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February 04, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, February 04, 2005

Letters to the Editor Letters to the Editor (February 04, 2005)


Higher density homes and Mayfield site

Editor:

After reading your most recent article on Mayfield, I wanted to write and share my opinion. As a current homeowner in Mountain View and a former owner in a high-density, transit-oriented housing development, I know that high-density homes can be done in a manner that adds value to the neighborhood and city.

I am glad to see that there is broad support for this project from the business community, environmental groups and local residents. This is a great opportunity to welcome more families to our community. David Jackson Harpster Drive

Strong support for Mayfield housing

Editor:

The Mayfield project is very important to the city and neighborhood, and the higher the number of houses or condos, the better because the shortage of housing in Mountain View is very high and demand is very high as well. It would be a mistake if this site were not used to develop a high number of housing buildings.

The opponents from the nearby Monta Loma neighborhood are thinking about how high their home prices will go. They would like to see their house price double again in the next few years as it did in the past. Such an attitude is unfair for many neighbors who have been waiting for affordable housing. It's not a matter of how loud the voice. It's a matter of healthy growth in the community.

In the Bay Area, especially Mountain View, there is a very high shortage of affordable housing. The fact is, population is growing; demand is growing; and high density housing is the trend of future.

The more housing or condos built, the more taxes for the city and the more funds for the schools, which is very good. I have talked with a lot of other friends and neighbors, and they all strongly support building a high-density housing project at this site. Jason Jia California Street

Sex offender article incomplete, misleading

Editor:

I am a Huff School parent and live down the street from the registered sex offender mentioned in your Jan. 14 article about the Megan's Law Web site. Your article is both incomplete and misleading.

First, I resent that the Voice chose to report on the presence of sex offenders in Mountain View entirely within the context of the Mountain View-Whisman School District.

The map on the Megan's Law Web site shows registered sex offenders throughout the area. Some live near St. Joseph's Elementary School, the Girls' Middle School and Santa Rita Elementary and Egan Middle Schools in Los Altos. There are dozens of preschools, day care centers, parks and playgrounds in the area as well.

Did the Voice contact private school administrators, preschool teachers and day-care providers for this story? Soccer and Little League coaches? Mountain View Parks and Recreation? What about new parents giving birth at El Camino Hospital?

Second, by framing the presence of sex offenders as a threat to the safety of public school students, the article perpetuates the very myths that the Megan's Law Web site attempts to dispel. Here is an excerpt from the Web site, "Megan's Law: Facts about Sex Offenders," at www.meganslaw.ca.gov/facts.htm:

Let us see how much we know -- and see how much of what we think has been based on the myths we have all heard about sexual assault and sex offenders.

Most men who commit sexual offenses do not know their victim.

False. Ninty percent of child victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member.

Most child sexual abusers find their victims by frequenting such places as schoolyards and playgrounds.

False. Most child sexual abusers offend against children whom they know and with whom they have established a relationship.

The intent of the Megan's Law Web site is to provide information to the community, not to scare parents away from public schools. This article is yet another example of the Voice's biased reporting about our public schools. Robin Iwai Carmelita Drive

Mother has concerns about school security

Editor:

I have some grave concerns regarding a quote in your recent issue of the Voice , regarding the registered sex offenders living in the vicinity of our public schools.

Dr. Alicia Henderson, principal of Landels Elementary, was quoted as stating that she "watches her school's campus like a hawk." Quite frankly, I feel this statement is untrue on many fronts. Allow me to give you a brief example.

My son is a fourth-grader at this public school and has recently been picked up from school on a daily basis by my cousin, who is not authorized on his enrollment card to remove him from the campus. Furthermore, my cousin also has been picking up my niece the past few weeks, and again, no documentation is on her registration. It seems that if my cousin were a sex offender, these children may be in danger, and the administrators have no knowledge this situation is taking place.

On a different subject, my son has a very grave illness that is documented on his registration card, but the school administrators have never inquired about any special protocols, necessary medications or precautions that may need to be addressed to ensure my son's health and safety. Does this sound like the attentive administrator that Henderson claims herself to be in the media? Rebecca Sanders-Jasper Sylvan Avenue

District plan lacks thoroughness

Editor:

The superintendent's proposed plan to restructure the Mountain View-Whisman School District goes far beyond the recommendation of the School Closure Task Force and has been done with too little input to meet the needs of Mountain View families.

The plan appears to unfairly impact the poorest schools and families in the district by requiring them to move. A recent Crittenden newsletter indicates that children do better in school when their parents participate in the school, yet this plan makes participation harder for the less-mobile parents of our least affluent families.

Also at risk is accountability for school performance. It appears that API growth targets are not set for schools experiencing a significant change in a school's population. The proposed plan would result in significant population changes at almost every school in the district, potentially resulting in few API growth targets achieved at our schools.

Is forced migration of students necessary for desegregation?

The San Jose Unified School District, faced with a 1984 court desegregation order, achieved desegregation by establishing a series of innovative magnet programs at several schools and encouraging voluntary desegregation through parental choice of the programs.

We already have wonderful programs at three schools, namely CEL, PACT and Dual Language Immersion. We could establish magnet programs at other schools. For example, programs focusing on music, math/science, business, language arts or back-to-basics could be spread around the district. An intensive English program should also be part of the mix.

