Giving what-for to school officials
As a teacher for more than 12 years in another district and an Alameda homeowner and therefore a substantial donor to the students and success of the Alameda Unified School District, I feel pretty strongly that you should hear me out.
First, I was in complete disagreement with your choice to move district employees to a cushy building instead of relocating them to AUSD-owned properties. They do not need to be together. Teachers drive all over the district to attend meetings (typically on their own time), and district office employees can do the same.
This decision is as far from students as you can get. It's outrageous that you would use our tax money to make the working conditions of the district office staff better. Have you ever waited in line for a bathroom during recess because there aren't enough adult bathrooms? Have you ever washed your hands repeatedly with freezing water since most schools don't have warm options? I've talked to many AUSD teachers who have conferences and meetings in their classrooms, in the office lobby and outside on benches due to lack of space. Secondly, do not move Alameda Community Learning Center to Wood Middle School. How dare you assume that one traditional middle school in a district of this size is sufficient? What about the kids who will have to commute across town? How will the traffic impact the East End? Give Wood the resources and
Additionally, it appears by your lack of communication, that you are not interested in public support for your decisions. If you want public support, you should ask for it properly, and not just three days before a board meeting.
And finally, and most importantly ... get them (teachers) a contract. It is ridiculous and shameful that you haven't done it yet. Treat people as professionals, and they will respond in turn.
Many Alamedans expect more from their elected and appointed officials. We will see many of you leave your chairs while we teachers (and the students you claim to keep at the top of your list) will still be here, working with our students and colleagues, in ramshackle buildings and waiting in line for the bathroom.
Death and violence mark U.S. culture
When you boil it all down to a vile essence, American weapons and violence show, to my eyes, few, if any, signs of going away now or ever.
To the contrary, we see drones proliferating, unoccupied, remotely controlled cameras a-clicking, bullets a-spraying and bombs a-dropping -- soon for police use and even for corporate and civilian uses -- after their huge ongoing success, legal or otherwise, in the Middle East and after endless promotion in the big media. And we witness a spike in gun sales as talk of controls rolls forward.
This whole drone phenomenon comes hot on the trail, following the slaughter-oriented, large-clip, large-caliber rifles/machine guns aimed at American civilians, here in apple-pie United States.
Always, they're advertised and promoted as essentially aimed at controlling criminals, terrorists, insurgents, revolutionaries, pinkos, commies, mobs, "violent" marching, sign-wielding protesters, anti-Americans and the like.
Guns, in our American empire and in films and video games, surround us in star roles of the security and entertainment industries, along with other favorites: alcohol, tobacco, and violence (see author Jared Diamond's book, "Guns, Steel and Germs"). America's biggest technology export: weaponry from guns and bombs to jets, missiles and their robotized variations. Can we honestly expect anything but steady increases in kill-capacity and efficiency if American capitalism is involved?
We Americans daily absorb the bespattered latest news, wring our bloody hands, then adjust ... ignoring the massive slaughter and death in Iraq (possibly as much as one million) and elsewhere, on the American roads, in the American ghettos and in our exceedingly blood-drenched American history.
One can only assume continued American blindness to the agonies of traumatized or injured soldiers (not to mention foreign civilians), to concussed football players of all ages, to crowded and helpless prisoners, to the tortured, innocent or otherwise, as well as to whole species of non-humans.
Will this living tornado of activity all suddenly dive into a screeching U-turn after some new outrage? Will we suddenly learn civilization, one wonders? Or are we Americans perhaps nicely adjusted to and (should I whisper it?) happy with our culture of death?
Dog cleanup doesn't require plastic bags
This is in response to the letter writer complaining about no longer getting free plastic bags to pick up dog poop and the request for special dispensation to receive free plastic bags: Get over it, time to move on.
Why in the world should anyone put 100 percent biodegradable dog poop in a 100 percent polluting plastic bag guaranteed to last for centuries? It's ridiculous, and that's why Alameda County joined many other places in essentially banning free plastic bags that we later pay for in landfills (where they never decompose) and in pollution abatement required from their manufacture from petrochemicals. It's hard to think of something that makes less sense environmentally or economically.
There are pooper-scooper rakes (even automated ones) that don't require bending and enclose the poop so you can bring it home for disposal. There are 100 percent biodegradable bags you can use if you really want something plasticlike. When I was a kid walking my dog (in the '50s and '60s) we used small paper bags and a piece of cardboard, which worked just fine.
Just say farewell and good riddance to plastic bags; there are vastly better alternatives. And as someone who lives in lower Rockridge, where there are lots of dogs being walked, I deeply appreciate those who clean up responsibly after their dogs, rather than leave it on my grass for children or adults to step on and spread all over the sidewalk we all use.