Letters to the Editor 2-15-18
You have got to be kidding me (MCHS Social Studies teachers enact easier grading scale to counter summer school scores,” ER Feb. 8, 2018). While my kids are working their butts off to stay above 90 percent to earn an A grade, the neighboring school has decided that for their students a 78 percent is now an A. They’re basically teaching kids how to cheat. No one wins in this situation. What a disgrace. Mira Costa High School teachers voted for this? If they have that little confidence in their ability to teach their students the material they need to know to get an actual A, then maybe they shouldn’t teach. Manhattan and Hermosa Beach parents should be ashamed of themselves and have a little more confidence in their kids’ potential! A 78 percent will never equal an A grade and when kids enter the workforce they will quickly learn that 78 percent effort will not get them the promotion. This is so wrong on so many levels. You don’t vote for grades, you earn them. The goal of school is to learn. This right here is the dumbing down of America and the generation of the participation trophy. I am one angry Redondo Union High School mom.
Jacqueline LeGrand Cahalan
Truth in educating
The thesis of Tom Kaminsky’s letter last week was difficult to ascertain—but what struck my attention was his admission that his own high school civics courses were “Mickey Mouse” and likely left him to be the last person qualified to pontificate on the subject (“Mickey Mousing around,” ER Letters Feb. 8, 2018). His final comment about “hardworking teachers” educating “doctors, cosmetologists, lawyers, and building contractors” hints at an egalitarian view of society-but does not go far enough. History teachers at Mira Costa High School are charged with inspiring every student to participate in our democracy. The lofty goal of public education as the laboratory where future members of the voting public learn the foundational duties of a functioning democracy, form the basis of instruction in any history class. In our current climate, impressing students with their opportunities as informed voters should be supported by every adult in the community.
The “less rigorous summer courses” are indeed the basis of this discussion. Students are paying to be ripped off. In my courses, when I reference historical events that are the underpinning of some piece of literature, anywhere from one-third to one-half of the class gives a glassy-eyed stare followed by the chorus — “we don’t know that, we took history in summer school”.
For years, teachers have been advocating for policies to curb the offering of summer history courses, which have negatively impacted our students. The board and district administration consistently advocate for unlimited summer history courses — with full knowledge of the negative impact students experience from five hour summer days cramming and regurgitating, but not learning. The history grading policy is a direct result of damaging district policies that put the acquisition of money ahead of student learning. Charging students $4,500 for one-on-one history in the summer is an obvious attempt to capture the “market share” that our students represent to MBX. Students deserved to educated, not treated like credit cards. Rather than disguising the summer programs as “school,” MBX should sell their product with full disclosure, The “Easy A” for sale in summer school and the district’s refusal to put student learning ahead of student well-being is the impetus for the new history grade scale.
MCHS English Teacher 1994-present
MBUSD Parent 1998-present
MBUTA President 2012-present
Student, MBUSD Schools, 1969-1982
Is dumbing down of its grading system really the best way for Mira Costa to deal with competition from the private education? If the education provided by the private summer programs is inferior, then don’t accept their courses for Mira Costa credit. If the principal disagrees with the new grading system — “he believes it will reward work undeserving of high grades” — he shouldn’t allow it. This type of grade manipulation demeans Mira Costa and their students’ GPAs, which will lose credibility if departments are allowed to create inflated results. Looks like an instance where a public/private, teacher/administration squabble is short changing the students by penalizing those who work hard to earn good grades and duping lower performing students by rewarding their mediocrity.
Am I missing something here, or is this a long drawn-out way of saying Mira Costa has decided to “dumb down” their grades to be competitive with commercial businesses? Why not just stop offering district credit for sub-par, commercial programs ?
Burning through cash
With Hermosa Beach recently joining the majority of South Bay cities in contracting with LA County for fire protection and paramedic services, this is the opportune time for the City of Manhattan Beach to conduct a feasibility study in that regard. If the City of Manhattan joined the LA County Fire Protection District, our city could save millions of dollars a year in personnel costs, operations costs and pension costs. Prior to asking the residents of our community for additional taxes or fees, it would be prudent to identify any, and all, cost reductions, such as contracting with the LA County for our fire protection and paramedic services. The LA County Fire Department currently provides excellent lifeguard services to our community. Let’s explore the opportunity for LA County to provide excellent fire protection and paramedic services.
Thanks for recalling Manhattan Beach Police Chief Harry Kuhlmeyer’s role in the McMartin Preschool case. (“Police chief during Martin case refused to charge abuse suspects,” ER Jan. 1, 2018). He may have been naive about reaction to his query letter to preschool parents, but he stood tall in refusing to arrest Raymond Buckey. Such clear-eyed resistance was scarce during the “satanic ritual abuse” daycare panic — most tragically among prosecutors.
Bar buzz killer
So the Hermosa Beach planning commission votes no dice after Patrick Molloy’s dares to replace some of its furniture with new, nicer stuff (“Commission rejects redesign,” ER Jan. 1, 2018)? As a good neighbor and occasional patron of the establishment allow me to reluctantly inform the citizens of Hermosa Beach that your planning commission is #%&*ing nuts.
Beach buzz killer
I have a suggestion for the MacLaughlin Family, and that is to move to a retirement community, where they will have all the quiet time they’d like, with all the senior citizens (“Listen to the waves,” ER Letters Jan. 1, 2018). They can sit around and talk about how they use to live at the beach, but got tired of the constant disruptions of life. They could also take a course on how cities generate revenue, to pay for their public safety, infrastructure and all the other benefits of an active city. But the best suggestion of all, is to move and let others live where they will enjoy the variety of events that make living at the beach such a wonderful place. Watch the door, don’t let it hit you on the way out.
