Letters to the Editor

Letters from October 25, 2000

Cleaning House

Supervisors, your lease is up: Thanks for your thoughtful article ("It's the Housing, Stupid," Mecklin, Oct. 18). It is curious and interesting that the pro-development Brown majority has not exercised any reasonable plans for new housing (excluding the live-work ruse), yet has no trouble pushing through outrageous plans for office development. But as you note, they seem much more interested in courting the businesses that contribute enormous sums to gain their favor. This poorly planned wave of development and office space expansion is the heart of the problem and must be quickly curtailed. Otherwise San Francisco will have to live with this political machine's poor choices for many years, which will be much more apparent after the inevitable decline of the latest economic boom.

I cannot support a Board of Supervisors that exacerbates the problem by equally senseless housing development. Smart growth and planned development is the answer. I hope San Francisco's residents cast their votes this election for officials that look out for their best interests. We need a sea change in the coming election. Let's start by removing those who are selling out the city's future for their own short-term political gains.

David McClung
Russian Hill


Another Side to Balboa High

Getting the wrong picture: In response to the scathing and unbalanced picture of Balboa High School ("Hard Lessons," Oct. 18): Your article has damaged our reputation and caused us bad publicity at a time when we are on an upgrade and encouraging more students to come to Balboa.

We take great exception to the statement that Balboa is "a school long known as one of the worst in San Francisco." We have 8,000 alumni members (most of whom still live in San Francisco and the Bay Area) who will contest this statement. We also object to the artwork on the cover -- a rat chewing at the foot of a weird-looking student. We object to the fact that your reporter, Bernice Yeung, obviously decided to write in the "sensationalism" mode (as tabloids do), rather than to write about the good things that are happening at Balboa. We opened our doors to her, she interviewed students and faculty who are making great strides in improving Balboa. She selected a nice girl as an example, but one we do not believe is a "typical" student. Her needs are acknowledged, but this approach presented an unbalanced picture to the reader.

Your paper and Ms. Yeung have done a disservice to Balboa, its administration, its students, and our community.

Emily Powell
President, Balboa Alumni Association
Woodside

No nightmare:I'm glad the SF Weeklytook the time to portray the daily lives of real people at Balboa High School. Yet I think Bernice Yeung displayed irresponsible journalism in her quick assessment of "reconstitution," which overturned Balboa's faculty in 1996 and put into motion the very teacher turnover cited as one of Balboa's main current problems. Yeung suggests without evidence that if Balboa now seems bad, Balboa before reconstitution was a nightmare.

This portrayal is inaccurate and dangerous, though clichéd. As someone who managed to teach at Balboa both before and after reconstitution, I can say without question that Balboa before reconstitution was full of committed reformers -- just as it was afterward. Balboa's previous faculty, however, became the district's public scapegoats. The SFUSD never recognized Balboa's substantial pre-reconstitution reforms; ironically, after reconstitution, new Balboa teachers found themselves slowly reconstructing the very reforms that previous Balboa staff had spent years building, like academic "houses" and career academies.

The SFUSD itself, oddly, never seriously evaluated the effects of reconstituting Balboa. Instead, it promoted unsubstantiated celebration of its teacher replacement strategy to save face. With no obvious improvements from reconstitution (test scores, the district's knee-jerk measure of success, actually dropped due to the disruption, despite the new teachers' hard work), the district eventually abandoned the strategy. Other districts in the country, however, are blindly pursuing reconstitution as a panacea to punish "ghetto school" teachers, making the ramifications of amateur journalistic evaluations even more serious.

Yeung's article itself makes clear that the substantial resource disparities suffered by Balboa teachers and students have been the school's real "problem." Blaming vanished teachers who cannot defend themselves is a cheap way of analyzing "ghetto" schooling.

Name Withheld
Excelsior District


Asleep at the Wheels of Justice

The sound of one hand clapping:I was familiar with this story when it broke ("The Prosecution Rests ... and Rests," Bay View, Oct. 11, on the DA's slow resolution of an embezzlement case against a city employee) and couldn't figure out why it had dropped off the radar screen. Thanks for bringing me up to date.

It is a travesty. I wonder about the reaction of those in jail who have done far less and are serving time without the opportunity to pay back the $140 they stole from 7-Eleven. You may not get much applause for your efforts, but you do have admirers out here.

James J. Corrigan
Forest Hills Extension


The Thanks of a Grateful Ass Baboon

Somehow that makes it all worthwhile: For whatever it's worth, I just wanted to thank you for undertaking an event (the Wammies) that recognizes the incredibly eclectic pool of local music talent ("All the Wammies That Was!," Night Crawler, Oct. 11, by Silke Tudor). In a city that so frequently farts in your face and charges you a fee, it's nice to know somebody cares. And I'm not just writing this because I won ... actually, that is why I'm writing this. Hey, Silke, anytime you need your inkwell cleaned ... .

Bob Limp
Member, the Ass Baboons of Venus
Sunset District

 
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