In the August 2011 issue of Motor Trend magazine there was an article comparing two new BMWs, the M1 and the M3. The author got two California Highway Patrol officers to close a portion of the newly opened Angeles Crest Highway in order to put these cars to the test.
The article goes on to talk about the high-speed turns the cars took and how well the cars took them. When young drivers read an article like this, they too want the rush of taking these high-speed turns. This is an extremely dangerous stunt that can result in major injuries and, as we have seen in the recent weeks, even death.
Growing up in the Glendale area, I have heard many horror stories about the famous Angeles Crest Highway (“Crest deaths prompt investigation,” July 7). With “The Crest” closed for so long, we got a break from hearing about all the accidents that took place there.
However, back in high school, the roads were usually open, and many of the car enthusiasts would talk about going up to “The Crest” to race. Many of these people actually went up in the dead of night, accelerating to lethal speeds.
A few times a year I would hear of someone getting into an accident, usually losing control on a turn and scraping the railings. However, I have heard of cars flipping or even catching on fire. Many people think that they are in control when they really aren't, and a bulk of these accidents and deaths must have been attributed to high speeds.
The collapse of public ethics
Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino's bill that would freeze salaries and prevent bonus pay for the state’s highest paid workers during the current fiscal crisis is highly commendable as it recognizes the crisis in the finances of the state government.
Overspending by state politicians of whatever stripe over a long period of time is the cause, on one plane, of this quagmire. Beneath that is the shrinking in the tax base and the collapse of the nation's economy, with the federal government being in debt to the tune of $4.3 trillion.
Shady and reckless business practices of the rich and compliance and apathy by the politicians is the cause of this. The basic reason, which people resist in accepting, is the nihilism of society caused by the collapse of public ethics and, let's face it, morals since the mid sixties. The chickens have finally come home to roost.
Dr. Michael Zurowski
An exercise in mediocrity
I am a parent of children who attend Palm Crest Elementary and La Cañada High School. I support the La Cañada school district's and LCTA's efforts in pursuing best practices and I believe teacher-teacher and teacher-administration collaboration is a best practice. However, the value of a best practice does not merely derive from a theoretical construct but, more importantly, in the way the theory is applied and executed. The way the board and LCTA have chosen to implement collaborative work will diminish the basic concept from a best practice to an exercise in mediocrity.
Collaboration and implementation of differentiated lesson planning would be far more effective if it were done on a far more regular basis than four times per year. Concentrating the work onto four full days will diminish its effectiveness.
In my experience, group work, unless it’s facilitated by an extremely talented professional, loses its effectiveness after about three hours. Participants lose energy and focus, ideas become either stale or redundant and negative group dynamics often develop. This inefficiency will come at the expense of four days of instruction. I know instructional minutes are being maintained, but this can't possibly compensate for four lost days. At the high school level, days will be lengthened by 9 to 12 minutes; that's one-and-a-half to two minutes per class. You cannot convince me that even the best instructor can augment his/her daily instructional content in that amount of time in a manner that will mitigate the loss of four days.
A holistic look at how other high-performing districts address total instructional days, total instructional minutes, staff development and collaboration days and collaborative and tutorial time over and above staff development days and instructional time further convinces me that we can do better than the current plan.
License the politicians?
It is irresponsible to spend more than our income. The state of California has been taking in approximately $80 billion a year and spending $100 billion. Our Assemblymembers, with the help of their/our state senators, should hold town meetings to explain how the state budget is constructed, or not constructed, to meet fiscal responsibility.
So when do you think the first town meeting should take place? Will you attend? Will you ask our Assembly representative to set a meeting and then announce the date and time? I am sure our city will loan out the council chambers — and maybe broadcast it on TV if the demand for seats exceeds the space.
Should this effort or town meeting be successful, it can easily become a model for every other city to sponsor “how our state budget looks when it is balanced.” Of course it should be a simple explanation of numbers that we lay people can understand.
Incidentally, in order to sell insurance or stocks and bonds, a person needs to be licensed because they are considered to be in a fiduciary capacity. Maybe our state’s politicians should be required to be licensed in the ethics of a balanced budget before they are allowed to seek votes.