Letters for the week of November 3-9, 2004

On the private parts of goats, the transformational power of radio, and the sad state of Oakland's sorry educational funding priorities.

“A Star Is Stewed,” On Food, 10/6

Quibbles and bits

Goat stew is also one of my favorites. Just so you know, next time you have the same dish, look for the skin-only part in the dish. It is common for this dish to contain “private part of male goat.” Most likely you didn’t know, but it’s there.

Anyhow, thanks for the great review.
Jeff Lee, Eastbay Restaurant Supply Inc., Oakland

“Fighting the Power,” Feature, 10/6

Power made me like hip-hop

I just finished reading the “Fighting the Power” article. I had no idea that all that was going on and was wondering what happened to 92.7’s format. I’m not a hip-hop listener; in fact, until recently I couldn’t stand it. But something about Power 92.7 drew me and it became one of the three radio presets in my car.

It’s terrible we lost Power 92.7, and I’d love to know if there’s something I could do to help bring it back or support any movements to challenge this kind of thing happening again.
Jacob Jin, Piedmont

Mix it up

I am out of Sacramento and feel the same way Mr. Simpson and other hip-hop fans do about radio play. Local artists are left to dry while the radio play leaves listeners sedated with monotonous and candy-coated music. I am a part of the local music scene out here and I can tell you that the music is just as good if not better than the stuff that we hear every day on the radio as well as MTV and BET. It’s truly annoying when you’re at work listening to the radio and you hear the same song five or six times throughout the day. There is too much good music out there for radio to play the same music day in and day out.
David Pearson, Sacramento

“Teachers Can Only Blame Themselves,” City of Warts, 9/29

Join us in the arena

Chris Thompson should blame the Oakland School Board for hiring Dennis Chaconas as superintendent of the Oakland public schools. In addition, Thompson should blame Jack O’Donnell, California secretary of education, for appointing Randolph Ward to be the state administrator of Oakland public schools. The Oakland teachers’ union has no power to hire, fire, or discipline any superintendent or state administrator. In addition, both of us criticized Chaconas for his fiscal mistakes before the call for state bailout.

Thompson is continuing the hypocritical cycle of supporting those with money, power, and status who abuse others who are far weaker politically and economically. We don’t recall seeing anyone named Chris Thompson from the Express publicly speak out against abuses by Chaconas or Ward at any Oakland school board meeting or teacher rally. We invite Mr. Thompson to join us in the arena and to work with us in the struggle for social justice.
Oakland public schoolteachers Eric Bergman, Alameda; Bob Wells, Oakland

Ward? Saddam? You decide

Chris Thompson needs to step back and get a sense of perspective about teaching in Oakland and the state of California. What was that drone that we heard during the gubernatorial recall election? California has the world’s fifth-largest economy! (Oakland has a gross metropolitan product of over $100 billion, ranking in the top twenty metro economies in the US, and the 84th-largest in the world.) Clearly the money is here to adequately fund education. So we must ask the question, why is California nearly at the bottom of all states in spending per pupil? Or, we may ask, why is California spending more on prisons than any governmental entity on the planet? Clearly this is about priorities, and the education and development of our youth is not a priority in the Golden State.

Oakland is not the only district with financial woes. If it was, perhaps we could lend credence to Mr. Thompson’s remarks. Oakland, like other low-income communities, does not have parents with sufficient extra income and time to invest in schools. Bare-bones budgets ensure that teachers, with or without seniority, get little support in their classrooms, particularly when it comes to additional staff to assist with discipline problems, and there are fewer and fewer programs in the community to give youth the support they need for the range of life issues they face.

How, as educators, do we explain to our students that our nation is supposedly trying to establish democracy in Iraq, while it has stripped democracy from education in Oakland? Is there a difference in concept between a state administrator with a bodyguard and total control, and a petty dictator with a Republican Guard and total control?

If Oakland and other financially struggling districts were airlines or savings and loans, we would have received a bailout with no strings attached, except for a patronizing pat on the back and a “Please do better next time.”
Oakland teachers Harvey Smith, Berkeley; Ida Barnett, Oakland; Nicholas Louros, San Francisco; and Josie Ramirez, Oakland


In our October 27 Culture Spy item about 21 Grand losing its lease, we incorrectly identified the gallery’s exhibitions editor, Darren Jenkins.

In our comparison of the relative property tax bite on equally valued homes in Berkeley and Concord, we misstated the size of the proposed regional parks tax that voters in many East Bay cities were asked to approve on election day. It was $12, not $283.26.

And in our chart about the identities of some of the groups backing or opposing state ballot initiatives, the position of Our Bodies Ourselves was misrepresented. The feminist health group actually opposed Prop. 71.

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