Letters to the Editor

Common Core, Kamala Harris, water, Brown, etc.

Enochs High history teacher Janeen Zambo, wearing a graduation robe for the campus College Day, gives a Common Core lesson on the Declaration of Independence in her U.S. history class in Modesto. Letter writers debate the benefits of Common Core.
Enochs High history teacher Janeen Zambo, wearing a graduation robe for the campus College Day, gives a Common Core lesson on the Declaration of Independence in her U.S. history class in Modesto. Letter writers debate the benefits of Common Core. The Modesto Bee

Common Core changes not just for teachers

Re “The real test of Common Core is about to begin” (Editorials, Jan. 18): The opinion piece is correct in stating that Common Core will require students to “explain and defend their ideas, not just regurgitate answers to study-guide questions.” Many instructors will have a rude awakening as they abandon copying reams of paper in order to teach their courses. They will need to interact with and engage their students in order to present.

However, they are not the only ones who need to change to adapt to Common Core. Grade-chasing students and their parents will need to realize that memorization and quiet compliance won’t be enough to pass a class. For a student to be able to justify a point, they have to have a real understanding of the material presented. They need a working knowledge of the skills taught in order to accomplish the goals of the course that they’re taking. A “C” is a passing grade, one that is granted when one has done the bare minimum. An “A” is earned by going beyond that bare minimum. That requires independent work. The student must take the initiative to become a thinker.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson said in January 2010, “It ain’t about the degree. It’s about: How do you think? That doesn’t have to come from an institution, it comes from your trajectory through life and whether your appetite for learning, whether your urge to query the unfolding of nature around you is nurtured or quelled. That’s the difference.”

It is my job as a teacher to evoke a student’s curiosity and nourish it, not squash it. Handouts don’t develop thinkers. Engagement, exploration and discussion do.

It is my job to teach a student, but I cannot learn it for them.

Mirna Jope, Carmichael

When will California drop Common Core?

Of the 24 people selected to write the Common Core standards, none of them were working K-12 classroom teachers, and two-thirds had no K-12 teaching experience. No one had experience at the elementary level. The standards were not based on any existing successful standards, and they were never pilot tested.

It is not surprising that both child development researchers and experienced teachers have found that the standards are developmentally inappropriate. For the first time in history, the state standards are frozen by a copyright protection held by a private entity, and they provide no provision for changing them. The only way to fix them is to drop them. Five states have already done just that and more are certain to follow this year. How long will it take California?

Brad Clark, Sacramento

All smiles, little action from Harris

Re “Glitzy Harris lacks on issues” (Forum, Dan Morain, Jan. 18): Kamala Harris, with her pretty smile and brains, makes a great candidate as Dan Morain’s column pointed out. But just what has she accomplished in the way of protecting the public? Her office has been making headlines for a couple years in its case against Corinthian Colleges, which owns Heald College locally, but we still see Heald’s ads on TV that seem to prey on the poor and uninformed. Please, Ms. Harris, do more than just climb the political ladder.

Tamara G. Fox, Sacramento

More propaganda from the Water Foundation

Re “Work is just beginning for California’s water policy” (Viewpoints, Jan. 18): Andrew Fahlund, deputy director of the California Water Foundation, used The Bee to spread more misinformation about a cure for California’s water problems.

Building an important legacy for Gov. Jerry Brown, which makes California’s water system the envy of the world, is not a reason to support the $67 billion twin tunnels.

New networks of dams and connections cannot produce new water. Only the weather can do that.

More efficient trades and transfers of water do not benefit the public, only the traders. This is where the big money is in this whole thing, and the traders can’t stand the occasional trade slipping out to sea.

Burt Wilson, Sacramento

How Brown will look to historians

Re “A look back reveals Brown’s path” (Forum, Dan Morain, Jan. 11): Since when has this been the stuff of a legacy to be proud of? Enabling the growth of obscene income inequality, destroying our environment, letting agribusiness run amok and sitting idle while a higher education system that used to be an ideal the rest of the world strove to emulate morphs into yet another “innovation incubator.”

If that is really how Jerry Brown wants historians to remember him, he is well on the way to his place in the history books. He may have balanced the state’s budget, but did he then structure a new budget to protect and not destroy the birthright of every Californian? Is the state in better shape than when Brown began his political career five decades ago? Has he faithfully kept the trust he was given? Hardly.

He has “learned to like” the system which he once sought to reform. My household budget may balance even if I spend my income on dining out and flying first-class, but if I don’t have anything left for preventive maintenance over the years, my house will still fall down.

Kathryn A. Klar, Richmond

Limbaugh brings accusations on himself

Re “Accusations against Limbaugh are false” (Letters, Jan. 18): All the accusations against Rush Limbaugh are not just from the liberal media. Limbaugh is accused by his own utterances.

Limbaugh is a sexist. Examples of this are his attacks against Sandra Fluke, his comments about “femi-nazis” and his opposition to things like equal pay for equal work. He is a racist. His racist attacks on a black quarterback, Donovan McNabb, forced him to resign from his position at ESPN. While he claims he is not a racist, look at his own words at AddictingInfo.org. He is a college dropout who did not finish a year in college, a convicted felon and drug addict who forced his housekeeper to buy oxycodone for him.

People who listen to him and agree with him are ignorant and lack understanding of the world outside their own prejudices.

George Rose, Rocklin