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Our Readers Write: La Jolla Parks & Beaches, schools

The La Jolla Parks & Beaches board holds its Dec. 7 meeting on Zoom.
(File)

Letters to the editor:

Regardless of official status, La Jolla Parks & Beaches board is a valuable asset

As outgoing and incoming presidents of La Jolla Parks & Beaches Inc., we write to ensure that your readers understand LJP&B’s advisory status given the headline it received Jan. 28 (“La Jolla Parks & Beaches deemed not a city advisory group; board approves statement of values,” La Jolla Light).

The city has had a system for officially recognizing recreation advisory groups (it has been suspended in recent years) which included, as an important benefit, indemnification by the city for activities that get an advisory group into litigation in the course of advising the city. LJP&B never acquired that official status. We purchase and maintain our own liability insurance as a California nonprofit corporation.

Since its inception in 2011, LJP&B has been recognized by the city of San Diego Parks & Recreation Department as a nontraditional advisory group addressing the well-being of the parks, beaches and other recreational resources of La Jolla.

In response to developments also reported, LJP&B will revisit and amend its corporate documents as needed. In the meantime, LJP&B will continue to work with city representatives at all levels to serve the interests of the city pertaining to our neighborhood parkland.

Current projects, for example, include advising the city with respect to the La Jolla View Reservoir project in La Jolla Natural Park, trimming the palms at The Cove (because the city does not have the budget for tree trimming), looking for ways to improve trash management at Cuvier Park, working with the city to make sure that the comfort station project in Scripps Park at The Cove is completed according to plans, maintaining the Fay Avenue Bike Path, working on the management of beach fires and advocating with Mayor [Todd] Gloria’s office to finalize city regulations for sidewalk vendors (now prevalent in our shoreline parks).

We just want to make it clear that members of LJP&B are a group of energetic and conscientious community volunteers whose input the city respects, regardless of the status of the paperwork.

Ann Parode Dynes, past president of LJP&B

Claudia Baranowski, president of LJP&B

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Keeping schools closed is failing our children

This message is addressed to the San Diego Education Association, San Diego Unified School District, California Teachers Association and anyone who has a voice in decision making for our children:

Most would agree with American scholar John Dewey that “education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

Education is not happening on a computer screen; it is not a worthwhile experience that young children can absorb and retain. Small children were so excited to continue their education with their teachers and their friends; they no longer understand the importance of their school.

By deciding to keep school doors shut [during the coronavirus pandemic], you have decided to deprive young children of up to 25 percent of their educational lives. One year lost out of five or six is a huge chunk of life.

The vast majority of schools around the country have opened safely in some capacity. You are not a hero for keeping schools shut, you are making yourselves look foolish and irresponsible.

Thirty UC San Francisco health professionals have called for all elementary schools to open due to the mental health concerns that are rising. We cannot even begin to understand the mental health issues that distance learning has spawned in these children. It is not healthy to have zero boundaries among work, school, home, play and relaxation. You say you want to keep communities safe and healthy. Does that mean turning your back on them so that they join another community?

You say you “cannot teach from the grave,” but if you look at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, you would realize that, if you are under 65 years without other medical conditions, there is more a chance you will die from the car ride to school than this virus.

The decision to keep schools shut, made at the expense of the communities that support you, demonstrates your misunderstanding of what safety and science really are. Safety is not a matter of time or circumstance, it’s a matter of behavior and administrative control. You have told us many times that we have the safety equipment. Families need to take responsibility for their own health and safety outside of school, but we can control the behavior of the students and teachers within the walls of the school.

Research published by the CDC shows that schools (especially elementary) using masks and distancing protocol have had little virus transmission or outbreaks. Safety is a lifestyle choice, and we can’t even start to live that life without trying it out on campus. A culture of safety begins with collaboration in the workplace.

Gov. [Gavin] Newsom recently announced $2 billion in grants for elementary schools willing to reopen [once their county’s coronavirus case rate meets state requirements]. Are we going to reject this free money? Again, foolish and irresponsible.

The big buzz is always “equity in education,” but how will keeping doors shut maintain this equity when so many more students are failing?

In her recent commentary in the La Jolla Light (“Gov. Newsom’s new plan for schools during the pandemic overlooks our most urgent needs,” Jan. 14), [San Diego Unified Superintendent] Cindy Marten said, “Every dollar of Proposition 98 funds [for ‘instructional improvement and accountability’] spent on public health costs is one not spent on students in a classroom.” This is false if the funds work to get the kids back to the classroom.

Families (and their money) are leaving La Jolla Cluster schools to go to private school. More will follow next year. Community pride is shifting, and it is worrisome to be a part of this district that cannot honor the needs of its children and their families.

I fear that schools will lose their students, their funding and their purpose. The dissolution of these schools, especially in La Jolla, is a real concern. Declining enrollment was an issue even before the pandemic. I believe that parents would gladly use potential private school dollars to support district schools if they knew we are going back to school this year.

Those of us who have stuck with the district and its union this long deserve to understand the decision not to reopen now so we can make other arrangements for next year. I know my family and my job cannot sustain another year of this chaos, distraction and disrespect.

Kelsey Martin

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What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in the La Jolla Light express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher. Letters are subject to editing for brevity, clarity and accuracy. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your first and last names and city or neighborhood of residence to robert.vardon@lajollalight.com. Letters without the writer’s name cannot be published. Letters from the same person are limited to one in a three-month period. ◆