Another school of thought: I wonder if Jeremy Mullman did any research at all about public school funding before writing about Arlene Ackerman and the Weighted Student Formula ("Class Struggle," Jan. 10). If so, perhaps the article would not have contained such glaring misstatements as referring to the WSF as "a plan for new funding arrangements that will likely attempt to revive poorer schools with money that has traditionally gone to wealthier ones." Or this one: "What happens when the cafeteria at Lowell (or, more likely, some other, less-renowned, but still highly funded school) doesn't get painted, so Drew can be cleaned up?," which clearly suggests that Lowell is a highly funded school.
Lowell is the lowest-funded high school in the district, receiving just $3,086 per student in 1999-2000, as compared to Balboa with $3,733 per student, Mission with $4,229 per student, or Ida B. Wells at $4,249 per student. As to the idea that the WSF would allegedly use money from wealthier schools to revive "poorer" ones, does Mullman mean that we can expect the district to withdraw funding from Potrero Hill Middle School, one of the district's most academically troubled but "wealthiest" schools, with funding of $5,083 per student, and instead send the money to "poor" but academically advantaged Hoover, which receives a paltry $2,833 per student? I think not.
This is not the purpose of the WSF. It is a plan designed to guarantee that the students who are most expensive to educate (special ed, English-language learners, economically disadvantaged) will bring extra funds with them to whichever school they attend. The idea is to ensure that every school has adequate funds to educate the population it serves. It is not a plan to punish "wealthy schools." In any case, funding for all schools in S.F. is so low that there are no "wealthy" schools, only degrees of impoverishment.
A Girl and Her Hog
Money machines: Thank you for covering the "Biker Babes" story (Dec. 27, 2000). It was entertaining and colorful, but I still can't understand how these women can afford to purchase and maintain their Harleys. I've been riding a variety of European and Japanese bikes since I was 16, and I've watched the prices of Harleys and costs of maintenance exponentially increase. I've also noticed more women joining up on bike rides with the guys and in many cases riding better than some men. Many of these women are the first people I call before going on a ride.
The next time you see somebody on a new Harley in their black skullcap, just imagine either this person is making more than $300,000 a year or is a daily diner at St. Vincent de Paul.
Dog Bites Fan
Baghdad by the Bayou: I recently (two months ago) escaped from dot-com-invaded, becoming-antiseptic S.F. to sultry, bawdy New Orleans, but I still log on and read Dog Bites regularly because it is exceptionally caustic and witty. I also like keeping abreast of what's happening in my old home city, and [Laurel Wellman's] take on things reflects a lot of my own. More power to ya!
By the way, the Fangxaminer stuff is hilarious -- unreal. I'd almost think you were making it up. It helps us to not forget the little ways in which life can unwittingly entertain, hmmm?
Making sense of the senseless: It's rare to find an article promoting bicycle safety and education in the news today ("Breaking the Cycle," Matt Smith, Dec. 13, 2000, on the death of bicyclist Chris Robertson). Most of the time, newspapers call events like these "tragic accidents," incidents that are unfortunate but that we must accept as part of life. We cannot accept the senseless death of Chris as an accident. I hope you will follow Chris' case and continue to publish great articles like this one.
North of the Panhandle
A rider on the storm: I spend a lot of time on my bike (between commuting to work, training, racing, or simply grabbing groceries). All too often, my rides are marred by aggressive drivers. I understand that it can be very frustrating to drive through San Francisco, but the unreasonable behavior of most motorists is unacceptable. Chief Lau's promises are heartening. Thank you for a very informative and inspirational article.