Lonely Privilege in Despair,

Aiming for Unfeigned Hope


Rich Gibson, San Diego State University

published as a chapter in The Evolution of Alienation, edited by Lauren Langman, Rowman and Littlefield, 2006


September 2002

Tales Out of School

There is no fluoride in the water in San Diego. Fluoride was always identified by the John Birch Society as part of a communist plot to destroy the will of good US citizens to resist communism. The town that once profited from hosting political conservatism and the Navy as its primary employer now lives with the remnants of that legacy: grisly dental carries among children in an area with more than 100,000 youths without medical care. Overstretched school nurses serve as family physicians but in, "America's finest city," dental care goes untouched. 

The Navy and the Marines still maintain a powerful presence in San Diego County. The defense industry is second only to manufacturing in the area Gross Regional Product, at around $10 billion. San Diego is still port to 48 ships, 200,000 acres of military land, and around 100,000 military personnel. Officers complain daily about the treatment of enlisted people, many of whom are so poorly paid they are eligible for food stamps. The enlisted corps cannot find affordable local housing near bases. 

The Navy willed San Diego another peculiar legacy: 31 million gallons of napalm, left over from fire-bombing missions on Vietnam. Napalm, primarily an incendiary anti-personnel device, had been designed by Dow labs in Midland, Michigan. Photos of naked Vietnamese children, victims of napalm running in terror, clothes burned off and skin peeling, triggered mass protests all over the US. Not long after the war, napalm became hazardous waste, stored in drums near the Fallbrook community, whose citizens protested the presence of the petroleum-based enemy in their midst. The last of the napalm was shipped to Texas in March, 2001, to be used to fuel energy plants. 

One booming factor in the economy, drugs, goes unmentioned in Chamber of Commerce brochures, but the 2000 film "Traffic," makes the issue difficult to hide. Peter Smith of the University of California San Diego estimates that the Tijuana drug cartel has an annual budget of around $500 million. 

Tourism is vital to the region's economy. The tourism base stills controversy, as it does in every area which depends on cheerful appearances for income. Says a leading local environmentalist, "It would be unseemly, outside the family," to point at the cost-cutting that creates vacant lifeguard booths on the beaches, or to repeat too often that the beaches are frequently closed due to sewage run-offs. 

"Don't buy south of 8," is a realtors' slogan indicating that people of quality should not purchase homes beneath I-8, a moving border that slowly shifts north as the Hispanic, black, and Asian population grows in the south. Although segregation and poverty is not as glaring in San Diego as it is in many northern industrial cities, it is still in force, at every level. Even in liberal wealthier public schools that encourage students to come from poor areas, children who arrive on busses are repeatedly reminded that they are visitors. 55% of San Diego County citizens are white, 9% black, 23% Hispanic, 13% Asian/other. 

San Diego is relatively prosperous, or at least many of its citizens are. There are nearly one million families in the area with an average household income of $70,000. The city keeps its truly poor completely outside: in Tijuana. There the maquiladora plants replace the North American industrial work force with wages sometimes under $20 per day. Still, since year 2000, the maquiladoras have laid off more than 200,000 people, their jobs outsourced mostly to China, where labor is sufficiently cheap, so cheap that it is economical to transport China-made goods back across the Pacific. Near the Mexico border, families, babies in arms, can still be seen dashing down local expressways, surging toward hope, with the Immigration and Naturalization Service in hot pursuit. That pursuit reverberates into daily life for all San Diegans, as the INS sets up check points on major highways, exacerbating the massive traffic jams that already plague the area, and interrogates the occupants of cars identified in their profiles as suspicious. While the targeting is clear, it remains that the mass of the citizenry are all under surveillance. Even with purportedly severe oversight, the border remains a sieve of drug trafficking. 

The former head of the Immigration and Nationalization Service, Alan Bersin, who made his reputation by separating people by nation and race, is now the head of the local school board, implementing standardized curricula and tests with the same vigor he applied to border-crossers in his last position. His father-in-law is a major land developer in the area, the good wife's dad standing in line to profit handsomely from the sell-off of school-owned property. The father-in-law is a big contributor to the Democratic party. His two key issues: fluoride (for) and gun-control (for).In a recent election, area billionaires like the owners of Qualcomm, the baseball Padres, and a local discount chain spent nearly $3/4 million trying to drive a critic of the land deals off the local school board. They lost. 

The INS commissioner nevertheless continued his Skinnerian school campaign. The upshot is in part that San Diego area schools are extraordinarily regimented, marching children between classes, stressing phonics-based literacy programs and abstract Chicago Math projects, designed to drill kids and de-skill teachers. In-class reward systems that pile on top of one another to a degree that is hard to follow are common in city schools. Gifted and talented programs in most schools select the white and affluent, suggesting that five to ten percent of the kids in a school can be truly gifted-at everything, and they are better than the rest. 

Key leaders within the San Diego schools used a number of measures, for more than 20 years, to mingle children who might otherwise never see each other. Camping programs, a series of educational tours of the historic Old Town district, magnet school programs, extended workshops in Balboa Park and its zoo, all at least briefly integrated children from all over the city, from its many racial and economic groups, in ways that most cities would envy. All of this, as the community knows, will lose funding and cease to exist at the end of the 2001 school year. In addition, "thousands of children, including children in kindergarten, will be retained in grade because of standardized test scores," according to a leading African-American educator at San Diego State University. 

Students in systems like this are fearful of freedom, unaccustomed to guessing or lively chatter, commonly whining and tattling-all symptoms that experienced educators know reflect deeper problems. Test scores that measure parental income and race fix self-worth for children, teachers, and schools. The teachers' union has, for the most part, battled the commissioner on bread and butter grounds, but rarely challenged his curricular edicts. San Diego boasts that if the city were a state, it would be ahead of New York, Number One in the USA for test scores, although even the test writers admit that the way to raise scores is to recruit richer kids; teaching seems to only have a secondary influence.

Central San Diego is the home of the thriving San Diego State University, more than double its undergraduate size just ten years ago, and planning to become a prestigious graduate research university. The campus is following the entrepreneurial lines of many universities: naming key buildings after big donors, and seeking more. One campus building is: Gateway. The SDSU president faced his toughest test early in the school year of 2000. A handful of students in a Native American organization suggested that the campus mascot, "Monty Montezuma," was offensive. Monty is the embodiment of the campus symbol, a caricature of a red-faced cartoon Indian, the Aztec. Monty, though, takes life form at football games when, historically, a fraternity boy plays Monty in red paint, chasing sorority "squaws," around the stadium, carrying a spear and spitting fire. At a campus rally, one county board member screamed, "If the students of SDSU want a fire-breathin', spear-chuckin', squaw-chasin' Monty Montezuma, then they should have him!" 

At the rally, a lonely critic pointed out that, "there is no Mad Priest running around chasing nuns on behalf of the Padres." 

Initially, the student government, after considerable research and judicious discussion, voted to ban Monty and the Aztec from campus. Faced with an alumni and student outcry, the student council backed off, called for a vote, and tossed the decision to the university president. More than 90% of the student body voted to keep the mascot and the symbol. The faculty voted to offer that the name Aztec be kept without the Monty caricature, suggesting that the name Aztec did not necessarily represent people. The faculty senate was, on the day of the vote, more than 90% white. The SDSU president, trained as a philosopher, "after much research and study of the matter of the Aztecs," decided to keep the name and to fob the question of Monty to a committee. Monty lives. 

To the north, the city of Oceanside butts up against Camp Pendleton. It is a crew-cut city of tattoo parlors, check-loan agencies, motorcycle sales lots, and bars. Farther north, as LA comes into view, the public signs along the highways are strung with razor wire to ward off gang tags, graffiti, an indicator that the softer background of San Diego is fading from view. 

Between Oceanside and downtown San Diego is Miramar, a huge military air base that, due to cutbacks, is not nearly as busy as it once was. The mayor eyes this area hungrily as a possible site for an expanded airport, a supplement to the local Lindbergh Field, named after the ocean-crossing fascist aviator. Nearby residents, however, include the NASDAQ- investor crowd. They have launched a series of counter-attacks, suggesting that the airport be located near Mexico. 

Political life in San Diego is almost hushed. Candidates for public office never mention party affiliations. Few people know if the mayor is a republican or a democrat. One reporter who covered local politics related, "In most cities the people know the bosses are corrupt, and in some cities that makes them mad. In San Diego, they don't even know what corruption is. The bosses just file their reports as if taking bribes was not corrupt, and the citizenry just can't tell a bribe from a bid." It was a small scandal when a local council- person was driven out of office, convicted of taking bribes from a local businessman in order to gain her vote on a downtown stadium. But when she was removed, the project simply moved forward. The city officials never broke their deal with the football Chargers either: to buy every unsold seat at Qualcomm stadium, an agreement which cost the city a million dollars in 2000 as the Chargers charged for their mediocrity. Dick Nixon called San Diego, "My lucky city," visiting often. Ronald Reagan lives just an hour north. 

The city government, apparently benign, takes no notice that gasoline prices in the county, fixed by a small cabal of energy-owners, range about 25 cents per gallon higher than in Los Angeles. The leader of local consumer group, UCAN, says it is hard to organize in San Diego. 

San Diego struggled out of a recession in the late 1980's by highlighting its existing base in research and development-and supporting Nafta. The 1994 trade agreement tripled the export market for the region. Now, 8 million legal border-crossings are made monthly at the Tijuana station. Hispanic activists claim that an average of one person a week dies trying to make an illegal crossing into California. The movement of the free market does not apply to people. The hyper-competition that is the basis of Nafta's outlook is seen as good for the region's economy. San Diego is home to an entire corridor of bio-tech companies and research institutions like Qualcomm (of Eudora software fame), the Salk Institute, the University of California at San Diego (third only to Harvard and Stanford in federal research funding in 1998), and Scripps Research Institute, focused on synthetic vaccines and autoimmune diseases-all engaged in entrepreneurial work aimed at combining knowledge and the commodity market. At every level, education is seen as key to regional economic development. 

