Tests for charter schools
Re "Reimagine LAUSD," editorial, Feb. 11
I appreciate The Times taking a fresh look at the issues with the Los Angeles Unified School District. I'd like to comment about your observation that there may be situations in which a charter school would "encourage" its low-achieving students to leave. It's important that the charter schools not measure student achievement exclusively in terms of success on a college track. They also need to implement a curriculum and high standards suitable for students who wish to pursue trade school after high school.
We must prepare our students with a safe learning environment and the appropriate education to succeed, whether it be in colleges and universities or the trades.
The Times is advocating the wholesale abandonment of the LAUSD's secondary schools to the charter movement. If this is not tantamount to a radical dismissal of the foundations of democracy, of equality and access to a free, high-quality education for all, I don't know what is.
As stated in the editorial as a minor caveat, public schools must accept everyone, while charter schools do not. If this is all we debated, it is obvious that once I have chosen and restricted my elite, highly engaged population, I have chosen my success. Need we mention that charter schools have inconsistent results; that each is a mystery unto itself, with no transparency as to its operations, standards or focus; that each is subject to the whim of whomever controls it for that moment; that its staffing is exploited, and that any student may be ejected for any reason it sees fit?
Just try to find any objective information on charter schools, especially in The Times. What concern does it have for the future of democracy or equality? We need to collectively work to improve our public schools for everyone's benefit.
The shots heard 'round the world
Re "Clemens, former trainer face tough crowd on Hill," Feb. 14
Can someone explain why our congressional leaders have called an investigation into steroid use in professional athletics when we're waging an asinine war, unemployment is on the rise, families are losing their homes, our healthcare system is a shambles, our borders are not secure and our nation's educational system and infrastructure are falling apart? Maybe if Americans cared more about their country than their favorite team, Capitol Hill would have no choice but to deal with real problems.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) is leading a congressional kerfuffle about lies and liars in the game of baseball. Either Roger Clemens or his ex-trainer is lying before Congress. Sure, lying about drug use is a terrible thing, but why is Congress spending so much time investigating baseball drug liars while failing to hold the Bush administration accountable for the lies that have trapped us in Iraq's tar pit of debt, death and disgrace? Its lies before Congress are far more grave, harming a generation of Americans.
We need to build another Baseball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. The motto would be something like: "What happens on the field stays on the field" or "There's no shame in this Hall of Fame." And we can include the following players to start: Pete Rose, "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds and Miguel Tejada.
Race and Obama's run
Re "Obama's rhetoric, American realities," Opinion, Feb. 12
Jonah Goldberg is running scared. He is so desperate not to see Sen. Barack Obama as the Democratic standard-bearer that he plays the race card, insinuating that American whites most familiar with racial problems will not vote for a minority candidate. In this manner, he stoops to the lowest levels of American politics -- places normally reserved for Karl Rove and a few other ultra-conservatives. But the Tuesday primaries show that Obama can win in racially mixed states such as Virginia and Maryland.
The more interesting analysis is that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has run best in Democratic strongholds such as New York, Massachusetts and California, while Obama has run best in red states that are usually in the Republican camp: Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. This raises the interesting specter that Obama may capture many of those red states in November, turning the Democratic victory into a landslide. And that is why Goldberg is so scared.
Goldberg says that Obama wins primaries in states without much diversity because "for Obama's wealthy, white, liberal supporters, diversity is knowing a rich black lawyer, a wealthy Latino accountant and lots of well-to-do gay folks."
So in other words, Obama lost California because the only blacks, Latinos and gays encountered by working-class voters here are carjacking crack dealers, gangbanging illegal immigrants and sodomy-mad pedophiles? Thanks for clearing things up!
In Goldberg's analysis, well-to-do whites are above the fray of interracial tensions, so they find Obama an acceptable candidate. But polls also show that the more education a voter has, the more he favors Obama. Perhaps those voters are swayed by a candidate who refuses to accept money from lobbyists, and that is sufficient change from the typical politician to sustain their hope for a better America.
Now the spotlight is on the actors
Re "Strike's over, but viewers may be looking elsewhere," Feb. 13
Our unions -- the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists -- are a contentious bunch, you bet. On the other side of the 2008 labor divide are the studios and television networks owned by billion-dollar corporations, each in never-ending competition with the other.
With those realities duly noted, a new three-year contract is to be negotiated between the two. Talks between the actors and the producers should begin now. Why? It's obvious: Hollywood -- the industry and the town -- took a savage beating during the writers strike but is now heading back to work.
The actors are next up in the negotiation barrel. Some might think the agreements ratified by the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America are useful templates for the actors to follow. But the issues facing the actors are patently different, both of the bread-and-butter variety and the paradigm-shifting new-media realities that are affecting everyone in professional entertainment.
A strike by the actors is certainly a possibility this summer, but it is by no means inevitable. Talks between the producers and actors should begin as soon as possible so that those negotiations will produce the fair, progressive and responsible contract the actors deserve. Perhaps then our town -- and everyone in the business of show -- will be spared another work stoppage.
A Bush family feud?
Re "Oh, brother!" Opinion, Feb. 10
Although I never have been a fan of the Bush clan, I find the Cain-and-Abel relationship between the brothers Bush detailed in this article to be ironic and tragic. Did George never read the Genesis story? The real victim of this family feud has been the United States of America. Pity we didn't cast out George four years ago.
The gleeful hatefulness (or hateful gleefulness) immersed in Jacob Weisberg's article concerning the family Bush, and particularly President Bush affecting the family's expectations and future, reflects discredit and reproach upon Weisberg.
Harold F. Powell
A lesson in hate
Re "Student is declared brain dead," Feb. 14
Where does an eighth-grade child learn such hate and disregard for human life that he would shoot and kill another boy for being different? Look around. Gays and lesbians in the United States are still second-class citizens. We are bashed every day. We are the target of bullies in our work lives, private lives, crossing the street or going to school. A little boy in Oxnard dares to express himself and is taunted publicly and then killed. Who pulled the trigger? Look around.
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