Monday, September 5, 2011

How we can counter the violence in our communities?

Dear OEA Member,

As we start a new school year, we have been reminded in tragic and painful ways about the violence in our community, a reflection of joblessness, racism, alienation, and loss of hope.

Ironically, the Oakland school named Hope (Esperanza) has been hardest hit recently. José Esparza, the man shot to death last Sunday in front of his six year old son, was a parent at Esperanza. His older son was with Site Rep Chaz Garcia for 4th and 5th grade. She wrote me last night: "He was set to begin middle school Monday, but because of this horrible event he's at home. As you can imagine we are all devastated. Jose was a great father, very positive and active. He lit up the room with his smile when he walked in the room. They had a great relationship. His dad was the sole provider. We do have an account for people to help; it'd be great if you could pass it on." Please donate what you can, and while you're at it, reach out to your colleagues at Esperanza. They need to know that we are all behind them.

Donations can be sent to:
Wells Fargo, any branch
José Manuel Esparza
# 1329796690

But it doesn't end there for Esperanza. It turns out that the 3 year old shot and killed over on 65th earlier this month (Carlos Nava) was from one of their families too. They had just moved there and planned to commute. As Chaz said, "It has been a rough start, but I'm more determined than ever to make this a better place for our students. I don't want any more to be victims of senseless violence."

On top of that, three East Oakland schools were locked down in the first two days of school - demonstrating again that schools are not safe islands in a violent society. This year, let's all come together in a myriad of ways to expose the hypocrisy of a society that values bank bailouts and saving corporations more than it does the health and safety of our young people. Enough is enough!

What are your thoughts and ideas on how we can counter the violence in our communities?

In hope,

Betty Olson-Jones
Oakland Education Association