Near downtown San Diego is Balboa Park, home of world-renowned museums and a zoo housing, among other species, two Pandas bought at a cost of $1 million from the Chinese. The zoo is famous for making its fences almost invisible, providing homes to the animals in near-natural environments. The museums were the site of recent protests. Dozens of Christians complained that the museum's exhibit, "Torture Instruments and Their Symbols," was offensive. 

San Diego's police force is hard to spot. The city, in 1990, adopted a policy of "community policing," meaning self-policing, and maintains a fairly low crime rate while employing about ½ of the police officers as other cities of comparable size. 

Led by liberal local politician Steve Peace, San Diego was the first of California's cities to deregulate the public utilities, thus leading the way to one of the most massive transfers of wealth in history, what could be the entire $10 billion budget surplus of the state shifting to millionaire Texas energy owners. A quick citizen boycott in the area drew some action, and brief price caps, but the leading local consumer advocate believes further boycotts simply will not gain support. The local unions have joined with the energy companies in supporting the rate hikes and shift of wealth, which they believe may benefit their members working on energy-related jobs. Heating and electricity costs in homes in San Diego in late 2000 multiplied by a factor of nine in many cases, forcing San Diego State students to leave apartments to quadruple-up with friends, and teachers to begin to raise demands for the next contracts. 

Memories of resistance in San Diego are nearly obliterated. Few people know that the anarchist Industrial Workers of the World were big players in town in the early 1900's, that they led free speech fights for the right to form unions-and that they were taken out on the desert on boxcars and dumped. Many of them died. Few students are aware that one of the most militant student strikes of the 1960's happened at SDSU, under banners demanding affirmative action, military off the campus, and black studies programs. Nearly no one in town remembers that in the early 1970's sailor uprisings on aircraft carriers stationed in San Diego kept those ships from entering the Vietnam war for months, one not at all. History in school is a test item, not a question of reading and acting on the world. 

The west side of San Diego County boomed in the last decade, primarily on the back of NASDAQ prosperity. In La Jolla, a wealthy community of cliffs by the sea that uses its local art galleries in preference to museums, professors at the prestigious University of California at San Diego, once home base to Herbert Marcuse, cannot afford to live in the community. In fact, the local paper estimates that less than 30% of the county residents can afford to purchase local homes. The NASDAQ boom also blew up housing costs as high-tech millionaires bid up once middle-class housing, as an investment hedge. 

The brief spate of Nasdaq wealth did offer new alternatives to many San Diego area residents, for whom appearances are excruciatingly important. The local press is replete with ads from doctors offering their services to alter body parts, from hair to eyes to tummies to legs, to ensure the image of well-being. The image is likely to be quite correct. Few working class medical plans cover cosmetic surgery. Close to the ads for the surgery, though, are ads from personal injury lawyers, offering to sue for botched cases. 

East County San Diego has a similar, but not so harsh, reputation as the area south of 8. West County gentry sometimes call the East County folk: Goat-Ropers, trailer-trash, meth-makers, haze-suckers (the air pollution that tamps down the horizon gets locked in the high hills to the east) and Klan-fans. East county is a much cheaper place to live. In Julian and to the northeast, it snows in the winter-drawing crowds of thousands of residents for a moment of snow-boarding, and a taste of hot apple pie. An Indian reservation east of Alpine is home to a small casino, usually full of unsmiling gamblers under heavy surveillance, and a discount shopping mall designed to look like a pueblo village, complete with piped in sounds of coyotes and desert birds. This reservation, like others in the area, now donates sports equipment to poor kids in the city. 

South and west of the reservation, north and east of the city, lies Santee, also known by its own residents as "Klantee," a long-time bastion of white supremacist activity and part of a school system that since 1999 has been home to a high school teacher who, with her husband and son, long operated a Nazi web site. The son is now in jail, for fascist threats. The mom is still teaching. 

There is no center city in Santee; just a scattering of desert strip malls and a Walmart on the outskirts of town. The city limits buttress one of the largest city parks in the country, the eight square miles of rolling hills inside San Diego called Mission Trails Regional Park. Coyotes roam out from this park at night, eating pets nearby. The San Diego River, usually a trickle, runs through Mission Trails. Water rights, as a question of property rights, have underpinned regional wars since the Gold Rush. Park Rangers at the visitor center welcome newcomers and say they wish more than 10% of the area's population would stop by for a hike each year. The daytime trip from San Diego to Santee runs under typically blue skies through the middle of the park, the road lined on both sides by the mountain ridges that create the region's micro-climates, neighboring domains that vary from seashore to mountain to desert. Santee is desert, only incorporated after irrigation in the early 1980's. 

With 60,000 residents, and streets named Pleasant, Carefree, and Magnolia; Santee was seen by many as a suburban nirvana, upper-middle class and trouble free. It's about 85% white, 14 % Hispanic, 1% black. In Chamber of Commerce documents, Santee is portrayed as the site of the lowest crime rate in the area, "a solid well-ordered community...with elementary test scores in the 70 to 90th percentiles." In one Santee-based San Diego State University class for pre-service educators in the winter of 2000, a young white woman felt comfortable to rise and say, "Look, I am a racist. Racism has been around forever. So get used to it. Why don't you stop talking about racism and teach us some methods?" 

Santee is home to many poor and working class people. Geographically and economically set up to be a racist area, the city houses people who also struggle against racism-and its cohorts. They swim upstream. 

Santana High in Santee is home to the Sultans, presumably precursors to the Aztecs for many grads who go on to college. Santana High is typically California-modern. The school is nearly windowless. It needs a fresh coat of paint. However, immediately adjacent to the school is a fully equipped football stadium, complete with irrigated green grass and a full lighting system and stadium seating, not crude bleachers, but stadium seating. The geography of power for the Sultans is etched in the contrast of the stadium and the school. 

It's Only Me

On March 5th, Andy Williams, a small thin freshman white boy who arrived in the fall of 2000, opened fire with an unusual German Arminius eight-shot 22 revolver, available on the internet now for $55, in Santana High School in Santee. He killed two people, wounded 13 more, 11 students, a student teacher, and a security guard. Ensconced in a boys bathroom, a good defensive position for a shooter, he had reloaded four times. Faced with a one-man police assault, he dropped his fully-loaded weapon, fell to his knees, and said, "It's only me."

In a phone interview, Andy Williams former track coach said he was the kind of kid, "who would sweep the snow off the neighbors' driveways, who would run errands for the Alzheimer's patient down the street." 

Andy Williams' Arminius killings followed these other white kids shooting white kids: Jonesboro, West Paducah, Springfield, Littleton. In some cases, the shooters lived in an area where open racist activity was commonplace. In others, they did not. Some shooters had connections with the NRA. Others did not. 

Santana High, in 1998, had a California API (Academic Performance Index--weighted scores for five subjects, with scores ranging from 200 to 1,000) of 636, considerably higher than the less affluent El Cajon High (526) and lower than the more moneyed Valhalla High (710). For comparison, the truly affluent La Jolla High got an 812. Impoverished Hoover High inside San Diego averaged 444. Test scores are consequential to administrators in every California district. Their sense of importance sifts down in the form of fear and greed. Schools and school workers are financially rewarded and punished by the state testing system. Soon, students will not graduate and teachers will be fired, based on test scores. There is little room to take off for simply being sixteen, planning to catch up in a year. This quantification of learning, which most know is based on inheritance, and regulation of the curricula, rooted in the politics of inequality and exploitation, strikes at every level of the school system, creating pressure and despair at levels previously unseen in US schools. 

In the San Diego schools, the board voted 3-2 on March 11 to de-fund magnet and performing arts schools, in order to pay for the hundreds of students predicted to fail standardized exams in the spring. Those students will now be grade-retained, and forced into summer school. The money saved from stripping the arts schools will not be enough to cover the costs of the summer schools. The board is looking for other possible cuts. 

Teacher contract disputes have been growing bitter in Santee and nearby areas. In Cajon Valley, teachers picket nearly every day demanding a contract and a fair wage hike. Similar if less militant actions have been building in Santee. 

Beginning early in the school year, Pastor Gary Cass, a trustee on the Santee school board, held demonstrations outside Santana High, holding up pictures of aborted fetuses and signs opposing abortion, accusing fornicating students of devils' lives. He was, according to his statements, frequently ridiculed by passing students. Later, Pastor Cass suggested that an atmosphere of contempt for life in Santee pervaded every move in the community. 

On the same day Andy Williams opened fire, an auto accident in San Diego county killed three people. A day later, a child committed suicide inside Hoover High. The latter incident was deliberately silenced by the media, according to a manager at the San Diego Times Union, in order to prevent copy-cat suicides. The auto accident got third-page coverage, then vanished. Andy Williams's gunfire drew media coverage from all over the world. It became a spectacle, a commodity to be sold. 

Contrary to one of the key messages of standardized high-stakes tests: ruthless competition is the key to success; several youths and a security officer risked their lives in order to try to stop Andy Williams from continuing to fire his weapon.

A 22 caliber revolver is a peculiar choice for someone who planned his murders carefully, as much of the media has portrayed Andy Williams. The Ariminius is a shabby weapon, low-power, and not deadly but for well-aimed shots at close distance. While two people were tragically killed, a higher powered gun would have likely killed many more, with greater accuracy. Since Andy Williams chose this weapon from eight in his father's locked gun closet, it would seem that, accepting his internal logic, Andy Williams made an irrational choice. While concealment may have been an issue, along with the 8-shot capacity (rather than the typical 6-shooter revolver) Andy Williams had other concealable choices, and he picked the Ariminius. 

