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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
February 1, 2012     Feather River Bulletin
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February 1, 2012

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Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012 11B COMMUNITY PERSPECTIVE Indian Valley needs its own K-12 school WI-tEKE I STAND stop it for the duration of ................................................................................... their lives in Indian Valley. MARGARET ELYSIA GARClA That's just not acceptable. WRITER, TEACHER, PARENT Every time I hear about school closures in Indian Valley I want to buy folks in Sacramento topographical maps of P1umas County. Yes, we have a tiny county of 20,000 people. Yes, it seems ridiculous that a small geo graphical area should have so many schools but geez, guys, a simple topographical map would indicate why this is so. Our smallness is only as the crow flies, not drives. And so again, for at least the third time since my fami- ly moved here in 2002, there is talk -- amplified this time -- about school closure. What ff we as citizens of Indian Valley just refused that to be an option? What if we came up with our own option? Every time I drive over the grade on Highway 89 in win- ter I think of the 1997 Atom Egoyan film "The Sweet Hereafter" where a tiny town's entire population of children dies in a freak acci- dent when a school bus slips on ice in winter. Sure, it's fic- tion, but it's what all of us think about when we hear the idea of busing children to Chester in winter -- and we know winter in Chester can last half a year. The district seems to be asking Indian Valley residents to suffer this anxiety and be helpless to But here is what is accept- able. One K - 12 in Indian Valley. Clearly, that is the will of the majority of the people here in Indian Valley if the status quo is no longer viable. How do we do this? How do we offer quality education on par with the rest of the state and nation that prepares our children to be competitive in the global marketplace? We need to take charge of our community from a point of strength and offense. Too long have we been on defense and that just leads us down a road of negativity. If we take stock of what we do best, and acknowledge what has not worked for us we will be on the path to a better education system for our valley. What do we do best? We are an involved community. We know the kids. They know us. We have an exceptional amount of tal- ent here and we live in the arguably most beautiful part of the county. What do we not do best? Roughly a third of our school-age kids if not more do not attend the public schools either now or ever. We haven't bothered to ask home-schoolers and private- schoolers why this is. What would it take for a school to meet the needs of all of the valley's children? We haven't acknowledged our faults that have led to some of our more embarrassing issues of pub- lic education, chiefly: sys- temic race issues, grade in- flation and a good old-fash- ioned lack of gumption on the part of some students and families (not all by any means). We have been serving the middle in public education in Indian Valley, but we offer much, much less to those that need help the most and those that achieve the most. Imagine a K - 12 in Indian Valley that could serve the needs of students seek- ing/needing the typical expe- rience, the alternative expe- rience, the special needs ex- perience and the gifted expe- rience. The negative reality: We have a broke state, dwindling tax income for the area, ex- pensive teachers of retire- ment age not retiring, teach- ers that do not challenge our students to rise to challenges, students uninterested in achievement, a suicide epi- demic, a high teen pregnancy rate per capita, rampant drug and alcohol use. The positive reality: We have a caring, talented, close- knit citizenry, some promis- ing students, some very nice and sweet students, ample space for a K - 12 school. We have a few outstanding teachers that do challenge their students and encourage them to do their best. Solution: One public K - 12 educational program in Indi- an Valley. How do we get here? 1) Implement technology better. There's no reason every child in the valley shouldn't have complete computer access. AP classes could be delivered online via teleconferencing, or other such technologies. Technology has much im- proved since the district first settled on its current pro- grams of delivery. 2) Encourage more collabo- ' ration with Feather River College. Let's let them know what we need here and bring the instructors to us! It can be done even in times of fi- nancial crisis if there is enough enrollment for a course. Encourage high school students to get their feet wet taking classes at the college. 