Composite lumber may stack up trouble
Your June 15, Page 1 article ``Plastic stacks up admirers as alternative deck material'' was informative but, I believe, slightly biased.
As an engineer who has been in the electronics control business since 1971, I have designed a significant number of outdoor enclosures. Most have been plastic. I have seen a number of good designs and a few bad ones.
One brand of composite lumber in particular is a bad one. Our local lumber store has pallets of it stored outside next to pallets of real wood of the same size. All of the piles of this brand of composite lumber have sagged and distorted badly around the spacers used between layers. The wood is still straight.
Why would anyone build a deck with a product that can't support itself in storage? Maybe it is just improper storage, but it is visual marketing at its worst. Also, the cement-gray color looks too industrial-functional. Wood, even some of the marginal deck wood sold here in New England, at least has visual character.
My suggestion to those who would promote plastic lumber is to get out in the real world where the material is sold and used. Look at it from a nontechnical customer standpoint. Ask yourself, ``Would you pay more to have a barbecue on plastic rather than wood?''
Dark to Light
Public schools need industry commitment
Recently, the Los Angeles Times ran a series of articles addressing the crisis in California public education. The primary question being raised is, ``Why are the schools in California failing?'' That same question was put to Sen. Dede Alpert, D-Coronado by industry leaders at the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Western Section Conference on May 16.
Referring to the local problem that affects us all, Alpert responded with her own concern over the alarming statistics: 200,000 students being added to the system each year, a stagnating amount of funding per student, dramatic decline in student SAT and other scores, and worse, money that is available does not seem to be reaching the right areas.
According to most, the underlying causes include a tenure system that is out of control, the inability of especially big urban areas to attract the needed numbers of qualified teachers, and the lack of awareness and commitment on the part of parents, community and industry.
Solutions offered by Alpert include movement toward a system that sets standards and holds schools, teachers, students and parents accountable for the results.
Nor can the role of industry be ignored. Alpert acknowledged industry leaders for their work in such programs as the SPI Plastics Education Program, scholarships to students and schools, career days, and for their general support of the educational system. However, she emphasized the need to not only continue, but to expand this kind of commitment.
H. Muehlstein & Co. Inc.
Picciuto also is on SPI's Southern California Chapter board of directors.