The programs could be created by expanding partnerships with local arts groups, tech companies and Junior Achievement. We can try to pursue funding available for magnet schools in a federally approved desegregation plan. This could bring more money to the district, achieve desegregation through popular choice programs and attract more families to the district. In Silicon Valley, one of the most innovative and creative places in the world, we need innovation from our school district.

The recent district reorganization proposal has too many unanswered questions. Our community deserves a less disruptive plan that preserves accountability for our schools and takes into account the needs of all Mountain View families and teachers. Yvonne Wilson San Pierre Way

MV-Whisman district hasn't kept promises

Editor:

After reading of the plans by the district to close Slater Elementary school and restructure Castro Elementary School, I have to say that I am greatly saddened by the news, but not at all surprised.

Since 1996, when my son began attending school in the Mountain View School District, I began observing that year after year, the district has struggled to live within its means, whether in good economic times or bad. The district has repeatedly played musical chairs with teachers and students, moving them from room to room and from school to school, often in the middle of the school year.

They have laid off teachers, cut back on vital learning materials, continued to increase fourth- and fifth-grade class sizes, and continued to decrease support for our community's children and teachers.

The promise of the merger of the Mountain View and Whisman School districts was, in part, to create a more financially healthy school district. We have yet to see this come to fruition.

Then, passage of a parcel tax was "sold" to the community as a way to fill the gap so that such a closure would not have to happen. This was only one of the promises that was made during both of the campaigns for the parcel tax. It is clear to me that the voters who favored the parcel tax and the community as a whole were duped. It is time to realize that the school district is no longer capable of living within its means.

As a parent and a taxpayer, I am livid that I am paying more taxes for a school district that can't seem to keep its promises and live within its means. I hope and pray that many other parents and taxpayers are equally livid. Hopefully, the community will turn these feelings into positive actions. Whatever actions are taken, they must lead to our school district being capable of educating our children while living within its means.

In the meantime, I will continue to question whether my children should ever again attend school in the Mountain View-Whisman School District. Michael Speer Dalma Drive

Yick made necessary decisions

Editor:

I attended the Mountain View-Whisman school board meeting at which the school closure task force and Superintendent Eleanor Yick presented information and findings about closing Slater Elementary School. After listening to the hours of heartfelt testimony from predominantly Slater and Castro school parents and staff, I would like to make an important point.

Superintendent Eleanor Yick has fallen on her sword to make a painful decision for the district. She should get our thanks, not insults. She was willing to make the hard call, clearing the way for us to hire a new superintendent with a relatively clean slate. Would we ask a newly hired superintendent to close a school as their first official duty?

I now believe closure of a school is inescapable. If we do not get our financial house in order, it will be virtually impossible to recruit a high-quality candidate willing to step into the present fiscal maelstrom.

Now we need to rally as a community broader than one or two schools and restructure our treasured school system with the resources at hand. We need to focus on solutions, not accusations. Cynthia Rust-Greaves Mercy Street

Why spend abroad when our schools are closing?

Editor:

I am displeased with the way resources within our country are being used. Specifically, I am concerned about the additional $80 billion President Bush is requesting from Congress to support the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why are we spending so much money in a foreign country when right here in the United States, schools are being closed for lack of funding?

The Mountain View-Whisman school board has voted to close Slater Elementary School for lack of funding. This will be the second elementary school closure in this area of Mountain View in the last decade. The students from Slater will have to be bused to another school, causing overcrowding and creating added strain on teachers and administrators.

Why can't our political leaders put as much effort towards solving the lack of money in education as they do trying to democratize another country? I propose that every citizen should be able to decide where he or she wants his or her tax money spent. This way, those people who support the war can pay for it.

If you want to democratize Iraq, then write a check to Halliburton. Those of us who support schools will chose to give money to schools. I want the money I pay in federal taxes, which is now being used (or at least mortgaged) to support the war in Iraq, to go towards keeping my local schools open. The U.S. Congress and Senate have given the current administration unlimited resources to carry out this Iraq experiment. Not good. Chuck Muir Emily Drive

Legislating against stupidity in eye of beholder

Editor:

Quoting Mountain View City Council member Matt Pear in a meeting on smoking in public: "You're asking the government to legislate against stupidity."

No, Mr. Pear, that would not be possible as evidenced by your offensive remark.

Any possibility these same people are downtown spending money, supporting businesses and keeping these businesses alive -- and contributing to Mountain View's tax base?

Has anyone considered putting out ashtrays to cut down on the mess, or would that be too simple?

While venting, I'd like to touch on the Shoreline Amphitheatre tickets. It's robbery, plain and simple. It's the taxpayer's money and should go into the pot. How about renegotiating the contract, with the dollar amount of tickets going to the city and the right of the city manager to attend and inspect?

I found Council member Mike Kasperzak's remark about Council member Greg Perry's reluctance to keep his tickets repulsive and the city council's snubbing of Perry for vice mayor sophomoric at best.

How did we ever decide to allow seven people to represent approximately 71,000 people? I do not know Perry, but I did vote for him and think it's time for this personal vendetta against him to stop. I'm so disgusted with this elitist council, I'd be happy to sign a recall measure for every one but Perry. Jean Sanders Miremonte Avenue


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