Viewpoint - January 9, 2008

Letter: Former student finds fault with Woodside High story

As a former student, I am appalled by the portrayal of Woodside High School and public schools in general in the Jan. 2 issue of the Almanac.

The reporter thinly veils his degrading, elitist and borderline racist tone as a celebration of Linda Common's tenure as principal (who, I might add, truly was a great leader for the school).

The story states that public schools "can hardly avoid" being a "magnet for diversity," referring to the spectrum of students' socio-economic backgrounds. This phrase carries a negative connotation and implies that students of lower income backgrounds cause the majority of problems at Woodside (from "substance abuse" to "fights") that would deter parents who could afford "private school tuition" from sending their children to Woodside.

The story slightly touches on the academic and extracurricular opportunities Woodside has to offer, but undermines the good by incorrectly finding fault in Woodside's inability to exclude students.

While of course gang problems exist, and fights did occur during my time at Woodside, the story fails to recognize that an equal number of issues stem from wealthy students from Portola Valley, Woodside and Redwood City. These are the students who brought confederate flags to Cinco de Mayo festivities. These are the students who can afford to buy large quantities of alcohol (and harder drugs).

The story pins all of public education's negative attributes on "diversity," which is an incorrect, elitist and misinformed assumption. Perhaps the writer should reflect on his own attitude which holds him and others back from appreciating our local schools, both public and private, for what they are and also from making progress towards peaceful and equal (I will not go into the faults of the No Child Left Behind Act) education for all.

Emily Marie Beugelmans

Classical Civilization and Italian

UCLA 2010

Woodside High School 2006


Posted by Galen Rosenberg, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 11, 2008 at 7:25 pm

As a public school teacher and a parent of students in the Sequoia UHSD, I want to commend Emily Marie Beugelmans for her excellent letter. It's evident that her experience at Woodside gave her the opportunity to learn how to think critically and analytically and how to write clearly and persuasively. She also learned to appreciate what I see as truly American values. I'm sure UCLA is glad to have her.

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