Andy Williams's father and mother separated, bitterly, about ten years ago, and later divorced. There are continuing court battles over his child support. His mother was in the military. His father accepted a job with a defense-related industry in the fall, 2000. Several of the previous school shooters had, in these instances, similar backgrounds, including living in a milieu with a background of racist or Nazi activity. 

Depression is anger turned inward. The people who have been abused become the abusers. Andy Williams, after his move to Santee, became the brunt of tormentors from Santana High and began to hang out with kids who call themselves the "burnouts," on a block not far from the school where they shoot baskets, drink beer and smoke dope. It was at this location that, finally, Andy Williams' skateboard was taken, and his shoes stolen off his feet, by a fellow who threw him to the ground. This fellow was among the first shot in Andy Williams' shooting spree, giving lie to reports that what he did was utterly random. For weeks before the shooting, a depressed Andy Mitchell had emailed his girlfriend in Maryland, Kathleen Seek. He promised suicide. 

John Schardt, a Santana high school student, had what the press calls the, "presence of mind," to first photograph, and then videotape, the shooting in progress. He turned his tapes over to the police, became a CNN commentator, spoke on Good Morning America, and then chose to step back and wonder about what he was becoming. Still, John Schardt says, "Well, this may be my break. It could be a career in journalism." 

On March 6th, the day after Andy Williams opened fire, the students and parents and school workers of Santana High were urged to go to the SonRise (sic) Church, where a team of nearly 200 therapists, some of them corporate grief counselors, had been hired to intervene between the students, and real community grief. The corporate grief counselors come from at least two different companies that have been formed since these school shootings popped up. Capital's replacements for feudalism's priests, they complained about having to vie for a meager pool of public funds. There are 12 school counselors for the 1900 students of Santana High. 

Santana High and its principal, Karen Degischer, were prepared for Andy Williams. There was a written plan in place. It included the grief counselors, a SWAT approach pre-tested by the police, staging areas, and a federal guidebook on, not just school violence, but school shootings. The district had received nearly $1 million in state funding to prepare and prevent school violence. Two educators had attended workshops in 2000 on managing the school in case of a shooting. Degischer has an excellent reputation in the community as a caring and concerned educator, interested in curriculum, instruction, and the learning community. According to the plan, she immediately made herself available to parents and students, circulated a letter to them, and remained available throughout the week. 

The school front on March 6th was quickly lined for two city blocks by huge TV vans and trucks, spearing up into the sky with a variety of antennae. Huge traffic jams surrounded the school. The fences of the school were covered with large prayer banners from Christian sects, and even the three competing local Christian schools. Each proclaimed God's concern. Flower shops did a booming business and dead flowers lined one fence by the school. Children hung out on nearby corners, making themselves available for unparked members of the press. 

One radio station carried a program produced by 'professional' kid-shooter-spotters who urged people to take note of young people who are being picked on, as adults and others should be wary of them, and perhaps authorities should be notified about people who prefer to be alone, and are teased, as they may pose a threat to the school community. 

The Mayor urged people to pray for Santee. The populace soon grew angry at the media and tried to drive them off by running honking car caravans past the media trucks, making it nearly impossible to broadcast. The citizens began to scream at reporters who tried to interview them. Many residents vehemently expressed hatred for the reporters, and even a university researcher, saying that, "They are just here to make us look bad." One older man in a tailored suit said, "Property values here are tied to our image, and they are destroying it." The community appeared ready to circle the wagons. In a meeting closed to the public in a nearby church, one citizen told a researcher that a part of the discussion was to seek guidance from God, and to stop speaking to the press. However, some students continued to pose for interviews. One, a Brittany Spears look-alike, smiled through tears at a line of reporters waiting for her words, as her heavier and less marketable classmates walked by unnoticed. 

Each morning, students and local ministers held prayer vigils on the property fronting Santana High. Teachers, who do not enjoy the historians' luxury of a ten-year wait before analysis and action begins, sought to reach out to their students, to try to bridge the fear and anger that many clearly felt. One teacher told a researcher, "There are so many gaps between us now, so many divisions, that it is hard to have a trusting relationship with a kid. And they can't trust us either. This was not what I wanted when I started to teach." 

On the morning of March 7th, Wednesday, a huge simulated card, folded but open in two parts, appeared on the fence in front of Santana High. It read, on one side, "From the students of Santana High to God: How could you let this happen in our school?" On the other side: "To the Santana Students from God: I am not allowed in your school." The next day a fourteen year old girl opened fire in a Catholic school in Pennsylvania. Bishop James Timlin of Scranton, who is a pilot, flew into the Williamsport airport in his private plane to console relatives. 

Two thousand teens commit suicide every year in the US. In Michigan and California the incidence of teen suicide has tripled since 1995. In the week of March 7th 2001, more than 50 fires were set in the Oakland California school system. In San Diego that week, 124 death and bomb threats were received in various part of the school system, tracked by the internal police force. Testing on one of several California standardized tests began the week of March 12, with some freshmen segregated for four hours, taking exams that could determine, already, whether or not they will graduate.

Estimates are that Andy Williams will get about 40 to 90 years in prison. Under a new California law, he will be tried as an adult, but he cannot get the death sentence. He will, if the police are correct, get 25 years for each of the deaths, and another 40 for a series of gun charges. He has little to bargain with but his youth and his mental state. 

At his arraignment, Andy Williams appeared in court in an orange prison jumpsuit. He kept his eyes down, only occasionally glancing up at the judge. His father could not afford an attorney, so he was represented by a public defender who had not had the foresight to put his client in a child's suit, or even a t-shirt. Andy Williams' lawyer did not raise the question of bail, so the prosecutor, feeling a need to preserve the procedure, suggested that the judge ask the defense attorney about it. The judge asked the PD if he wanted bail for his client. The PD simply said, "No." He did not point to the freshman Andy Williams next to him and point his finger to the tv camera and say, "this is an insane child and he should not be tried as an adult." The PD said, "No." Andy Williams was bound over for trial, likely to begin in late March. He shuffled from the room. 

Immediately after his arrest, the police interrogated Andy Williams. It is unclear as to whether he was offered Miranda warnings, or if a minor can waive those warnings. In any case, Andy Williams is quoted by the police as saying that he opened fire because he hated Santana High and was frequently late, then locked out. He had planned to kill himself with a final round from his Ariminius. He was aware that the killings were wrong, but, "if people die, they die." Mayor Randy Voeple of Santee said that Andy Williams is clearly mentally disturbed. 

At least four youths were subsequently expelled from Santana High. They are alleged to have had knowledge about Andy Williams' plans. Never given a hearing, they were told they were being transferred to other, unnamed, schools and the public was told it was for their own safety. The public was not told that these students cannot return to those schools until next year. No students who were involved in the repeated hazings of Andy Williams have ever been disciplined. 

The Quest for Hope

On Friday March 9th more than 3,000 Santee residents and a hoard of reporters, gathered at the SonRise Church for a locally telecast service for the dead and wounded. California Governor Gray Davis, the engineer of the shift of public wealth to the utility owners, attended the ceremony and offered a brief prayer. His wife, who attended Santana High, joined with him.

Dr Folio of the SonRise Church spoke at length, in front of a robed choir of about 100: "Jesus said, 'Believe in me. I will come again and where I am you can be also. I am the way and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me.' There are several lessons here. We all die. Death for Randy and Byron is happiness and peace. They are in heaven, a real place with streets of real gold. Imagine Randy and Byron arriving in heaven on March 5th and magnificent angels come to greet them. 'Come in! They say, and you can pick out a beautiful outfit!' And they get all dressed up, never looked better.

"Randy and Byron wonder, 'How did we get to this great place so fast?' And there is a parade of their relatives who gather around them and they approach the throne of God and God steps down and says, 'Well done, my servants!' (The audience burst into applause).

"The boys then say, 'If you could see me now, I am walking in streets of gold. I am in a perfect place. I'm with that gang of mine. If you could only see me now.'" This in rhyme with the song. 

"Jesus Christ, is the ONLY way to heaven and the entry fee is Jesus Christ, who is coming back someday. We will see Randy and Byron again. That means comfort for us today, and joy for us tomorrow. Randy and Byron can see us today. Students I tell you to trust in the Lord. Teachers you teach the Lord. Do not leave this room without knowing Jesus Christ."

A cowboy singer followed with a rendition of, "I Can't Believe I Can Really See You Now."

One of the deceased boys had wanted to be either a stuntman or a doctor. The other dreamed of being an FBI agent.

ABC Channel Ten in San Diego had promised to carry the church service commercial-free, then to go blank for an hour so families could talk to each other. They would not commodify the tragedy. Directions on how to hold a family discussion were posted on the screen. The service ran ½ hour late though, so, promptly at 9:00 p.m., the station picked up with, "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" 

On Monday, March 12th, the March Madness basketball tournament, the biggest gambling event of the year, began at SDSU. The school cancelled its usual academic year, rescheduled spring break, in order to bring the playoffs to the university. The SDSU president hopes to propel the school into academic respectability by pumping the basketball program. The basketball team provides no competition in town. There is no professional basketball team. It is important in San Diego to be positioned as a friend of those who own the football Chargers and the baseball Padres. 

On March 13th , a principal from a nearby school appeared on the local NPR affiliate to argue in support of the state standardized tests. Confronted with a myriad of opposing data, including a local Chamber of Commerce report that links the test results only to income levels, the principal replied, "That is all we have, the standards that were established for us and the tests that came next. I have to find hope in something and I prefer to find hope in following the rules." She added that getting elementary children accustomed, "to sitting still for hours, bubbling answers, is going to provide good employees for business, and that is our job." 

The 10 March New York Times, which covered Andy Williams and his lonely gunfire in ways far more extensive and sophisticated than any local news source, carried an op-ed article by a neurologist attesting that Andy Williams' brain was, like all kids his age, a "biologically immature brain," and hence people his age are likely to open fire. The Associated Press of March 12 also carried an article covering Education Secretary Rod Paige comments, "Alienation and rage are at the heart of this. What is needed is more character education." 

