shoes and sing Jodies is a waste of time and distracts from Calculus, Physics, and Orchestra.

Darren said...

Superdestroyer, you make assumptions and statements without backing them up.

I'll tell you that at West Point, shining shoes and "calling cadences" were not *distractions*, they were integral parts of the process. Discipline and esprit de corps *augment* academic development, not detract from it. You imply without basis that these military-style schools focus only on the former but not the latter.

Oh, and West Point is predominantly white.

Superdestroyer said...


In my experience, the comparison with West Point is a very, very bad one. A much better comparison would be to compare the culture and norms of West Point to the culture and norms of the ROTC program at Alcorn State University. My personal belief is that any high school military academy that is major black will be much more like Alcorn State than West Point.

Darren said...

Do you have any experience with this *particular* school?

Darren said...

Ranger Bill added the following in an email to me:

"In fact if anything, the percentage of Asian students exceeds that of their representation in the Oakland population as a whole. This is also true of the five JROTC units in the Oakland public schools. The same phenomena is evident at the nation's service academies where the percentage of Asian students is almost double that of their proportion in the US population."

Anonymous said...

Hey Darren:

So I at brunch this morning reading the Forum section in this morning's Bee, and what do I see. This post is highlighted in Surfing USA on page two of the section.



Darren said...

I heard--wish they'd put it online!

Euclid said...

A much more trival comment:

The only thing that will be more ironic is if Jane Fonda's grandchildren attend it.

La Maestra said...

I've always thought of myself as fairly liberal, but again I find myself nodding in agreement with everything you're saying. Maybe I need to check my political views again. :-)

One of the high schools near ours has a JROTC program, and I really wish that our school had one as well. I'm not anti-military, I'm just not pro-war, but I don't believe that military schools like OMC, or programs like JROTC, are always a recruitment tactic, and pretty much any program that wants to come in and offer students discipline, structure, responsibility, accountability, and goal-setting is fine by me.

Darren said...

Don't worry, La Maestra. In Utah, they think I'm a liberal!

And Cara, I'm glad your comment wasn't lost after all. Thank you for posting, and please come back here again.

Anonymous said...

I'm not even sure if anyone is still bothering to visit this blog: I hope they do! Update, my son has just been appointed to WestPoint - his goal since age 12. He would have achieved it, I am sure, no matter what school he attended; however, the fact that OMI was his choice can only have helped him in several major ways. I've posted before-students/parents have the right to options with regard to education styles. Last note - OMI's inaugural senior class as of the end of March 2007 is able to boast that approximately 70 percent have already been accepted to 4 year colleges. Many other cadets have applied, and are awaiting notification from more elite academies. Compare THAT stat.. to other typical Oakland/ urban high schools and then trash OMI.

Darren said...

Cara, thank you for posting. Congratulations to your son--and to you, for raising such a young man.

Anonymous said...

Only 50% of students entering Oakland public high schools ever graduate. Of those that do, barely 20% ever enter a four year college. The fact that OMI, with the same student demographics, already has 70% of its seniors accepted at four year colleges is truly remarkable.

Anonymous said...

Cara, congratulations to your son for gaining an appointment to West Point. I hope that you and other parents of graduating cadets will continue to "fight city hall" for the continued survival of OMI in years to come.

Anonymous said...

The district is an absolute mess. I say let them do anythign that works better than the present conditions do. for more stories: www.tigerthegecko.blogspot.com