Easy common sense answers to multiple Gilroy questions

A clatter of roller blades, a ring of the doorbell, and a
fusillade of barks from our terrier-mix summoned me to my front
door on Tuesday.

Would you like to buy a rice crispy treat?

inquired one of the girls on my porch.
A clatter of roller blades, a ring of the doorbell, and a fusillade of barks from our terrier-mix summoned me to my front door on Tuesday.

“Would you like to buy a rice crispy treat?” inquired one of the girls on my porch.

When pressed for particulars, the girls informed me that their names were Lauren and Catherine, that they were raising money for a Young Actors (“And Actresses,” murmured Catherine) Club, that they intended to rent a hall with their funds, that they realized it was an ambitious undertaking, but that their mother was in real estate and would keep them apprised of available buildings, and that the rice crispy treats were $1 each.

Rather dazed, I bought a rice crispy treat for Anne and wished them well. I certainly admire people who work for their dreams. Best of luck, Catherine and Lauren, in this and all your ventures.

Michelle Nelson, president of the Gilroy Teachers Association, asks plaintively in a letter to the editor how merit pay for teachers can possibly work, given that some teachers have to deal with disruptive students or dumb students, while other teachers, the lucky dogs, are blessed by intelligent, motivated students with uniformly supportive parents.

She says that the students of the teacher in the last case will have the highest test scores (and I agree, they probably will) and the greatest gains from the previous year (I disagree emphatically. Students such as those are apt to have high test scores every year.)

What will need to happen, obviously, is that the end-of-the-year test scores for a teacher’s students will need to be compared to the end-of-the-previous-year’s test scores from those same students. Improvement will be the merit-pay determining factor, not absolute score.

Buried in the story about high tech cheating at Gilroy High School is the off-hand comment, “Cheating with text messages works best with multiple choice questions that are common in math and science tests.”

Come again? Why give a multiple guess test in math or science? How can you tell what your students know if you don’t make them show their work? Granted, you have to read their work at that point, but having them circle their final answer is good practice for them, and a timesaver for the teacher.

What has possessed City Council this month? Not content with banning wood-burning fireplaces in new construction and remodeled houses, they decide to contemplate banning parking on First Street and the creation of an ordinance to make homeowners liable for injuries to pedestrians who trip or fall on cracked or buckled sidewalks?

Why ban parking on First Street? Does parking on First Street create a traffic hazard? No, the street is wide enough to accommodate parking. Does parking create a constraint of trade for local businesses? No, there is ample parking in parking lots for First Street businesses.

Is someone annoyed that people park their cars-for-sale on First Street? Aw, gee, that is too bad. A remedy exists in current law: ticket any cars left on the street for more than three days. That is fair.

The proposed sidewalk ordinance has at least a modicum of sense to it: over half of the claims brought against the city are due to trips and falls. Also California law requires that homeowners maintain their sidewalks.

But in all fairness, it was the city of Gilroy that mandated the planting of street trees, and not just any street trees, but particular species coordinated by block and street. And alas, some of those species were ill-chosen as street trees, having nefarious roots that break and buckle sidewalks.

For this reason, the city offered up a sidewalk repair fund, where a homeowner can pay half of the cost, while the city pays for the other half. But the program is backlogged and out of funds until the next fiscal year.

I suggest, at a minimum, that the proposed ordinance distinguish between homeowners who blithely ignore their sidewalks and those who are wait-listed on the city’s program. Perhaps the city should reimburse homeowners who fix their sidewalks half their costs. That policy would at least get the sidewalks fixed sooner, affording fewer opportunities for injuries.

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