Says National Foster Care Month is reminder to help foster children

To the Editor:

May is National Foster Care Month, a time to come together on behalf of the nearly 500,000 American children who are in foster care because their own families are in crisis and unable to provide for their essential wellbeing.

Through my work with these young people at the YWCA Santa Monica/Westside, I know how resilient they can be. Foster children have an extraordinary capacity to overcome many challenges – but only if they have the support of a caring adult in their lives.

One of our long-term program participants went from a .56 GPA (grade point average) in community college when we accepted her into our transitional housing program to earning honor status at a California State University as a scholarship recipient. Now she is a graduate student.

In her words: “The YWCA Housing and Education program has provided me with a wealth of opportunities, financial and emotional support, and skills to cope with the rigors of life, which include being a student as well as a productive and well-rounded member of society.”

If nothing changes by 2020, nearly 14 million confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect will be reported, and 22,500 children will die of abuse or neglect, most before their fifth birthdays.

National Foster Care Month offers an opportunity for informing policymakers, business leaders and others in Los Angeles about the urgent need for many more people to come forward and serve these young people.

Without permanent, nurturing relationships with adults, foster youth are far more likely than their peers in the general population to endure homelessness, poverty, compromised health, unemployment, incarceration and other adversities after they leave the foster care system.

No matter how much time you have to give, you have the power to do something positive that will change a life for a young person in foster care.

Visit www.fostercaremonth.org or call the YWCA Santa Monica/Westside to find out about the many different ways to get involved.

Sally Young, YWCA, Santa Monica/Westside former executive director Santa Monica

Touts Goethe charter as innovative school with exemplary rating

To the Editor:

I am a parent of a student at Goethe International Charter School and I would like to comment on a recent article in The Argonaut, “Charter’s bid to expand from elementary into middle school denied” (April 14).

I would like to supplement some important information about Goethe International Charter School that was not mentioned in your rather one-sided article.

First, Goethe International Charter School does not only feature a German immersion curriculum: it is also implementing the International Baccalaureate program (IB), a program that fosters cross-cultural understanding that enables children to actively participate as citizens of a global, as well as our local community.

Goethe is reportedly only the second school within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and one of the few public schools in the United States, that has an IB program. The fact that LAUSD can claim to have two schools with such a prestigious program should be something to celebrate. Second, not only does Goethe have a rating of 9 by greatschools.com, it also has an Academic Performance Index of 944 out of a possible 1,000.

This score is exemplary in the otherwise largely underachieving landscape of LAUSD. With regard to diversity, 49 percent of families at Goethe indicate that English is not the primary language spoken at home.

These families speak Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Lithuanian, Russian, Turkish, Gujarati, French, Italian, Japanese, German, Hungarian, Dutch, Swedish, and more at home. Goethe is truly a multi-cultural community with an extraordinary diversity in terms of the number of nations represented.

You also incorrectly stated that Goethe has co-located with the Marina del Rey Middle School for three years. In fact, Goethe has only been operating since 2009. Judging its diversity in terms of lack of neighborhood representation after such a short period of time is unfair.

It takes time for a school to get truly established in the community and for community members who may not have a pre-existing interest in the German language and an IB curriculum to entrust their children to an innovative school such as Goethe.

The extensive outreach activities already taking place at Goethe will without doubt lead to a more diverse student population in the near future.

Since you have apparently decided to be the spokespeople for anti-Goethe parents at the Marina del Rey Middle School, I am not very hopeful that you will publish this letter. However, for the sake of good journalism I hope that you find a way to correct these omissions.

Nadine Rayburn, Westchester

Claims Santa Monica has fallen short in addressing airport pollution

To the Editor:

Re: “Los Angeles resolution to shut down Santa Monica flight schools passes; opponents label it political posturing” (Argonaut, April 28):

Santa Monica City Councilman Kevin McKeown makes statements that contradict the record. Contrary to McKeown’s statement that, “Santa Monica continues to do the heavy liftingŠ compiling hard environmental evidence about air pollutionŠ,” the fact is that Santa Monica has a long record of opposing efforts to address the serious problem of air pollution from the airport that they own and operate.

The Santa Monica City Council wasted an opportunity to do a health risk assessment in the planning stages of their new Airport Park. They ignored the recommendation of their own Environmental Task Force (ETF) to do so. I was sitting next to McKeown at a meeting of the ETF when he asked ETF Chair Mark Gold: why should the city do a risk assessment when all it would do is invite litigation?”

