Thursday, April 28, 2005

My response to the Ukiah Daily Journal.

So when I read the post by K.C. Meadows (check yesterday for more information), I became very irritated. I figured that a letter was warranted, and if she didn't publish it, at least she would read it. So my response was:
UDJ should rethink position and support Education.

As an instructor of Political Science at Ukiah High School, I'm often proud of the fact that I live in a town where opinions are shared, debated and discussed with regularity. I tell my students that it is important to get involved, even if it is a simple letter to the editor of a local newspaper. However, on Tuesday, April 19, Daily Journal Editor K.C. Meadows decided to take it upon herself to make a snap judgment regarding the high school modernization project. Meadows, with a total lack of reliable information, stated that the citizens of Ukiah should not assist the Ukiah Unified School District in upgrading their secondary educational facilities because the high school was too big. Speaking as a teacher, I can attest to the fact that this school must address the issues that all high schools are faced with. But none of the problems are related to the money that must be raised to make Ukiah School not only modern, but actually compliant with State and Federal laws. If K.C. Meadows had taken the time to actually step on to the high school campus to do some "investigative reporting", she might have realized the importance of the high school modernization.
Meadows stated that handicap access is an "apparent" need at the high school. However, the American's With Disabilities Act of 1990 demands that access be available for those with physical limitations at all venues at a public high school. I think that it is necessary this high school to continue to meet the ADA's requirements so everyone can have an equal opportunity. It seems that the editor is not into "equal opportunity". Meadows stated that improving sports facilities are an "apparent"need. Because the school is so old, the athletic facilities do not meet Title IX requirements for equality in sports. Does the editor not think equality for students is necessary, even in athletics? Meadows called the modernization of the high school "pure folly". Is "pure folly" upgrading the heating/cooling systems which will save the district thousands of dollars in heating and cooling costs? Is "pure folly" enhancing the educational experience by providing students with better classrooms with basic amenities like windows, natural lighting and reliable environmental controls? Is "pure folly" creating athletic facilities where students aren't injured by falling ceiling tiles, holes in the floor or by slipping in rainwater leaking into the gymnasium? Finally, does Meadows consider it "pure folly" that the people of Ukiah want this high school to regain the status as an elite institution of secondary education?
Ukiah is a town full of innovative and forward thinking citizens. As I walk the town, talking to parents and business owners, I get a sense that people want to see Ukiah High School as an institution of excellence; academic and vocational, athletic and social. With Federal and State governments lacking in basic funding, I hope Ukiah continues to show a sense of "pride in ownership" for its high school by helping with its modernization and continued goal of an establishing an elite institution.

Jeff Silva-Brown
Ukiah High School
Department of Social Science

The current response from my colleagues has been very positive. The current response from the editor of the Ukiah Daily Journal has been nil. Stay tuned.
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