Letters to the Editor

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Many letters have been written about the possible closure of Bay Farm Middle School, most of them expressing outrage for two reasons: First, the Alameda Unified School District’s failure to communicate with the community it serves; and second, the folly of closing a superior school and “forcing” those “successful students” to attend inferior schools. Some of these letters take potshots at a school district bloated with overpaid administrators.

I read these letters with interest, but I wish they contained more facts — which brings us to the Three Rs: Rules, rules, and rules. From the simplest games to the most complex societies, humans need to make and follow rules. At some point, our nation made a rule about compulsory public education. It’s a big, complex system; imagine if you had been put in charge of setting it up from scratch. Public education is a mix of federal, state, county, and local agencies, which brings us to the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD).

The board members of AUSD are elected and accountable to the public in various ways. The same goes for the representatives we elect at the county, state, and federal levels. Presumably, AUSD must follow rules for such things as transparency, including the possible closure of schools. There should also be rules for the educational standards that we desire, such as teacher to student ratios. Similar schools across a district should have similar class sizes. So, if a school, like Bay Farm Middle School, has 23 students per classroom, while other middle schools have 32 students, that might raise some financial issues as well as educational equity issues.

As for the overall education budget, and the “bloated” administration, I haven’t seen enough facts in these letters to have an informed opinion. I’ve tried looking up basic information on official government websites, but they seem strangely opaque (maybe by design). I’d like to see more letters on education, but with a high fact to opinion ratio.

— Steven Mason

We urge Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) to work with the community to find ways to save Bay Farm Middle School (BFMS).

Our children deserve excellent schools. As members of the United Democrats of Alameda, we believe in academic rigor, equality of opportunity, and offering enrichment activities that will help students thrive. We stand with Alameda parents, students, and community in opposing the AUSD’s plan to close BFMS.

AUSD’s plans and approach do not serve the interests of Alameda’s students and families. AUSD argues low enrollment at BFMS and “equity” demand its closure. But Bay Farm School is one of the most efficient in the district based on dollars spent per student. It is gloriously diverse with more than a 70 percent minority student body. A California Distinguished School and Alameda’s top-rated middle school, Bay Farm is a gem.

AUSD should support more students to go to BFMS but instead, AUSD has been quietly working behind closed doors to shut it down. To add insult to injury, AUSD surprised the community with its recommendation in January 2023 and told parents if they want to save the school, they had less than a month to get enrollment up. A month!

We are disappointed by the way AUSD has treated students and families. As United Dems, we believe parents and students should be treated with respect. We believe the best student outcomes are achieved when school partners engage the parent community on major decisions.

— Felsha Zuschlag, Rohit Reddy, Joyce Boyd, and Janet Gibson; Board Member of United Democrats of Alameda

At 10:30 a.m. [on Feb. 8], as I was sitting in my car at the 7-11 at 2301 Lincoln Ave., an employee exited the store and began yelling at a mentally disabled man sitting peacefully on the ground drinking his Big Gulp. The man was right in front of my car, not bothering anyone, quietly enjoying his soda.

The 7-11 employee became more hostile with the man and used foul language, saying, “what are you on a fucking vacation here? Get the fuck out of here!” The 7-11 employee then kicked the man, spat on him, shoved him and continued to yell.

The employee then kicked the handicapped man’s Big Gulp that splattered all over the ground and my car. He was irate.

I got out of my car and said, “you cannot do that!” I called the police, but the handicapped man left the scene. I later found him and asked if he was ok and offered him some food and a drink.

This was a disgusting event that should never have occurred or been tolerated. The employee knew the man was an easy target and could not fight back. I will never return to this location again. Alameda should not allow this behavior toward the weakest and most defenseless citizens of Alameda.

— Brian C. Malone