Letters for December 23, 2010

All in the family

Re “Ripped apart at the seams” (Cover story, by Meredith J. Cooper, Dec. 16):

My heart was so overjoyed to see this article in print! I too have had such a battle. My heart breaks daily for my grandchildren and the injustice they have suffered! Everyone thinks that just because CPS said it, it must be so. How wrong they can be, but you don’t know who CPS truly is until you yourself have experienced them!

We need them to be made accountable and no longer able to hide behind this “confidentiality” clause! We need a radical reform of this present system. Children are not merchandise and have far greater value than any dollar amount that can be placed upon them.

I hear so many foster parents say how these children are their “livelihood” or “income.” My grandchildren, and others’ children and grandchildren should never be about someone’s livelihood! What has our country come to? How can this kind of thing be happening to our precious families?

Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this more known!

Susan Taylor

My grandson was nearly 2 years old when his lovely mother brought him to my home for our first meeting on Christmas Day. After that, I got to spend time with him once a week for about six months. Today, we spend time together three days a week. Anyone would be challenged to find two people with a more special bond than my grandson and me.

In the Perrys’ case, their kin was taken away. It is not their or the child’s fault that he has spent most of his young life away from them. In California family law it states that grandparents have rights regardless of how much time (if any) they have spent with the child.

I know the Perry family personally. Whenever I bump into Rita on her way to work, she stops to dote over my grandson. She’s a most lovely human being, always taking an interest in my grandson’s day.

How anyone could deprive her and her grandson of the right to a relationship is beyond belief. How is it that a judge who is an adoptive parent herself (see Chico E-R) is even on this case?

Sharon Anne Cooper

Editor’s note: For more on this subject, see the Guest Comment.

Lessons from the firehouse

Re “The little station that could” (Cover story, by Evan Tuchinsky, Dec. 9):

Your article about the El Medio Fire Department was inspiring and reminded me about the myriad challenges all firefighters face on an ongoing basis. It also motivated me to write this letter.

A number of weeks ago at a Chico City Council meeting, we had a discussion about contracting out for a portion of the city’s fire services. My intent was to make a point that our city’s fire department is the only local agency trained fully in a municipal model of firefighting. Other agencies in the area are focused on different models and, in my view, since these would not be interchangeable with a municipal firefighting model, we would need to consider this as we contemplated any future changes.

At the time, in an attempt to illustrate my point, I made a comment that I deeply regret by suggesting such a change would be like putting the cooks from McDonald’s in the kitchen at Christian Michael’s and expecting the same results.

My remark was completely insensitive and suggested one operation was better than the other. In making this comparison I devalued the work of the men and women who are dedicated to their jobs and put their lives on the line every day on behalf of the people in our community.

Although I cannot take back my words, I can offer this sincere apology to the men and women from these agencies and thank all of them for what they provide to the North State.

Mary Flynn
Member, Chico City Council

Thank you for the article about the El Medio Fire District. What a great, local example of resilience.

Resilience includes “doing it yourself” and “making do.” Mr. Ohlhausen and his crew do this in their fundraising, new-employee training, door-to-door vote-getting and working with salaries that allow them to do what they want with their lives. The ways they work with other community members sets an example for all of us.

“The little station that could” offers a hopeful message about surviving and thriving in these times. The article encourages patience, creativity, acceptance and helpfulness that can build sustainable and resilient relationships and lives.

Lucille Lauducci

The need for fresh air

Re “Cutting-edge classrooms” (GreenWays feature, by Robert Speer, Dec. 16):

I was very glad to learn of the care and consideration for the environment that went into designing and building Chico High School’s new structure. However, when recently visiting some of my former English teachers who have moved into the new building, I was amazed when they told me that the beautiful windows don’t open.

I understand that windows must be well-insulated in order to keep the innovative heating-and-cooling system efficient; however, that heating-and-cooling system is only as good as the air it circulates. No matter how spacious the classroom is, the air becomes thick and muggy after only a few hours without ventilation.

People are much more willing to work if they have fresh air to breathe.

Devin S. McBain

Editor’s note: We shared Mr. McBain’s concerns with Mike Weissenborn, the Chico Unified School District’s facilities planning and construction supervisor. He said the building’s ventilation system introduces large amounts of outside air continuously and is tied to sensors that recognize when carbon dioxide is building up and open up the system even further, bringing in more outside air. The net effect is that the rooms receive more fresh air than they would with an open window.

Charters and choice

Re “Rights and responsibilities” (Letters, by Dick Cory, Dec. 16):

My apologies, Dick Cory, but there is nothing in my letter (“It’s all about choice,” Dec. 9) that suggests parents should be fearful of enrolling their students in traditional public schools. Many schools are doing great things, and I have the highest regard for educators in all schools and admire your 36 years of teaching service.

The fact remains, however, that the traditional public school system has challenges. The achievement gap, over-reliance on standardized testing, and decline in fine-arts and vocational offerings are a few of the things that have their genesis in that system.

Families have the right and should have the opportunity to choose a school that best meets the needs of their children. If that adversely affects the system, then the system needs to adjust. Even CUSD recognizes the importance of choice, as evidenced by its magnet schools (Open Structure, Spanish Immersion, Academics Plus), the Form 10 process, and its new charter high school, Inspire.

If districts would allow more charter schools, then that choice and opportunity would be available to more students. Don’t blame the lack of available openings for students on the public charter school that is being successful. Traditional schools that are at capacity also have to turn students away and bus them to another school. And again, CCDS does not “require” parent participation. We encourage and facilitate parental involvement, as involved parents help their children learn.

The achievement gap is de-facto segregation—and there are many public charter schools, including several in Butte County, whose mission is to address that gap and better meet the needs of disadvantaged children.

Paul Weber

Editor’s note: Mr. Weber is principal of Chico Country Day School, a charter school.


In last week’s cover story (“Ripped apart at the seams,” by Meredith J. Cooper), Nancy Collins’ role in Butte College’s Foster/Kinship Program was incorrect. She is the facilitator of a support group run by the program. We apologize for the error.—ed.