June 29, 2001

The Public Forum ... El Foro Publico

Bersin Executive Says "La Prensa" Is Not Banned

The San Diego Unified School District has not, nor has it ever, banned La Prensa San Diego from its internet system, as charged in your June 22 editorial "San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Imposes Censorship." Any student or staff member with access to a district computer that is network capable has only to type in your URL address to access your newspaper.

Your readers deserve to know the truth: there is no censorship of your newspaper via the internet from school district computers.

Norma J. Trost
Executive Director
Communications and
Community Relations Division

Comment: Thank you for your version of the truth. For your information, a June 19 meeting was held with a group of teachers (names and schools will not be disclosed as we fear retaliation from the Superintendent). They informed our investigative reporter that when they tried to access La Prensa San Diego earlier that morning, they were locked out. This situation was repeated on the 20th and 21st. They came to the conclusion that La Prensa San Diego had been banned due to the investigative reports that were published in La Prensa San Diego about the Superintendent and the San Diego Unified School District.

That, Mrs. Trost, is our "truth"!

Superintendent Bersin's Active Physics Program Condemned

Dear folks on my physics email list.

Here is a copy of an editorial in the local San Diego newspaper (La Prensa San Diego Vol. XXV No.25: June 22, 2001)

I thought you all might enjoy reading this and you will see the depth to which the physics-first discussion is going... but that's not all of the educational troubles in San Diego by a long shot.

I have been in email communications with a number of physics teachers from San Diego. It's not that they are upset at starting a physics-first curriculum, or even that the intro physics program of choice is Active Physics. The objection is to the way they are treated and not consulted when it comes to educational decisions... at least that's what I am hearing. So it looks like even the local paper has an editorial questioning the practices of the School Superintendent, Bersin.

Barry Feierman

Bersin and Board turn a deaf ear to the community

The current San Diego school board administration consciously and deliberately chose an adversarial approach to school reform in San Diego.

That was a mistake. Over the past couple of years, Mr. Bersin and the board majority have turned a deaf ear to the rising tide of parent, teacher and student discontent. When thousands of people filed before them to protest the rubber stamp approval of the "Blueprint for Success" they disrespectfully yawned, doodled on paper, left for frequent bathroom breaks or "family emergencies." Now that public sentiment has been formalized into a reasonably sound survey, they attempt to cast themselves as "victims" of a "cheap political ploy." Now that's pathetic.

No matter how much we massage the data, when 5,500 out of 8,500 teachers are motivated enough to respond to any survey, we must take notice. A 65% response rate for this type of self-report survey is remarkable. And we simply cannot dismiss the fact that 93% of those that responded expressed a vote of no confidence. No amount of "fuzzy math" can cloud this reality.

Are we to believe that all 5,000 of these teachers are whiners and discontents and place our trust in one "benevolent dictator"? And from all indications, that is exactly how Mr. Bersin sees himself. Isn't he attempting to forcibly implement what he "believes" to be for the good of our children? That's the real cheap political ploy.

The fact is that the preponderance of evidence is finally beginning to take its toll. The fact is that rubber stamping and implementing a poorly detailed "Blueprint," firing all teacher's aides without an adequate system to replace their function, illegally moving Title I funds, and firing competent educators for not following blindly, were all poor decisions. In the wake of school shootings, the administration has also dropped a previously approved plan to build a security fence at San Diego High School. We also understand (and hopefully we are misinformed) that they are also working to remove all of the district's school security guards.

It is these unilateral and uninformed decisions, and not the results of a teacher survey, that are the real causes of public outcry.

That fact is that research and common sense for that matter, tell us that no reform, no matter how brilliant (and the Blueprint is far from brilliant) will succeed without the cooperation of major stakeholders, including students, parents and especially teachers. This administration is failing miserably at building the necessary consensus for any plan, and no amount of statistics will change this reality. How much "hard evidence" do we need before acknowledging that the walls of the administration building are falling?

Heriberto Escamilla
San Diego High School parent

Parent upset with Bersin

I am a parent, and I am very upset with Bersin. I do not know how we are we going to fight against him when all who are behind him are trying so hard to keep us down.

Are you doing anything else to make public his atrocities. Count with me (in) if you do.

Alicia Burrell -Campos
San Diego

La Prensa reporting very encouraging

Reading your editorial about Superindentendent Bersin's action to ban your publication from being accessed at school sites was very encouraging. I'm glad someone in the media is asking the hard questions.

Sadly, one of the other large media will probably get around to asking the same questions months later, thereby breaking the "top story" and Bersin's demise, then take all the credit for being first. I hope more people read your paper so that La Prensa gets the credit it deserves.

Ryan Haggins

Politics and numbers don't add up

In your June 22, 2001, edition in the Politics and Business column you focus on the effects population shifts have had on minority politics, specifically on Blacks in California.

You point out that in 1984 there were 233 Blacks in elected office, 460 Latinos and 106 Asians. In 1998, you continue for comparison, there were 233 Black elected officials, 789 Latinos and 503 Asians. Then you state, "Term limits forced many Blacks out of office, and they were replaced by Latinos and Asians."

Using your own figures, Black numbers stayed the same during the comparison period, while Latinos and Asians increased, so if the number of Black elected officials remained the same, what termed out Blacks were replaced by Latinos and Asians?

Black legislators that have been termed out were replaced by Black candidates. There is a standing rule among the Latino Democratic Party leadership not to support anyone but Black candidates for those seats.

Latino Politicos have been much more loyal to Black politicians than Blacks have been to Latinos, witness the Antonio Villaraigosa campaign.

Julio C. Calderon

U.S. off the mark with death penalty

Great article by Joe Loya on the death penalty. I have two comments. Why don't rich people ever get the death penalty? Why don't the majority of civilized democratic countries such as France, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and Portugal, or on our continent, Canada and Mexico, have capital punishment?

La Prensa has to be commended on its enlightened articles on education, health and justice. You are a rare breed!

J.H. Wenger

Military needs to rethink retirement/ disability pay

Retired servicemembers should receive compensation for service-connected disabilities without offset against retired pay they earn by virtue of a military career.

Former servicemembers who are retired from the Armed Forces on the basis of length of service must waive their retired pay to receive disability compensation from VA. This is inequitable because military retired pay is earned by virtue of the veteran's long service on behalf of the country. Entitlement to compensation, on the other hand, is for an entirely separate reason - because of service-related disability.

Many nondisabled military retirees pursue second careers after service to supplement their income, thereby justly enjoying the full reward for completion of a military career along with the added reward of full pay for the civilian employment. In contrast, military retirees with service-connected disabilities do not enjoy the same full earning potential. Their earning potential is reduced commensurate with the degree of service-connected disability. To put them on equal footing with nondisabled retirees, they should receive full military retired pay and compensation to substitute for diminution of earning capacity.

H.R. 303 and S. 170 would authorize full concurrent receipt of longevity military retired pay and VA disability compensation.

Congress should enact legislation to repeal the inequitable requirement that veterans' military retired pay based on longevity be offset by an amount equal to their VA disability compensation.

Edsel Hidalgo, MSgt, USAF, Retired
San Diego

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