Peter Yarrow, of the Peter, Paul and Mary trio that in 1968 sang courageously standing on overturned trash cans in the midst of tear-gas filled Grant Park during the Chicago Democratic Convention, and the concurrent police riot, appeared in San Diego area elementary schools shortly after the shooting to promote a school program titled, "Don't Laugh at Me." It includes lyrics that go, "Don't laugh at me, don't take your pleasure from my pain."One third grade child, whose eyes would not focus in unison, was interviewed following Yarrow's performance. The youth said, "Well, I hope this makes it stop." The "Don't Laugh at Me," curriculum is owned by McGraw-Hill, a major promoter of high-stakes standardized tests. 

The San Diego Times Union, managed by former Nixon aide Herb Klein, assigned its religion and ethics editor to the question of the repeated school shootings of white children by white children. Whiteness, privilege, alienation, and despair, did not enter her discourse. Sandi Dolbee wrote in favor of several solutions: better anticipation, less guns, more self-surveillance and reporting from kids, cherish life-stop killing. "Try to be a little kinder." Her thesis: We are all together.

In the Interim

In California alone, in two days following the Santana High shooting, 11 students were arrested for making threats to their schools or people in them. The Nasdaq collapsed over the next two weeks, losing more than one-third of its value. The Dow slipped below 10,000. Pre-service teachers in the College of Education at San Diego State discussed the impact of the stock crisis on their lives, and wondered if it was wrong to take pleasure in seeing wealthy investors fail. A few students noted that they were investors themselves, that they were losing all they had. One asked, "Does this mean that members of the tribe cannot criticize the casino?" 

Fifteen days after the Santana killings, rolling electrical blackouts that had plagued most of California for weeks hit San Diego for the first time. The blackouts and skyrocketing energy bills, increasing in some cases by 1000%, destroyed small businesses around the state. In that period, questions about the cause of the state energy crisis began to be answered by court actions filed by public and private entities, insisting that the deregulated energy providers had deliberately created a shortage, taken huge profits, closed aging plants and crushed the unions inside, avoided public scrutiny, and used the legislative and executive branch of the state government to begin to syphon off a nearly $11 billion state budget surplus to private pockets. That budget surplus had once been earmarked for education. 

California's school system, which ranks near the top of the states in the number of high-stakes standardized tests students must take, is 41st in the US in per-pupil spending (at around $5,400), 45th in access to computers and 50th in access to school nurses and libraries. The average California teacher makes about $44,100, 7th in the US, but the cost of living in California is extraordinarily high, especially so in the San Diego area. 

In 2001, in the spring, California began to distribute money to teachers and schools based on scores on the Assessment Performance Index, the results of standardized exams. Susan Harmon, a leader of CalCare and an Oakland teacher, calls the API, "the Affluent Parent Index, a tactic to divide teachers and students, and to wreck good schooling." She has urged education workers to use, "the bribes to take ads in local papers denouncing the process so the community will understand." API scores do indeed resemble an economic instrument, not an educational tool. In the San Diego area those schools scoring in the lowest 10% have 93% of their students on free lunch programs, while the highest scoring 10% have only 7% of their students on free lunch. The lowest scoring schools have the highest percentage of English language learners. 

After the Santana shootings, on March 21, the San Diego Education Association issued a newsletter, " The Advocate." The paper reflects SDEA's continuing battles with the school district. Director Robin Whitlow, on the front page, urges school workers to speak out against administrative policies that do not address, or fund, "the whole child," warning that, "we will see more incidents..."

By mid-March 31 children had been booked by area police departments for making threats against their schools. 17 were arrested and booked on school weapons charges. One of the most wealthy districts, Poway, suffered repeated school lockdowns and closings, silenced in the local media. 

On March 22, I was in a pre-service teacher course in nearby Cajon Valley when news of a school shooting seeped into my classroom via cell phones. My students had friends and relatives at shooting site.

I went to Granite Hills High School shortly after the gunshots. Part of the Grossmont Union District, Granite Hills High, with 2,900 students, is located on a corridor of schools on Madison street, a corridor lined by trailer parks, and one trailer-park-convalescent-home. The corridor houses, to the west, El Cajon High, a middle school, and elementary school, then Granite Hills High. Kids at both high schools claim the other is the wealthier. Granite Hills High, according to a long-time teacher-resident, is, "a rim school, meaning that the higher up you are on the mountain here, the more you have; not like Mexico. El Cajon High is at the bottom of the hill." 

Teaching and learning in the Grossmont Union district is powerfully regimented along Skinnerian behaviorist lines, each student's educational goals quantified and tested. For example, the district boasts these measures: "Responsible Individuals: Who succeed in a diverse environment as evidenced by satisfactory workplace skills and acceptable attendance as reported on the Extended Transcript. Involved Individuals: Who exercise rights and responsibilities as citizens to participate in the United States democracy as evidenced by a score of 70 percent or better on the American Government Program Assessment." 

The school system is segregated, as most are, by a severe interior tracking system based on estimates of a student's literacy skills, typically a race- income measure. Only students in Advanced Placement classes are given competing theoretical perspectives in education; for example, in economics a critique of labor and capital as opposed to a consumer education curriculum. The goals and objectives of each class are explicitly linked to a specific state standard, and a test-each device claiming to promote critical thinking skills. 

Some of the schools programs can only be considered bizarre. One two-day event involving the entire school, highlighted on the Granite Hills web page, is headlined by a skull and bones caricature and another cartoon of the Grim Reaper. The program, "Every 15 minutes," is described as:

" During the first day events the "Grim Reaper" calls students who have been selected from a cross-section of the entire student body out of class. One student is removed from class every 15 minutes. A police officer will immediately enter the classroom to read an obituary which has been written by the "dead" student's 

parent(s) - explaining the circumstances of their classmate's demise and the contributions the student has made to the school and the community. A few minutes later, the student will return to class as the "living dead," complete with white face make-up, a coroner's tag, and a black "Every 15 Minutes" T-shirt. From that point on "victims" will not speak or interact with other students for the remainder of the school day. Simultaneously, uniformed officers will make mock death notifications to the parents of these children at their home, place of employment or business... During the most powerful program of the retreat, the students will be taken through an audio - visualization of their own death....On the following morning, a mock funeral service will be held at the High School. 

The assembly will began with a video of normal school day activities including scenes from the first day of the "Grim Reaper" and the staged accident. The assembly will be hosted by an Officer (Project Coordinator), who will guide the audience through the devastating effects of losing a loved one due to a bad choice "


The web site highlights photos of moments from last year's two-day event, bloodied and smashed students being carted off in ambulance carts-a simulation.

Teachers at Granite Hills have web pages. One social science teacher introduces himself: 

"I would like to be addressed as Mr. Carter, please. Thank you. I am looking forward to this semester. relax. I have over nine years of teaching experience, spanning the military, corporate, and educational fields. I am a veteran of instruction. My techniques have resulted in zero friendly casualties in my military unit during wartime, record profits in the corporations I have served, and several passing grades for students who were previously failing."

Another social science teacher, Gene Kraszewski, who says he has a Cornell PhD in comparative politics asserts in part, 

" I recently completed a Masters in Forensic Science with an emphasis in criminal profiling, crime scene investigation, and forensic DNA databases. Prior to teaching I worked in the federal government in intelligence analysis and law enforcement."

Yet another, "Before teaching, I Was a Judge Avdocate (sic) in the U.S. Marines for

4 years. I practiced law for 14 years in civil litigation, taxation and estate planning."

Tim McMahon, who is featured on several teachers' web sites who say, "I love Tim McMahon,"says:

"I coach football and track here at GHHS. IF I ever have

spare time I enjoy anything athletic and being outdoors. In order to be a good role model it helps to have good role models. I want to thank God and my parents for that. Remember ~"Work Hard, Play Hard!"

One teacher, Joanne Climie, was a delegate to the Democratic Convention in 2000. She posts web-photos of a party she held for the Democrats at a beach-front home. Her union, the NEA, brought more people to the Democratic convention than any other organized group, to support the failed candidacy of Al Gore. Most of the educator force at Granite Hills received at least one degree from San Diego State. At least one of them serves as an adjunct in the SDSU education program. This is an overwhelmingly white and middle class teaching force, relatively well-educated, reflecting diverse skills, much like most schools. With all their diversity, such as it is, each of them works with the "Essential Districtwide Learner Results," a rubric which forms the skeleton for the state's common measure of educational merit: standardized high-stakes tests.

Test scores show that Granite Hills High senior classmates placed an average of 1060 on the SAT in 1998, while El Cajon High notched but 890. However, Granite Hills tested 30% of their 640 seniors, while El Cajon only tested 20% of 390. Granite Hills is a slightly wealthier school. Neither school measures up to the truly affluent La Jolla High on the flush Pacific coast which tested 85% of their 342 seniors and averaged 1106 on the SAT. The GHHS "Eagles" football team, which always fills the stands, went 6-4 last fall, winning its last game over Santana High's "Sultans." Granite Hills currently most famous grad is Shane Spencer, a New York Yankee ballplayer.

The city of El Cajon is east of the city of San Diego, but inside San Diego County. In written history, El Cajon, surrounded by hills and mountains, was appropriated early by Catholic padres as a valley grazing land. It's really desert, converted to agriculture by irrigation, converted again by urban sprawl. There is nothing disconnecting El Cajon from the series of paved avenues that lead to the ocean on the west, and the open desert about 15 miles to the east. 

