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The Next L.A. / Reinventing Our Future : READERS RESPOND : Education

On Sunday, Feb. 13, The Times published “The Next Los Angeles: Reinventing Our Future,” a special section intended to spur debate about what residents of Los Angeles and the region can do to shape their future. The public was invited to help in this search for new ways of doing things by calling TimesLink, the Times’ telephone news and information service. Today, Voices publishes reader responses to two issues examined in the special: transportation and education.

JAMES COLEMAN

Writer who serves on LAUSD’s Black Education Commission, Studio City

The question is not about preparing for jobs; it’s about preparing for financial independence. We have to broaden our scope to teach children not only about jobs, but about entrepreneurial opportunities as well as investment strategies. These are the three ways of making money. Our children need to know all of these to be completely well-rounded so when jobs retreat, we won’t panic. They need to know about other options such as how to access government and private and public sources of support. Learning how to take an idea and turn it into an opportunity--problem-solving--should be taught to our children at as young an age as possible.

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BOB MARLIN

Teacher, Los Angeles

I believe Berendo Middle School in Los Angeles Unified is the school of the future. The school is used six days a week, from early morning to late at night.

School starts at 7:40 a.m. There’s a parenting skills class, teen peer counseling groups, an inoculation clinic. After school ends, there’s a school advisory board meeting, a homework clinic that uses USC tutors, a a peer center and English as a Second Language and citizenship classes for parents. Throughout the day, there is group counseling and sessions on drug and alcohol abuse and gang involvement. On Saturdays, the school is leased to Koreans who teach English to adults and Korean history to children.

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MARTHA BLAIR

Homemaker, Lancaster

One of the biggest helps for our schools would be to have smaller classes. I also feel that year-round school, even though I can see the pros to it, can hurt. It hampers team sports, and more importantly, it’s pulling families apart. Your greatest support group is your family. Our kids are on a million different schedules. There’s no time slot to be together as readily as if we were on a traditional school schedule.

ADRIENNE MOONEY

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Public school teacher, Long Beach

The biggest problem with bilingual education is that not enough people--including teachers--understand it. The goal is to teach students to speak two languages, not one. The fastest way to do that is to start off teaching subject matters in their native language, Spanish, while they are learning to speak English. When the students are proficient enough to survive in an English-speaking classroom, that’s where they’re put.

I think teachers should start re-educating themselves on bilingual education and disseminate the information to their students, parents, the PTA and the community. I think once people understand how bilingual education works, there will be greater support for it and a greater understanding of the benefits of it.

RAJ RAMANI

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Community college vocational instructor, La Crescenta

My proposal is that we graduate children at the age of 16 and direct them to two-year community colleges. In those two years, they will be offered either vocational, technical or specific courses that prepare them for core education classes they can take prior to selecting a major of their choice. Vocational and technical programs should prepare them for employment, especially if you get industry involved. Parents would have to get more involved too because community colleges charge $13 a unit and the money would have to come from somewhere or there would have to be scholarships.

CHARLES THOMAS

Los Angeles

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The biggest problem with a lot of kids is that they’ve given up because all they can see is jobs at (fast-food restaurants). More emphasis needs to be put into vocational training, even if a person is going to college.

A lot of times kids have to work. If they have some kind of trade that they can work at full time or part time to help earn funds for college or whatever, it makes it easier and shows them that they can help themselves, that it’s not hopeless, that there is a way out.

TOBY WEISSMANN

Student, Orange Coast College, Costa Mesa

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Classes should be made smaller. There should be some classes that give bilingual education. People should also be made aware of what educational programs are available on television and radio and what books are the best to read besides the assigned books in a given class.


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