Editor's note: The following are letters from readers about the Daily Pilot's three-part series, School Flight, which was published Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Congratulations on the wonderful and insightful story on Sunday's front page. Staff writer Mike Reicher has done a great service to Costa Mesa to so intelligently and objectively examine a sensitive subject that is often avoided. The editorial was also excellent. The Daily Pilot has really matured under your leadership.
We have lived four houses from Adams Elementary School for 49 years and have seen many changes. Every day, I used to enjoy watching scores of little ones walk past our house on the way to school. Now, I see them being driven away.
Our seven children attended Adams, TeWinkle Intermediate School and Estancia High School. They all are college graduates and most have graduate and professional degrees. Their children are now in Newport-Mesa Unified School District and are experiencing a different world — changing demographics and more competition for college admission.
We joke in our family that there are the Newport Forbaths and the Costa Mesa Forbaths. We have a grandson at Adams and two grandsons at Mariners Elementary School. The Adams student is achieving at the same level as the Mariners kids.
We have granddaughters both at Estancia and Newport Harbor High School. Each school provides its own benefits.
The academic challenge at Newport Harbor might be greater because of the competition and more resources, but because of its size, Estancia provides greater opportunity to actively participate in sports, drama, student government, journalism, etc. — all important pieces of a well-rounded education. Our oldest grandson graduated from Estancia and now attends UC Berkeley, as does a Latina classmate.
Our Newport grandchildren have wonderful friends, so do our Mesa Verde grandchildren, but they're lucky to have developed close friends with many young people and their families from the Westside.
We've attended many functions at Estancia, Adams and TeWinkle, and are moved when we see the beauty of mixed cultures and when we see the tears of joy and pride on both brown and white faces as their kids perform, receive awards and graduate. There's no greater common denominator than parents' love and pride in their children.
All I can say to those who hesitate to send their children to our Costa Mesa Westside schools, you're missing a lot of great experiences. You should give it a try.
Adams teacher responds
I am a teacher at Adams Elementary School, and I would personally like to express my gratitude for the unbiased way you presented the issue of "white flight" at my school. Susan Sanchez is one of my former students, and I loved seeing her smiling face in the paper.
In the six years I have taught at Adams, I have seen many neighborhood families leave for other schools, but have also witnessed huge gains made by our Latino students. I think it's important to clear up the misconception that classrooms at Adams are full of non-English-speaking students.
In six years, I have only had two such students enter my classroom. One boy entered my class as a fifth-grader knowing fewer than 10 English words. He was such a diligent student and hard worker that, when I was assigned to teach sixth grade the following year, I insisted he remain under my tutelage.
He showed up at my classroom door recently. I was stunned to discover that, after only four years in America, he is not only speaking English fluently, but he was accepted to start ninth grade at Early College High School and is earning college credit along with his regular high school classes. He is also a part of ASB and was placed in an advanced English class.
It is a huge misconception in our neighborhood community that these immigrant children can't learn. My former student is proof that schools like Adams and TeWinkle Intermediate School can help students reach success.
I just had to share that with you. Thanks again for presenting both sides of this argument without being nasty. Adams is a wonderful school and I hope, after reading your article, more neighborhood families give us a second chance.