Letters for the week of January 25-31, 2006 

Thanks for showing Richmond's positives; women don't go for first-grade teachers; academic freedom lives on in grade schools; and don't tempt seniors to abuse the courts.

"Wounded Warriors," Feature, 12/14

Good news for a change
I wish to express my appreciation of behalf of the citizens of Richmond for the wonderful article regarding the Richmond Steelers football team. Mr. Jonathan Kaminsky's journalistic reporting was clear, concise, and without bias of which we in Richmond are generally accustomed to from the press. It is nice to see positive reporting about good things occurring in our city rather than always focusing on the negatives. Again, thank you Mr. Kaminsky for an accurate and community interest news story.
Councilman Nat Bates, Richmond

Lies as the truth
I am responding to the article on the Richmond Steelers. Please do more research before you idolize people who tell half-truths. The article sets lies as the truth. The Elahi brothers are, and one is gone, trying to rewrite history and that can't be done. For those of us who know the truth this is disheartening for those who really dedicated their lives to and for the children.
Joyce Jones, Richmond

"Reporter run wild," Letters, 12/21

Enforce the court order
In his letter attacking me, Joel Schor refers to me as the "spokesperson for the Sierra Club." I hold no such post. He also falsely claims that my neighbors and I have not attempted to enforce the restraining orders against various members of the Moore family. In fact, we have done so on many occasions, which is more than can be said for Lenora Moore, who is on record saying she does not want the orders enforced.
Paul Rauber, Berkeley

"The Case Against Tenure," Feature, 12/7

An unintended consequence of the women's movement
One element missing from the discussion on tenure for teachers, as well as education in general, is the fruit of the law of unintended consequences as it applies to the women's movement. When teaching and nursing were the accessible occupations with the greatest prestige, intellectual challenge, and financial reward, the "best and the brightest" women went into those occupations. Now that women have many more opportunities, the labor pool of women choosing teaching and nursing is much closer to the average. This clearly has a negative effect on the overall quality of education and health care.

A corollary is that the expectations for men have not changed accordingly. Teaching, especially in primary schools, is not considered a prestigious or financially rewarding job for men. The old saw "if you can't do, teach" still applies to the view of men at that level. And, truth be told, very few women grow up dreaming of marrying a guy teaching first grade. For society at large, it is important that a woman can envision this as easily and as personally as she can envision becoming president or a CEO herself. Since much male behavior is predicated on being enthusiastically accepted by a woman, there is precious little incentive for a man to become a primary teacher, if that will not earn intimate, not just abstract, respect from women.
Steve Fankuchen, Oakland

Academic freedom matters
To say that tenure is the remnant of a bygone era is to imply that academic freedom is also the remnant of a bygone era. Gammon posits this as a foregone conclusion and says that teachers "have already surrendered their academic freedom to state and federal education officials." This broad generalization is not true for many teachers, who are active in the movement against mass standardization of education. Ask these teachers if academic freedom stills matters in the realm of public education. It does. Yes, perhaps there are some veteran teachers who ought not to be teaching, but to focus on tenure as a solution to public education woes is akin to rehanging a wobbly door, while the federal government swings away at the structure with a wrecking ball.
Mike Shaler, Oakland

"A Friend in the System," Cityside, 12/21

Protection is the purpose
I am the attorney interviewed and published in the above-referenced article. This letter is to respectfully request a correction.

In paragraph nine where it states, "The elder court, he says, gives seniors some leverage to try and change their abusers' behavior" needs some clarification. The primary objective of the elder court is to seek protection, not to change other people's behavior, and seniors cannot use the elder court just to change their abuser's behavior. That was merely a side effect of the restraining orders, and it is a very good side effect, but never the intent of the elder court.

This clarification is important because seniors may abuse the elder court, sometimes termed "abuse of process," in order to change other people's behavior by court orders, and that is completely improper.
Hong Chew, staff attorney, Legal Assistance for Seniors, Oakland

"The China Syndrome," This Week, 12/7

Balanced picture
I detect a whiff of nostalgia for those pre-9/11 days when journalists played the China human-rights card over and over again:

"In the 1990s, after Tiananmen Square, China was overwhelmingly seen through the prism of human rights and democracy. For a long time it was virtually impossible to start a discussion in the West about China except in these terms, or when this question was a central part of the agenda. This remains part of the Western agenda, but a much less important one in the light of China's stunning transformation."
Martin Jacques, The Guardian

At least, now we are getting more balanced picture of the good and the bad.
Alice Jan, San Francisco

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