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EDITORIAL: $50 may buy a young child some college dreams

NEWS-LEDGER EDITORIAL — FEB 13, 2013 —

What can we all do to help West Sacramento’s schools?

Well, one of the top strategic goals now being put forward by the local school board is to “foster a culture of high expectations.” And that is something that the City of West Sacramento, and the rest of us, can all help with.

For inspiration, consider this:

About 500 students graduate every year from the high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan. And each of them does so knowing that unknown donors have pledged to pay their full college tuition in the state’s public college and university system. The “Kalamazoo Promise” was announced in 2005, and it was intended not only to help local kids, but also to help the local economy.

[adrotate group=”7″]  Students who enter the local school district part-way through their education get partial assistance, and those who are in it for the entire ride get the full “Promise.”  Knowing that their kids must stay in local public schools to qualify, families have an incentive to stay put in Kalamazoo. The city is meant to benefit from its ability to attract and retain families.

Announcement of the new program was greeted with celebration and also a degree of skepticism – how could somebody really be willing to pay for every local kid’s college education? But reality has set in, and the kids and their families are now starting to develop college expectations from a student’s early grades.

Local teachers and schools bought into the ambitious program, adding instructional hours and increasing college prep.

Too ambitious and expensive for your tastes? There are plenty of other college fund programs to look at.

Among them are those created by the City and County of San Francisco as well as the County of Cuyahoga, Ohio. These locales are going about the same thing, but on a much smaller scale.

Cuyahoga expects to spend $2 million a year putting $100 into a college fund for every new kindergartner. The funds can be redeemed by graduates towards college or vocational training.

The City and County of San Francisco are chipping in with the first $50 contribution to a college fund for every one of its new kindergartners. (For information, see http://www.k2csf.org/)

These smaller funds, even with compounding interest, may never pay for a big chunk of a student’s college education. But the accounts can be supplemented over the years with other donations from friends, family and a student’s own savings. And they’re not just about the money; they’re about the idea of going to college.

Just the existence of a college fund in a student’s name, even if it’s a modest one, can help  shape the expectations of a family and its kids. A family that may not have expected to send its child to college might begin to raise its sights.

West Sacramento is a city of challenging demographics, like Kalamazoo and San Francisco. Not every kid now going to school here believes that college or other higher education are realistic options. Funding a college account for each young child would be one way to chip away at that kind of defeatism.

A college fund program in West Sacramento need not rely on the cash-strapped Washington Unified School District for dollars. The program could be a partnership, using funds cobbled together from the city and from private donors to help. After all, encouraging kids to stay in local schools and then go to state colleges and universities (like the local Sac City College branch) would be good for West Sacramento’s economy.

It’s one way the whole city can help the local school district “foster a culture of higher expectations.”

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Southport’s beaver problem: better to manage the animals than to kill them

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 20, 2013 —

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Feb. 13, the News-Ledger published a story about city-sponsored trapping of a beaver colony discovered in Southport’s Bridgeway Lakes area. You can find the original article here. Below is a response.

The author, Heidi Perryman, Ph.D. (courtesy photo)

The author, Heidi Perryman, Ph.D. (courtesy photo)

By Heidi Perryman, Ph.D.

Trapping, as you know, is a short-term solution that will need to be repeated again and again when new beavers return to the area. It almost always makes more sense to keep the beavers you have, solve any problems they are causing directly, and let them use their naturally territorial behaviors to keep others away.

Protecting trees is an easy fix. Wrap them  in a cylinder of galvanized fencing, leaving enough space for the tree to grow. Or try the less obtrusive abrasive painting. Paint the trunks with a latex paint that matches the color of the bark, adding heavy mason sand. Beavers dislike the gritty texture and will not chew.

[adrotate group=”10″] Remember that beaver-chewed trees will ‘coppice’ which is an old forestry term referring to hard cutting back a tree so that it grows in bushy and more dense. This is why beavers are so important to the population of migratory and songbirds – their chewing creates prime nesting real estate for a host of bird life. Willow is very fast-growing and if the stumps are left in the ground they will replenish quickly.

Why should a city learn to tolerate beavers? They are a keystone species that create a dramatic impact on the spaces they cultivate – even urban and suburban spaces. Here in Martinez we have documented several new species of birds and fish since they colonized our creek, as well as otter and mink! In addition, beavers are considered a ‘charismatic species’ which means that children love to learn about them and they provide a great educational tool for teaching about habitat, ecosystems and stewardship. Why not involve the local Boy Scout troop in planting willow shoots every spring?

Take Amtrak to our sixth beaver festival this summer and see it all for yourself!

  The author is president and founder of “Worth a Dam,” whose organization can be seen at www.matinezbeavers.org.

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Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Cruise aboard the Sea Scout cutter

Former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morris, now the flagship vessel of the West Sacramento-area Sea Scouts (courtesy of the Sea Scouts)

Former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morris, now the flagship vessel of the West Sacramento-area Sea Scouts (courtesy of the Sea Scouts)

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER —

A pair of brunch cruises aboard the former Coast Guard Cutter Morris will serve as a fundraiser for the Delta Youth Maritime Association.

The brunch cruises will be held Feb. 24 & 25, and a dinner cruise is offered on the 23rd. Donation: $75 for brunch or $125 for dinner, tax-deductible. Email sssneptune@gmail.com or call 775-3732.

Copyright News-Ledger 2013

Car thief takes the bait

FROM THE NEWS-LEDGER — FEB 20, 2013 —

News-Ledger Staff

The bait this time was a Cadillac Escalade. A thief took the bait in West Sacramento last Tuesday, Feb. 12.

According to police reports and information from West Sacramento Police Department Lieutenant Tod Sockman, local police and the CHP left the specially-equipped Escalade alone at the corner of Westacre Road and Merkley Avenue for some time.

Then they waited to see what happened.

The “bait car’s” sensors tripped on the night of Feb. 12.

At 8:52 p.m., a signal from the car reported it was on the move. Police responded.

“Officers got directly behind the moving vehicle,” said a police report. Then, using a remote control, they “locked the doors and deactivated the engine. A felony vehicle stop was performed by marked police units.”

[adrotate group=”9″]  With officers at the ready, the Escalade’s unauthorized driver was then called out near West Capitol Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard. But the suspected thief made a break for it, “bailing on foot” until pursuing officers took him into custody just south of the vehicle stop.

Into jail for allegedly trying to steal the “bait” car went Jason Daniel Moore, a 29-year old resident of Hobson Avenue.

The News-Ledger asked Lt. Sockman if the “bait cars” were left unlocked or with the keys inside.  He said methods vary from case to case, but the keys weren’t left in this Escalade.

“In general, they have to work for it,” he added.

  Do you like what you see here?

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  You can even try it for free for two months if you live in West Sacramento. Just send your name and mailing address to FreeTrial@news-ledger.com (offer open to new subscribers in West Sacramento ZIP codes 95691 & 95605).

Copyright News-Ledger 2013