February 7, 2009
Re “UCLA said yes. Now, the hard part.,” Column One, Feb. 2
As a UCLA student, I am disappointed that our school has chosen diversity over merit. Though Karina De La Cruz's experiences are not to be made light of, they do not compensate for not having the educational experiences necessary to attend a high-caliber university.
Admitting De La Cruz promotes lowering standards for those less qualified and punishes those who have achieved academic excellence by eliminating their opportunity to attend UCLA.
How can De La Cruz be expected to compete with students who took AP literature courses when she takes remedial English? By admitting students less able to succeed, the system fails not only qualified applicants but De La Cruz as well.
A costly opportunity
Re “UCLA said yes. Now, the hard part.,” Column One, Feb. 2
My son had a GPA greater than 4.0 and higher ACT scores than De La Cruz, but is not a minority and fortunately had no hardships. He was not accepted to UCLA last year.
I recognize that the admissions evaluation probably saw potential in De La Cruz. In that case, the school should now assume the responsibility to help her succeed. It should have assigned her a counselor from the time of her acceptance, and should have offered academic resources that her family could not provide.
If public funds cannot be used because of her immigration status, there needs to be private funding. As it is now, she is set up for failure, and the university has done her a disservice. We should not punish our children for what their parents did years ago.
De La Cruz is spending hours on the bus and all the $10,680 she could raise to spend, at most, two quarters at UCLA.
She could have gone to a community college near home for $20 a unit, gotten the English support and other tutoring services she needs, and come out two years later ready to transfer to UCLA.
The 'drain' on the state budget
Re “Immigration a factor in budget math,” Column, Feb. 2
Finally a sensible, insightful article about the drain that illegal immigrants place on the state budget.
California residents and government officials need to face the facts -- we can no longer afford illegal immigration. For every illegal immigrant hired as a nanny, maid, gardener, meat cutter, driver or agricultural worker, the public is paying for the education and medical needs of their families, to the tune of billions of dollars.
Is there no politician who will stand up, admit the truth and do something to rid the state of this burden?
Marina del Rey
George Skelton tries to take an evenhanded approach, arguing that undocumented immigrants are not, as some suggest, responsible for California's budget crisis but also insisting that they are a substantial burden on public resources.
We appreciate the attempt at balance but would have hoped for more attention to immigrants' many payoffs, not just their costs. According to our estimates, immigrants, including those without papers, contribute more than 40% of our region's total economic product -- and thus enhance the tax base. Immigrants are also an important part of a bottom-up strategy for a housing recovery.
Our published research shows that more than half of Mexican immigrants have become homeowners by the time they have lived 20 years in California -- and immigrants and their landlords also pay property taxes, just like anyone else.
We should not shortchange all these contributions. While we agree with Skelton's call for comprehensive immigration reform at a federal level as a real solution, we fear that the emphasis on the "drain" that immigrants pose ignores the true contributions they bring to our region and our state.
The writers are co-directors of USC's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.
Biden earned her title
Re "The doctor of education is back in the classroom," Feb. 2
Honorary titles include DHL (doctor of humane letters) DLitt (doctor of literature) and LLD (doctor of laws).
Traditionally, one is conferred on a university commencement speaker, a philanthropist and so on. The PhD is an earned degree. It usually takes years of academic inquiry and creative scholarship beyond the master's degree. In the case of Jill Biden, her doctorate of education is the recognition of disciplined work, culminating in her contribution to the knowledge in her field. Her thesis becomes a reference for those who do later inquiry and research.
Whether Dr. Biden uses the title is solely her choice. She does not need the approval of uninformed naysayers who insist that it is a presumption. She has earned the right to define herself. Leave her alone.
How to view Hamas
Re "The new Hamas," Opinion, Jan. 31
Fawaz A. Gerges argues that Israel should negotiate directly with Hamas because, although Hamas has not discarded its core ideology that Jews have no place on what it considers Islamic lands, some Hamas leaders might be willing to accept a long-term truce.
When last year's cease-fire began, Hamas had rockets that reached the nearby Israeli town of Sderot. By the end of the cease-fire, which Hamas used as cover to smuggle more lethal weapons into Gaza, it had rockets that reached Beersheba, which is much farther away. It wouldn't take long into a truce for a Hamas-governed Palestinian state to have missiles that reach Tel Aviv.
Unless any Palestinian group is willing to put aside "armed resistance," unambiguously accept Israel's right to exist and embrace peace, Israel would be suicidal to enable the formation of a state led by those who remain committed to its destruction.
Gerges is straightforward and on target. If the U.S. is ever going to regain the respect lost during recent presidential administrations, it must change its preferential treatment of Israel and deal directly and fairly with Muslim countries.
As far as Hamas being labeled a terrorist organization, most Americans must have forgotten that two Israeli prime ministers were once terrorists hunted by the British. Both of these men, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, were welcomed at the White House. I wonder if the present White House administration has the courage to welcome Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal?
Gerges asks why Hamas should bargain away its call for the destruction of Israel before talks even begin. The answer is simple: Hamas should bargain it away to allow talks to begin.
CCC a fine idea
Re "Harking back to the CCC," Feb. 1
I strongly endorse the reestablishment of something akin to the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s. I worked alongside many people who started out in the CCC and went on to become regular employees of the U.S. Forest Service.
Let's not limit our sights to the national parks but expand such a program to all public lands and urge support of parallel programs at the state level throughout the country.
Doing so will help restore and sustain our national heritage. It also will provide skills training for thousands and get urban youth into rural and wild environments, which surely did this New York City kid a lot of good.
The writer is a professor emeritus of geography at Cal State Fullerton.
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