Your Voice: Education, Legacy Fields and drunk driving
Aug 28, 2014 | 2254 views | 17 17 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tracy’s true colors

EDITOR,

This is one of those stories that makes you feel good about living in Tracy.

Earlier this week, I was having coffee with a friend at Vita Dolce, one of my favorite places in all of Tracy, and while there, Kelly Miller from Creations Salon down the street came in holding the cutest, most lovable little Yorkie. She asked if there was anyone in the shop who knew who the little guy belonged to. None of us did, so Kelly said she’d take him back to the salon and keep him and while doing further investigating. She called a friend to come and pick him up and take care of him while she continued to work with clients. Her friend, Audrey Peterson, said she would “do you one better and take him to Jules Veterinary Center to see if he has a chip.” Guess what? He had a chip and the grateful owner was ecstatic at finding him, after his being missing since February! How’s that for a happy ending?

This is what I love about Tracy. The warmth and concern by all involved was tangible. Thanks to all who participated in making this turn out the way it did.

Maureen Tobin Bastedenbeck, Tracy

Should students decide teacher’s pay?

EDITOR,

Should teachers be paid according to results, meaning student standardized test scores?

It must be understood conceptually that such a system would reward one person according to the success of someone else. After all, it’s not the teacher that’s being measured.

Are the scores of students a fair measure of a teacher’s efforts?

A single test can’t separate out what students learned in previous classes, or at home. You need two tests, a pre- and post-test, to reliably measure value added by a teacher.

Also, some students are more efficient learners. If you were paid for demonstrated learning and were willing to game the system, you would want to teach college-bound students, since they offer the best return on investment, to borrow a term from economics. Furthermore, the single most powerful variable in predicting test scores is the education of a student’s parents. If test scores determined pay, you would want to teach in an upper-middle-class school.

Many students have negative feelings about tests because they have a history of scoring poorly. It’s a matter of self-esteem. Test scores will partly reflect the attitude of students about testing in general.

A test that determines one’s salary is clearly a high-stakes test for teachers. But it is a low-stakes test for students, who receive no credit or even a grade.

I have proctored many standardized tests over the years. One year, I noticed something very revealing about students’ attitudes about such tests. Before the math section, the teachers were instructed to provide a blank scratch sheet with the test. At the end, we were to pick up both. When I looked at the scratch sheets, about a third had figuring on both sides. Another third had some figuring on one side, and the remainder were completely blank.

Most students seemed to take the test seriously up to a point that required some difficult mathematical operations. Then they either guessed or answered randomly.

Should a math teacher’s salary be determined by the results of this standardized test?

Mickey McGuire, Tracy

Consider community in rates discussion of Pinkie Phillips pool

EDITOR,

The following is a letter I sent to Dr. Casey Goodall, associate superintendent for Tracy Unified School District:

I have been a resident of Tracy for over 12 years now, and I have been a part of the Tracy Tritons Swim Club for 11 of those years. I have gone through so many changes with the team; I have seen them beat some problems that were considered huge when they came up. However, this issue has reaches that I wish to bring to your attention.

I must ask you, please reconsider your plans to raise the prices to use the Pinkie Phillips Aquatics Center. I understand that it is a source of revenue for the district, and I understand that, with the laws changing, it is now a possibility. But, because it is a possibility, that does not necessitate that it should be a certainty.

The people this would be affecting are not the district. They are not even the taxpayers yet. No, it is not even the coaches and the board members of the various swimming teams that this decision would be affecting the most.

It would be the swimmers that would bear the brunt of this. If you raise prices to use the pools as much as is suggested, it would be the parents that would have to come up for the difference, because teams like the Tritons do not have the revenue to keep their membership fees down. And if those fees get too high, people will not be able to pay them anymore. Yes, the district is on hard times. So are almost all of the families in Tracy.

If you were to raise the prices, you would be removing one of the sport options in the summer that so many children that cannot play football or baseball can do. Swimming is a far more inclusive sport, allowing even children with physical and mental disabilities a chance to participate side by side with others, with accommodations made, rather then separating them off completely. It does not require the same commitment to buying equipment that other sports do. A child in a $5 swimsuit can and does swim with those that go for the racing suits, and there is no discrimination based on an ability to pay.

Raising the fees would disrupt this. The corresponding bump in team participation costs would soar, and it would exclude all of the people that have learned to love the sport as I have.

Dr. Casey, please. I have learned to swim, and learned to love to swim, through the Tritons, for the past 11 years. Please, consider those that your actions would affect further down the ladder before you make this call. There are other ways that the district can reach the money to fund itself, but there will be fewer options for these children if this plan were to go into effect.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sandra Walther, Tracy

Local citizens should care about next library director

EDITOR,

In a recent editorial discussing the recent resignation of our library director, the Stockton Record said our “library needs to go back to the future,” meaning we need to think back to the strong leaders who led our library system in earlier years. The county library system does need a strong leader. However, it is in the city of Stockton’s hands to find that person, since our library governance system puts Stockton in charge of hiring. In order to find the right person, the city of Stockton should reinstate the library director position as a department head — rather than a lower-level position that answers to the community services director. The citizens of Tracy, Manteca and other communities within the library system need to care about this issue, as do our local elected officials. All of us within the county library system will be affected by who is hired by the city of Stockton to lead the libraries. As the Record editorial says, we — and that means ALL the residents of San Joaquin County — need our library director to have the knowledge and power to provide for our libraries. A good start would be to move the library director position back to a department head within the city of Stockton.