El Cajon is a city of about 95,000; 70% white, 20% hispanic, 5% black, 5% asian. It's a young community, more than 50% of the residents under 30. By political geography alone, it's race-based space. El Cajon, like Santee, has a contradictory history of people- to- people cooperation, often church-based, and the white supremacist movements that have deep roots in the Grossmont Union School District. Every student I interviewed at Granite Hills High was aware of Nazi and Klan-skinhead activity in the community and the presence of a pro-Nazi teacher at Grossmont High School, not far away. The Grossmont District, according to a long-time resident and San Diego State professor, "was recently seized by the religious right. Lines are bitterly drawn in the sand."

On a clear evening, westbound travelers along I-8 can see the sparkle of El Cajon's lights, about 8 miles from the sea. The location, between the city of San Diego and the deep desert, once made El Cajon a site for agriculture, now for small sales and manufacture. It's a deeply religious area, with many churches, many of them fundamentalist, and many small bars. The town has nine Christian schools. Auto racing is very popular here, noted in Chamber of Commerce brochures. While parts of El Cajon, like Fletcher Hills, are prosperous, most parts are not. El Cajon circles three zip codes. The median housing costs vary in a range from $180,000 to $240,000, cheap to mid-range for the booming area housing market. About 60,000 people per year move to San Diego county. 

El Cajon's streets are littered with cheap fast-food joints, tattoo parlors, IGA's with little exterior lighting, auto parts shops. El Cajon is desert strip mall, post-colonial, even post-decay. There is an eery darkness about the entire area, partially brought on by Governor Gray Davis' demands for energy conservation. The homeless in El Cajon sleep in parking lots just off the main drags in the city. Some of them are aging derelicts. Some are kids. On a spring evening in a parking lot off First Avenue, a group of five homeless men kicked a drunken homeless youth who was passed out on the ground, stopping when an intervener protested. To the south, beautiful Mount Helix, a breadloaf shaped hill of moneyed homes arranged for views behind expansive shrubbery-and no sidewalks, looks down on El Cajon, and across to Mexico. 

What is uncounted in the racial demographics is the presence of a large number of mulit-racial people in the San Diego area. The intermingling of many groups in the area makes the choice of race on job applications, for example, a tough call. There is also a sizeable Chaldean population, predominantly Catholic, which adds up to one of the largest enclaves outside the Middle East, and Detroit. Some El Cajon neighborhoods are integrated, by race if not class, as are some of the churches. At least one large El Cajon church, however, did purge a group of its members for being too far to the left. Nevertheless, there are many people in El Cajon with a lifelong commitment to their city, and to principled stands on question of race-and much of that is secured to a religious outlook of community. 

Gunfire at Granite Hills

Shots FiredStudents Down

At around 12:50 on March 22, Jason Hoffman, a white boy just 13 days past his 18th birthday, started shooting outside Granite Hills High. He was armed with a 12 gauge shotgun and a 22 caliber pistol. He had purchased the 22 handgun after a ten day waiting period, according to law. He loaded his shotgun with birdshot, meaning that rather than have a relatively small number of larger buckshot slugs leave the barrel, a high number of tiny birdshot pellets are fired, with much less penetrating power. It is uncertain whether he knew that a 22 handgun and a birdshot load are poor choices for someone wanting to kill. Indeed, no one was killed. Hoffman never fired the handgun. 5 people were shot, including Hoffman, a teacher, and 3 students. 5 others were injured fleeing from the shooting. Of those shot, Hoffman was the most seriously injured. 

Jason Hoffman was shot in the face and the back by an El Cajon police officer, Rich Agundez, who had been assigned to the school as part of a recent intensification of local school security. The two had a brief gunfight just outside the school, the officer firing five times, hitting Hoffman twice, and hitting the 12 gauge shotgun Hoffman was firing, probably disabling it. Hoffman never reached the interior of the school building. It is unclear where the other two bullets from Agundez gun went. In firefights, it is not uncommon for even trained combatants to miss their targets more often than they hit. 

Officer Agundez was firing a 40 caliber Glock pistol, the new weapon of choice among many police departments. The 40 caliber projectile offers considerable stopping power, nearly equivalent to the 1911 Colt 45, and a high-capacity clip. The Glock was one of the few real innovations in weaponry in the 20th century. Made of Tenifer finish on polymer and steel, the pistol was initially designed for the Austrian military. The Glock was originally seen in the US as plastic pistol, a terrorist weapon, able to slip through metal detectors. It gained considerable fame in the movie "Die Hard," when Bruce Willis suggested, wrongly, that terrorists could smuggle it onto airplanes. Congress sought to ban its importation. But, since 1985, the Glock has appeared on more than thirty tv shows, including the Simpsons, and 50 movies, like Scream 2, High School High, and 12 Monkeys. Beginning in 1988, law enforcement agencies and military operations all over the world adopted the powerful, ergonomic, Glock. Shot in the face, it is remarkable that the impact of the Glock 40 caliber bullet did not kill Jason Hoffman. 

Granite Hills High School, like all schools in the area, was already under a high alert that was suppressed by the media. However, the entire community was aware of increased security and involved in discussions about security measures. Parents in the district, following the shooting at Santana High, met and rejected a proposal for metal detectors in the schools. More than 170 threats on schools were received in the county in the previous week. A school lockdown plan in case of a shooting had been rehearsed several times. 

The El Cajon officer who shot Hoffman, Rich Agundez, is a cousin to one of the campus officers who was shot by Andy Williams at Santana High two weeks ago. When the Granite Hills shooting erupted, SWAT teams were on the school in minutes, with a plan. Students knew how they were to evacuate, hands on heads.

According to Bernadette Roberts, a Granite Hills student interviewed by a San Diego Channel 8 newsperson, the school's principal, Ms Torres, had been warned about Hoffman. Roberts says that she told administrators six weeks ago that Hoffman was an angry youth, dangerous, and that he had commented to her that he was "planning another Columbine." 

Ms Roberts described how, at the slightest error, Hoffman would smash his computer mouse on his desk in class. She informed the authorities that he had told her he intended to kill people. Ms Roberts says she believes the school personnel should have taken action, been fully prepared, watchful at least, but clearly they were not. She believes that Hoffman is, "not a horrid kid, actually good, just really angry." 

Hoffman had been grade-retained at Granite Hills High. He should have graduated in 2000 and told Roberts that he was very angry about his treatment by school officials. A student who wished to remain anonymous stated that Hoffman had been informed that he would not graduate in 2001, and that two days before the shooting Hoffman had tried to enlist in the m Navy, but was rejected. School officials refused to comment. The Navy confirmed that the service turned down an application from Hoffman, in part because of his weight and a skin condition. 

A large youth, well over 200 pounds, Hoffman was isolated from the class of 2001. The San Diego Union Tribune of March 23 reports that,"he dressed oddly." Hoffman, according to other students, was living in a small apartment near the school with a neighbor-guardian who took him in after his parents separated and appear to have left the area. Residents near the apartment disputed this, saying he still often lived with his mother, Denise Marquez. Ms Marquez did not answer her listed telephone and later rejected requests for an interview made through her attorney. A black student at Granite Hills High, a junior asking anonymity, said, "He was just one of those guys who wanted to do his job here and get the hell out." A white student, who also asked to be anonymous, repeated what many kids said, "He was a good guy awhile ago but he didn't want to talk to any of us any more. He was just always alone." 

Unverified police reports say that the target of Hoffman's shooting was Dan Barnes, an administrator who was counseling Hoffman about his anger problems. Barnes' father, Darrell, had been a teacher in a school where, 22 years ago, another shooting had taken place, killing two. Dan Barnes, a Dean (for students "E to K") for less than three years, is a San Diego State University social studies grad with a teaching credential from El Cajon's Christian Heritage College, close to Granite Hills High. 

The president of Christian Heritage College describes their mission: "All classes and extra-curricular activities are based on a Scriptural foundation and integrated with Biblical truth. The Bible is our rule of faith and practice and sets the standard for our perspective and viewpoint. Subject matter in each academic field is measured under the lens of God's Word....A special focus of CHC, since its founding, has been an emphasis on the biblical account of creation and origins (in opposition to evolution theories), and on the virtues of democracy and America's historic values of free enterprise, the work ethic and limited government." Prospective professors at CHC are required to have a missionary zeal and evidence of, "obedience to God's Word."

Jason Hoffman, like Andy Williams, had access to other weapons in his home, including a a potent Colt 45 pistol and a semi-automatic rifle with a scope. If he had planned and trained, Hoffman could have remained in his pick-up truck in the school parking lot and shot Dean Barnes at a distance. 

However, as Jason Hoffman approached the school on March 22, he saw Dean Dan Barnes outside and opened fire with the shotgun. Mr Barnes, unhit, fled inside. Mr Hoffman was quickly met by Officer Agundez. Shortly after, Jason Hoffman, just 18, was shown on television shirtless, twisted on his left side, his face mangled, dark blood pouring from his mouth into a blue-green plastic pan held by an attendant, being wheeled to an ambulance. Most of his large body was covered by a gray blanket, used perhaps to warm him, perhaps to cover the body shackles and handcuffs locking his hands behind his back. 

Frantic parents seeking their children moved through a staging area, Kennedy Park, (not titled for the assassinated president) next to the school. They shouted their kids' names, and once united, paused at a small monument of two candles, a heart-balloon, and a message of sympathy brought by Santana cheerleaders. 

Professional grief counselors arrived at Granite Hills High almost immediately after the shooting. They knew each other and most of the administrative players from their experience at Santana High. They began to plan a day to teach conflict resolution. "After all," said one counselor, "we do know that conflict in school is simply wrong." 

A group of nearly 9,000 members of the National Association of School Administrators was meeting in San Diego's Convention Center on the day of the Granite Hills shooting. One woman, who refused to speak on the record, made it clear that she believed the source of the repeated shootings in US schools is, "the distance of the teachers and the children. Our teachers don't, or won't, have time for them." Ann Bryant spoke to the press openly, saying, "The teachers just must know the students." As is the case with most professional teacher conferences, the convention center exhibit area was awash with packaged materials for curriculum and instruction, and school safety, available for sale. The NASA membership, as observed at the exhibit hall, is solidly white, reflecting the make-up of the teaching force itself. 

