Support for art, music in schools is critical

I have worked in the Piedmont High School music department for 14 years. Every day, I interact with students who benefit from our comprehensive arts program. Children who are exposed to the arts gain focus, discipline and an appreciation for the beauty of the world.

My two children attended Piedmont schools. My son David, an experienced violinist, recently graduated from Swarthmore College; and my daughter Lisa graduated from Pomona College with a bachelor's degree in music followed by a law degree from USF law school.

The arts education they received in the Piedmont schools had a direct impact on their acceptance at all three colleges and their love and appreciation for music is a gift they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.

Once ranked first in the nation for its financial investment in public education, California has fallen to 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending. As a result, many school districts have severely curtailed funding for the arts.

Piedmonters' 27 years of support for the school support tax has allowed the PUSD to maintain funding for music, visual and performing arts programs at a level that sets us apart from many, many other districts.

I call upon all Piedmont voters to continue Piedmont's rich history of support for a comprehensive arts education for all Piedmont students.

Vote yes on Measure A on March 5.

Jan D'Annunzio

Piedmont

Congress must take meaningful action

Some in Washington would rather cut Medicare benefits than solve the real issue driving the rising cost of Medicare: the skyrocketing cost of health care. This is like a doctor only treating symptoms of an illness instead of the root cause.

It is very troubling that some members of Congress would raise the eligibility age or propose other cuts in benefits rather than address the inflated costs, waste and lack of coordinated care in fee for service medicine.

Medicare is an earned benefit. We pay into it our entire working lives and we continue to pay premiums, co-pays and deductibles toward our care.

If Congress took meaningful action to control system wide health care costs and to build on the savings gained through health care reform, the nation's finances, and Medicare, would be in better shape.

Pete Spencer

Regional field representative National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Richmond

Shell should not be drilling in the Arctic

Thanks for the Jan. 21 article, "Shell makes more food deliveries."

After reneging on its promise to have equipment ready to drill in the pristine Arctic and demanding that they be able to drill anyway (after admitting that they never intended to comply) and after grounding more than one rig (because the environment cannot sustain drilling/spilling/killing) -- they deliver more food to the folks they've brought there to rectify their mishaps. And?

They should not be there in the first place to have the issue of having to deliver more food.

The Arctic (the environment and the wildlife) is already compromised/threatened by climate change caused by man. It cannot survive with the onslaught of drilling/spilling/killing.

We the people demand: Get the Shell out of the Arctic.

Nikki Nafziger

Vallejo

Leadership failure to blame for gun violence

I remember in days of old, a voice would carry a lot of weight.

My parents ruled the roost. They'd say "silence," and you can bet there was no talking back; same with teachers.

Whatever happened to that voice of authority? Kids nowadays don't pay attention and adults have to pay heed or else stare down the barrel of a gun. Is it a wonder teachers are afraid?

Kids, and those like-minded, already have the upper hand. And now the government wants to make matters worse by its so-called legal gun control, disarming the law-abiding citizens.

It's lack of leadership and disregard for law and order that started this mess and it points to the higher-ups.

President Barack Obama, and right on down the line, should show some respect for the people of this great nation. Clean up their act before tearing down what our forefathers worked (and worded) so hard to build and say about the right to bear arms.

Anna Koepke

El Sobrante

President should not use Bible for oath

The president of the United States swore on two Bibles to uphold the Constitution of the U.S.

I am leader of the Fremont Atheist Forum. A Bible is a fictitious mythical book. To acknowledge it as something authoritarian and honorable is ludicrous and unwise. I hope in the future this archaic ritual will be abolished.

David M. Mandell

Fremont