This feedback forum is designed to give readers a way to voice criticisms and compliments or ask questions about The Californian’s news coverage. Your questions may be edited for space and clarity.

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Reader: I have read your March 17 editorial, "More evidence that education matters," and the March 17 Community Voices article written by county schools superintendent Mary Barlow, "Education has a new tool for transparency." I find it hard to believe that you are giving a round of applause to these people who just mismanaged and lost $19 million.

The reason Kern County has some of the worst public schools in the nation is because of these irresponsible people. If we continue to whitewash what has happened to our children under Mary's watch, then we deserve the high dropout rates and fewer college graduates.

Unfortunately the Kern County Superintendent of Schools is clearly living in La-La land when she should be out there trying to find out which employee or employees stole $19 million from the children of Kern County.

— William Guerrero

TBC: If those positive commentaries were representative of a hands-off, good-news-only approach to education coverage on our part, you might have a point. But as anyone who's been paying attention well knows, it's not.

We have been aggressively covering Kern County schools for years — graduation and expulsion data, test scores and personnel issues, both the achievements and the challenges. Our James Burger takes a penetrating look at the $19 million theft to which you refer in Sunday's Californian, so don't think for a moment it's escaped our attention.

Barlow wrote about two new programs that will make noteworthy improvements in the way we monitor our children's education. Our editorial re-emphasized education's role in transforming our local economy. No scandal, no cyber-theft, no lawsuit can change any of that.

— Robert Price, senior editor

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Reader: In March 6's "Dear Kevin" letters to the editor, I believe The Californian neglected its responsibility to its readers. All of the letters, expressing the full spectrum of political viewpoint, were civil and respectful in their expression of dissent or agreement with others, except one. The letter titled "Dems must work for good of America" used the nonsense pejorative word "Dem-craps" to refer to Democrats.

Gratuitous school-yard name calling brings nothing of substance to her discussion. Maybe the writer would be happy if I referred to her as a "Rethuglican" or "Repugnant." The Californian, as moderator of the letters section, should either refuse to publish or at least remove this childish name calling that accomplishes nothing from submitted letters. If I want to read this vile stupid silliness that is ruining our ability to have a reasoned discussion, I have only to read the comments sections of any number of online sites. I expect more from The Californian.

— Mike Glinzak

TBC: You're completely correct. That abusive silliness has no place in the paper. We broke our own rules about name calling and criticism of a party or ideology without a very specific example. Mea culpa.

— Price

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TBC: Our March 14 paper included an article about a rather distasteful incident in Kern County Superior Court, "Inmate smeared feces on himself in court Monday, authorities say." Not everyone was delighted to read it. Well, I suppose no one was delighted to read it, but there it was.

— Price

Reader: Well, that was important to let the community know about.

— Gary Beard

Reader: Why is this news? Come on! Why can't you report on the crime in communities? The fact that we are short officers to protect and serve the community? Real news.

— Chandra Beaty

TBC: When an inmate/defendant disrupts court proceedings, occupies the time of courtroom bailiffs and throws the court schedule into chaos, it's a story. When the reason is something as, um, unique as this, it's a somewhat bigger story.

I'm sorry the story grossed out so many people, but I will note that it was one of our better-performing online stories. That's not why our Jason Kotowski wrote it, though. Major inconveniences that affect hundreds of people demand attention. Had we not, I might be answering Sound Off complaints asking how we could have possibly missed it.

— Price

The Californian welcomes your comments and suggestions. To offer your input, please call 395-7649 and leave your comments in a voicemail message or send an email to soundoff@bakersfield.com. Please include your name and phone number. Phone numbers won’t be published.

(2) comments

Jpb1055

Ms Barlow, with all due respect, California and Kern County does not need a better way of analyzing student success, we need better teachers. California is ranked 46th out of 50 states in educating our children. We throw money at the problem and now we’re throwing money at showing how bad we really are. Frankly, these people have no idea what to do. There seems to be a level of incompetence with educators in this state and it’s scaring me. The problem is systemic. I was watching the movie “School of Rock” on TV the other night and heard the line where Jack Black’s character says something like “teacher’s who can’t teach, teach gym”. I would change that to teachers in California, who can’t teach, become Administrators. So you have Administrators who were bad teachers, telling teachers how to teach. It’s really that bad. Let’s pay our good teachers more than we pay administrators and evaluate teachers with competent individuals. Let’s take the money and train our teachers to be the best they can be. If they can’t improve, fire them. Our children are depending on the smart choices we make today.

Tam Daras

William Guerrero does not read well enough to understand that the Kern County Superintindent of Schools was responsible for about ten percent of the total and that it was Christine Frazier, not Barlow at the helm when the money disappeared. The Californian has excellent reporters who do wonderful work, but many of the readers aren't well informed otherwise.

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