Granger Ward, the African-American school superintendent recently arrived from Manhattan who also oversaw the outpouring of grief at Santana, refused to comment on Ms Robert's complaint that the school administration had been forewarned, as did principal Torres who, unlike her counterpart at Santana, pushed through a throng of reporters, refusing to speak. 

At 4:45 pm, there were 27 news trucks at Granite Hills High, antennae towering into the sky, but still running. Kennedy park was thick with grief, and diesel exhaust. Reporters tracked down kids and parents and nearly anyone for interviews, and watched the basketball finals in their trucks during slow moments. NBC, which cancelled afternoon programing to cover the shooting, interrupted evening newscasts to assure viewers that the soaps they may have missed would run between 2:00 a.m and 5:00 a.m. Unlike the Santana High tragedy where two people died, all local radio stations but one stopped continuous coverage of the tragedy by 5:00 p.m. 

Granite Hills' Senior Prom is scheduled for the night of June 2nd at Sea World, which offers, for $41.95, "sensational high-energy events like our sea-lion spectacular with Clyde and Seamore with their own hilarious home repair tv show." The Prom is still on. When asked, one student said she and her friends will, "flee to Mission beach and get stoned."

This may be the last year that travelers can see Mission Beach from the road. Sea World, announcing a shift from its past as," an educational institution," recently won waivers from environmental restrictions on seaside construction. The park will, in 2002, erect a 100 foot amusement ride, reaching into the Pacific. Sea World officials agree that the ride will obstruct views and be noisy, "but no worse than the traffic on I-5." 

On Target: Unfeigned Hope

U.S. schools are very safe. The children in them are in far more danger, intellectually, from the standardized tests that are demolishing their education, physically from the Coke machines installed in cafeterias, in many cases, to gain funds to buy needed supplies, than they are in danger from any intruder with a gun. Even so, kids are killing kids in schools. 

The frenetic motion of the commodity market requires processes which drive people apart: exploitation on the job, alienation of people from their labor and from others by class and race, intellectual work made meaningless by disconnecting it from rational action, spectacularization in many forms like casinos over meaningful work, surveillance disguised as protection for the common good, a focus on things over people, consuming and selling can overpower honest human relationships. At the same time this process is met by equally requisite forces uniting people world-wide through systems of production, exchange, and distribution. Underlying this tension are the lingering competing ideologies, "Every man for himself," vs "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," or perhaps more on point, Acts 4-4, "From each according to their ability to each according to their need." 

The struggle for what is true within these contradictions, and acting on that developing understanding, is a reasonable approach to forging social justice; building caring democratic and egalitarian communities that recognize the existence of an opposition that is often ruthless. 

This opposition has its heart and mind in a desperate commodity-market system ever on the prowl for cheaper labor, raw material, and markets. The market is expert at denying its own reality. Unable to tolerate the interaction of democracy and equality, the market deepens the invisibility of a Master-Slave relationship that remains as a good metaphor to explain many of our present-day social relationships. Confirmed shoppers and casino gamblers do not notice the cameras, or the people who worked to fill the designer bags-or the Man Behind the Screen. 

People convinced to celebrate irrationalism, to pay for the destruction of reason, to choose to answer questions they cannot answer by a turn to superstition, those people are among the victims of history, the caged birds that build their own cages. 

The key to understanding education and the movement of ideas in the US today is to grasp what the Master desires in such a relationship, and what the Slaves need. Above all, the Master wishes Mastery to be unobservable and when it is not imperceptible to appear inevitable, to teach the slaves that they cannot comprehend or transform their circumstances. The Master will offer the Slaves every kind of conceivable division, language, race, nation, gender/sex; except the key division: Master and Slaves. The Slaves, per the Master, need an inner cop, and a priest. Slavery becomes natural, reality, even friendly, as dreamy daily routines available as apparent privileges to a graded scale coded by color, literacy, culture, and caste, hush the firepower behind the carrot. 

What transforms this relationship? Work, Knowledge, and Love, all interacting as they do in life. As Hegel and Marx recognized, the Master has no interest in labor (the relationship is rooted in the Master not working, but owning), the fullness of knowledge (mysteries like racism serve the master, understanding racism serves the slaves), and Love (for while the Master can say that we should give peace a chance, the Master cannot live it.) The Master has no interest in movement, change. He is trapped standing on the slaves' throat. So, the interest of the Master is to promote: This relationship does not exist, nothing changes. The Master cannot Love. He can only exploit. His view of the relationship is wholly one-sided, top down. 

In contrast, the Slaves have an interest in overcoming this relationship, intellectually and materially. Through engaging and examining the processes of work, and acting on deepened understanding, the slaves not only have an interest in transforming the world; it is the only thing they can do. Work is the negation of the way they must live, and it is the way they must live. The secrets of Oz are hidden inside understanding labor and sexuality (love, not exploitation), the key absence in most standardized curricula and exams.

Labor alone will not do. The relationship of labor to what can be revealed by understanding the social relationships that the unjust positioning of the Master and the Slave create is equally significant. Why do we work and he alone owns? Why does he use the government as a weapon against us, and then tell us the government is a neutral in which we all have a share? The struggle for what is true, like labor, is the impetus of history. 

Labor and Knowledge alone will not do. Only the Slaves have a view of the totality of the relationship of the Master and the Slaves. Only the Slaves have an interest in not just smashing that relationship, but truly overcoming it, transforming the human condition in every conceivable way, from relations of work and intellect, to the whole of human relationships. This is why the Slaves must simultaneously challenge the totality of the processes of exploitation and alienation, but to do so with a community that can end the spiral by building a society that can love all of its members, from each according to commitment to each according to need. This is the advantage of the Slaves. 

That is not a series of mythical abstractions. California has more stringent gun laws than any state in the nation. Complex governmental preparations were made for Andy Williams and Jason Hoffman, yet Andy Williams killed and Jason Hoffman destroyed his own life, and damaged others. Kind intelligent people are in Santana High and at Granite Hills, throughout the school worker force, yet a child shot other children. Communal surveillance is only possible in a society sharing common interests, yet every message of everyday school life reverberates with the Master-Slave relationship. Slaves learn, wisely, not to rat. 

There is no way out of this without considering the whole of the relationship of the Master and the Slave, no way out without also addressing it in its parts: Love, Work, and Knowledge, and building a caring community in the midst of an antithetical society. No existing reform organization in the US, particularly the race and craft-based union movement, is capable of overcoming this relationship, or especially interested in noticing it. 

The absence of a well-known revolutionary movement, the notion that There is No Alternative, is a powerful buttress for irrationalism and hopelessness--and a key reason children are in despair. The children are not entirely wrong. It is apparent that even the winners at school have not won much. Andy Williams and Jason Hoffman were both trapped in situations with no clear-cut exit. The eradication of hope in the eyes of the youth is a project achieved by the success of US imperialism, the triumph of the commodity, the market, the spectacle, science in service to hierarchy, and technology designed to oppress. But this is a victory rooted not in popular participation, but in technological might and sheer force, and thin shield for a vulnerable Master. 

In schools, now the centripetal points of civic life in the US, authentic community-building exists and is emerging in the form of an explosion of opposition to high-stakes standardized testing. Integrated school-based groups like the Rouge Forum, Substance Newspaper in Chicago, the California Resisters, the Whole Schooling Consortium, and the Whole Language Umbrella are all struggling to answer the dilemma: How can we keep our ideals, and still do school, still teach and learn? They try to organize across borders, in new ways. Action oriented, anti-racist, and largely organized along lines that promote school worker-community unity, they shy away from reliance on mainstream media and traditional notions of leadership. They seek methods of instruction that demonstrate the interpenetration of freedom and rigor, that grapple with the internal interactions of equality, democracy, and the contradictions of inclusion and hierarchy. 

These groups may form models in the struggles ahead. Winning is, in the Master-Slave relationship, going to come sooner or later. All of the conditions exist to fashion a democratic equitable society, to share-except the decision to act to do so. 

The Aftermath 

One hot evening in June, 2000, eight white male high school students, aged 14 to 17, from one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, Rancho Penasquitos, went hunting. Their game: aging Mexican workers living in cardboard shacks in the valleys just outside their home town. Armed with clubs, BB guns, rocks, bats, and sticks, the youths launched three distinct night-time raids on five different migrant workers, all over 60. The white youths left their game for dead, unlike most hunters who make certain.

The young white men were tried as adults in 2002. In the interim the local press blacked out their faces in court proceedings, the electronic media rarely mentioning their names. Their judge was an opponent of Proposition 21, a successful 1999 ballot measure which makes it possible to try juveniles as adults. Initially, the white youths demonstrated contempt for their victims, and their critics, one saying to me, in response to a shouted question, "This thing shouldn't ruin my career." All eventually pled guilty or no contest to charges of elder abuse, assault, and robbery; not attempted murder, and not under a stiff California hate crime statute. 

Alfredo Sanchez still has 20 bb's in his face, Anastacio Irigoyen, over 70, has a bb lodged next to his left eye. Both of the older men say their lives are destroyed, they cannot overcome living in fear every day. "Every time I hear an unusual noise, I am terrified." When police found Sanchez, he was bloody, huddled in his shack in a fetal position, refusing to come out.

The judge sentenced the attackers to a variety of relatively mild sentences, six months in an east county youth center for one man, four months and 200 hours of sensitivity training for another. The victims said that justice was done, but that justice was, "very moderate." Most of the attackers have two strikes under California's severe three-strikes-and-you-are-out law, a no-nonsense provision meaning 25 years to life for three- time felons. An advocate for immigrants who attended the trial said of the varying sentences, "They were, well, thoughtful." 

