Vouchers aren’t the answer
Re “California can end school-to-prison pipeline with more choice” (Viewpoints, Jan. 26): The California Federation of Teachers agrees that the school-to-prison pipeline deepens race and class disparities in our society and must be addressed through policy and education. That’s why we actively supported Proposition 47 and advocate restorative justice strategies to work with troubled kids in schools rather than expelling them. Opposing vouchers doesn’t make us disingenuous, as Gloria Romero and RiShawn Biddle erroneously state, but clear eyed in our assessment of what factors create more disparity and inequality in our schools and society.
California voters have consistently agreed vouchers siphon public dollars away from public schools into private schools. While many private schools do an outstanding job of educating children, public schools must accept all children including those with special needs, limited English proficiency and troubled youngsters. Private schools are under no such obligation. Vouchers would lead to greater disparity and accelerate the school-to-prison pipeline. Romero and Biddle have it upside down.
Joshua Pechthalt, president, California Federation of Teachers
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No school-to-prison pipeline
There is no “incontrovertible link” that supports the claims made by Gloria Romero and RiShawn Biddle. Schools don’t funnel children into prison or welfare. Lack of opportunity and poverty do. It’s easy to trash teachers, far more difficult to demand that businesses step up and do their part, especially corporations and manufacturers who offshore. Students need to know their efforts will lead to employment with decent pay, not full-time wages so low they’re forced to apply for state benefits to make ends meet. California high-school graduation rates are at their highest, nearly 80 percent. Most graduates are eager and prepared to work. Are there good jobs waiting for them?
Kathryn Jankowski, Olivehurst
A grandmother’s plea
I completely support a parent’s right to be in charge of their child’s health care. However, I am bothered when their choice affects people I love. The immune system of one of my grandsons is compromised because he has a serious kidney disorder. After being diagnosed at age 2, his immunizations were delayed. As soon as possible he was immunized, but he still gets illnesses that others don’t. Please, if you can, be immunized. He and others are depending on the rest of us for their lives.
Glenda Smith, Carmichael
Sue the anti-vaxxers
If a child, known to the parents as being violent, who is also known to the school district as being violent, injures your child, wouldn’t you agree that there is a lawsuit in the making? Yet a child who comes to school not vaccinated can inflict bodily harm on your child under current law, and both the parents and the school district are held harmless. Hmm. I need an ambulance-chasing lawyer to think about this.
Michael Stark, Rocklin
Targeting state employees
Re “Health benefits battle looming” (Page A1, Jan. 26): The breathless talk of the unfunded cost of retiree health care for state workers seems disingenuous to me. Most ongoing state government costs are unfunded (i.e., not prefunded). Take any of the programs that Californians rely on like education, social programs and Medi-Cal and calculate them over an extended period of time and you would get an eye-popping present-day unfunded liability. What’s so outrageous about state employee retiree health care costs? Perhaps we’re just an easy target after years of attacks on public servants.
Paul Milkey, Sacramento
Stop sick leave cash-outs
Re “Law enforcers make top dollar” (Our Region, Jan. 25): Why are Placer County and other public employers allowing employees to cash out unused sick leave when they retire? Sick leave benefits should be solely an insurance policy, not a tax-deferred savings account. Public employees have exceptional health insurance plans; law enforcement officers are paid to stay in shape; and tax-free paid days off to recover from on-the-job injuries don’t count against sick leave. I challenge Capt. David Keyes to donate his $150,000 sick leave cash-out to the county’s homeless program and help others who don’t have access to wellness programs. Maybe this will inspire others to do the same.
Marcia Fritz, Orangevale
Grading on personality
Re “Students scored on attitudes along with academics” (Page A1, Jan. 27): This development is positively Orwellian. Children will now be graded on vague personality attributes. A parent asks: “What does my child have to do to get a grade in (grit)?” A teacher opines: “It will take time to develop a good understanding for grit and perseverance and how to measure those qualities …” I foresee two potential outcomes: Teachers will work out their own standards, which will necessarily be subjective and won’t be “fair,” because some will judge more severely than others; or a school district, perhaps eventually the U.S. Department of Education, will develop uniform standards to be applied, cookie-cutter style, to everyone. Where will that creative teacher or that precious, unique individual student be found in this system?
Janet Quesenberry, Elk Grove
Crime rate falling
Re “Guns in hands of law-abiding citizens” (Letters, Jan. 26): I am not sure where this writer gets his information, but according to the FBI, the per capita rates of crime, both violent and property, have fallen steadily over the past two decades. The incidence of violent crime is about half what it was in 1992. This is likely due to many factors: fewer people in the age range most likely to commit crimes, the waning of the crack cocaine epidemic, perhaps even community policing. The dramatic nature of some crimes and their dominance of the news media should not create in people the sense that crimes are more frequent or that they are at greater risk. The exact opposite is true.
Paul Hauck, Penn Valley
Eradicate mosquitoes? Really?
Re “Keys may play host to modified mosquitoes” (Page A5, Jan. 26): Are you kidding me? Eradicate a major part of the food chain? Are we trying to kill every bat, bird and lizard that populates this planet? Bats eat their weight in mosquitoes every day and play a major role in pollinating the fruits we eat. Not to mention the trout and hundreds of other species that are dependent on this particular insect in the food chain.
How can these people be so myopic as to release this in Brazil, the home to some of the last remaining tropical forests? Where is the hardcore science on this and the long-term effects on the environment?
Molly Amick, Chico
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