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Admit talent

Re “Opening up the arts school,” Opinion, April 8

Although I can sympathize with the feelings of the inner-city parents concerning the new arts school because my child too attends an overcrowded LAUSD high school, it makes sense to allow motivated students from all over the district to apply.

To keep the new school from being a bastion of white flight, the district could create a point or lottery process along the lines of the magnet system for students who are already enrolled in LAUSD schools and whose teachers recommend them. This would encourage middle-class investment in public schools.

Perhaps retention in the school could be based on performance. If students don't work hard to make the most of the opportunity, they would have to make way for others who would.

Ruth Anne Hammond

Los Angeles

The writer is president of the board of directors of Resources for Infant Educarers, an education nonprofit.

Re “Discord builds over new arts school,” April 6

As an arts educator, I was surprised at The Times' article concerning the intense discord over how to use the new Los Angeles Unified arts school to serve a broad student population in the arts.

After years of planning and building an outstanding arts facility in the inner city, the LAUSD does not seem to grasp the opportunity to be on the cutting edge of leadership for students who have the passion for an arts education but who would otherwise not be able to compete with students who have money and years of formal training.

I have always believed that if a child has the desire to learn the arts, he or she should be given a way to do so. I taught dance and theater for many years in inner-city schools and know that artistic giftedness is not limited to the few. If you give children four years of sequential and rigorous study in the arts of their choice, they will develop into true artists -- products of the promise of a good public education.

Lois Hunter

West Covina

The writer is the chair of the theater department at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

Monkey business

Re “Prosecutors now target of inquiry,” April 8

There's an old Chinese saying that applies to bringing criminal charges against the Justice Department lawyers who deliberately and flagrantly violated laws mandating fair trials in their case against former Sen. Ted. Stevens (R-Alaska): "Kill the chicken to scare the monkey."

As long as there are no genuine consequences to bad behavior, legal monkeys will continue to violate the rights of the citizens.

Janet Weaver

Huntington Beach

Going beyond appearances

Re "Judged by her face, longing to break free," April 5, and "Step by step, a life is changed," April 6

I began reading the story about Ana Rodarte, who suffers disfigurement from neurofibromatosis, out of curiosity; I plunged into its conclusion the next day because I thought it was one of the best-written articles I've seen in years.

The Times' lengthy involvement in this young woman's life; the writer's use of the English language and dispassionate, yet caring, observations -- all amounted to an award-worthy piece, at least in my humble opinion.

I'm glad to have this opportunity to crow about a truly moving article.

Kristene Wallis

Valley Village

::

Ana deserves to drink, dance, laugh, get agitated and be as miserable as young people can be -- no matter how she looks. She is a great communicator for young women and men and how they feel inside.

I look forward to reading about Ana owning her own salon and dancing on tables.

Lena Cole Dennis

Compton

The writer is president of the board of directors at Arc Mid-Cities, which works with people with developmental disabilities.

Dems disarm the military

Re “Pentagon chief takes aim at big weapons programs,” April 7

Here we go again. We get a Democratic administration and the dismantling of the military begins.

Carter cut the military, Reagan had to restore it; Clinton cut the military, Bush had to restore it. Now Obama, by cutting growth in spending, begins to dismantle the armed forces again.

The No. 1 responsibility of the federal government is to provide for the common defense. The world is a dangerous place. To surrender our technological superiority in weapons would be a grave mistake. Teddy Roosevelt's advice is still applicable today: "Speak softly and carry a big stick."

The only light at the end of the tunnel is that a Republican president will eventually come along and restore the military.

David R. Gillespie

Bonita

Re “Pentagon chief takes aim at big weapons programs,” April 7

It's all about Spector's gun

Re “Legal fees sapping Spector’s fortune,” April 8

Instead of another puff piece on Phil Spector's fame and fortune, how about questioning whether he is just another in a seemingly endless stream of unbalanced men who threaten women with guns?

If the five women who've stepped forward to testify against him had been more interested in the pursuit of justice back when Spector threatened them, he would have been in jail years ago.

In an exercise in obscurantism reminiscent of the O.J. debacle, Spector's legal team has tried everything from questioning his driver's ability to understand English to trotting out the obligatory blood-spatter experts.

What they have not done (aside from refusing to allow their "innocent" client to testify) is answer the most basic question of all: How did Phil Spector's loaded gun get introduced into what was ostensibly a casual conversation over drinks?

Howard Bodner

Tarzana

A force against nature

Re “J.G. Boswell, 1923-2009,” Obituary, April 7

All of those facts cluttering up the obituary of the agribusiness tycoon James G. Boswell II make the reader pause in admiration for a man who used his "combination of political clout and legal strategy to outwit many of the environmental groups that have tried to restrict water deliveries to California agriculture," who encouraged "the building of the Pine Flat Dam to shut the flow of water to Tulare Lake, which at one point was the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River" and who "helped farmers outflank state and game regulators and pump water from excessive snowmelt into the north fork of the Kings River, [introducing] the nonnative predatory white bass into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."

Quite a testimony to one man's domination of public natural resources. Is it no wonder that democracy comforts the comfortable?

Janis Knepp

Monterey

'Pray, pay and obey'

Re “An age of change for Catholics?,” April 5

The Times is extremely naive if it assumes that a new generation of Catholic bishops will breathe fresh air into a church governed by the current Vatican gerontocracy.

The rules of popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are rightfully characterized as restoration papacies -- a return to a medieval, authoritarian model of church governance.

This has led to a reversal of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which fostered dialogue, collegiality and creativity.

Clerics are fearful of speaking out. Women have no access to leadership positions. The role of the faithful is to pray, pay and obey. And with few exceptions, newly appointed bishops will continue to be Vatican yes men.

Mark Day

Vista

The writer is a former editor and correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.

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