News & Opinion » Letters

Letters for the Week of February 1, 2012

Readers sound off on the Jean Quan recall, Plum and Make Westing's prices, and 924 Gilman.


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I think the worst abusers of the "racist" term are those who throw around the accusation for their own publicity and financial gain.

I have been happy to see recent statistics that show, for example, that most people of color surveyed say they have never been the victim of "racism." Seems the more common victims nowadays are those accused.

Gary Baker, San Leandro


"Twenty-Five Years of 924 Gilman," Music, 1/11

Here's to Another 25

I have to say, reading Dan Abbott's recollection of an "art" gig at the Gilman was absolutely the funniest thing I've seen in weeks. Tears of hilarity were running down my cheeks. Great collection of stories. I was one of those parents dropping off kids at the place, and I applaud the community of volunteers that ran the only cool evening venue for those under 21. Berkeley rules.

Lincoln Cushing, Berkeley 

"The Local Arts Conservatory," Education and Careers, 1/11

Get Involved

The excitement of a vibrant, full-blown arts community is certainly in evidence as you take your first steps down an Oakland School of the Arts hallway. And we're acutely aware of the heartbreak of arts programs disappearing from other public schools, particularly schools full of under-resourced student populations. Our WriterCoach Connection program serves four Oakland high schools with a trained community-volunteer writer coach for every student in a grade level — every tenth grader at Media Academy, Mandela High School, and Architecture Academy on the Fremont Federation of Schools campus in the Fruitvale, and, for the first time this year I'm delighted to say, Oakland School for the Arts. One-on-one attention from writer coaches, all year long, has generated remarkable increases in writing achievement at the Fremont Federation schools, and we look forward to more of same as we work with every ninth grader starting this spring at OSA, where the administration and parent community have worked hard to raise funding for the program to make sure that the school's high academic standards remain on a par with those in the arts.

Even in the face of the loss of arts funding, we can work to set high academic standards and generate increased academic achievement at all public schools with dedicated and consistent involvement from members of our communities. And when you take a closer look, you might be surprised at the sophistication of the curriculum at schools like Media, Mandela, and Architecture. We shouldn't be surprised at the supreme dedication and skill of so many of the teachers and administrators in these schools, and at what we can help them achieve for all students with focused community support.

We are training community volunteers as writer coaches right now for all four of these Oakland schools. You don't need to be a writer, editor, or teacher to do this. The training is free, and after two three-hour training sessions, you can be sitting next to a student at OSA, Media, Mandela, or Architecture, guiding him or her to more effective writing and critical thinking skills. It's something tangible you can do to raise achievement on the academic side, to help offset the disappearance of arts programs that has put so much pressure on admission to OSA, where the competition to get in the door has become understandably intense.

For more information or to register for writer-coach training, go to Our coaches call it the volunteer opportunity of a lifetime.

Robert Menzimer

Executive Director, Community Alliance for Learning


"Brown's Plan Threatens Climate Change Goals," Eco Watch, 1/11

Taxes Are the Answer

Another "victory" for the tax-haters. Our governor and legislators need to build voters' confidence in their ability to spend state money wisely, and the rest of us need to convince ourselves that tax increases are good for the state, our environment, our cities, and our schools.

Will Leben, Emeryville


"Coach Collins," Feature, 1/4

Don't Cut Coach Carter Down

It is obvious that the writer of this article did not research the life of former Richmond High basketball coach Ken Carter. I have known Carter since 1989, ten years before the famous lockout. In 1989, Coach Carter was operating a sporting goods store near Richmond High and regularly donating jerseys and equipment to the teams in the Richmond community. Additionally, he hired and mentored high school students to work in his store, teaching them about business and showing them silk-screening. He also donated equipment and T-shirts to teachers for their classrooms. I know because I was one of the teachers he has assisted through the years with supplies.

It is ludicrous to bash someone who has contributed to his community for years to elevate another individual.

For anyone who has followed Coach Carter, they know he has opened a school in Texas, at his own expense, to help at-risk students. Does it matter where he helps the youth of America? Anyone who has ever met Coach Carter can attest to the fact that he is uplifting and positive. Obviously, this is what the news media discovered about him and what propelled him into the limelight.

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