Keep immersion program at current site

Broadway Mandarin immersion is a startling example of what public schools can do. The curriculum is challenging, teachers are inspired, parental involvement is total and children are thriving.
The school is bucking flat or declining enrollment trends at all area schools and helping point the way towards a bright future for Los Angeles Unified School District and the public education options for Venice residents, where the middle class is once again participating in building successful schools that provide opportunity for all.
The Mandarin program is the school of choice for many Venice residents and Broadway Elementary is their neighborhood school too. Ten years ago, the English program at Broadway enrolled 372 students. Today, the program enrolls 160 students, down 57 percent in one decade. Roughly 50 percent of those enrolled have obtained inter-district permits.
Many families are seeking academic programs that address the global, multilingual and multicultural society in which they live. The English program at Broadway does not meet their needs and is unable to sustain itself.
Broadway Mandarin immersion has been a success by any measure and shows how LAUSD can stop the outflow of local residents to private schools and neighboring districts. Board Member Steve Zimmer’s recommendation to move the immersion program negatively impacts several of our local schools not only physically, but financially as well.
Many Mandarin immersion parents feel district administrators should focus their efforts on replicating the success of this program in the proposed location rather than uprooting these students and families.
If allowed to remain at its current location, the immersion program will be one of several thriving public school choices in the Venice community, including the other LAUSD elementary campuses, and provide compelling LAUSD options to parents who can also choose between a variety of local charter schools and/or private schools.
Broadway Mandarin immersion offers exciting possibilities for the other LAUSD schools: In one scenario, it could feed into the new Mark Twain Middle School language academy, becoming a K-8 program, with Venice High School then providing dual language pathways to college and beyond.
Venice is on the precipice of an educational Renaissance. More and more people are investing time and energy towards making our public schools good – for their children, for their friends, for the community and because of their understanding that the success of our democracy is proportional to the education of our children.
The immersion community is committed to being part of this vision. The urgent challenges facing LAUSD with regards to the Mandarin immersion program require creative thinking, good community relations, boldness of vision, and accelerated decision-making by not only LAUSD leadership, but Venice stakeholders as well.
I, and many immersion parents, look forward to being a partner in that process for the benefit of all children in our community.
Erika Kirsten Beck
Marina del Rey

Friend of animals lives on in pope’s name

I was delighted to learn that the newly elected pope chose for himself the name of St. Francis of Assisi, generally known as the patron saint of the animals. Indeed, Catholic and Anglican churches hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of Oct. 4.
On one of his nature walks, St. Francis reportedly preached to the birds and is often portrayed with a bird in his hand. On another occasion, St. Francis made a pact with a ferocious wolf that was terrorizing local townsfolk, whereby the wolf would quit preying on the town’s sheep in exchange for being fed regularly.
He even persuaded local dogs to stop harassing the wolf. He freed a rabbit from a trap, returned caught fish to their stream, and fed half-frozen bees in winter time.
I hope that Pope Francis will inspire Catholics and all persons of good-will to show animals the respect and compassion they so richly deserve, particularly when it comes to subsidizing their abuse and slaughter for food at the checkout counter. Joining the Meatless Mondays trend may be a good start.
Al Masters
Marina del Rey

Protecting the birds

The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey has once again put up nets on the trees that birds like to nest in by its driveway. They did it last year too.
We need to protect these birds’ nesting sites, not put up nets to prevent them from inconveniencing a hotel. These trees are on county land and are not owned by the hotel. The county had not even been asked for permission last year.
Please help me to stop them from blocking the nesting sites of our water birds. Last year the birds went somewhere else and we had very few left here in the Marina to enjoy.
We should be supporting their nesting here. They can attract tourists from around the world. These are beautiful, majestic birds.
Betty Ann Chatfield
Marina del Rey

It’s ‘pirate time’

Sir Francis Drake, a mercenary, naval pilot and pirate, landed along the California coast five centuries ago. His independent, piratical spirit is rising up once again among Santa Monica Bay-Los Angeles residents, who are tired of city, country, and state officials plundering them for more of their money.
The Argonaut reported that the Washington D.C. sequester may shut down the air tower at the Santa Monica Airport. For the record, that sequester was “land-lubber” President Obama’s idea from the start, and remains a signal of his failure for his unwillingness to avert its implementation with real cost-cutting, budget-balancing compromise.
Furthermore, a March 14 letter writer’s letter represents the independent spirit of this country, and the “piratical independence” of its citizens. When the government fails to do its job (as is often the case), the American people step up and finish the job better, as they often do.
Trained pilots do not need an operating tower to operate their airplanes. In fact, most Americans do not need the government for much of anything, since the government either robs our time or wastes our money. As the late Robert Novak advised, “Always love your country, but never trust your government.”
The ongoing pink-slip tsunami in our local schools validates that Prop 30 increased taxes, nothing more. Los Angeles city residents rejected a sales tax increase in the last election The tabling of L.A. County’s Clean Water, Clean Beaches initiative further proves that “We the People” rule, not “They the Government.” Dedicated activists charged that the proposed tax would have cleaned out Santa Monica Bay residents’ wallets, or forced them to clear out of their homes.
Forget the “Tea Party.” Santa Monica Bay residents are saying, “It’s Pirate Time!” They are rebelling against the excessive taxation and legal piracy of “big government.”
Arthur Christopher Schaper

