Thoughts on the SF Giants; Yes on Prop N; Problems with SFUSD …

by on November 1, 2010

To the Editor:

After numerous close games in the Giants‑Braves and Giants‑Phillies series, we now get 11 and 9 run wins against the Rangers. The Giants can hit. Who knew?

Ralph E. Stone
San Francisco

To the Editor:

I remember in 1954, when the N.Y. Giants beat the Cleveland Indians in four straight Games. What people forget is that the Indians had won 111 games that year, to win the American League Pennant. I’m not a betting man, however, the baseball gods are going with the Giants this year, and would not be surprise if the Giants do it in four games, too!

Jerry Pritikin

To the Editor:

Yes, it is a wealthy city for the wealthy. We need, we the progressives, to have an effective media as the conservatives have. Walking through the Sunset District or the Richmond I see so many conservative papers strewn at people’s doors, all are Free, free poison pills, such as: The Westside Observer, The West Portal Monthly , the Sunset Beacon, The SF Examiner, etc. They are so conservative that they reek stupidity, but they are venomously effective. These papers, except for the SF Examiner, are simple, short, and deliver their Republican message straightforwardly. They attack public transit, city parks, public worker, Unions especially, and they do\’t give a fig if the city falls apart as long as it happens slowly and surely.

Nafiss Griffis
San Francisco

To the Editor:

I’m a special educator for SFUSD and I couldn’t agree more that we are failing many students and that there are vast, vast systemic roadblocks here, in San Francisco, that I didn’t see in the two other districts in which I taught.

I have one problem with your analysis. The demographics of our identified students are indeed fishy. Those of us working in the schools can easily see that our autistic student not only get more service (more minutes, more individual attention, more returned calls from the district, more “experts” in the district ready to assist teachers with planning and interventions) but are overwhelmingly white. It’s also easy to see that our ED special day classes, are both incredibly under supported: teachers don’t get the training they need to keep these children safe until well into the school year, teachers recieve no training from the district on applied behavior analyisis, there are no crisis teams to back up these classrooms when there is a dangerous crisis, teams of students who may need higher level of service meet mighty resistance from the district and are asked to reject the child multiple times through disciplinary actions such as suspensions, even if they are kindergartners, in order to create a paper trail and legally force the issue.

These classrooms are indeed filled overwhelmingly with African american and Latino students. Here’s my beef: I haven’t seen any students in these classrooms who are being mis‑labeled or who should be in a lesser restrictive environment. The students I see in the ED special day classes need special services‑ and how! What we need to work on as a district is proactively sharing the science of functional behavior analysis and child psychology around trauma and recovery, sensory integration and learning disabilities to meet these students’ needs instead of warehousing and neglecting them.

I’m only commenting on what I see. But when I read an analyisis that seems to suggest that African American and Latino students are being labeled too often, I actually think you’re missing the mark. In our city the protection and services you receive depend a lot on what you look like and where you live. By the time my ED kindergarteners get to me at the age of five, we’ve already failed them‑ horribly. Certainly not always, but very often, these students are in our classes because law enforcement and social services, as a system, failed.

Truly, the people performing this audit and the author of this article are working with social justice and children at heart. But I worry that if the audit and the demographics it displays are interpreted in this way, the district will be encouraged to provide LESS service for its Latino and African Ameican students who have experienced extreme trauma or who struggle with a behavioral and emotional difference, and not more service‑ what they deserve.

Please join me in encouraging the district to address the clear social inequity by providing top‑notch training and support for teachers in ED special day classes (ABA training, Handle With Care training before school starts, training on sensory integration and interventions for learning disabilities). We want to encourage the district to provide content specialists for every ED SDC teacher.

If these teachers are struggling to keep their students and staff safe, there should be a team of experts and tacher consultants ready to sweep in, observe and advise these teachers on what best‑practice techniques would help them optimize learning. I have seen what best practice interventions can do for our little heroes and their families who struggle to recover from trauma or struggle with serious behavior differences.

We can do it here too! With the kick‑start this audit has given us, our community can help make some very positive changes for our kids‑ especially if we see the problem clearly, can aggree on the correct, child‑centered solution, and most importantly, put down the war weapons. Thank you for your support and advocacy!

Erin McCarthy
San Francisco

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