Tiffany Heben, Tracy

Fields not yet a good legacy for city

EDITOR,

It is hard to believe, driving past Legacy Fields, that so far the city has spent $11.3 million on that project. The expectation was that the sports leagues would be able to step in and finish the project with private funding. If last week’s council meeting was any indication, that will likely not be happening anytime soon. The council voted to spend $100,000 to “assist” the leagues in “fundraising activities” to get the money needed to finish the sports fields. But is that just throwing good money after bad?

As the father of a 7-year-old, I do not even question the need for providing our children with playing fields. The fields we have now cannot accommodate the needs of the various sports leagues in this town. Instead of looking at squeezing the money out of developers, or passing the buck to the leagues, we as a community need to make a hard decision — are we willing to tax ourselves in the form of passing a bond to pay not just for Legacy Fields but also other needed capital improvement projects in this city? The ability of Tracy Unified School District to get voter approval for bonds to improve and rehabilitate our schools is proof of that.

Our forefathers that built the public works we enjoy today knew that if you want nice things, you need to be willing to pay for them yourself. Until the city’s political leadership musters the courage to tell us citizens that if we want sports fields, swimming pools and other public amenities, we as a community need to step up to the plate and help pay for them, I fear we will just see more handwringing and kicking the can down the road from our elected officials. And no sports fields for our kids.

Steve Nicolaou, Tracy

Take drinking, driving out of Labor Day celebrations

EDITOR,

Labor Day is the last long holiday weekend in summer to honor our nation’s workforce. The last weeks of summer are dangerous times for our roads.

For over a decade, I have stated how a drunken driver hit me head-on when I was 16 in April of 1992. I was seriously injured and it affects me today. I stayed seven months in two hospitals and then I had therapy, surgery and home teaching for the following 17 months.

Much labor was done to regain daily activities like walking and talking. Due to the fever following my crash, I lost most of my hearing capabilities. This injury upsets me daily.

I unexpectedly lost those skills by a preventable crash. A drunken driver caused these tough times in my life. One could cause these times for you, too. Everybody, including yourself, must stay sober when driving.

I am honored to be a partner with the California Highway Patrol. Every day, especially on holidays, impaired driving happens. We are determined to make all realize that impaired driving is a deadly mistake.

Tracy CHP Lt. Jeff James informed me that Tracy did not have any fatalities from drunken driving on the Fourth of July. Make this continue, Tracy.

At any gathering, choose a sober designated driver before alcohol drinking begins. This person will drive the drunken ones to save lives. Easily said and easily done.

Lori Martin, Tracy

 
Comments
(17)
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firstofall
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August 28, 2014
Mickey McGuire,

I can see you are not a very good at math? Let me explain a sample set used in statistics. In any given classroom there are students who do good and students who do not. You would not be paid based on a few samples of poor performing students. Testing also does not have to be done every year, as most students remain in HS for four years. Etc ... Many teachers in poor performing inner cities already make less. Honestly, this would be an opportunity to rise and shine, for those unfortunate students. Let's not forget that if our generation refuses to set a higher standard than why should your students raise the bar. OK change is bad. I get it. Yada yada yada. And the next generation has no incentive either. Yada had yada. And the beat goes on. Yada yada yada. Bla bla bla. The students are treated like a paycheck, a meal ticket and a free ride. May be why Yada yada yada is what students hear when they hear their teachers. Just a thought.
firstofall
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August 28, 2014
Steve Nicolaou,

I have some doubt's.

I don't see why I would approve the bond you are proposing. I haven't had a raise in over five years, mon. What the heck is wrong with letting a developer pay for a swimming center and some ball fields mon? I'm beginning to think you people are against a particular developer for some reason? And for the life of me, I can't figure out who or why? But I think we can read between the lines here, is that right? Why don't we propose an alternative solution? Folks can get together and do some work orrselves. Why don't you organize a work party? I don't have money for your cause, but if everyone pitches in some time, I'd be down with that mon. I'm jiggy wit it ya know.
rayderfan
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August 29, 2014
I couldn't agree more with Mr. Nicalaou.

Clearly, firsttofall, you've been out of town on vacation or golfing with our President for the past 10 - 12 years. Had you been here in Tracy you would know that our current situation is a result of our Mayor and Council continuing to perpetuate the belief that our strategy of getting developers to pay for a swim center, and other amentities might work. What we have found is these beliefs, and our own nieveties have allowed people like the Mayor to string us along for their own political benefits.

