Don't blame the school for a gay teen's death [Blowback]
Bonnie Cordova, a Venice resident and retired teacher, responds to The Times' Aug. 11 article on the trial of student Larry King's shooter. If you would like to write a full-length response to a recent Times article, editorial or Op-Ed, here are our FAQs and submission policy.
As a retired teacher, I was appalled by what was reported in the article "Oxnard school's handling of gay student's behavior comes under scrutiny."
One of the reasons I retired early was that I could no longer handle schools serving as the scapegoat for society's ills. My mother graduated high school at the age of 15, and after two years of teacher training she became a kindergarden and 1st grade teacher. She taught for 25 years and never said anything about being criticized or having felt a lack of appreciation toward her school system.
Larry King wasn't killed because the school didn't handle his social problems correctly. He was shot because a middle school student had access to a gun, brought it to school and fired two rounds into the back of King's head.
Public schools are not correctional institutions; they are not equipped to handle all the social, political and personal issues between students. They can't. Schools are formed to teach core subjects and some electives, although funding for these electives is decreasing. When I was a child California schools were among the best in the country in funds spent on education. The last I heard, we were close to Mississippi on that list.
What needs to be addressed is why a teenage had a gun and why he had the moral capacity to believe that murder was the viable way to deal with conflict. Where did he learn this? In school?
Schools educate all corners of our society's children. The times are complex. The issues are complex. The laws are complex. Why must the educational system be on the defensive?
In fact, the support we give our schools is a reflection of society's values. If you're looking for something to blame for King's death, start there.
-- Bonnie Cordova
Photo: After the 2008 shooting, an Oxnard police officer directs some E.O. Green students to meet with waiting parents.
Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times