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Schoolyard Blues



For a school that agonizes over which bathroom transgender students would like to use, I am extremely skeptical that the alleged atrocities actually occurred ("Unequal Opportunities," Jan. 2). Just because someone says something doesn't make it so; remember Tawana Brawley?

Do these schools have school bullies? Of course they do. I doubt whether there is any school on Earth that doesn't have at least one. It's all part of rounding a child's education.

As to whether the ACLU will sue Loleta? Hey, these guys smell blood in the water, I just hope no one will cave in and pay them to go away.

Richard C. Brown, Eureka


Early in this millennium my mixed-blood child applied for the Gifted and Talented Education program (GATE) at Washington School in Eureka. Despite a glowing recommendation from her teacher, the school psychologist rejected her on the basis of one test. I'm a lawyer; my research showed that California law calls for the GATE application process to be inclusive, not exclusive; that an active effort must be made to identify an individual child's gifts; and that rejection based on just one test is illegal. I exchanged several emails with the Eureka Schools' GATE coordinator about this; though his answers were unsatisfactory, at least he answered. But when I asked for the racial makeup of the GATE program in the Eureka Schools, I got no answer. I never could get an answer.

There were no nonwhite kids in the school's GATE program that my child or I could identify. The only nonwhite adult involved in evaluating my half African-American child for the GATE program, and the only one in favor of accepting her, was her African-American teacher.

My child moved on to Jacoby Creek school in Arcata, where she was easily accepted into the GATE program (she's now in her second year at UCLA). We agreed that the Eureka GATEkeepers were idiots, that she wouldn't let their rejection bother her. But it bothered me.

I've been careful to teach my child not to automatically ascribe her failures to racism. But in this case I had a hard time coming up with another explanation. Can I prove it? No. But I'd still like to know the racial makeup of the Eureka Schools' GATE program, then and now.

James Flower, Arcata


The accusations by the ACLU that the words, "nigger," "whore" and "hooker" are being used and directed at other students should not shock or surprise anyone. These are children, and children mimic things they see and hear. How many years have these students listened to rap "singers" and Hollywood actors call their women whores and hookers and use the word "nigger" casually and often in conversations? They have been bombarded by it so long, that they think they are just harmless words.

The word "nigger" is a foul word that was almost gone till it was resurrected by black "artists" and now is supposed to be a term of endearment. No one had better refer to me as a "beaner" or "greaser" as a term of endearment. We are told it is okay for some citizens (blacks), but taboo for all others to use it. How do you explain that to a child's mind? At 68, I don't get it. If it is wrong, then no one should be using it. So until we condemn it for all, at all times, these filthy words will continue to plague us.

And finally, I caution the Journal not to try this discrimination case within its pages. All we have heard is the accuser's side, as if those are the only facts. I understand why the schools have not responded. Responding to ugly charges like this is like responding to the question, "When did you stop beating your wife"?

Let's either hear both sides or hold our final decisions till we have all the facts. Let's not be like the ACLU attorney, Steele, who makes a blanket condemnation of the entire county as bigoted. I fear a witch hunt is coming. I speak with a little experience, as being the first dark-skinned Hispanic hired as a teacher, 40 years ago, in Humboldt County. Remember, bigots and haters come in all colors.

Eric Cortez, Eureka


I appreciated Ryan Burn's article in last week's Journal. I also respect and admire him as a thoughtful, insightful writer. However, I take issue with his description of Eureka Community School as "educationally inferior."

That has not been my experience in the 17 years I have worked for Community Schools. Community Schools serve students who are referred to this alternative setting for several reasons. Some students have truancy issues necessitating a smaller program to meet their social-emotional and educational needs. I have observed students thrive in this relationship-based environment with more teacher contact.

Other students are referred because they haven't succeeded at a comprehensive school. Some of their issues have been behavioral and emotional, including the chronically bullied or school phobic student. And finally, other students are referred because of expulsion from districts or for serious behavioral issues.

Our staff of caring teachers and para-professionals is committed to student success. The goal is always to transition students back to the district if at all possible. Our teachers work hard to ensure that Common Core Standards are addressed. We adhere to consistent graduation requirements, including passage of the California High School Exit exam. We make connections with College of the Redwoods to facilitate access to higher education. And we provide community-based experiences which help students feel connected to Humboldt County.

So I ask: How can a program that meets the specific needs of individual students be "inferior?" Many students need more individualized programs to be successful. Community School provides the kind of program that is tailored to those needs. Are we really "inferior" because we do not have the wealth of resources observed in other school settings? I think not.

I cannot imagine working anywhere else in this county and feel fortunate to be a part of a program that cares about students. It is that student-centered focus that makes our program so successful.

Laura Madjedi, Kneeland

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