March 26, 2004

The Public Forum . . . El Foro Público

Lets us support access to community colleges

On Monday, March 15, 2004, some 5,000 community college students from around the state marched in Sacramento to protest proposed fee increases. In fact, students marched at this same time last year as their fees jumped from eleven dollars to eighteen dollars per unit. This year’s budget proposal would increase fees by 44% for community college undergraduates and increase fees for BA-holding students returning to college for job retraining or skill-building from $540 per year to $1,500 per year.

  Our community college system, which is the largest higher education system in the nation, has been under-funded for years. In 1988 the Legislature implemented Proposition 98, and soon after found legal ways to skirt the proposition’s funding guarantee by an estimated $4 billion over the last ten years. Recently, community colleges have lost approximately $330 million out of a total budget of $5 billion in the last 18 months.

  Now the California Post-Secondary Education Commission estimates that some 175,000 students are being forced out of the system because the classes they need are no longer available or because they can no longer afford the cost of tuition.

  While Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget does not cut the community colleges’ allocations, it redirects substantial numbers of students from the California State Universities and University of California to the community colleges who are already turning students away. Traditional entry-level community college students, many of them the first in their families to aspire to college, must compete with university-eligible students for the limited spaces available.

  The League of Women Voters of San Diego supports full access to higher education. We encourage the community to support our students by letting their representatives in Sacramento know that they support access to community colleges for all.

Co-Presidents Beryl Flom and Catherine Stoll
League of Women Voters San Diego

Iranian School being forced to shut down mid-school year!

I was shocked to hear that after being an essential part of the community for the past 16 years (as an educational and cultural organization) San Diego Unified School District is denying the Iranian School access to its facility in the middle of the school year! The Iranian School of San Diego has been paying over $1,300.00 per month for 1/2 a day of use per week.  ISSD has a contract with the school district to use Sandley till June 5, 2004.

The decision was allegedly based on the partial construction at the school site. The construction is mainly on one building, with regular school classes going on using portable classrooms.  The San Diego Unified School District refuses to accomodate the ISSD in any reasonable shape or form. We have been denied relocation to a different part of the school, or at another nearby school. Are we not part of the same community?

This wreaks of underhanded prejudice in the eyes of many of the parents. I am not just talking Iranian-Americans!  I for one am a Mexican-American woman. The majority of the students are born to both Anglo-American and Iranian-American parents. The self-respect and pride these children acquire as a result of grasping the best of both cultures is invaluable. At a time when so much fear, misunderstanding and ignorance exists with regard to Americans of Middle Eastern background—these children provide the bridge toward greater understanding, tolerance and unity amongst our citizens. 

What kind of a message does this unreasonable action send to these students—our future generation? What kind of message does this send to the community with regard to the value of other cultures, bilingualism and the ability to read and write in more than one language?

We urge you to take immediate action on this matter.  We have been given a final class date of March 27, 2004.  We are asking only to be treated fairly, justly and reasonably—as you would respond to a member of your own community—your own family—your own children.

Rita Martinez-Mahdavi
San Diego

A disappointed reader

I picked up the March 12th edition of your newspaper at my work site——like I frequently do.... just to find a most deplorable advertisement on the last page from Andrea Coleccion.

I was appalled, angered and finally just disappointed that your newspaper would endorse such an advertisement. It has been a long and hard struggle to have women viewed in a different light throughout the years, all to pick up your newspaper and see the derogatory way in which women are depicted.

  Why do you endorse a company that would advertise using, a naked  woman in a sexually insinuating pose to advertise SHOES—of all things!! What is worse—you can barely even see the shoes! Isn’t the product good enough to sell on its own merits???

  What message are you sending via your newspaper to women??? to men???? to our young people????? If you care in the least about the image your newspaper reflects rather than the money you receive from the advertiser, I would challenge you to either have Andrea Coleccion change their advertisment and refrain from using sexually insinuating advertisements in your newspaper.

Dolores Valdes
via email

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