Letters for June 28, 2001

The wrath of Douyon

Re “The Power Principal” by Stephen James (SN&R Cover, June 21):

You posed the question: “Is Andre Douyon the future of education reform or an out-of-control autocrat?” Ask anyone in my class, and you will overwhelmingly hear the latter.

I am a student at National University in the teacher-credentialing program. To our misfortune, myself and about 20 other students were subjected to the demented style of Mr. Douyon last month as he half-heartedly instructed our course, “English Language Development in Content Areas.” The structure of our program is that we complete each course in a month, over eight nights of class. We were disappointed that our instructor missed three out of the eight class periods, but later discovered that we were much less happy when he did decide to show up.

Mr. Douyon forgot to check his ego at the door, and class discussions often centered on his disagreement with a student and his vindictiveness in proving that he was always right. He gave assignments with no clear guidelines, and his grades seemed to be drawn out of thin air. A class full of college graduates was quite shocked when we all received Ds on our midterms! When challenged, he would not back down. As students in education, we have learned that if an entire class fails to grasp the information presented, it must reflect on the teacher’s ability to teach. However, Mr. Douyon would not accept this responsibility, instead calling us a bunch of whiners and insulting our collective intelligence.

As a class, we felt that we had been deprived of adequate instruction, and quite frustrated at our lack of recourse. On reading the article in the Sacramento News & Review, we felt vindication, knowing that it was “not just us.” We join the teachers of Hiram Johnson and other schools that Mr. Douyon has terrorized in their struggle against this authoritarian megalomaniac. I hope that something is finally done to keep him out of our schools. As a future Sacramento teacher, I hope that I will have better experiences with my future principals than the unfortunate teachers who have had to deal with the wrath of Douyon.

Name withheld upon request
via e-mail

Make a nuisance

Re “Power 2 the People” by Steven T. Jones (SN&R Cover, June 14):

I appreciate your pursuing the power and electrical snafu. You periodically bring attention to subjects of real worth, such as this.

My question is: why are we only hearing about digging oil wells, a finite source of energy, and restarting nuclear plants, both messy and potentially permanent poison to our environment, yet the explanation of developing self-restoring energy sources such as wind and solar power are being aggressively ignored?

Consider this an invitation to all readers to write, e-mail, call our political representatives at all levels, generally making nuisances of ourselves, to encourage and promote the development and use of these free sources of power—solar and wind. If we all yell together collectively and loudly enough, we can out-short the corporate greed! We too can build a chain of voices heard around the world!

Jan Johnston

The absence of color

Re “Color Sensitivity” by Craig DeLuz (SN&R Guest Comment, June 14):

White privilege is many things. One of them is not thinking about the meaning of being white. Whiteness pays what W.E.B. Du Bois called a “public and psychological wage” in America. Publicly, being white includes avoiding police stops based on skin color. Non-white Americans live differently. Just ask them.

White privilege also means improved job opportunities. Nationwide, the May jobless rate was 4.4 percent—whites, 3.8 percent; blacks, 8.0 percent; and Latinos, 6.2 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Consider white privilege and the reforming of welfare recipients into hourly workers. “Compared to their white counterparts, black recipients were more likely to be required to take a pre-employment test, less likely to obtain employment regardless of educational background and less likely to report receiving job or educational information from caseworkers,” the American Friends Service Committee recently reported. Equality of job opportunity is a myth. White privilege matters when it comes to finding work.

Biologically, of course, there is a single race. We are all part of the human race.

Racial ideology is a different thing. Consider changing definitions of who is white and nonwhite.

Before World War I, America’s WASP elite viewed my immigrant ancestors from Southeastern Europe as racially inferior. Later, such new citizens “whitened.” Irish immigrants to America, once thought to be a separate race, also become white.

My point? Race doesn’t always have to be a skin color issue. Sacramento just seems that way in 2001.

Psychologically, white-skin privilege is very complex. In America, the enslaving of Africans and conquering of Natives created and sustained the idea of nonwhite people who deserve their oppression. Thus arose a definition of whiteness based on theft of labor and land from the darker-skinned “Other.”

Today, job insecurity is partly the story behind the acceptance of white privilege. Current appeals to economic class that sidestep white privilege and all that this conceals and reveals are limited.

White privilege is a misfortune and a part of economic class relations. Not one or the other, but both.

White Americans can’t be free if their nonwhite countrymen are unfree. Ending white privilege is a step toward true equality.

Seth Sandronsky
via e-mail

Bach to basics

Re “Bach to the Future” by Jeff Hudson (SN&R News, June 7):

Jeff Hudson made some pertinent observations in “Bach to the Future,” but his piece took no note of the quality, scandal-free Bach that has been offered to the community in the recent past. Would-be concert supporters (and bless them, they are certainly essential to a rich and healthy community musical life) have been alerted time and again, by those who are qualified to warn them, had they been ready and willing to listen, about the dubious Mr. Ha…cko. It is time now that he be relegated to the obscurity that, by most accounts, he so richly deserves. Let us forget him, and instead be ready to support again, should we have the opportunity, the Bach that was actually in our midst.

The Sacramento Area Bach Festival, under the direction of its able, selfless and community-spirited leader Mel Olson, gave us five seasons of Bach concerts—seasons which included a rich mix of solo performances, chamber music and orchestral concerts, and culminated each year in the presentation of one of the major Bach choral works, under the direction of the notable British conductor Peter Aston, assisted by renowned Baroque keyboardist and conductor Peter Seymour, soprano Yvonne Seymour and many other able musicians from here and abroad.

In exposing and weeding out the dubious, let us not forget to remember and honor the good that has been among us as well.

Daniel Kingman
via e-mail

That guest was nuts

Re “The Right to Just Say No” by Paul Mullinger (SN&R Guest Comment, June 7):

Mr. Mullinger is badly informed. Without the proper treatment with drugs and other therapies, the severely ill people are doomed.

I question the validity of the study that he quoted. People do not get better from schizophrenia. I have been in vocational rehabilitation for about 35 years. Unless these people get their condition stabilized, they often end up in jail or in a grave. Just giving them a place to stay and a job is not going to work unless they get control of the voices they hear and regain the ability to use their cognitive abilities. Saying many of these people are capable of informed consent is rubbish.

Medicine has come a long way since 1950 in diagnosing and treating various mental illnesses. Research has found that there is an organic basis for some illnesses. Pretending that those wandering the streets can give informed consent is obscene. Even next of kin cannot protect their loved ones and often have to let them wander the streets when the person does not go into treatment. We treat dogs and drug addicts better.

The bill requires an attorney to represent the person. The involuntary treatment is for 180 days and the person can petition to modify the court order.

In my opinion, God save us from ultra-right who do not want to pay for treatment and the ultra-left who have perverted notions and fears that cause others to suffer needlessly.

Charles R. Donaldson
via e-mail