August 2 2002

The Public Forum ... El Foro Publico

Reader Admires Tezzy

Couldn’t help but admire your “cajones” in your July 19 Tezozomoc Speaks.

Republicn leadership in San Diego quickly bankrupting San Diego!

Marcos Lopez
via email

Privatize Social Security

Even in the midst of a huge market correction, most Americans say partial Social Security privatization is OK. Almost 70 percent of Americans believe younger workers should have the choice of investing a portion of their Social Security taxes in personal retirement accounts, according to a new Zogby poll. Social Security’s trustees say that by 2017 the pay-as-you-go program will no longer take in enough taxes to cover the benefits it will owe retiring baby boomers. 15 years is not along time. We need to act now!

Robert Clay

Critical Conditions at Sweetwater School District

As a tax-paying citizen I agree with your excellent editorial on July 12th, requesting a state investigation of the Sweetwater School District.

The exploitation of our tax-supported schools for the greedy financial gain for private companies is an outrage!

I especially agree with your editorial that our schools should focus on education, not entertainment! Students can always find entertainment outside of school. However, if students are not taught academic and vocational skills in school, where are they going to learn them?

Gilbert A Rubio
San Diego

Education is a business and those in school board administrations must treat it as such. While La Prensa derides the publication of a so-called “slick self serving magazine” as adding “nothing to the educational purpose” of the Sweetwater Union High School District, it should be noted that, like it or not, glossy brochures and professional-looking materials bring students to districts. Along with them, they bring money based on the Average Daily Attendance (ADA), which does benefit our schools. when are people going to wake up and realize that public education need not be mired in the days of clip are (sic) and mimeographed materials?

I also take issue with La Prensa’s contention that “the District is squandering school district funds to entertain students rather than educate them.” Yes, putting materials into classrooms must be a priority, but the author of the editorial neglects the lessons that are learned in gymnasiums, the construction of which formed the basis for the claim that the district is improperly allocating funds, Teamwork and self-reliance are fostered through physical education, not to mention that in many cases, the only exercise students may get during the day takes place in “Taj Mahal gymnasiums.”

While reading your editorial, I paused to wonder: what did Proposition BB actually say? Did it expressively prohibit the construction of gymnasiums or list specific uses for the Prop BB funds? If not, it seems to me that there is nothing improper with the SWUSD’s use of its funds. But that was nver mentioned in your editorial.

It is important to point our red flas with education. La Prensa certainly devotes a good deal of its column space to doing so. But perhaps more research and less conjecture would be a better strategy to accomplish real change for the student you so passionately defend.

Music McCall
San Diego

(Editor’s Note: Normally letters in The Public Forum are allowed to stand alone, to express the writer’s view without comment. But in regards to Mr. McCall’s letter we wanted to address several of his statements and use this opportunity to clarify several issues for Mr. McCall in regards to Sweet-water Union High School District.

Mr. McCall refers to education as a business and the need to market the school district in order to draw students into the district. Education is mandated by State and Federal law. All children are guaranteed an education K through 12th grade. Students are assigned to schools based on boundaries. Sweetwater Unified School District is an impacted district with more students than schools to teach them. Marketing is not a part of the school district’s responsibility.

Why we deride the “slick self serving magazine” is that, 1) the funds that are being used are coming from a company which is overcharging students for caps, gowns and rings; 2) school funds are being used to pay for an administrative position to publish a quarterly publication when they could use that salary on a school counselor, a school psychologist, or a nurse, a coach, etc., that would impact the students lives daily; and 3) each high school publishes a school newspaper that is produced and written by students and that are award winning.

Physical education is again mandated by school code and there is value in team sports. Sweetwater Unified does a very good job of providing extra-curricular activities for their students, which include music, sports and even fishing. The problem with Taj Mahal gyms is that, and all parties agree, the bond monies voted on do not come close to meeting the basic needs. And Sweetwater school district has great needs. Students cannot drink out of the water fountains because brown muck comes out. Students do not have classrooms to go to. Preparing the classrooms for the internet is a need, electrical rewiring, urinal replacement, etc., etc., etc. When it comes to priorities, the last thing needed is an exercise bike, weight lifting machines and a new, huge, gymnasium! This in particular when test scores at Sweetwater high schools are not improving and in many cases are falling.

And yes Prop BB actually stated exactly what and where the monies would be spent. At each school Prop BB documents, and what the voters voted for, each need and in order of priority. Our specific example that we referred to, not only in our editorial but also in a frontpage story, Mar Vista High School, Prop BB documents itemized the needs of the school, none of which was a new gymnasium or athletic equipment. At the end of the list it states “modernize physical education facilities including boys’ and girls’ locker/restrooms.” What was put on hold were such things as modernize classrooms, add science classroom space and computer lab, reconstruct cafeteria and industrial technology classrooms, etc.

We hope we addressed your issues. An informed public can then make decisions based on fact, that will be in their best interest.)

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