Written by: Ann Magovern
About two weeks ago, our middle school went through their usual Friday afternoon dismissal routine –review the day, announcements, and closing Our Father. Our students then proceeded out to the parking lot where they waited for our school vans. About fifteen minutes later, approximately 10 gun shots were fired across the street from our school – coming from a nearby apartment complex where several our students live. Thirty of our students, who were still waiting for rides, came charging back into the building recognizing the sounds of gunshots. They knew the drill. Come inside, sit down, and wait for things to settle down.
Violence in Oakland, CA and in the neighborhoods around St. Martin de Porres Catholic School is a chronic and systemic issue. Mayors have come and gone in Oakland and yet we still suffer from ongoing violence and too many guns on the streets. Sadly on the Friday afternoon described above, no one came to our neighborhood after the shots were fired – no patrol car, no community policing officer, and no phone call to the school.
I am not sure how the 2012 election will affect the neighborhoods of West Oakland, but I yearn for leadership that has the courage to address gun control. It seems like an issue that we should be able to solve and yet in 2012 kids have more access to guns than books. When I vote, I will consider leadership that prioritizes resources to local governments for improved community policing, gang intervention programs, and can reduce the level of gun-related crimes. In November, I will think about leadership that listens to families living in cities like Oakland. Families who are working hard to keep their children safe and send their kids to schools like St. Martin de Porres hoping that school can be a safe-haven from violence.
Saint Martin de Porres Catholic School is a kindergarten through 8th grade regional Catholic school within the Diocese of Oakland. The school is comprised of two campuses: a K-5 campus at Sacred Heart Parish in Northwest Oakland, and a middle school campus at St. Patrick Parish in West Oakland. Our school serves families of the West Oakland neighborhoods and beyond by providing a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-cultural K through 8 educational experience.