By the way, there already existed an excellent Health Risk Assessment published in 1999 by Bill Piazza from the Los Angeles Unified School District Office of Environmental Health and Safety and using data when total annual jet operations were about 6,000 to 7,000.

Piazza asked Santa Monica Airport staff what would be the anticipated growth of jets at SMO. He was told it should level off at about 10,000. His model calculated the risks for a growth of 10,000. The result was reportedly a significant increase in the risk for cancer in the same neighborhood that the recent South Coast Air Quality Management District and UCLA studies measured very large numbers of pollutants associated with jet operations.

One other important fact is jet operations did not level off at a predicted 10,000, but nearly doubled that at 18,500.

I have a few more examples of Santa Monica’s alleged unwillingness to address air pollution from jets at SMO, but this is enough to digest for now. However, I cannot sit idle when untruths are presented as a defense for inaction.

On behalf of all the residents who live with the frequent smell of jet fuel, I offer deep appreciation and thanks to the Los Angeles City Council, whose hand was forced by the inattentiveness of the city of Santa Monica to an obvious environmental problem. The community knew about it for years. Science has now shown that the human sense of smell should not be ignored.

Martin Rubin, West Los Angeles Director, Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution

Claims Santa Monica has fallen short in addressing airport pollution

To the Editor:

Re: “Los Angeles resolution to shut down Santa Monica flight schools passes; opponents label it political posturing” (Argonaut, April 28):

Santa Monica City Councilman Kevin McKeown makes statements that contradict the record. Contrary to McKeown’s statement that, “Santa Monica continues to do the heavy liftingŠ compiling hard environmental evidence about air pollutionŠ,” the fact is that Santa Monica has a long record of opposing efforts to address the serious problem of air pollution from the airport that they own and operate.

The Santa Monica City Council wasted an opportunity to do a health risk assessment in the planning stages of their new Airport Park. They ignored the recommendation of their own Environmental Task Force (ETF) to do so. I was sitting next to McKeown at a meeting of the ETF when he asked ETF Chair Mark Gold: why should the city do a risk assessment when all it would do is invite litigation?”

By the way, there already existed an excellent Health Risk Assessment published in 1999 by Bill Piazza from the Los Angeles Unified School District Office of Environmental Health and Safety and using data when total annual jet operations were about 6,000 to 7,000.

Piazza asked Santa Monica Airport staff what would be the anticipated growth of jets at SMO. He was told it should level off at about 10,000. His model calculated the risks for a growth of 10,000. The result was reportedly a significant increase in the risk for cancer in the same neighborhood that the recent South Coast Air Quality Management District and UCLA studies measured very large numbers of pollutants associated with jet operations.

One other important fact is jet operations did not level off at a predicted 10,000, but nearly doubled that at 18,500.

I have a few more examples of Santa Monica’s alleged unwillingness to address air pollution from jets at SMO, but this is enough to digest for now. However, I cannot sit idle when untruths are presented as a defense for inaction.

On behalf of all the residents who live with the frequent smell of jet fuel, I offer deep appreciation and thanks to the Los Angeles City Council, whose hand was forced by the inattentiveness of the city of Santa Monica to an obvious environmental problem. The community knew about it for years. Science has now shown that the human sense of smell should not be ignored.

Martin Rubin, West Los Angeles, Director, Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution

Says Santa Monica Airport flight schools provide needed service

To the Editor:

As a general aviation pilot who learned to fly at Santa Monica Airport, I am appalled at the “ballot box” mentality taken by Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, et al, regarding local flight schools and unsubstantiated concerns regarding air pollution at the facility.

The flight schools operate under strict Federal Aviation Administration regulations and their safety records are impeccable. They provide a needed service to casual aviation enthusiasts as well as for initially preparing career bound pilots for service in our nation’s airlines.

Are we to shut down automobile driving schools because they may operate in the vicinity of homes?

Secondly, air quality being impacted from the operation of aircraft is a national concern. Various agencies, including the FAA, aircraft engine manufacturers, and fuel producers, are studying the issue to produce a product that is the least invasive environmentally.

Nevertheless, an Environmental Protection Agency study performed a few years ago in and around the Santa Monica Airport showed no significant detrimental effects from aircraft operations.

Lastly, just what would be put in the airport’s place if it were shut down? It is a big piece of real estate, perhaps prime for development.

Do we need more traffic congestion and pollution on the Westside?

Steven Siry, president, Santa Monica Airport Association

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