A hue and cry is being raised by some local parents to demand that our schoolteachers list all homework, complete or incomplete assignments, and up-to-the-minute student grades online. Similarly, a mother once came to me as her son's English teacher at Gunn, toward the end of one semester, to demand that I teach her all my course material one-on-one, so that she could remediate her failing boy and save his grade.
These two demands differ in degree of intrusiveness, but are on the same spectrum — a spectrum of parental anxiety over teenagers' performance and a wish to enlist teachers in removing all flaws from that performance. Before long, there may also be requests to place course handouts online, as well as overheads and graphs shown in class, quizzes and tests, essay topics, vocabulary words, important dates in history, and conjugations of verbs. Down this spectrum lies madness.
Speaking recently to our school board, a parent said that in this day and age when he has instant electronic access to Google's market cap, his bank balance, property taxes and "continuous tire-pressure readouts," it's high time that "the critical data" of teenagers' school records should be instantly available. I shudder to think that we grown-ups may start conceiving of our kids' lives in the way we think of tire-pressure (and I don't think this dad really wants that, either).
But it may take some effort to remind ourselves that a high-schooler's performance is bound up in a four-year drama that has nothing to do with instantaneous "critical data."
Los Robles Avenue
Planning elements in opera
The opera house in San Francisco currently requires a Seating Element to alleviate the unfairness of some people always being relegated to sitting in the balcony because they can't afford orchestra, dress circle or grand-tier seats. To promote social equity, multi-level balcony seating should be constructed in the orchestra level, placing it in the aisles and neighboring environs, close to exit doors when possible. Visioning meetings should be conducted to give stakeholders an opportunity to provide their input and create public buy-in until a consensus is reached. Public input will again be sought regarding where to place the new, affordable balcony seating. While some wealthy operagoers who hold orchestra-section season tickets may complain, this is the fair and equitable way to approach opera-house seating. If they try to block these efforts, local NGOs stand in readiness to sue.
Some Orchestra Section season-ticket holders may complain that their sightlines are ruined — a small price to pay for supporting the public good. Every eight years, State law will require the opera house to update its Seating Element, adding a number of low-cost seats to the Orchestra Section, as determined by a regional governmental committee, which is appointed, not elected, and therefore can't be voted out of power.
Eventually, the entire opera house will be converted into balcony seating, except for some prime boxes and the first several rows of the orchestra section, which will be reserved for party officials, billionaire bankers, heads of state and visiting diplomats. Since the opera house will no longer have its current large contingent of high-priced seats, it will lose money every season. This will be remedied through a public-private partnership subsidizing the Opera House with new, equitable taxes, paid by the American taxpayer for the purpose of ensuring equity and music for all.
I'm thrilled that finally the Buena Vista property — which is not a "buena vista," more like a "mala vista" eyesore — is going to be redeveloped. This is the happiest news I've heard in a long time.
Kudos to Jisser for finally making improvements on his property by selling it to Prometheus Real Estate, who in turn will be following the city's mobile-home ordinance of relocation to the renters. As far as the tenants are concerned it is very nice that Jisser and Prometheus are willing, or should I say, are "required to give the tenants money for relocating." Perhaps they could also set aside some units for low-income housing.
Hopefully the City of Palo Alto will put a spine on its back and not drag this project through the mud the way they do every project in the South of the City of Palo Alto. Again, kudos to Jisser for the redevelopment. Finally it should be a real "buena vista" in about five to 10 years.