The mother of one of the young white men said, as the proceedings began in the court room, that her boy was a great child, and the incident was merely an accident in his life. 

The racist attackers were Morgan Manduley, Jason Beever, Bradley Davidofsky, Adam Ketsdever, Michael Rose, Kevin Williams, Steve Deboer, and Nicholas Fileccia. Davidofsky, Ketsdever and Rose were identified as the three most blameworthy in the attacks. All three apologized in court. 

Schools in the immediate Rancho Penasquitos area have among the highest test scores in the state, rank 10 on a 1-10 scale where 10 is tops. Nearby schools serving working class districts and the military, though, like Pauma, got a 1. Camp Pendelton, the massive Marine base, is also nearby. Their schools' scores are somewhat above mid-range. The superintendent, Tom Anthony, who serves both areas, agreed that the API tests take about 11 days out of the school year, for testing alone, setting aside the question of test preparation. He says, however, that following the standards is absolutely key. In addition, "I just live competition." Following the interview, traffic was halted on the expressway which runs through the Camp Pendelton base as ambulances rushed toward a veteran Navy Seal who, in practicing descents from a helicopter, missed the rope and fell to his death, the sixth accidental death on the base that year. 

In January 2001 the San Diego PBS station released a documentary, Culture of Hate. The brilliant hour-long video traces the lives of young people in San Diego County, especially in Lakeside, east county, focusing on the 1999 murder of a migrant worker who was sleeping under a bridge by two white male youths. They had close connections with local fascist movements, the Nazi Party and the Hells Angels--and through the methamphetamines which make the gangs resourceful. Although the film-maker is clear that fascist movements exist throughout San Diego, particularly in the high schools where hopelessness is a key by-product, Lakeside residents felt under assault and launched a vicious counter-offensive. The film-maker received death threats, as did a university researcher who sought to conduct interviews about the video on the main street of Lakeside. One resident was quite clear, "That kind of horseshit news costs us money--we own homes here you know." Another group of youths passing in a pick up truck halted, jumped from the truck, raised a stiff arm seig-heil salute, shouted, "White Power!" leaped back in the truck and hurried away. 

The Lakeside Rodeo, a very popular event, drew record crowds in 2001, despite warnings of impending terrorist attacks. 

So-Long Jason and Andy

On September 11, 2001, terrorists struck the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and caused the crash of a passenger jet in Pennsylvania. On September 13, after disappearing for two days, President George W. Bush declared a crusade, perpetual war on terror, and called for patriotic shopping, especially for stocks. The stock market fell more than 1000 points, dipping into the 8,000 range. Shortly after, the Patriot Act, passed overwhelmingly by a bipartisan congress, suspended civil liberties. Tourism in San Diego collapsed. Those small store owners who had not been wiped out by the manufactured energy crisis began to close their doors. 

On September 14, 2001, six months after the school shooting, Jason Hoffman, the heavy-set school shooter from Granite Hills High, the second of the area's school shootings, pled guilty to five counts of assault with a deadly weapon and premeditated attempted murder with a gun. His likely sentence: 24 years. Hoffman was clearly suffering from acute depression at the hearing announcing his plea deal. The prosecutor agreed that Hoffman's depression, indeed, his "mental illness," was well-known, even before the shooting, and that his mental state was considered in the plea bargain. Jason Hoffman's mother, Denise Marquez, was at the sentencing. She only said that she could not guess why her son opened fire, other than to say he had been very unhappy. The local press described Jason Hoffman as a "burly man," with a gruff voice. 

On October 5 2001, a conservative member of the San Diego City School Board, Sue Braun, a realtor, circulated an email about two people on the board who frequently disagree with her, 

" John and Frances get so outrageous that they upset the rest of the board members including me. . . The only idea I have is to shoot the both of them. I was thinking of a way to get them both with one bullet..."

In a school system with a Zero Tolerance Policy for any kind of threat, nothing was done to Ms Braun. There was, though, some public criticism. Braun said that her feeling were justified, if her words were not, and apologized. 

On October 9 2001, the jailhouse suicide watch was lifted on Jason Hoffman. On October 29, police said he had hanged himself in his cell and died. He tied strips of his bedding to a vent, and his neck. When he was removed from suicide watch, he was held in a windowless cell twenty-three hours a day. Court records released to researchers after his death indicate that his childhood had been marred by parental violence, alcohol and substance abuse. Responding to inquiries, one county prison official said, "Well, I guess he just didn't like jail." 

On June 24 2002 the San Diego Chamber of Commerce announced that with the opening of a new Harrah's casino on a nearby reservation, San Diego became the casino capital of California. The casinos have payrolls of more that $200 million, attracting 35,000 people a day. 10,000 people work in the casinos. 

Andy William's school shooting in Santee preceded Jason Hoffman's by 17 days. On June 19 2002, Charles, "Andy" Williams, then 16, pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and thirteen counts of attempted murder. His plea came as a bit of surprise as the hearing was initially designed to be a pre-trial session. He, like Hoffman and the racist youths from Ranch Panasquitos, was being tried under the provisions of Proposition 21, as an adult. He faced a minimum of fifty years. At the hearing, Andy William's father said his son had been the victim of incessant bullying, burned with a cigarette lighter, beaten, thrown against walls. His attorney said the guilty plea was entered because his sixteen year old client directed him to do it. 

On August 15 2002 Andy Williams was sentenced to fifty years in prison. The next day a lengthy report was released, the result of repeated police and psychiatrist interrogations after the shooting incident. Andy Williams said he was distraught, depressed, by relentless bullying. Extraordinarily isolated in a new setting, he felt a favorite teacher had betrayed him by reprimanding him for not having done his homework. He had told some friends that he planned to assassinate people in the school, and felt more and more that he had to carry out his own threat-even though he knew that they would not keep their promises to help. Sitting by a dead classmate's body in the bathroom after the shooting, awaiting the arrival of authorities, he said he felt as if he was not there, that he was actually watching the scene unfold through detached eyes, not his own. When he was shooting, he said, he was, "depressed, not angry." He chose the 22 caliber weapon because he believed if he did shoot any people, they would not die. 

At the sentencing hearing, only one person expressed real outrage at the length of the prison term, the minimum; a teacher. He was incensed, demanding that the shooter be sentenced, "at least to forever." Several relatives of the deceased and wounded spoke, one saying that she receives hate mail from people who believe her child was more perpetrator than victim. One parent summed up the comments of the rest, "No one should have to live with the death of their child. I believe strongly in justice. But I cannot describe it. Your Honor, I trust your judgement." 

Immediate victims felt otherwise. One shooting victim, Peter Ruiz, felt the penalty was too light, then shrugged and said, "Ah well, who knows?" Scott Marshall said he wanted more than a 25 year sentence. Other victims, saying their lives were wrecked by having been shot, underlined Marshall's thoughts. One, suffering a graze wound to the finger, said, "I never ever saw him. But he shot me. Now every time I hear a noise, I see him."

Andy Williams, taller and more filled out, spoke through tears, "I feel horrible and ashamed by what I did. If I could only go back to that day, I would never get out of bed. I want everyone to know I am sorry. I feel horrible." 

Attorneys at the hearing expressed some dismay that Andy William's lawyer had not attempted an insanity defense. "This sentence could not have been any worse. There was no reason to plea him out, and following the directions of an obviously crazy child in a courtroom is no excuse. He's going to a juvenile jail where they keep gang kids. He will not do well there at all, his ass is theirs, then he graduates to a prison system where he will be again seen as meat." 

The juvenile prison where Andy Williams will be held initially is in Tehachapi, the location John Steinbeck used in his Grapes of Wrath as the spot where the Joad family stood when they first viewed California, full of hope. The prison is one of 21 that the state has constructed in the last twenty years. 

Until 1978, California had but two prisons of any size, San Quentin and Fulsom and ten smaller jails. In 1978 California citizens passed Proposition 13, a popular ballot measure led by Howard Jarvis, which shifted the burden of the tax system away from taxing property, corporate profits, and inherited wealth, toward a regressive tax, mostly a state sales tax. The base of support for proposition 13 came from, mostly, small homeowners who feared a rapid rise of property taxes. The beneficiaries of the measure were large agricultural, tourism, and industrial interests. Proposition 13 became know as The Revolt of the Haves. 

In the 1970's, California jailed about 110 prisoners for every 100,000 people in the state. In 1998, the number stood at 445 per 100,000. California now has the largest prison system in the western world. It holds more prisoners than any other state, and 40% more than the entire federal prison system. The prison system, which is in part filled by mandatory fixed sentences, no longer makes any pretense to rehabilitation. 

In the same period, since the passage of Proposition 13, California schools have gone from being widely recognized as some of the best (and least costly) in the world, to being ranked in the bottom quartile of the nation. Between 1980 and 1995, the corrections budget increased 847%, while spending for higher education rose 116%. 

The prison industry boomed in the 1980's and 90's, as did the guards' unions, now one of the most influential sectors of the AFL-CIO and a million-dollar contributor to Governor Davis campaign war chest. Most of the new prisons are in rural areas, creating economic incentives in otherwise depressed towns with chronically high unemployment. The guards fear the privatization of their industry, arguing that private prisons are less humane. Rather than carry out industrialist Jay Gould's cynical threat of the early 1900's, "I can get one-half of the working class to kill the other," the developing situation is such that a significant portion of the class is guarding the other.

Still, between 1985 and 1995, guards killed 36 inmates -- triple the number killed in the federal 

system and the next six biggest incarceration states combined. Recent news stories testify to 

the levels of official violence too -- the acquittals of guards for staging "gladiator battles" in 

the prison yards at Corcoran, and for arranging the rape of inmates at Pelican Bay.

