Letters for the week of October 17

Readers sound off on Oakland schools, Across the Universe, the Cal training facility, theater criticism, and the war on drugs.

“Oakland Schools’ Cash Stash,” Full Disclosure, 9/19

OUSD Deserves Better
I am angered at the manner in which the OUSD funding has been so poorly managed. Obviously, the school district needs and should get an administrator that has some sort of high-level financial background in addition to educational management. Both skill sets are required for the position and mandated in the state takeover of our district.
Gary Naganuma, Oakland

Could Educators be Any Less Competent?
What happened to public education in this country? My understanding of representative democracy is that we the people elect other citizens to act for us. This works great with local school boards because if community members don’t like the direction things are going in their local schools, they can go right to the school board meeting and let those responsible for making decisions know how they feel. School board members listen to the people that vote, especially when school board elections are decided by hundreds of votes.

Of course, in Oakland our democracy was taken away from us. The state has stepped in and taken control of Oakland public schools. State appointees and state hires are responsible for community relations, governance, and finances, among other areas. Yet local control cannot be returned until local officials prove that they are competent in these same areas. How can they prove this when they have no control over the executive decisions taken in the district? When I’m giving my students an assessment, I don’t take the assessment out of their hands, do it myself, and then tell them they don’t know how to do what they were assessed on.

Now we find out that the state administration of Oakland Unified School District has been sitting around on $44 million while telling students and parents they don’t have enough money to guarantee a high school counselor for every 500 children. How much less competent could they be than that?
Steve Neat, Oakland

“Smashup,” movies, 9/19

Hey, We Liked the Film
I was very disappointed in your reviewer’s recent put-down of Across the Universe. It was the most inaccurate movie review I’d ever seen (although such evaluations are subjective), and thus did a great disservice to the readers.

I’ve talked to several other people who have seen the movie, and each thought it was a terrific movie and one of the most beautiful they’d ever seen. The use of the Beatles’ songs fit in with the scenes, and the movie had various positive messages and was a reminder to several generations of Americans as to what was going on in the ’60s, particularly with regard to the Vietnam War and the violent opposition by many police here in the United States to protests against the war. I gather the reviewer did not share the opinion of the people in the movie theater where I saw the movie, many of whom stayed to the end of the credits and applauded the film.
Paul L. Rein, Oakland

“UC Berkeley Athletes Cramped Up,” Cityside, 9/26

Turning a New Page
Congratulations to the EBX and Paul Gackle for not falling into the trap that holds the Chron and Trib: Using the tree sitters as their exclusive sources on this story because it’s easy. Gackle actually interviewed other people, has some facts in his story, and turned a new page in the story.
Linda Gage, Berkeley

“Inventive Alice,” Theater, 9/26

Distinguish the Script From the Performance
Thank you for sending a reviewer to come see our production of Alice in Wonderland. I noticed that a number of the criticisms offered were in regards to the script created by Andre Gregory and the Manhattan Project back in 1970. However, this distinction was not noted by Mr. Hurwitt in his review. It is our hope that as Mr. Hurwitt continues to review theater, he can separate the different parts of the show and read the play prior to seeing it. That way he could more accurately judge how a company or director is interpreting a given text rather than lumping criticism of the playwright in with his critique of the performance without differentiating the two. The lengths to which a theater company goes to stretch or realize a piece of text is important to note in a review as separate from the script itself.
Amy Sass, El Cerrito

Director, Ragged Wing Ensemble

“Suffer the Little Children,” Apprehension, 9/19

Shilling For the Man
Next time you serve a few months incarcerated, miss, you tell us how foolish it is to have an inmate family advocate handle prison reform. Or the next time you go on visiting day and see the children sobbing as they’re led away by effectively single moms, married to small-time criminals guilty of nonviolent and often first-time crimes (mostly drug related). Then again, if you’re a virtual shill for the Prison Guard Union of California, or the Reagan-era incepted and SO effective War on Drugs, well, you’d write basically what you have here: a piece that has all the social insight and investigative reporting of an episode of COPS.
Bill Stanton, San Rafael

Letters Policy
Please provide your full name, address, and daytime phone number, although we’ll only print your name, city, and affiliation. Send letters to [email protected] or Letters, East Bay Express, 1335 Stanford Ave., Emeryville, CA 94608. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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