3) Tap into local knowl- edge. The people in this val- ley are more than equipped to lend expertise in vocation- al and professional pro- grams. We can make this happen if given the chance. 4) Utilize true, non-biased assessment of our students. Too often grade inflation has occurred in the district. Have all teachers adhere to a basic rubric of 90 - 100 an A and on down. How are we to know where we are failing if we don't assess equitably? Often students without computers at home do poorly on computerized tests. Students have regular eye and hearing exams to catch problems. Stop penalizing students in dysfunctional family situa- tions for not having the peace and quiet at home to read in the evening and en- courage it in the classroom instead. Acknowledge the need for recess, downtime. Acknowledge the intrinsic value of art, music, theater, curiosity and critical think- ing in a student's develop- ment. 5) Acknowledge the "ugly truth." If students are pass- ing some classes with A's and can barely read or write while failing others that ad- here to higher standards, there is a disconnection. We need to hold both students and teachers accountable to meet and respect the high bar, not the low bar. 6) Do a better job with emo- tional intelligence. Statisti- cally students do not do well in school when there are problems in the household. We have many a broken fam- ily in this valley -- not un- like the rest of the county. For some it's poverty, for some it's illiteracy and for some it's drugs and alcohol or lack of any sort of struc- tured home life. The very na- ture of these children's lives already penalizes them and sets them apart from their more functioning peers. Let's insist on a system for our valley that encourages mentorships, friendships and lifelines to these students. Busing our children out of here is not going to solve any of these issues. 7) Encourage exploration. We need field trips and con- nections to the outside world. Our children need to know what's out there beyond the county. They need exposure to a variety of job prospects in their futures. 8) Establish true diversity. Finally -- and perhaps most poignantly given our valley's recent history -- celebrate difference and keep minds and hearts open rather than attempting to shut down and bully difference. We need to let the square pegs know they don't have to fit into round holes. We must reform to survive -- that much is clear. But re- form should not mean aban- donment. Some of us were born to this valley for generations; others -- like our family -- adopted this valley as home because of its beauty, its friendliness, its quirkiness and that blessed feeling we got like we landed in a place like no other on the planet. We have a simple demand of the school district that would seek to destroy and devalue us: one K - 12 public institu- tion in Indian Valley whose mission will be to educate all its children in a fair, innova- tive, challenging and equi- table environment. L E T T E R S ,:o Ii! E D I T O R Guidelines for Letters All letters must contain an ad- dress and a phone number. We publish only one letter per week, per person ad only oine letter,:@iti ttZ4Q JC nonth regaining the same subject. We do not publish third-party, anonymous, or open letters. Letters must be limited to a maximum of 300 words. The editor will cut any letter in excess of 300 words. The deadline is Friday at 3 p.m. (Deadlines may change due to holidays.) Letters may be taken to any of Feather Publishing's offices, sent via fax to 283-3952, or e-mailed to Political football Comments made in the school closure article as well as the comment sections on the website by Supervisor Jon Kennedy are greatly troubling. The no- tion that no one knew about these 7-11 meetings is ludi- crous. His assertion that "Had (the Board of Supervisors) not got (sic) involved, much of the community still wouldn't know what's going" on is bla- tantly false. I'm appalled. It's not the committee's fault that some parents choose not to read flyers that are sent home. Or answer automated phone calls from the district. Or read any of the multiple ar- ticles in the paper on this is- sue. At QES, there was some- one going car to car in the pickup lane handing out yet another flyer with meeting times. These times are posted at the school sites. I can point to all kinds of information on- line about this, too. The PUSD website has the meeting times posted as well. I'm not a member of the committee, but I am incredi- bly grateful for those individ- uals who are giving up their time to gather feedback to take to the board. Claiming credit for spreading the word on these meetings is in poor taste and incredibly thought- less-for an elected official. Shame on you, Mr. Kennedy, for turning an emotional issue into a political football. Amber McMichael Quincy Something to say There is something that needs to be said! The effort to kill off Indian Valley and its communities is fmally