by RIP RENSE
VENICE IS SINKING
to the murder at Venice High School is simple: expulsion.
The administration, that
Throw them all out,
starting with Principal Jan Davis and the others who played down a
near-fatal shooting on the campus one year ago (in conversations with at
least one Venice parent, and this website.) You know the formula: don't tell
the media, and gee, maybe it will just go away.
I hope you go away, Jan.
You and all the administrators at VHS, my poor alma mater. And
Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Roy Romer with you. After all, he was on the news a few days
ago saying that more campus murders are inevitable as long as guns are so
That's what you call
taking the bull by the tail and facing the situation.
Here, Jan, is your own
brave stand against violence, made after the June 5 murder of a
17-year-old boy trying to protect his brother in a black vs. latino confrontation on
the Venice High campus:
"We do not have some of
the racial tensions that some of the other schools do," she told the L.A. Times. "I really hope that this doesn't cause that to
flare up again."
We do not not have some of
the racial tensions that some of the other schools do? Huh? This was a
gang-involved black vs. latino confrontation that resulted in murder. Unless I
missed some headlines, there has not been a racially motivated gang murder
on another LAUSD campus in ten years. And. . .
I really hope that
this doesn’t cause that to flare up again? I’m rubbing my eyes. I
really hope that a racially motivated gang conflict that resulted in
murder. . .does not cause racial tensions?
Jan, Venice High School
is a racial tension.
You’re inept, Madame
Principal, and your cronies. You’re all typical ineffectual bureaucrats. You
hem and haw, and have meetings, and “interface with the community,” and
“increase awareness,” and “beef up police presence” and blah blah blah
nothing ever changes. Ever.
You’re the reverse of the
cornball old Venice motto, “Rowing, Not Drifting.” Your gondola is full of
holes, and the gondolier is bleeding from the chest. Venice is sinking.
What is it with school
administrators that they can't admit to problems?
When that other
shot a few feet off-campus a year ago, Principal Davis's assistant, Jackie Kliemann,
went to great lengths to downplay this horror, telling The Rip Post, "It wasn't our
student." Well, gee, what was he, then, collateral damage? Never
mind that the shooting happened in a street running next to campus, and the kid had been a Venice
student the previous semester! Never mind that he attended an alternative
school with close ties to Venice.
And while Davis told the
media that Venice High students
recovered quickly from the trauma of that little “isolated incident" last
year---one Venice student I interviewed said this was hardly the case:
“I don’t think the school
is doing enough," said the student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "There were no warnings from my teachers (after the
shooting.). . .If there is a fight, they get a little time-out, then they’re
right back out. I notice a lot of groups around Venice High, and they all
hate each other. I know these Mexican guys wrote in the hallways, swastikas
saying ‘f--- (blacks.)’”
This same student was in
the vicinity of both shootings. Last year, he heard a "pop," and rushed across Zanja Street
on the south side of campus to find a friend near death
(the boy recovered.) Two weeks ago, he was just a block away when Agustin Contreras was gunned
down in the faculty parking lot (!) over a piece of jewelry that black
students did not like.
That’s two bullets
this kid has dodged. How many more? How many more bullets do students
have to duck at Venice High School before they graduate? They should get
combat credit. Change the school sports team name to the Shooters. Or the Gangbangers.
When I went to Venice,
all we had to fear were good, old-fashioned annual springtime race riots.
Back in the era of protests and the civil rights movements of the late 60's, black Venice
High kids got the idea that it might be amusing to rampage a little. They could
use civil rights as an excuse for all the window-breaking,
trash-can-torching, and teacher-punching. Never mind that the school did not
discriminate against them in any way, that they were well dressed, had
plenty to eat, and that a number of them were celebrated sports heroes.
So while the the black
down, we would cower in
classrooms and watch the fun until the coast seemed clear, then sort of
creep off campus---or in some cases, run like hell. We didn’t have
to worry about guns then, you see---all that black students ever did was kick
the crap out of you.
Those were the days!
The solution to the
Venice High matter is clear, but of course, the likelihood of it happening is every bit as strong
as my turning 17 and editing the school paper, The Oarsman, again:
Step one: put someone
in charge who actually understands that murder and shootings are not
part of college preparatory experience at a magnate school. Who actually
understands that students have guns, and guns can prevent
graduation. This would be a start.
Step two: identify all
the students who are failing and who have a history of insolence, if not gang tendencies, and throw them out. (Maybe
Jan Davis and other administrators can volunteer to home-school the expelled
homeboys!) If a kid aspires to be a screw-up and a criminal, let him major
in it on the streets, where most self-respecting criminals are gainfully
employed---not in a high school.
Step three: require all
students to stop doing Cantinflas impersonations, with baggy pants
that do not cover their asses. Ban also white T-shirts and jewelry and $150
running shoes and designer thongs. Put everyone in uniforms. Black slacks
and white shirts would be nice. Black skirts and white blouses. Black shoes.
Offer extra credit for tattoo removal. Also, stop all impressions of Curly Howard and impose standard haircuts.
This will help to engender a sense of equal footing, let alone teach young
people that “expressing yourself” does not mean putting a stud in your
Step four: buy a whole
lot of bricks and mortar, and build this greaaaaat big wall. All the way
around the school. About fifteen feet. With barbed wire on top. Sure, you
can make it nice colored barbed wire, just for aesthetics. I’m sure
the community will pitch in and get this done on the cheap. Maybe OSH will
donate materials. And then you leave two gaps in the big brick wall, see,
with heavy iron gates that are only opened every morning at 7 a.m. to let
all the merry students in, so they can continue to enthusiastically pursue
their studies as they prepare to make the world a better place. Or at least
to become good amoral consumers of products that no one needs.
And after you let the
kids through the iron gates, make all of them pass through metal
detectors in order to confiscate guns, knives, AK-47s, HumVees, dirty bombs, and depleted
uranium shells. Also pat them down for plastic explosive, crack, and other
Then they will have
nothing to fear but lousy teachers.
Oh, a final touch: You
know that little courtyard out in front of the administration building,
the statue that actress Myrna Loy once posed for, “The Spirit of the Gondoliers,”
used to stand? I think Venice should put up a new monument. How about a dead
kid in a pool of blood? Just to remind students each day of the new “Spirit
of the Gondoliers.” The school requirements have changed. Readin’, writin’,
and ‘rest in peace.’GPA? Glock Point Average.
Last I checked, students
had a right to expect that they might graduate without gunshot wounds to the
upper torso. They had a right to expect that administrators are doing
everything possible to protect them. They had a right to expect not to be
killed after fifth period in the faculty parking lot. They had a right to
expect that the school principal would not refer to racially motivated
murder as "racial tension."
You failed, Venice High
administrators. Flunk you.
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