Clarifying the plans for interpretive center

Re: Setting the record straight.
We welcome this opportunity to clarify information included in the article, “Nature center presentation removed from neighborhood council agenda,” (Argonaut, March 14).
The piece reports “the foundation indicates the center will occupy 15 to 20 acres” – that statement is incorrect. Within the context of a 30-acre portion of the Ballona Wetlands, the proposed Urban Ecology Visitor Center would be limited to approximately one acre in Area C south (bounded by Lincoln Boulevard on the west, Culver Boulevard to the north, Ballona Creek to the south and immediately adjacent to the on-ramp of the 90 freeway). Elsewhere, the article indicates the center would encompass approximately 46,000 square feet – that account is correct.
The balance of the Annenberg Foundation’s commitment to Area C south is restorative in nature. For example, the foundation has pledged to reconfigure and enhance the four Culver/Marina Little League fields using native plant materials to increase the total vegetated area of the site and improve the compatibility of these existing uses with adjacent habitat zones.
Together, the fields encompass approximately six acres. Moreover, the existing native soil parking area for approximately 250 cars will be broken into two smaller areas, exercising current best practices to halt untreated vehicular emissions from leaching directly into the ground.
Additional efforts include removing invasive plant species on approximately 15 acres of upland habitat (Area C south is not considered wetlands habitat) and replacing them with native vegetation, improving the biodiversity of the landscape and increasing the opportunity for wildlife renewal. Biological studies confirm virtually no portion of Area C south is considered “pristine habitat.” Annenberg’s investment will halt and reverse the significant degradation of the site caused by years of neglect.
The Annenberg Foundation is enthusiastically working in partnership with the signatories to the memorandum of understanding, many other stakeholders and within proper accord. In no way does the agreement contemplate a transfer of public lands to the foundation. The state of California is and will continue to be the deed holder. The foundation is engaged at Ballona by invitation and willfully committing $50 million to create a world-class experience for the residents of Del Rey, Playa del Rey, Westchester, Mar Vista and beyond.
Independent, science-based and objective assessments of the environmental conditions of Area C south conclude this upland site is in serious need of an intervention. There are many in the community who are saying the status quo is no longer acceptable. We agree.
Leonard J. Aube
executive director
Annenberg Foundation
Santa Monica

North airfield plan is about money, special interests

I’ve been following The Argonaut’s coverage of the Los Angeles International Airport north airfield since its inception.
This whole exercise is a perfect example of government hypocrisy. Reconfiguring the north airfield is not about safety, but about money and special interests. Reconfiguration of the runways is primarily about accommodating the larger aircraft that serve the international carriers, especially those located in the northern portion of the new international terminal. The city, not being a business-friendly city, derives a huge portion of its income from foreign tourists, especially Asia.
What the six commissioners who voted for the plan (none of whom probably live within a close proximity of the north airfield) did not know was that when the airport was first expanded in the early 1970s, over 600 residents were relocated with the understanding that there would be no further expansion of the northern periphery of the airport property or the runways, as they were meant to serve terminals 1, 2 and 3.
On that basis I proceeded to build my home in 1974 here on the north bluff (Zitola and Delgany). I soundproofed the south wall to combat the noise. The noise was plausible until the use of the larger aircraft started. The decibel levels have increased substantially. The pollution levels need the attention of the health department. I am cleaning outside more than inside.
What the residents of Playa del Rey, especially the single-family residences west of Falmouth Avenue to the ocean, need to know is that if the north airfield is expanded, the real issue will be safety followed by noise and pollution. Those living south of Manchester Avenue will be the ones most at risk. The Federal Aviation Administration is now allowing aircraft that are above 500 feet to fly closer to those residences and in many instances directly over them. An aircraft malfunction could be disastrous.
My conclusion is that if this bureaucracy is allowed to proceed against the 8,000 or so concerned residences of Westchester and Playa del Rey, then it’s time for those that will be most affected to get together with (attorney) Douglas Carstens, et. al. and have them file a class action lawsuit for loss of value, etc., in an amount equal to the amount estimated to realign the north airfield. That amount reportedly is $500 million. The majority of the award to go to those who will be most affected – the Drollinger commercial properties, those in Playa del Rey from the airport to the north bluffs, especially those west of Falmouth.
As I am writing this, I am seeing a 747 landing on the north airfield from east to west (windy day). I also totally agree with Lynne Shapiro’s earlier letter to you, “Residents owed consideration.”
Richard Chew
Playa del Rey

Supervisor was upfront about clean water measure costs

Re: “Supervisors put brakes on measure to combat stormwater pollution” (Argonaut, March 14).
In postponing action on storm water abatement, Supervisor Don Knabe is simply being realistic as well as honest about the dim prospects of cost effective treatment.
Los Angeles depends on growth and development for prosperity. But with the development of the Ballona Wetlands the prospect of efficient and inexpensive storm water treatment has vanished.
As someone who has worked in the development community in his professional life, I for one would regret seeing the California Coastal Commission eviscerated since its comments, although bothersome at the time, have often made projects much better and more profitable.
William Firschein

High marks for principal

Re: “Moving school’s Mandarin program ignites fierce community debate” (Argonaut, March 14).
I am one of those parents with a child who is smiling at Broadway Elementary School. My son, Kody, is in the fourth grade. I read the article on Broadway and was instantly upset that you didn’t give credit to our wonderful principal, Susan Wang.
For four years, Broadway students have continued to show academic growth, and my son is one of them. The continuing achievements are due to his teachers, Miss Van, Miss Wile, and mostly, Wang.
The Mandarin immersion program is a wonderful program. It instructs 50 percent English and 50 percent in Mandarin. You have a Title 1 achievement award school because of Wang’s leadership, with qualified teachers and great parents who believe in a good educational environment for their children. I am very much in support of her wonderful support and leadership of our school.
She has respect, honesty and dignity, and continues to work daily with families, students and teachers to make Broadway a great school for every child.
Cheryl Noda