Read­ers un­happy with changes along Penin­sula

The Mercury News Weekend - - LOCAL NEWS - John Hor­gan’s col­umn ap­pears weekly in the Mer­cury News. He can be con­tacted by email at john­hor­gan­media@ or by reg­u­lar mail at P.O. Box 117083, Burlingame, CA 94011.

The na­tives are rest­less. That state of af­fairs has been con­firmed by the re­ac­tion to a re­cent screed in this space re­lat­ing to San Ma­teo County’s grow­ing traf­fic ills and other qual­ity of life is­sues cre­ated by the boom­ing Sil­i­con Val­ley econ­omy.

The clear ver­dict from those read­ers who chose to chime in via email or reg­u­lar mail was: The sit­u­a­tion is bad and get­ting worse. In all, there were close to 20 di­rect re­sponses. Only one even hinted at a con­trar­ian point of view. Some sam­ples fol­low: Tina Peak trans­mit­ted an email that read, in part: “It is ob­scene the way, lo­cal, county and state of­fi­cials roll over to the de­vel­op­ment and busi­ness in­ter­ests that want to de­stroy our qual­ity of life by turn­ing the Penin­sula into a 100-mile-long, five-mile-wide Man­hat­tanesque vi­sion to ouse all the worker bees for their fac­to­ries.”

Re­fer­ring to a huge, new, un­sightly, multi-story de­vel­op­ment along the Cal­train rail line in San Car­los, one blog­ger (writ­ing in The Burlingame Voice), who claimed to be at least some­what open to some forms of growth here, re­sponded to the col- umn that was reprinted there: “... I must drive by that mon­stros­ity sev­eral times a week and it fright­ens even the likes of me.”

Mike Bravo chimed in too, not­ing that, “While we un­der­stand that some progress is good, in the last two or three years, build­ing has been ram­pant up and down the Penin­sula. ... Here in San Car­los, you have a gar­gan­tuan apart­ment project built right up against El Camino Real.”

Dina Mat­teucci wrote to say that she, too, is un­happy with the pace of progress in these parts, adding that she hoped the col­umn might be “an eye­opener for res­i­dents who have not been pay­ing at­ten­tion to what is hap­pen­ing.”

Ellen Mac­neale summed up her view suc­cinctly in an email: “Enough al­ready.”

Per­sis­tent myth

The op­ti­mistic myth that all high school stu­dents should at­tend col­lege and pur­sue a fouryear pro­fes­sional de­gree per­sists. But the ac­tions of of­fi­cials who op­er­ate the Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity Sys­tem, the big­gest such tax­payer-funded op­er­a­tion in the U.S., in­di­cate oth­er­wise, al­though they prob­a­bly don’t want to ad­mit it.

Con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of fresh­men who, some­how, are ad­mit­ted to colleges like San Fran­cisco State and San Jose State with­out the abil­ity to pass ei­ther an English or math­e­mat­ics en­trance test (or both), those au­thor­i­ties have de­cided to elim­i­nate or sig­nif­i­cantly al­ter their re­me­dial course re­quire­ments.

The pur­ported rea­son: Stu­dents in re­me­dial classes tend to drop out of col­lege at higher rates than their more pro­fi­cient peers.

Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics pro­vided by the state sys­tem, about 28 per­cent of reg­u­larly ad­mit­ted fresh­man re­quired re­me­dial math; for English, it was 23 per­cent.

Here’s a thought: Since not all high school stu­dents are cut out for a tra­di­tional col­lege ex­pe­ri­ence in the first place (we can’t all be lawyers, en­gi­neers, physi­cians, ac­coun­tants, teach­ers and such), se­condary schools might want to pro­vide an al­ter­na­tive; bring back bluecol­lar train­ing in fields like plumb­ing, elec­tri­cal work, car­pen­try, au­to­mo­bile re­pair, etc.

It only makes sense. Try­ing to fit a round peg in a square aca­demic hole has never made much sense.

John Hor­gan Colum­nist

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