coming to its conclu- sion. The closing of the mills ended employment and took from Indian Valley a large portion of its economic base. Then the closing of Indian .,.ValIy Hospital, .who was the largest employer remaining in Indian Valley, had more than an economic effect; it caused the loss of the doctors. This action has left the residents of Indian Valley without local doctors, and in a dangerous situation. Now the impending closure of the Greenville High School and the Taylorsville Gram- mar School, the last of the larger employers, will have a devastating effect on what re- mains of the Indian Valley economy. This will severely affect the remaining business- es in Indian Valley. The re- sult? Greenville and the sur- rounding communities will become ghost towns. Here's something for prop- erty owners to consider: What will happen to property val- ues if there were no high school, no hospital, no doctors or industry in our valley?. Need I say more? Richard E.Naas Creenville Fester In regard to the recom- mended school closings, I would rather home-school than send my child(ren) to a school with the following classroom sizes: 24:1 for grades K - one, 30:1 with a cap of 32:1 for grades two - six. Larger class sizes equal lower test scores! I am extremely disappoint- ed in everyone who has had something to do with this de- cision process. I am willing to bet that a number of these "de- cision makers" do not have young children attending any of these schools. Just being a member of the community is not a qualification that I am looking for in selecting people for this decision-making process. This isn't even a long-term solution, it is a quick fix, a Band-Aid to an injury that is just going to fester up, get in- fected and spread! Why not close Pioneer and go back to K - six at Quincy E1 (the larger and more up-to-date school)? Back to the high school being seven - 12 and all PUSD staff members taking a 5 - 10 per- cent pay cut.for a year versus facing a potential layoff?. Deanne Trenton Quincy Priorities confused common in American com- I see the library is closed munities today. both Saturdays and Sundays Rather than exploring ways now. This is very sad. I also to enliven and expand the see the proposed closures of economies of our communi- schoolsttughout the county  tie,ongress is engaged in and bus lines for rural areas being closed as well. This news is also very sad. When I see brand new CHP and sheriff's vehicles every year and so many officers in each unit it makes me won. der, do we really need more law enforcement in this small county? To me it seems we need more education and life skills to be taught to our kids, and what better outlet for this than schools and libraries? The county seems to have their priorities in the wrong places, if you ask me. I bet the yearly salary of just one CHP officer (and God knows we have too many here already) would pay for at least a couple people to work at the library during weekends for an entire year, easily. On another note, if and when one of the Quincy ele- mentary schools closes, I hope it is the one near the mill. God knows the health risks for kids being so close to that mill, its air and water pollu- tants and the overall atmos- phere of industry'in that area of our town. It seems the school that is downtown and on the west side of Quincy is far better suited to fit the edu- cation and health standards our kids deserve, for the reali- ty is these kids are our future in this county, and I'd much rather have them growing up somewhere safe and healthy instead of near a disgusting pollutant which is the mill. So how about it? One less CHP officer (I counted eight on the road on a recent trip to Reno, eight between the Greenville Y and Portola. For comparison on a recent trip to the Bay Area I saw one over a week-long span) in exchange for a library open seven days a week? Howard Redding Quincy Imploding Shutting down the schools in Indian Valley will further impact the already stressed economy of the area. Parents, children and school person- nel shop at the local busi- nesses. Sadly enough, shutting down, pulling back, downsiz- ing and eliminating are trying to debilitate them even further by removing the safe- guards that have allowed the people to survive during the hardest times since the 1930s. It seems to me that continu- ing to implode our communi- ties as though they were con- demned buildings will only exacerbate the problem. Rather than stagnating the nation's wealth by competing to see who can amass the most wealth, it would be refreshing to see members of the 1 per- cent follow the philanthropic examples of Gates and Buffett. I am not holding my breath, but wouldn't it be great if the 1 percent began a competition to see who could be the most generous? Salvatore Catalano Taylorsville Excessive speed This is in response to Mr. Rasmussen's letter in the Jan. 25 issue. Right on Mr. R! No