Letters for November 24, 2011

Letter of the week

No failure here

Re “Fail” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Feature, November 17):

Mr. Garvin’s cover story was partially titled “Why critics say Sacramento city school reform could fail.” I feel compelled to push forward the counter balance question: Why will these reform efforts succeed?

As principal of Jedidiah Smith Elementary, one of the six original priority schools, I take umbrage with the tone and intent of the story. After reading and rereading the article, it seems that many voices were mysteriously absent (or were they purposely absent?) from the conversation. Did Mr. Garvin think that it was unnecessary to interview my teachers, who work relentlessly to move forward this agenda of social justice? What about our community partners? What about our parents? What about our students? Don’t their opinions matter as much as union leaders and disgruntled teachers?

I invite Mr. Garvin and any of any critics of the priority-school reforms to come to Jedediah Smith and actually speak directly with our teachers, staff, community partners, families and students. Drop by any time, any day; I will gladly show and discuss our challenges and successes. See for yourselves the actual products of our reform; improved student work, relentless dedication to learning, and inspired teachers, parents, and kids striving to make the benefits of our public-education system real and authentic for the most ignored and underserved community in our city.

One of the tenets we have learned from the Datawise process is “Description before analysis, analysis before prediction, prediction before evaluation.” Mr. Garvin’s article seems to have skipped all the way to prediction/evaluation, without accurately focusing on description. Shouldn’t we also ask those doing the work if the efforts are succeeding or failing? Once the whole story is told, I posit that priority schools may actually be underfunded.

In summation, a quote from Malcolm Gladwell comes to mind: “A prediction in a field where a prediction is not possible, is no more than a prejudice.”

Billy Aydlett principal
Jedidiah Smith Elementary

Sacramento and Laura’s Law

Re “Laura’s Law languishes” by Amy Yannello (SN&R Frontlines, November 17):

Thank you for a terrific piece with previously unreported and important information. I did not know that Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg was against prioritizing funding treatment for those who are most ill: potentially violent people with untreated severe mental illness.

The “voluntary” system he defends is wasting [Mental Health Service Act] money on massive anti-stigma campaigns and support groups, while people with severe and persistent mental illness go untreated, go homeless, go to the morgue. In times of tight budgets, government should be prioritizing, and it was disappointing to hear someone so against that. I hope the Sacramento Mental Health Board will understand that mental-health program directors and recipients of their largesse will oppose Laura’s Law implementation for fear that it will, to a certain degree, require them to stop excluding the most severely ill from their programs.

A study published earlier this month in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology found a direct correlation between laxity of civil-commitment laws and number of homicides. Sacramento’s laissez faire approach to severe mental illness should be as criminal as the needless violence it leads to.

D.J. Jaffe
via email

Mass transit, not Prius

Re “Pious, Prius” by Auntie Ruth (SN&R An Inconvenient Ruth, November 10):

This article does great service in pointing out how the use of less gas leads to unnecessary driving and thus leads to more pollution, an ominous future for the U.S.

Allow this retired chemistry professor to emphasize that even without the ominous future to come, wherever a Toyota Prius or any other electric car is used to feel that one is not polluting during the time only electrical power is used is deluding oneself, because the power must be generated somewhere. The generation of electrical power uses fossil fuel. So we are sold the proverbial snake oil.

To avoid the vicious cycle, the salvation is in mass transit, not Prius or other single-occupant vehicles. We need complete overhaul of attitudes and adopt the inconvenience of having compatriots in the form of other humans.

Brahama D. Sharma

Why not show ID?

Re “‘No’ on voter ID” (SN&R Editorial, November 10):

Your editorial, if followed, will open the way to voter fraud and dishonest elections.

What is such a big deal about showing your voter ID? I’m poor and elderly, and when I visit my doctor’s office, I have to show a photo ID. And if I board a plane, I have to show my photo ID. When I go shopping, I show my photo ID if I want to use a credit card for my purchases.

I know you want honest elections, and one of the best ways to make sure the election is clean and honest is to have all voters show their photo ID when we go to the polls to vote. Regardless if you’re a Democrat, a Republican or some other party, it’s just common sense to be in favor of all voters showing they really are who they say they are.

Carl Burton

Safety, please

Re “Under pressure” by Lory Gil (SN&R Arts&Culture, November 10):

Canning and preserving is something I do all year long, and I love to hear that more and more people are becoming involved.

At the end of every canning party, you want to be sure your product is safe to eat and pass along to others. I noticed some inaccuracies in the information that was provided as far as the methods of canning were concerned and the length of time they take in order to destroy microbes. Anyone taking the time and using their creative energies to produce canned goods should invest in something like the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving, which contains tested and recommended recipes, as well as basic info about the science behind the canning process.

Sacramento and El Dorado counties both offer classes to the public during summer months taught by master food preservers in conjunction with UC Cooperative Extension. Reliable information about canning and preserving can also be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation, Washington State University website (http://foodsafety. wsu.edu/consumers/factsheet4.htm) and via your local master food preservers http://cecentralsierra. ucanr.org/Master_Food_Preservers.)

Deb Ray
master food preserver

Farewell, Diane

We would like to note the passing of a wonderful human being and loyal SN&R distribution driver, B. Diane Rubenstein. Diane, 63, worked for us for more than seven years. She passed away unexpectedly in her sleep at her home in Rancho Cordova on November 12. An active member of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, Diane spent many hours volunteering at the Sacramento SPCA, at local food banks and with organizations that help feed the hungry in our community. We will miss Diane, a valued member of the SN&R family. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the River City Food Bank, 1322 27th Street, Sacramento, CA, 95816. Call (916) 446-2627 for more information about donations.