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Cheers for Charters 



We are fortunate to have so many educational opportunities for our children ("Charter School Rift," Jan. 24). The list of charter schools in Humboldt County is impressive. It seems to me that the Fortuna community is experiencing some growing pains in this area.

It sounds like Redwood Prep. School is providing an exceptional learning opportunity for children in that community. Rather than seeing it as a drain on traditional school resources I view it as a way for both types of schools to exist.  Frankly, what I read in the article "Charter School Riff" was a lot of adults whining about their issues rather than looking for ways that the children could benefit. I'm sure that when the adults stop fighting with each other and start working together on solutions they will find a workable solution on the building issue.

I am a strong supporter of unions, including the teachers' union, but one area that I do not support them is in their protection of ineffective teachers. I believe most people agree with me on this issue. The teachers union needs to wake up to that reality before more families make the choice to switch their children to alternative educational programs.

Charter schools are working in Eureka and Arcata, as well as the rest of the country, and they can in Fortuna as well. I applaud the teachers and staff at Redwood Prep. School for the work they have done to create an alternative learning environment.

Gail Mentink, Eureka



Thank you for covering the challenges to traditional public schools posed by the charter school movement. Charter schools are public schools. The movement initially started as a public school response to the notion of school vouchers, which would have used public money to support private education.

I also thank you for interviewing Thom McMahon of Freshwater School District.  He covered key points about how and why the Freshwater Charter School came into being. 

In regard to facts about charter schools, it is true that some (perhaps many) do not pay their teachers on the regular salary schedule or are non-unionized.  As a retired superintendent of the Freshwater School District, I'm proud to say that as Freshwater Charter School was being planned by parents, board members, teachers, and administration, it was agreed that the charter school teachers would be members of the teaching faculty of the district and given the same rights and benefits. 

Elaine Gray, Eureka



How I wish there had been choices in schools when my children were in school here. Charters have given spice to learning!  How wonderful that schools now offer more than one language. How amazing that one can choose a school emphasizing the arts, when these areas have been deeply cut from school budgets.  

The article you wrote about the Redwood Preparatory school in Fortuna smacked of "sour grapes" to me. When teachers that love their work, believe in their profession and take the risk to start their own school when the system isn't allowing them to teach the curriculum and method they believe needed ... that's a wonderful thing! 

No one is stopping any of those children from applying to this school. Every parent can participate should they choose to do so, but few parents choose this.

I made time to be active in my children's schools. I worked full time. The parents that invested their time and effort were a mixed bunch, blue collar and professional. Unfortunately, not enough parents did so. I wish it had been a requirement. Children whose parents do volunteer for school projects always do better. 

Instead of negating what this school is giving to this community they should celebrate it as a viable option. Change is good! Time to open up your minds and hearts?

Ginni Hassrick, Bayside


Tyson ‘Stellar'


Regarding the recent article on the arrival of the new Eureka city manager, ("Eureka's New Boss," Jan. 17), former Councilman Larry Glass added a "pot-shot" at former Eureka City Manager David Tyson's departure. "It's a really big change," said Glass. "It's almost like Gaddafi leaving Libya."

Somebody must be pretty bummed out that their bumper stickers fell on deaf ears. In the long run comments like Mr. Glass' are pretty tired. Any time someone remembers David Tyson they will remember him for the great job he did and how he worked with a constantly diverse and changing group of men and women who filled the position of councilperson. Did he make every council member happy? Well, not Mr. Glass.

Those that "worked with" the former city manager, as opposed to "worked against" him should think hard on what their true "intent and purpose" of taking the council job was. As a former Eureka city councilman, I'm sorry to say that I was right a long time ago; Larry, and I will forever disagree on this one, and history will prove David Tyson did a stellar job despite the detractors.

Mike Jones, Eureka



Taking Issue on Guns


I am writing to address the firearms articles featured in the Jan. 10 edition of the Journal (The Gun Issue). Terry Robert's response letter, in the Jan. 17 edition is correct as far as it goes. Some more clarification is in order.

