Letters for the week of November 27-December 3, 2002 

Pining for our old cartoon, and introducing a new one; touting schools in general, and one school in particular.

At least Derf was only hit or miss
For the love of God, please take mercy on your readers and cancel Slow Wave! Whereas I found Derf interesting at times, I am under no illusion that this was the greatest use of newspaper space since the creation of the printing press. Having said that, I am afraid that if I see one more of your "dream drawings" in the Express, I will have no choice but to find out where you live, tie you up, and force you to look at all of your back issues that contain Slow Wave. In time I'm sure you will begin to see the light ... either that or go completely insane ... whatever comes first.

Can't you have the common decency to drop it and replace it with some great political commentary like Boondocks?
Garrett Mumma, Oakland

Fourth or fifth in a slew of letters
I hope mine is one of a slew of complaint letters you have received after dropping The City. I frequently find many compelling articles in your paper, but The City was always one of the highlights. I sure hope you bring it back!
Charlie Gaines, Berkeley

Editor's note
Slow Wave isn't going anywhere, and Derf is gone for good, but with this issue we are proud to debut a new comic strip, Partially Clips by Rob Balder.

With a record like this, I'll take the cartoons
Loved the cartoon (7 Days, November 13). Bags under the eyes. Bit too overweight. Feet of stone. That's what politics does to you. You forgot to mention that we also passed the AC Transit parcel tax. Defeated Al Seeno's cronies in Pittsburg. Elected Frank Mataresse in Alameda and passed $1.5 billion in school bonds around the state. Criticism comes with the job.
Larry Tramutola, Oakland

Oakland only reaps what Oakland sows
There is no such thing as a bum rap when it comes to the administration of (in)justice as served by the Oakland Police Department, and protected by the Alameda District Attorney's Office ("Bum Rap," November 6). The odious choices that young men like Vernon Johnson are left with when facing such an insidiously arcane system leaves no reason to wonder how such a story warrants the cover of the Express.

Your article erases the chance of "the Riders" being an isolated clique of rogue cops on the force. They are just the ones who the whistle was blown on for being offsides. Even more difficult to fathom is what degree of courage it must have taken to be the one to blow the whistle.

But after all is said and done, what change will we see? The mayor calling for increased occupation of the community by those sworn to protect and serve is not what will help those caught in the crossfire. Until the mayor makes a firm commitment to send more youth from the streets of Oakland to the state's institutions of higher learning (CSU and UC) instead of the schools of hard knocks (Pelican Bay and Corcoran), there will be no change.
Latif Shahid, Oakland

Explaining the New Age experience
Dear John Parman, thank you for expressing your angst publicly (Letters, November 13). It provides an opportunity to respond to others who may be curious about the New Age Academy experience.

Since 1981, New Age Academy has assumed learning to be an essential part of the human experience. A student's innate ability to react intellectually is tempered by the physical, emotional, and spiritual experiences outside the school. From this assumption the school has pioneered a simple philosophy: By supporting children's physical, emotional, and spiritual maturity, their intellectual genius can emerge with unlimited possibilities. Thus, over the years, the school has developed an enriched curriculum, one that encourages the diverse student body to actively participate and take responsibility for their full learning potential, cooperatively. We're proud of their success.

Personally, I believe my job as an educator is to honor the spirit of all students by seeing their inner light, however obscured by shadowy layers of violence, anger, or fear, to respect and nurture the innate intelligence of each student by providing an environment that sets the stage for their learning process, to empower all students with the learning skills they need for focusing, processing, and integrating the learning process, and to inspire all students to fulfill their visions, hopes, and dreams in the global community.

John, I apologize for any "teacher" who has ridiculed you for your experiences or thoughts after leaving our school. It is never okay for an educator to make a student the "laughingstock." The purpose of an education is to invite and explore ideas, to broaden the base of understanding, to imagine new possibilities, to see the unseen, to go beyond society's limitations. You're right! I am an idealist!

Congratulations on your job at the BBC.
Gloria Cooper, educational architect, New Age Academy

Corrections
A graphic in our November 20 issue unfairly characterized Oakland Vice Mayor Larry Reid as an "enabler" who provided assistance to members of Yusuf Bey's extended family. Although family member Nedir Bey provided a reference letter from Reid during a 1994 felony sentencing hearing, Reid insists that he never provided a letter for such a purpose, and that Bey misused his name. We regret the characterization.

Reid has pointedly distanced himself from the Beys since Yusuf Bey was first accused of rape last September. Alas, the same cannot be said for Alameda County Supervisors Keith Carson or Nate Miley who, according to an Oakland Tribune report, stood up in a recent meeting and applauded the man now accused of 27 counts of rape and committing a lewd act with a minor.

Regarding the item in last week's 7 Days column about a Richmond city junket to China ("Visiting $i$ter"), Councilman Tom Butt and his wife covered their own plane tickets to Zhoushan. Hotel and food charges, Butt informs us, were covered by the Chinese.

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