As an example I offer the new hospital project or the Gateway project that were supposed to be completed by now. These were both used as a backdrop for the Mayor's re-election campaign several years ago. Needless to say, once the election was over the project fell by the wayside.

So clearly this strategy has not worked or we would already have a swim center, and an adequate sports park, a new hospital with more jobs and the Gateway project, just to name a few things.

It's time for the citizens of Tracy to wake up and smell the coffee as I believe Mr. Nicolaou has been doing for the past few years.
rayderfan
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August 29, 2014
You're right firsttofall, you can't predict the future, and we are all on our own. I just think that since no one can predict the future maybe a dose of the truth from our public officials would help avoid any future issues.
firstofall
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August 29, 2014
rayder fan, I have been to several school board meetings and government meetings and court hearings from Palo Alto to Washington DC and all I can tell you is nobody knows what they're talking about. Nobody can predict anything and nobody can tell the future. The people in Napa surely could not tell the future. The people on Wall Street surely could not tell the future. I have worked for companies gone bankrupt and they could not tell the future either. You're on your own.
rayderfan
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August 29, 2014
Firsttofall; Don't misunderstand my comment. I am all for paying more for amenities, if someone would simply tell the public the truth and get something done.

Our elected officials just tell us what they want us to know to support them then go and do what they want. That's as far from representative gov. As you can get.
firstofall
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August 29, 2014
Jay Community did not waste money on a vote. Yes, that is correct, but they rolled up their sleeves. So I don't see how the concept of wasting money is working. It is simply not sustainable. Every time the school needs money they have their hands out. Now the ballpark, the swimming pool, the community parks, the animal shelter, the police truck, the pub that some people like. But anyway I have said enough. Waste our money on some half-baked political, pipedream, ballot initiative and I will just have to vote NO!
behonestguys
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August 29, 2014
firstofall, I agree that no one likes to pay more in taxes, especially in this economy. As for the example you referred to, it appears that the project you are talking about was in an Indian reservation, am I correct? If I am correct in that assumption, then under federal law, Indian reservations are considered sovereign entities, so a lot of the laws that apply to the rest of us don't apply to them.

As for Steve's idea for a bond, I think what he is saying is that the community needs to make the decision whether we are willing to tax ourselves to pay for sports fields, swimming pools and other public works we would like in this town. If 2/3 of the community agreed to a bond paid for by taxes, then that was the will of the people. If at least 35% of the people agreed with you, then no bond would pass. That is our democratic process at work, and it's worked okay by and large for the last 200 plus years of this country's history.
firstofall
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August 29, 2014
Well yes, in that I see where you're coming from. But no, in that I have seen other communities build or restore parks. Recently I came across a story where people built their own ball parks in Jay Community. I read this in Cherokee Nation. They put us (today's generation) to shame. I do NOT get it. No. Seriously, I moved here to save money. What Steve is saying is off the charts. My blood pressure goes up when I begin to think I won't be able to make a car payment because of Steve's idea. Its simply Ludicrous 101.
behonestguys
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August 29, 2014
Firstofall, your neighbor is right . However, back then you didn't have all the laws, codes and regulations you do today. Those were simpler times. Unfortunately, with all the federal and state laws in place, you just can't do that anymore. Too much liability for the work party members where it's not worth it. Next best things is if we want nice stuff, we need to pay for it like Steve suggests to make sure it's done right so some geek bureaucrat doesn't come in and make everyone's lives miserable. Makes sense?
firstofall
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August 29, 2014
be honest guys, I agree that people are griping too much. I can see there is so much division. It has become obvious even to me. Here is where I have a doubt, because my neighbor told me something that contradicts what you are saying. He told me that years ago people from Tracy got together and built their own ball parks. My question is, was my neighbor wrong?
firstofall
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August 29, 2014
I think we have gone full circle with Steve's logic. One person says it is too much work another person says it is too much money. Looks like all you people do is complain about each other's ideas and if you don't like their ideas try to make it cost them more. No wonder nothing gets done. You people are nuts.
behonestguys
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August 29, 2014
firstofall, a "work party" to build sports fields, an Olympic sized competition pool and other amenities the people of this town are asking for, are you serious? This ain't picking up trash along the side of a road or putting in new tan bark in a part - work parties are great for that kind of one day stuff. Nicolau's got a point - if we want nice things in this town, we need to lose the welfare mentality of looking for someone else to pay for the things we want, and start ponying up ourselves. And if we are not willing to pay for our own nice stuff, then we just need to shut up as a community and not gripe about no swimming pools, fields, parks, etc. and move on.
rayderfan
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August 29, 2014
BTW I forgot to add the $20,000,000 Mr Serpa promised to build that swim center at the Ellis Project, which has been a carrot on a stick for the past 10 years at least.
firstofall
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August 29, 2014
What is truth? The future? The past? The present you've been waiting for?
LAM75
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August 28, 2014
I hope everybody has a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend. Remember that safety helps make it wonderful.
firstofall
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August 29, 2014
Good idea. One that makes sense to me.


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