Blowing in the wind
It was interesting recently to see the Redondo Beach City Council deliberations regarding leaf blowers. Apparently, the council was willing to ban gas powered leaf blowers, but not electric ones. I wonder how many people in the three Beach Cities know that the City of Hermosa Beach has had a ban on both gas and electric leaf blowers since 2001. Sadly, this ordinance is rarely, if ever, enforced. Perhaps a reminder from Hermosa’s mayor and city council to Code Enforcement and/or the Police Department is in order.
Hermosa Beach City School District has done a poor job of investigating district facility opportunities, facts and trends during the three years leading up to the $59 million Measure S bond vote in June 2016. School Board members fixated on increasing enrollment and spending millions to demolish North School instead of investigating a more flexible facility plan. Since the truth of continued falling enrollment in all local districts has emerged, spending $28 million or more to completely demolish and rebuild North School for 510 students no longer makes sense. How about renovating North School for an estimated $6 million. North School could once again be used to house daycare and after school care or community programs. HBCSD should ask a judge to allow a portion of the $59 million bond funds to be used to also renovate Pier Avenue School. The office of Public School Construction has confirmed that State matching funds can be used to renovate both North School and the 4.7 acre Pier Avenue School for Hermosa students. Why wouldn’t we save money and not overburden the North School neighborhood by renovating 12 classrooms at North and 15 classrooms at Pier Avenue School using State matching funds? There is no evidence that Pier Avenue School would cost more than $12 million to renovate. Bond funds could be used to add parking underneath Pier Avenue School. HBCSD would need a 40 year lease at Pier to qualify for State funds.
Miller as role model
Our family routinely met up with the Warren Miller family at Sun Valley during Christmas and, more often than not, in February, over the Presidents’ birthdays. (“Hermosa Beach ski filmmaker Warren Miller left legacy of stoke,” ER Jan. 1, 2018). Warren’s son Kurt Miller, David Clark and I were one of the worst trios of juvenile rapscallions Mt. Baldy ever had to deal with. In 1977, at Sun Valley, after chuckling over a colossal wipeout of mine, Warren asked if I wanted to ski in a film segment. I’d only been dreaming about it since the age of six or so. Together with Kurt, a Sun Valley Ski Team racer named Karen Jacobsen and young Ketchum local named Mariel Hemingway, we spent three days shooting all over Baldy and ended up with about three minutes of screen time in 1978’s “Ski a la Carte.” Thanks for catching more of the essence of the man than any other posthumous article I’ve seen so far.
Senior housing can wait
I was so glad to see the Beach Cities Health District reconsidering the plans for their Healthy Living Campus after talking with residents . While the BCHD may legally build and operate senior living facilities, should they? Or should they leap into the 21st Century with less emphasis on brick and mortar buildings and more money being spent to help seniors age in their own homes? With less than a one-year wait for a one-bedroom apartment at Seasons Senior Apartments in Redondo Beach, the answer is clear.
The Beach Cities Health District board members to be focused on creating a pathway for a money-grab of seniors’ assets (“Healthy Living Campus holds off on permits until Fall,” ER Feb. 8, 2018). Where is the altruism in this? Is the BCHD Board complicit in creating a legacy to the 20+ years of service that residents have negligently allowed board member Vanessa Poster? Has a lack of term limits caused insular thinking that clouds board members’ judgment on how to best serve residents into the next 50 years? The board’s attempt to apply 20th Century solutions — isolating seniors in their own campus of sardine-style living –instead of envisioning solutions that give rise to improved connections between organizations and generations of residents, is simply not what we deserve in the Beach Cities. The BCHC should be incorporating the best combination of people and technology to support aging in place. In November 2018, let’s elect a BCHD Board that can improve our approaches to health and wellness throughout the lifespan.
Beyond the stats
Realtors Gerard Bisignano and Jerry Carew have it right as usual (“Manhattan real estate had strong 2017,” ER Feb. 8, 2018). These are capable pros with their fingers on the pulse of the local marketplace and its nuances, which simply aren’t available in data tables and often statistically invalid trend lines. Realtors provide valuable, fact-based insights to their clients and the industry as a whole. Meanwhile, we do our best to debunk overreaching interpretations of raw statistics, promulgated enthusiastically by attention seekers like the massively monetized Zillow (a very useful site if you completely ignore the “Zestimates)” and the historically anonymous but always self important “Confidential.” Confidential? Another overreach. We all have access to the very same data and the very same graphs. Some combine it with attitude to grab clicks or simulate actual market knowledge. But with higher motives, others comprehend the limitations of raw statistics, instead combining them with deeper knowledge and awareness for the genuine benefit of buyers, owners, and sellers drowning in headlines but starving for the simple truth.
David J. White
I use Prospect Ave on a consistent basis. I live on 7th Place in Hermosa (40-plus years). Prospect Avenue is littered with stop signs and 25 mph signs (with lights and dead batteries) from 190th Street to Aviation Boulevard. No one pays attention to them. When I am allowed to turn on to Prospect (on a hope/prayer) some fool will attach (practically) their car (like a feral cat in heat) to my bumper to get me to move it. These drivers think they are too important for rules, common sense or other people. I have written letters to the city council and appeared before the council with my grandchildren. Nothing changes. It is seldom, if ever policed. It is a street where self-will runs riot and being a “green zone” doesn’t fix it.
by Judy Rae