The Second Amendment is not about hunting, gun collecting or target shooting. It is about the right of this country's citizens to assume personal responsibility for their own protection and safety. The problem is we have a growing portion of our society who don't want to assume personal responsibility for anything much less personal protection. Mr. Bennett, through his article, appears to be one of those. He thinks everyone should have health care but doesn't differentiate between government providing it and an individual assuming personal responsibility for his own health. And why shouldn't government provide health care? Isn't government constantly telling us we are incapable of taking care of ourselves?

Congressman Mike Thompson claims to be a hunter and gun collector but he, also, does not seem to know what the Second Amendment is about. He says military style firearms should not be in the hands of us citizens. Every firearm commercially available today is a military derivative. Not just semiautomatic firearms which have been around since the end of the 19th century.

AR/AK platform ordinance have been the most popular firearm in this country for decades. That's important because the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, in the Heller case, covers such firearms. Today, there are a myriad of sporting events, training centers and manufacturers producing hunting versions of the AR/AK platform ordinance than ever before as well as millions of people who own them and use them responsibly. These citizens will be the only ones impacted by gun control, not the bad guys.

 John Damon, Mckinleyville


Guns and Poetry


Some recent NCJ articles have re-ignited two of my favorite pet peeves.
1)  Barry Evans on "Homers Wine-Dark Sea": Aside from the etymology of "op," why has this epithet traditionally been translated as "wine-dark" rather than
"wine-colored" or "wine-looking"? "Wine-dark" seems like a wonderful
metaphor for describing the degree of opacity one "sees" in sea water (opacity or "darkness" is not a color). I think that poetic expressions are often less opaque (or more translucent) than scholarly scientific reductionism in the areas of physics or physiology. Sounds better too!
2)  "Recoil" (Jan. 24) Where in the Second Amendment is there any mention of guns or firearms?  People talk as if this were the only issue; even though it
was customary to "keep and bear" arms such as swords, daggers, (and
even tomahawks!) in public during the course of one's daily life in
18th century America.  Have we forgotten the events in Rwanda in 1994, in which the greater part of at least 500,000 people (presumably including children) were chopped into pieces with machetes or clubbed to death?  And while TSA considers a nail file to be a weapon, and the Pentagon defines public protests as "terrorism," and "iatrogenic events" kill at least 100,000 people a year in the U.S., we distract ourselves by talking about "assault weapons." I do agree with Marcy Burstiner when she says most of us are mentally disturbed.

Nicholas Marlowe, Arcata


 Just after reading Barry Evans' very interesting article on use of color in ancient writing, I came across this passage which I thought might interest you.  I've been reading A Celtic Miscellany, Translations from the Celtic Literatures, by Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson, Dorset Press, 1951, and in the note to the chapter on description, I found: 
"The imaginative power of the early Celtic mind .... is linked with another feature which is characteristic of Celtic and distinguishes it from other ancient and medieval literatures, that is a very clear sense of colour.  Whereas elsewhere -- in Homer and  Greek lyric, or in Beowulf and Anglo-Saxon elegiac poetry -- we have adjectives meaning "bright, flashing, glittering, pale, white, dun, dark, gloomy, grey, black" (the adjectives of a colorblind man), in the Celtic literatures there is a constant use of distinctive colour words, often minor varieties of a colour: red, rusty-red, blood-red, crimson, purple, sky-blue, green, bright yellow, greyish-brown, auburn: and so on, are frequent."
And indeed, in the selections that followed, all those colours were often found. I found the coincidence of reading this at the same time as your article quite amazing!

Elaine Allison, McKinleyville



Last week's review of Silver Linings Playbook (Filmland) lamented that actress Jacki Weaver was not nominated for an Academy Award when, in fact, she was. The Journal regrets the error but is happy on Ms. Weaver's behalf.


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