The Andy Williams court proceedings were immediately announced on local television, interspersed with reports that Metabolife, a local company which sells diet pills shot through with the herb ephedrine, was under scrutiny from the Federal Drug Administration. Ephedrin is reported to have been the subject of several private legal actions charging that it is hazardous to health-a variant of the many forms of speed available from motor cycle gangs in east county San Diego. On the same day, the horse, "David Copperfield," won at Del Mar Race Track, a north-county venue which draws wealthy patrons, and two-dollar bettors, from all over the world.

And, on the same day, the state of California's energy oversight body released a report stating that Enron and related energy companies, like San Diego's Sempra, had indeed looted the state budget by manufacturing an energy crisis. Coupled with massive expenditures rising from the September 11 terrorist attack, maneuvers like posting armed National Guardsmen on bridges, the state budget, under-reported prior to a November election, was officially in deficit at $25 billion. Budget experts winked at this estimate, saying it is short about $15 billion, a shortfall hidden because of the upcoming November gubernatorial vote. 

Local school boards, on the same day, reported that they were beginning to abolish the caps on class size (20 for kindergarten through 3rd grade) won by teachers over the years, due to necessary cost cutting. And Governor Davis announced that the state would probably be unable to pay cash rewards for districts with high API scores, though the testing would continue. Wayne Johnson, president of the California Teachers' Association, the largest branch of the National Education Association which with 2.7 million members is nearly three times the size of the next largest union in the U.S., the Teamsters, issued a statement agreeing with the Governor that these are tough times. Johnson, who in August 2002 publicized Governor Gray Davis' demand for a million-dollar contribution from the California union (which had been given the agency shop by the governor, a provision in the university system which requires faculty members to pay dues), did not publicize the fact that his union had already granted contract concessions to the state. On the governor's initiative the state abolished a teachers' tax credit, worth about $700 per educator. One teacher, a former auto worker, said, "Ridiculous. We know that making concessions to a boss is like feeding blood to sharks. They only want more." 

Coincident to the court hearing, authorities also reported the discovery of a dead body in the east county desert, a Mexican immigrant, dead from dehydration.

On April 30 2002, Rita Wilson, an assistant principal in a wealthy San Diego north-county school stopped female students who sought to enter a high school dance in the entrance and raised their skirts in an attempt to discover if they wore thongs, skimpy underwear. Her repeated searches went on in full view of other students. Students charged humiliation and sexual harassment. Wilson was later transferred despite parent and student demands for her dismissal. 

On Saturday, September 14 2002, the San Diego State University football team readied to play its first game at Qualcomm Stadium, named after the owners of the Eudora software program. Qualcomm is also home to the San Diego Chargers professional football team and the Padres baseball team. Refurbished with nearly 70 million dollars of public money in 1997, the professional team owners now declare the facility obsolete, demanding new buildings, under the threat of leaving town. The Padres won a new stadium, under construction in 2002. The same owners, who advertise, "Our Town, Our Teams," contributed more than $100,000 to the city school board campaign, an unusually high sum aimed at driving critics of the INS-Superintendent and the vehement realtor Sue Braun off the board. John Moores, owner of the Padres and listed in Forbes as one of the richest men in the world, also contributes heavily to ballot initiatives designed to eliminate race-based statistics in the public arena, counting the number of black people in the University of California system for example, on the grounds that racism is no longer an issue. After September 11, the Padres played about one-third of their games dressed in camouflage outfits. Boot-camp Marines visiting from Camp Pendelton were marched to and from their seats, in a section in distant left field. Air-force jump-jets hovered over the stadium. 

Before the September 14th football game began, a young man dressed in loincloth and headdress as Monty Montezuma, the Aztec Warrior eliminated by a faculty vote and action of SDSU President Webber, pranced through the stadium. Carlos Gutierrez had been the official SDSU Monty in the early 1990's. Hired by a consortium of developers and realtors, the privatized Monty obtained tickets for 15 seats all over the stadium, so security guards could not insist that he sit in any one area. The crowd went wild, cheering de-regulated Monty mightily. The football team, still called the Aztecs, for which there is no official human connection, lost the game decisively, blowing a 21 point lead as the Aztec Warrior blew on a conch shell. 

Away from the field, Gutierrez has parlayed his SDSU education into a job selling radio ads. President Webber is considering the abolition of the football program. 


In some cases, schools shut down by civil strife are superior to open schools. This was easily seen as true in South Africa during the apartheid period, in the US south during the civil rights movement, etc. For schools hit by long term boycotts in those areas, the freedom schools that were established were vastly superior to the formal school system. There is instructive wisdom in this history, especially in a country that offers its children perpetual imperialist war and that seeks to use its segregated militarized schools to promote witless and violent forms of nationalism.

In early September 2002 in San Diego the parents at one north county elementary school withdrew their children from the school in protest of the Superintendent's lock-step "Blueprint," curriculum regulation, a plan that eliminates nearly all instruction in areas other than reading (marketed as Open Court) and math (Chicago Math) , in order to drive up test scores--a project that has mostly failed. The superintendent in recent community meetings has been met with the chant, "The Blueprint is for blue bloods," perhaps in response to a six-figure offered to the school board from the Gates Foundation, of Microsoft fame. One requirement of the grant's continuance--the presence of Alan Bersin, Superintendent. 

Bersin's local on-site procurer for the Blueprint is an otherwise inconsequential former educator, Tony Alvarado, driven out of New York City schools for corruption. Alvarado had been collecting loans worth tens of thousands of dollars from his own school employees. Alvarado now earns in the high-six figures in San Diego to serve as Bersin's education expert. The San Diego district is flooded with "trainers" from New York, claiming they made a miracle there that can be duplicated. In an interview with a university researcher in April 2001, Alvarado insisted that economic and social inequality has nothing to do with school. "We are all in this together, simple as that. The problem is the teachers-and the principals. They don't know anything. The kids hate school. They don't even know why they are there." Alvarado was clearly infuriated by the Mira Mesa boycott, denouncing the parents and teachers as child abusers. 

Mira Mesa's boycott was mostly blacked out in the local press. It is a relatively wealthy section of a wealthy county. The Mira Mesa parents, and some teachers on the side, argued that the Blueprint is making their kids dumber. The boycott deliberately attacked the school's funding--all of the absences are unexcused-- at a cost of about 150 dollars per child. The boycotters were also trying to influence a hot school board election coming up soon, an election in which all the candidates say they support the Blueprint to one degree or another, but some want to tweak it more than others. The volatile relator Sue Braun is not running, her seat up for grabs. The candidate supported by the local affiliate of the National Education Association was exposed in Herb Klein's San Diego Union Tribune for having been stripped of his Naval command for abusing his men. The leak of the highly confidential report came under attack as well. 

Parents, teachers, and students in Lajolla, a more wealthy area of San Diego, succeeded in opting its children out of the Blueprint in late 2001 by threatening to turn their entire area into a charter school. Superintendent Bersin made a deal in order to keep the high Lajolla test scores in his county-wide count. He agreed that the Lajolla schools could ignore the Blueprint, because their test scores are high. Citizens in the areas of the region called "south of the 8," the poorer regions, began to mutter that if the Blueprint is a design for stupidity in north county, it is in the south as well. 

This may be a harbinger. Michigan's wealthy districts (like Birmingham) initiated battles against the state test, the MEAP, boycotting the test in mass, sometimes at 95 percent. Later on, poorer districts followed their lead, and at one point in 1999 Detroit teachers shut down the entire district in an illegal wildcat, against the Governor, against their racketeer union, and against one of the toughest anti-strike laws in the country. For the most part, they won the strike and no one was disciplined. Today, the mass of Michigan metro-Detroit citizens reject the MEAP as a valid tool, and with some more work from the resistance, there is a good chance it will be demolished.

Then, on September 10th 2002, the largest division of the faculty at San Diego State's College of Education (widely seen as the crown jewel of the California State University education programs) voted to halt their participation in a pilot program directed by the Educational Testing Service which would cause them to align their syllabi, the classroom curriculum, with the California content and teaching methods standards (Teacher Performance Expectations and Assessments, TPA/TPE). 

"Dear Colleagues,

On September 10 2002 the Social Justice Cluster, following considerable deliberation, passed this motion:

We reject the TPA/TPE process for which we initially volunteered, in good faith. Our experience with the process leads us to conclude, furthermore, that we must reject the standards that give the process motion, and the law which gives it force. We believe this is not a process to improve teacher education, but to regulate and standardize knowledge, not only in colleges of education, but throughout the university system, in a manner which is not in the best interest of our students nor ourselves. We believe the standards are partisan standards, the tests that will follow will be

partisan tests, with profound problems of class, race, linguistic, and disability bias.

Therefore, we call upon all college of education faculty in the CSU system to follow our lead, so say no to this intrusion. Moreover, we will inform our students and the community of our action in hopes that we will be able to spark additional resistance to the one-size-fits-all high-stakes testing movement which we believe will not improve assessment, but deepen segregation and promote the irrational worship of exam scores---scores which measure, above all, inherited capital. 

We believe that while we are indeed working within a state teacher credential program, we have rights of academic freedom which not only make it possible for individuals to reject this proposed regulation, but which exist as a treasure to the community, reflecting the vital role of a university where people can gain and test knowledge in a reasonably free atmosphere, and to offer that society criticism which may not be possible elsewhere." 

Love, work, and the struggle for rational knowledge, one ceaselessly playing into the other, are the motive forces of history--linked to what is perhaps a more distant memory and desire: Freedom. The relentless efforts of a social system which must objectify all of its subjects, isolate and alienate all from all in a perpetual irrationalist's war for cheaper labor, raw materials, and markets, is incessantly met by people trying to establish their own agency, people who are often thwarted. At issue, in part, is how, or whether, they examine their own agency, as instruments of their own oppression, or in the struggle for reason, community, inclusion, and equality--in order that each may contribute to the emancipation and creativity of all.