The real history of mental hospitals
Re “A short history of state hospitals” (Letters, Oct. 25): Janet Quesenberry’s letter is woefully short of actual history. The Lanterman-Petris-Short Act did not end involuntary commitments. It set up a process to ensure that involuntary commitment was properly carried out, and that reasonably healthy people weren’t being unlawfully confined.
The process required a court hearing to appoint a conservator and an annual hearing to confirm the necessity of continuing the conservatorship. It also required the subject of the conservatorship to prove that he or she had a place to live and a means to support themselves in order to avoid the conservatorship.
This indeed was a liberal law, a needed law, and a good law. But it did not call for closing state hospitals; Ronald Reagan did that on his own. Yes, some hospitals had closed before Reagan, but he greatly accelerated the process and went far beyond what was originally envisioned by his predecessor. He did so as part of his drive to reduce spending by state government.
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The only solution to this problem is to initiate and fund a program to systematically establish conservancies over identified individuals, place them in a hospital environment – as allowed by law – and provide effective community services to support those who are not judged ill enough to be legally confined. Do we have the will to demand it of our governor and legislators?
Other answers to solve drought woes
Re “Place some limits on new pumping till drought ends” (Viewpoints, Oct. 25): Water experts like Gerald Meral find solutions only in taking away water needed to drink and grow our nation’s food, never by offering more.
Meral’s blinders may stem from long stints at the Planning and Conservation League and Environmental Defense Fund. Perhaps, instead, they’re from his present affiliation with the Natural Heritage Institute.
Meral also spent eight years as deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources from 1975 to 1983, the exact time when our state stopped new facility construction at its water projects – new dams, reservoirs, aqueducts and pumping facilities – beginning a hiatus that has lasted 35 years.
New surface water storage facilities, more water for irrigation and more domestic drinking water supplies obviate Meral’s immoral proscription.
Increased water supplies are the elegant answer to Meral’s reductive thinking and calls for greater government control of our water and people’s lives.
executive director, California Water Alliance
‘Showing up’ requires choices
Re “Maybe school success comes down to showing up” (Viewpoints, Oct. 25): Symia Stigler’s op-ed argues students would be more successful in school if they just showed up on a regular basis. She also advocates for stronger application of the mandatory attendance laws and vaguely describes some “what if’s” about appealing to students’ interests and desires. It sounds nice, but more and more K-12 students see very little in our public schools that is relevant, meaningful or of added value in their lives.
Students rightfully reject the huge emphasis on standardized testing and the singular focus on college as a pathway to success. Want better attendance? Then replace our present obsolete, assembly-line K-12 public schools with digital-era learning systems, and do it now.
Alec I. Ostrom, Auburn
Finally, common sense on education
Symia Stigler gets an A+ for getting to one of the core issues that matter in education. Don’t parents know their kids aren’t showing up for school? If not, why not? And who is responsible for making attendance a priority?
It’s the teacher’s job to teach and the parents’ job to make sure they get to school and do all the required work. Come on parents, be the adult and make sure your child is taking advantage of a free and appropriate education.
Dan Leonard, Gold River
College admission standards too low
Re “Don’t mess with effective college admissions policy” (Viewpoints, Oct. 25): Admit college students based on their educational skills. Give special financial aid to the poor, disadvantaged or ethnic groups who qualify for admission.
Students need an opportunity to succeed, but, as The Bee reported, about 53 percent of college students admitted to the California State University system can’t meet the minimum English or math requirements to begin earning a degree. So they enroll in classes needed to graduate that won’t count toward earning a degree.
The result is five years in college. The unqualified students are lowering the bell curve to allow the qualified to breeze through college. Giving 12th-grade chemistry books to third-grade-level students makes it very easy for the 12th-graders to pass based on a bell curve. Raise the standards before you open the doors.
A question of experience
Re “Imagining President Trump. Seriously” (Forum, Oct. 25): Jack Ohman’s column imagining Donald Trump as president was very interesting, “imagining” being the key word.
President Barack Obama is not a doctor, a health official or an ambassador, yet he gave us Obamacare, supports Planned Parenthood and makes questionable deals in the Mideast with little regard toward our allies.
So, what’s your point?
Michael Pesola, Davis
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