Readers React
Letters to the editor and readers' opinions.
The right to know about our teachers

To the editor: Supt. John Deasy should feel embarrassed to admit that Los Angeles Unified School District teachers are so petty that learning another teacher was more effective than they would engender resentment and jealousy among teachers, spur "unhealthy" comparisons among staff and cause some instructors to leave the district. ("Judges rule against letting public see LAUSD teachers' performance," July 23)

If what Deasy is saying is true, a fact about which I am incredulous, then teacher hiring practices need revamping. The response to learning that another teacher is more effective than you should be to ask for teaching tips.

The three-judge panel ought to be ashamed as well for calling it a "specter" when parents demand that their children be taught by the highest quality teachers. When the judges' rich friends clamor to pay top dollar for their children to have a place in the highest performing private schools, do the judges call it a "specter" then?

Adreana Langston, Long Beach

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Speaking up for Laura's Law in L.A.

To the editor: British psychiatrist Tom Burns says that he doesn't expect Laura's Law to make a big difference. Yet the results of his study in the medical journal Lancet show that steady, flexible and persistent outreach, coupled with high quality and well-coordinated mental health services (voluntary or not) produce the best long-term outcomes. ("Can Laura's Law help the mentally ill? Researcher Tom Burns' surprising conclusion.," Op-Ed, July 22)

This is exactly what Laura's Law requires and what L.A. County's implementation seeks to deliver. Almost all of it will be voluntary. Many stakeholders agree that L.A.'s plan represents new hope for some of our most vulnerable people.

When it comes to compulsory treatment, Burns says that "If I have a seriously ill schizophrenic patient who is neglecting himself, not taking his medicine, and I know he's going to get worse, I can say that it's a 'danger' to his health."

This broad European definition of "danger" sounds a lot like the...

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Think teachers are overpaid? Think again.

To the editor: The Times reports that full-time public school teachers in California earn an average of $84,899 a year, tacitly sending the message that teachers are overpaid. ("New database details pay of California public school employees," July 24)

This statistic comes from a convenience sample, which relies on voluntary data submissions and cannot produce an accurate average for a population. To broadcast it in a subheadline is a statistical embarrassment.

This convenience sample in particular has produced an inaccurate statistic because, according to the article, it leaves out data from the largest district in the state, L.A. Unified. According to the Daily News, the average LAUSD high school teacher salary is about $62,000.

It's simple: Incomplete data produce a distorted statistic. To use that to make a statement about teacher pay is simply wrong.

Isaac Harris, Culver City

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To the editor: "Average" is a very suspect descriptive measure, influenced as it is by numbers at the...

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Letahl injection too unreliable? Bring back firing squads.

To the editor: This may "politically incorrect," but I couldn't care less if a convicted murderer suffers during an execution. If anything, we have so sanitized executions that we've forgotten that punishment is supposed to be, well, unpleasant. ("Executions should not be run by trial and error," Editorial, July 24)

If, however, we must embrace "humane" execution methods, let's not forget the tried and true firing squad. Death by firing squad is the original execution standard. It's efficient, instantaneous—and works every time.

Thomas R. Atkins, Sherman Oaks

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Are the children crossing our border asking for too much?

To the editor: The "crush" of minors at our southern border has pushed the GOP into panic mode. Republicans need to take a breath and think more compassionately. ("GOP focused on wrong set of children," Op-Ed, July 23)

These kids could soon be part of our workforce, paying taxes and funding Social Security. The kids who make it to our border should be welcomed with open arms, not by a show of military might, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry seems ready to do by ordering National Guard troops to the border.

Perry could benefit by rereading the history of his great state. Early in 19th Century America, ranchers and fighters freely crossed the southwestern border. They were not seeking Mexican citizenship but had the express agenda of creating their own republic.

Today's Central American kids are not separatist insurgents. They just want a safer, family-oriented land in which to grow up — the land of opportunity, right?

J.H. Benson, Altadena

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To the editor: While we are making plans to organize...

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L.A.'s inexorable march to bike friendliness

To the editor: The slow-motion rollout of an interconnected network of bicycle lanes and signed bike routes recalls our half-century effort to re-create a regional rail system to make car-free mobility a choice. Opposition from the community and, most significantly, City Council members like Gil Cedillo are a challenge we'll work through. We simply must build the infrastructure necessary to make corridors like Figueroa Street in Highland Park safe to transit no matter the mode of travel. ("Some bumps in the road on the way to a bike-friendly L.A.," Editorial, July 22)

It's true, state-approved traffic controls like bicycle lanes may sometimes require a "road diet." And that's all to the good: Wide streets and multiple travel lanes are a recipe for speeding, which is a major contributor to injury collisions and deaths. Delays, if any, however, are merely an inconvenience.

Mobility in Southern California will change, and our communities and elected officials must adapt. Building a...

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Congress isn't dysfunctional? You've got to be kidding.

Former Rep. David Dreier took to The Times' Op-Ed page on Monday to assure readers that it's not as bad as it seems in Congress.

