Letters for November 4, 2010

Days of the Dead in America

Re “That’s the spirit” (Cover story, by Marianne Werner, Oct. 28):

Thank you to Marianne Werner and the CN&R for her account of los Días de los Muertos. She suggests that the celebration of our ongoing relationships with loved ones, whether they are living still or not, may be an observance for which we in North America may be ready.

I have long thought along similar lines, and this fall have committed to bringing together a community-wide multicultural project marking the Days of the Dead as a culminating event for next year’s Artoberfest. What better way to embrace the many communities of Chico in an artful way?

What could be richer than to weave together the creative and cultural strands of performance, public arts, fashion, music, food, and traditional seasonal observances, while remembering all those who have come before us?

I’m ready, Marianne, and I call on friends and neighbors, old and new, to join me in making it so.

Malama MacNeil

‘That is not Montessori!’

Re “Another charter, another crisis” (Newslines, by Leslie Layton, Oct. 28):

I have taught Montessori here in Chico for the past 20-plus years at the Montessori preschool and also at the Montessori Elementary school.

Montessori Elementary was run by what I would call “very Montessori” staff for more than 20 years. Over those years, as things evolved, so did the school. What parents need to try to understand here is that Montessori is never going to be the same from school to school. It is a philosophy that opens itself to interpretation from the teachers and, in this case, the board (few Montessori trained, by the way). I have seen Montessori schools that are very strict and rigid—not what I interpret Montessori to be, but that’s just me.

I saw this [controversy] coming last year when Montessori Elementary was closing. Because they couldn’t convert the school, they chose to bring in teachers from out of state and even employ teachers who have not completed their Montessori training.

Montessori philosophy would never accept a teacher “teasing” a child for any reason, under any interpretation. That is not Montessori!

Kristy Cowell

Unsafe at Sherwood

We came to Sherwood Montessori with high hopes. We were excited to be spending another year with all our old friends from the Montessori Elementary.

Unfortunately, this excitement was short-lived. Since the beginning of school, our child has been called a “pig,” a “slob” and “weird” and shamed and humiliated in front of her class more than once by her teacher. When we confronted the teacher and school’s director, the teacher apologized and they both promised the behavior would improve.

We removed our child from class until we had observed the class for more than six hours, at which time we decided to put our child back in the class. Two weeks later we pulled her out of Sherwood Montessori for good.

She was called “weird” again by the teacher and, on three separate occasions, said that the teacher had threatened to “crush,” “pinch” and “hurt” various students. Our child said, “You know, Mom, the teacher behaves much better when adults are in the classroom.”

Concerned for the safety of the children, we filed an immediate complaint with the school’s director. We were told that we would have 15 minutes five days later to discuss our concerns.

Throughout this process we filed numerous complaints with Sherwood’s director and the Board of Directors and spoke of our concerns at a Board of Directors meeting in early September. We sent letters to [Superintendent Kelly Staley] and CUSD. We spoke with John Bohannon, the charter-school liaison. In the end, we did everything we could to alert the school that inappropriate and damaging behaviors were occurring in the classroom.

In our opinion, our children were not being provided a safe learning environment.

Chris and Jacqueline Yourch

CARB’s ‘fabricated science’

Re “New life for old engines” (Greenways, by Robert Speer, Oct. 28):

The main problem I and many other diesel owners have is the California Air Resources Board mandating these regulations using fabricated science with no input allowed from the private sector. All of CARB’s numbers have been proven wrong, and since they have been brought to the attention of lawmakers and taxpayers, CARB has put off all off-road diesel regulation until 2014.

It has also been proven that there is no connection between diesel exhaust and lung damage, even though Mary Nichols, the chairwoman of CARB, claims 9,200 people a year die from diesel exhaust emissions in California. Just a few short months ago she claimed more than 18,000 people died in California, but she reduced the numbers after being proven the number was false.

Remember one thing: CARB is run by non-elected officials. These people have never owned or operated a business or owned or operated what they are regulating, so why do you take what they say as the truth?

Frank Cook

Misleading election petitions

On my way to the store today, a paid petition circulator accosted me, wanting me to sign a petition “so that we can have city and county elections on the same ballot.” Of course, this is not what the petition is about.

The far-right, big-development interests have gotten frustrated at how hard it is for them to win elections when lots of people vote, so—as usual—their solution is to try to have fewer people voting.

Their argument is that university students should not be able to vote in our local elections. They’re wrong on that, too, but that’s not the real reason they are spending all this money. They know as well as I do that the impact of the student vote in local elections is minimal. They know that primary elections, especially in this district, are low turnout elections that skew conservative, and so they are trying to rig the game so that they can elect our City Council with only minority support.

Don’t be fooled, and don’t sign their petitions.

David Welch

Open public-art debate

I have served on the Public Art Policy Revisions Ad-hoc Committee for the past three years. My goal has been to assist with drafting policy that is up-to-date, transparent and inclusive.

This is a critical juncture for public art in Chico. The press has recently exposed key issues, including lack of adherence to existing policy and the need for more commission oversight and public participation. There are some arts commissioners and members of the public, including artists, who are speaking up in support of a fair, open process. Many who are speaking up feel that they may be risking future opportunities and social support.

Current practices have promoted exclusivity behind the scenes. There is a need for user-friendly policy with checks and balances. Adherence to such policy can result in projects that are closer to market value in cost.

Giving the public a greater platform for participation, and giving more artists the opportunity to participate, will bring glory and a true rich visual diversity to our city. Please support the effort to better represent the pubic and the arts community by joining in this democratic dialogue.

Jennifer Oman-Payne