driver should have to take re- sponsibility for his or her own accidents! The fact that you drive 1,000 miles per week is testimony to your own safe driving. So why are you will- ing to blame everybody except these idiot drivers for their accidents? Signage and speed limits don't mean diddly-squat at this time of the year. And when the overloaded Caltrans guys aren't able to get to all the bad curves, the responsi- bility still lies with each dri- ver to drive slower than the conditions dictate. During my commute from Reno to Portola/Graeagle (three days a week) each win- ter, I get to witness multiple cars off the road. The only cause is excessive speed! Where most of these accidents occur is on the straight stretches where folks get lulled into believing that their four-wheel brake system will save them. As for "we locals know where all the dangerous curves are"? If you read this paper with any regularity you will note that a huge number of the accidents involve these very same locals. So, Mr. R., I suggest that we not let drivers off the hook for the responsibility of their poor driving decisions. And for those of you who commute to Reno and back, please leave earlier and slow it down on those long straight stretches because the next  you cl0.b: ber may be mine. ", Dick Beaver Portola Think fire After the council meeting Jan. 11, we came away con- cerned about fire. House fires are frightening and traumat- ic. Occupiers. lose everything. Everything! In the past few months Portola has seen nine structures destroyed by fire. The old hospital seems to have been first, then three off Gulling, two on Taylor and re- cently three more on West Plumas. There seems to be lit- tle excitement in town about the losses. But we should all be concerned. It's no accident there is rarely a single house fire. In Reno it's more possible than in our city. Reno has a well. funded professional fire de- partment. More likely there that they will arrive to put out the fire and save homes on each side. In Portola no such ability. Therefore we need to look and see how we can help ourselves. I learned we have three different fire depart- ments -- Beckwourth, East- ern Plumas and Portola -- of- fering different equipment, different training and little cross-training for our fire- fighters. Is there an answer? There is. We need to mold these three units into one. Yes, I know that means someone will have to take second place in the rankings. But they are all staffed by good volunteers and when they fight a fire they are also brave men. But what do we residents need to do to help? Clear space around our houses. Get the wood away from the building. Make sure there is access for emergency personnel includ- ing those who will have to shut off oil and propane tanks. If we own our own tanks, get them checked annually for pressure leaks. Fire is dangerous to your health. Don't be a victim and just as importantly don't let a firefighter be a victim just be- cause we didn't help our- selves. In other words: think fire! David White Portola Birds of a feather In response to the Jan. 18 article by Mona Hill, "Wing- ing It: A Novice's Guide to Bird Watching," I enjoyed the .... atiole/plmtos.var much,-., ,c, I've been a field guide nut for 50 years, starting with Golden Books as a child. I recently realized my dream and became a perma- nent resident of Plumas Coun- ty. Prior to moving here, I went shopping for field guides specifically for this area. I picked up several, one of which I consider now to be the most comprehensive field guide for the Sierra: "The Laws Field Guide to the Sier- ra Nevada," written and illus- trated by John Muir Laws, 2007, Heyday Books. To give you an idea, we re- cently felled trees on the prop- erty and noticed a large wasp 5 - 6 inches long, including a whip tail. I looked in several of my guides to no avail, but found it in the Laws Guide in two minutes. Turns out it was a stumpstabber wasp, a fasci- nating creature that deposits her eggs into freshly cut wood. The Laws guide covers everything plant: fungi, lichens, trees, wildflowers plus more. It has extensive coverage of Sierra wildlife, fish, reptiles, insects, etc. There are sections for animal tracks, weather and stars. Each section is thumb- nailed from the front cover so it's easy to go to the section of interest. For example the dark-eyed junco mentioned in the article would be found in two sec- tions. The first Junco entry was under "Sparrow-sized gray & black birds" and the second under "Sparrow with distinctive heads." The guide helped me identify quickly the mountain chickadee, the sea- sonal white-crowned sparrow and the one sighting so far of the male white-headed wood- pecker. For my fellow nature guide lovers and anyone really liv- ing in or visiting this area, i strongly urge you to pick up Laws Guide. It's the only one you'll need. AI Gladding Mohawk Vista See Letters, page 12B J t