The nearly unanimous response from the nearly two dozen readers who sent us letters: Are you serious?

To say that readers greeted Dreier's relatively rosy view of the current unpopular Congress with skepticism would be too charitable. Some mocked the former San Dimas congressman's fellow Republicans, and others called the piece naive and even cynical.

Here are some of the more kind letters.

Frances Pin of Marina del Rey reminds Dreier of one thing Americans agree on:

It's been tried many times before, the guilty claiming innocence by accusing the victim.

Dreier does just that. He blames the people for being divided, implying that the members of Congress themselves are not at fault. This is why only 13% of Americans approve of Congress, according to a January Gallup poll. Eighty seven percent of the people being of one mind in their disapproval doesn't sound...

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Don't forget the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

To the editor: Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael B. Oren is absolutely right that Gaza needs to be demilitarized and that moderate Palestinian Authority officials such as President Mahmoud Abbas need to be involved in ending the latest round of bloodshed. ("A Gaza solution: demilitarization," Op-Ed, July 21)

But he omits the paramount importance of finally implementing the Oslo Accords toward actually creating manageable borders between the states of Israel and Palestine, based on a withdrawal to something resembling the pre-1967 borders.

If reporters and commentators fail to bring up the peace process, it's easy to forget — or for current generations never to learn — the roots of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Each people deserves its own nation, a process that was begun when plans for the states of Israel and Palestine were created by the United Nations in 1947.

Eileen White Read, Pasadena

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To the editor: Oren is the voice of reason in the conflict...

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How 'humane' can the death penalty be?

To the editor: Philosophers and medical professionals can debate whether it is more humane for the state to kill the condemned via firing squad, as U.S. 9th Circuit Court Chief Judge Alex Kozinski suggested, rather than by using lethal injection. ("Federal appeals court refuses rehearing on Arizona execution case," July 21)

Either way, as long as killing murderers remains public policy, the state should not attempt to conceal the brutality of an execution from the public. Killing behind a curtain only serves to stoke ambiguity, such as in the recently botched Arizona execution in which two observers saw the same thing differently.

To ensure that the public is fully informed of how capital punishment is meted out, executions should be recorded and made available for public viewing. Whether or not we like what we see, at least we will know.

Mark Shoup, Apple Valley

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To the editor: Just who are those complaining about murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood III's nearly two-hour execution...

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Hobby Lobby ruling's next victims: LGBT workers?

To the editor: Plaudits to Michael Hiltzik for highlighting how the U.S. Supreme Court's outrageous Hobby Lobby decision may abet religious zealots' discrimination against gays and transgenders in the business world. ("Hobby Lobby's harvest: A religious exemption for LGBT discrimination?," July 16)

Hiltzik's telling parallels with mid-20th century racism ring true. For pious segregationists, the 1896 decision Plessy vs. Ferguson served to keep public schools segregated until Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954.

That epic reversal set the stage for civil rights legislation enacted during the next decade, which served to counter persistent racism.

Hiltzik's apt insights suggest that the 5-4 Hobby Lobby decision won't, like the Plessy ruling, endure for decades. All that's needed is one more high court justice who favors equal rights over faith-based discrimination.

Devra Mindell, Santa Monica

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To the editor: From the space Hiltzik has given the Hobby Lobby decision, one would think...

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A parking-ticket trap near LACMA?

To the editor: Similar to James Buch during his visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, after assessing the peculiar signage on 6th Street, I thought it was OK to park there. When I returned, I had the same rude surprise that I was in fact incorrect. ("Caught in the whirl of the City Hall mambo," Column, July 22)

My first thought was that this parking trap must catch hundreds of people per year. At the time, I went through all the steps of pleading my case, submitting photos of the signs with a written explanation of why a reasonable person might conclude it was OK to park there. I got nowhere.

But now that this trap has been exposed by Steve Lopez, perhaps something might happen? Nah. They're never going to paint the curb red to make the restriction on parking clear, or refund my $93 if I resubmit my appeal with his article attached. This must be a cash cow for Los Angeles.

Is there no solution out there for us art lovers with the tickets to prove it? What if we band together?

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If Gazans want the Israeli blockade lifted, they ought to repudiate Hamas

To the editor: There is another choice for the residents of Gaza besides living with a blockade or fighting Israel: to repudiate the goals of Hamas or remove it from power. The Hamas charter states its goals as the destruction of Israel and struggle against Jews. Every day with rockets, tunnels and terror, Hamas advances these aspirations. ("Gaza's dilemma: Deadly war or suffocating Israeli embargo," July 23)

The moment Gazans stop the violence and invest their resources and creativity in their people and society, Israel will lift its blockade. But as long as Hamas continues to make Israel's destruction its primary purpose, the conflict will continue.

The greatest beneficiaries of neutralizing Hamas will not be the Israelis but rather the children of Gaza. Today they are taught to hate Israel; without Hamas, they will have an opportunity for a much better future.

Rabbi David Eliezrie, Yorba Linda

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To the editor: Thank you for running a piece that identifies some of the horrible...

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