Dozier issues not connected to race
This is in response to the recent guest commentary written by Odessa Lefrancois, regarding Antioch's Dozier-Libbey Medical High School.
I'm not sure why Lefrancois has opted to play the race card. This has nothing to do with race. Enrollment at DLMHS is based on a lottery that is open to all students in the Antioch Unified School District. I'm not sure if
Lefrancois' goal is to dumb-down the curriculum for everyone, or if she is suggesting that the curriculum is somehow different for African-Americans, Hispanics, etc.
There is no question that DLMHS is a challenging school. Some students can't hack it and go back to Deer Valley or Antioch high schools. Plenty of students, of all races, decide that DLMHS is not a good fit for them and they decide to transfer to a school with less stringent academic standards. To somehow frame this as racism is not fair to the hardworking staff, teachers and principal at DLMHS.
If you were to attend Harvard or Princeton and found that the academic requirements were too high, you wouldn't complain about fairness. You would either hit the books or hit the road. Rigid academic requirements are what make for a challenging educational experience and that is why a degree from those institutions is so valued. The same principle applies to DLMHS.
She goes on to mention that '"If you do not fit into that mold, you are classified as sick and recommended for "curing." The commentary also states: "This is a room where students who get below-average grades are sent while other students are having lunch." I think Lefrancois is referring to "Cure," which was a class, much like a study hall, that all students were required to take. It was renamed to "Advisory" well over a year ago. It has nothing to do with punishment. That is just irresponsible.
Lefrancois states that DLMHS has failed woefully at supporting the average and below-average student. Unfortunately, the facts contradict that argument. DLMHS boasts above-average test scores in virtually every category, from every demographic and ethnic group in their constituency.
There is a reason why many minority students at the DLMHS charter petition hearing vouched for the teaching staff, shared their experiences of how these teachers reached out to them and provided extra help to them. I don't think it is racism. Lefrancois needs to get her facts straight before she leaps to invalid conclusions. Ignorance will not help her cause.
Provide bags to customers
It's time to send a message to the merchants in the city of Pittsburg. Providing bags to customers for their purchases, is part of the cost of doing business.
As a consumer, I have to keep reminding myself not to shop in Pittsburg any longer. Pittsburg stores want me to think that the plastic bags, which the city of Pittsburg no longer allows them to provide, were part of the cost of doing business, but the paper bags I must pay for.
If grocery stores can provide paper bags, why do Pittsburg department stores think I should pay for paper bags, which they should provide for the customer? I feel so strongly about my paper bags, I grocery shop at Raley's because they provide the paper bags with the handles. I suggest merchants compete for my business, rather than charging me a "per bag fine/fee" for shopping at their store.
Please join me in reminding the Pittsburg merchants that they need our business, not the other way around.
AUSD not telling whole story
I give the Antioch Unified School District a grade of "D" for their efforts to torpedo the Dozier Libby Charter petition from the teachers.
When I went to a community meeting last week to learn the pros and cons about the issue, only the cons were presented.
The AUSD seems to have done everything it can to gag the teachers.
The district had an opportunity to help educate the community, to provide all sides of the issue and they failed.
While the district complains that the teachers brought forth this petition with no prior knowledge by the district management, they turn around and submit their own petition for a fake charter to muddle the issue, just two days before the vote by the board.
When 23 of 26 teachers petition for a change, it's at least worthy of consideration.
Are there management issues that the community should be aware of?
Maybe the district is acting in its own interests and not the students'?
There's more to thi story and I'd like to hear it.
Solve own water issues
Recently I went on a cruise ship to the Caribbean. Our first port of call was Aruba. It has an interesting history. When the Spanish "discovered" Aruba, they shipped off the few natives to be slaves elsewhere, then used it as a pasture for horses and cattle. Aruba is a desert island. The only things that thrive there are cactus, thorn bushes, and iguanas.
Now Aruba is a thriving tourist destination with the latest fashion marts, luxury hotels, and beautiful white sand beaches. What changed Aruba from a desert island to a port of call for many luxury-liner cruisers?
Water. They solved their water and electrical problems by building a desalinization plant.
Why can't the people of Southern California solve their water problems with desalinization plants? Historically, their entire solution is to take someone else's water until they drain it dry.
Now, they want to take Northern California's water. Water we don't have.
It is time to put desalinization at the top of the list to solve the water problem.
Veterans finally recognized
As an Army veteran, I was shocked to read in the Times that there was a period in our nation's history when Latino, black and Jewish veterans were prevented from receiving the Medal of Honor.
How could we turn our backs on any military person when they defended our freedoms at the risk of their lives?
The White House was right in finally correcting this terrible injustice. Last month, 24 veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam were honored with this distinguished medal. Sadly, only three in the group are still alive.
Desalination plants possible
Modern desalinization plants are being deployed worldwide in parched, densely populated areas that lie near oceans and reliable energy supplies.
Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates thrive in a desert on desalted seawater. Australia is building plants in response to its long-term drought.
Modern plants are efficient, producing potable water for perhaps 20 to 50 percent higher cost than current captured rainwater sources. A gallon of gasoline can purify over 100 gallons of pure water from seawater.
The environmental effects can be significant, but are manageable with careful seawater inlet design and dilution of the warm brine effluent. Desalinization is a natural cogeneration partner with new electric power plants where the low temperature power plant exhaust coolant can flash distill seawater efficiently.
The brackish water of the San Francisco Bay is an ideal low-cost water source. It is time to consider this new fresh water source to complement water storage and upcoming strong water conservation measures in California.
Children need to play in parks
I heartily agree with the recent East County Times article reporting that the mental-health needs of children are met by spending generous amounts of time outdoors in nature.
I've spent my entire 30-year career serving the mental-health needs of medical families and children, among the poorest in California. Whenever I advise outdoor time, the response is inevitably that families are afraid to let their children out-of-doors. Their fears are well-founded.
When I planned day-treatment activities for an adolescent boys' group, I chose the nontraditional approach of exposing them to nature.
Once a week, to learn community responsibility and provide a place for children, we would clean different inner-city parks. We would find discarded condoms, used hypodermic needles and pornography. Sadly, those parks are denizens of gang members, drug users and predators.
Since children are our future, we must provide suitable parks in which children can play. This would need a commitment from city planners, law enforcement, local communities and adults, particularly parents, to provide appropriate supervision.
Let's take back our parks and return them to the children!
James A. Erickson
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