LAUSD's disgraceful treatment of teacher Rafe Esquith

To the editor: Having known and supported the work of nationally acclaimed teacher Rafe Esquith for more than 25 years, I find the Los Angeles Unified School District's behavior in removing him from his classroom shocking but not surprising, given that it is allegedly based on having his students read Mark Twain's “Huckleberry Finn.” ("Nationally recognized teacher removed from class after allegations of misconduct," June 17)

There are obviously multiple offenses here, not the least of which is that Esquith's students read. They also do math and perform on musical instruments. The horror!

Worse, Esquith actually expects his to students to think for themselves about supposedly racist or sexist material, to weigh it, consider it and learn to draw informed conclusions. He has the gall to believe that learning is accomplished in a classroom with books and not expensive iPads.

In an age when some teens from supposedly advanced Western societies are romanced by the simplistic comfort found in the fascist thinking of racists and jihadists, we should applaud teachers who confront children with challenging, complex material in a context of intellectual inquiry.

We should all be ashamed of ourselves for the way this teacher — and others less famous — have been handled by this school district.

Louis Fantasia, Los Angeles



To the editor: How ironic that in unfairly removing teacher Esquith from the classroom, the school district faulted him for reading to students from Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn," according to his lawyer.

In the process, LAUSD simply corroborated another example of Twain's wisdom: "In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made school boards."

Daniel D. Victor, Los Angeles

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