Explicit in Oakland

In a visit to Oakland Military Institute, a college-prep charter school, teacher-blogger Darren Miller finds explicit standards.

There are standards of behavior, standards of academic work, standards of discipline/bearing/decorum. The students know what those standards are, and the standards are not flexible.

Students typically come from low-income and working-class Hispanic, black and Asian families. The goal is to prepare students for college, not for the military, and nearly all grads go on to a four-year or two-year college.

While utilizing a military model, OMI is not a soldier factory, it’s not a recruiting arm of the military, and they’re not teaching warmongering there. . . . In addition to academic subjects OMI teaches leadership, it teaches respect, it teaches self-discipline, it teaches peaceful resolution to problems — values sorely needed given the environment so many of the students come from. Uniforms, formations, military-type discipline–these are just effective tools, very efficient tools, for instilling those values in students. They are merely a means to an end, and that end is college.

Jerry Brown, the former governor and current attorney general, fought to get the military charter started when he was mayor of Oakland, a troubled city with a very troubled school system. OMI, which works with the California National Guard, has proven popular with students and parents. There’s a big demand for structure, discipline and standards.

About Joanne


  1. We have a JROTC program in our high school that does much the same. I really did not expect to like it. I thought they would teach the kids to march (which they do, of course).

    But they’ve also got some very dedicated instructors who really go the extra mile for the kids they teach. I had a girl who had terrible trouble understanding a novel we were working on, and her Sergeant/teacher sat with her every morning discussing the book. I was and am very impressed.

    Kids really seem to learn discipline and self-respect in that program. I’m not surprised the program you describe accomplishes much the same.

  2. Foobarista says:

    Of course, Oakland could use some _disciplined_ warmongers. It has way too many of the undisciplined kind.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    In the ten years I was subject to military training, never once did I meet someone or receive any training that generated a love for war or a desire to see war spread.
    Jerry gave us Rose Bird, who never met a murderer she didn’t like, and Adriana Gianturky, who set freeway construction ten years behind.

  4. Foobarista, what exactly is your point? Oakland isn’t a hotbed of military recruiting by any stretch.

    And the *only* political signs I saw in the area, and they were legion, were for Obama.

    Methinks you know not of what you speak.

  5. Robert Wright says:

    I always said that Jerry Brown was wonderful.

    (And Rose Bird was wonderful, too.)

  6. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Rose Bird’s one week talk radio stint after her deserved firing explicitly exposed her vapidity. If you like Brown you are a masochist because he makes no attempt to conceal his contempt for the voters.

  7. Darren – Methinks you miss foobarista’s point. His reference to “undisciplined warmongers” isn’t directed at the military, but at the legions of thugs who turn parts of Oakland into literal war zones. It seems now that one can’t turn on the news in the SF Bay Area without hearing “another homocide in Oakland…”

  8. that would be homicide, not homocide…

  9. SuperSub says:

    Too many people misunderstand the purpose of drill in the military. Soldiers stopped fighting in traditional column formations a hundred years ago yet every military branch still uses drill. It’s not because the military has a love for marching, but instead because drill instills the concepts of discipline, perfection, teamwork, communication, and obedience. It’s just like most team sports, but instead of moving a football down the field, you have to move a group of individuals down the field in perfect formation.
    Not only that, but officers (commissioned and non-commissioned) are expected to be able to take mentorship roles over their subordinates. The instructors are usually retired, so they’ve had plenty of experience at mentorship (more than most teachers).

  10. Foobarista says:

    Quincy’s right – I was referring to the hordes of gangbangers overrunning the place. Some honest discipline would be highly welcome in such an environment, as would a school that encouraged kids to pursue a career in something other than crack dealing.

    And I was being ironic – always a danger on the net. I was trying to poke fun at the original article that presented academies or other military-oriented schools as training “warmongers”…

  11. Foobarista says:

    OK – now that I actually clicked the link rather than just reading Joanne’s exerpt, I realized I was caught in “double irony” with my comment – it was Darren who was being ironic with his “warmongers” comment to begin with.

    FWIW, I figured the exerpt was from an article by an MSM type in Oakland, who would have used “warmongers” earnestly.

    Sorry Darren…

  12. So I misunderstood your misunderstanding of where I stood on this issue? =)

    All’s well that ends well, I guess! (But doesn’t that statement imply that the ends justifies the means? Noooooooo!)