Letters to the Editor

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In a recent press release on test scores Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) betrays why it is unable — indeed, unwilling — to solve what it insists on labeling “the achievement gap.” Why? Because the district blames the students.

For years now, educators who care about solving the underlying issue have understood that the label “achievement gap” shifts the blame and burden from the institution to students, while the term “opportunity gap” addresses the real differences between middle-class and low-income schools and the students who attend them.

That AUSD continues to use the outdated term betrays its unwillingness to take accountability for the opportunity gap, belies its slogan “Excellence and Equity for All Students,” and makes mockery of the district’s, and its obsequious community boosters’, pious claims of a progressive, 21st-century school district.

Stop calling it the “achievement gap,” and acknowledge the gap in opportunity for which AUSD is responsible.


David Howard

In response to Mark Irons’ letter (“Curious about meeting,” Oct. 24), I did attend the recent community meeting about gun violence. For most of those on the stage, it certainly was a “feel-good” event. I imagine many of the speakers, particularly our elected officials, feel like they made some kind of difference with their speeches at the event. 

In reality I would characterize it as a “feel angst” event. The references to the “epidemic” or even “pandemic” of gun violence were great examples of fear mongering.

I would never argue that our current level of gun violence is acceptable, but I don’t think there is no “epidemic.” 

We seem safe in our homes and workplaces. We even seem safe on our streets (at least from guns). We are much more likely to be killed in or by a motor vehicle than by a firearm. I’m not saying the numbers are good, but there are greater dangers out there that don’t evoke the hysteria that guns do.

The part of the meeting I found most disturbing was the allusion to our children feeling afraid in their classrooms. Our children are safe in their classrooms. If they are afraid it’s because of sensationalist media and hand-wringing community meetings. 

If our children are really afraid in their classrooms it’s because the adults around them have failed. They haven’t failed to make them safe, they’ve failed to make them know they are safe. Let’s stop that madness.


Mike Fennelly

Many of us lament the degradation of our environment but mostly point fingers at politicians and others as the cause. However, so much of the problem comes down to the way we choose to live. 

Urged on by our daughters (ages 10 and 13), our family has started gathering weekly with neighbors to learn what we can do, discuss practical actions we can take, and challenge each other to take them. We have started by watching the eight-minute “Story of Bottled Water” online video. 

Here in Alameda, where we have some of the best water in the world on tap, there is no excuse for using disposable plastic water bottles. The convenience is just not worth the impact on our planet (watch the video for yourself). Reusable water bottles, water fountains, pitchers and jugs can all serve us well. 

We are making a “no plastic water bottle” pledge in our family. We challenge every Alameda family, school, sports league, worshipping community, business and organization to make the same pledge for the good of our planet. Stop buying disposable water bottles, discourage their use and educate others to do the same. 

It’s a simple, meaningful way to make a difference. 


The Canavese-Naffziger family

Editor’s note: As of Monday, Oct. 28, the Alameda Sun agreed to join the Canavese-Naffzinger family in taking the no-water-bottle pledge. To be clear, we’re not giving up our water cooler. It uses large plastic containers that are continually refilled anyway. But henceforth we do pledge that the Sun, as a business, shall never again purchase a single-use water bottle.