Letters for December 9 

Readers sound off on Marcel Diallo, PG&E, and the milk industry.

Page 8 of 8

Conventional wisdom suggests that districts with more money perform better — but that's not always the case.

Alameda City Unified and New Haven Unified had similar socioeconomic profiles and enrolled similar proportions of English learners during the 2007-08 school year. But Alameda outperformed New Haven by nearly 12 percentage points in English and nearly eight percentage points in math. Despite the scoring discrepancy, both school districts received about the same funding per student that year — $10,100 for Alameda and $10,196 for New Haven.

Alameda County parents and taxpayers are entitled to wonder why their school districts may be receiving more money but achieving less. So are other Californians.

State and local per-student funding should be higher in districts that enroll children whose educational needs make their schooling costs higher, such as low-income students or English-learners. Yet on average, state and local funding actually decreases as the proportions of these students increase. Such funding disparities mean less money for classrooms with the greatest need.

Money does matter when it comes to public school performance, but just as important is how effectively that money is used. The California School Finance Center database makes it easier to identify which public school districts and charter schools are making the most of their education dollars and emulate their success.

Vicki E. Murray, Associate Director of Education Studies, Pacific Research Institute, Sacramento

Where's Black Santa?

"Mommy how come Santa never looks like us?" A simple question coming from a child who is beginning to notice all the subtle ways that we as people of color, we as black people, we as African Americans in the United States of America are treated and revered. My oldest child, 11 years old, stated that "it makes us feel like we are not important, like nobody cares." Each year at the Oakland parade the streets are filled with the faces of children; black, many shades of brown, white and others. Each year a white Santa represents the Christmas Spirit for all! A white Santa at the parade every year has a negative impact on the non-white children who year after year see no representation of who they are. It has a negative impact on the white children reinforcing so many other messages in society that directly or indirectly perpetuate racism and inequality. 

My advice to the parade committee is to either a) Have more than one Santa at the parade or b) Alternate each year with a Santa representing a different culture.

Thanks for listening. I hope you consider my words for the sake of my children and for the sake of many more children and families in the city of Oakland and beyond.

Nola Brantley, Walnut Creek


In the 11/25 CD review of Larry Ochs, we misspelled the name of pianist Satoko Fujii.

In the 12/2 letter entitled "Why Richmond Can't Progress," we printed the wrong city that writer Michael Beer lives in. It's Richmond.

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