The deaths of illegal immigrants in the U.S. deserts; health insurance rate hikes; teachers and how they’re evaluated

Deaths in the desert

Re “Border deaths unabated,” Aug. 24

Blame those deaths on the U.S. government for failing to enforce our immigration laws, protect our border and for suing Arizona for trying, as if that were not enough.

The U.S. government has put up signs near the border saying that it is a dangerous zone and to keep out.

We have put a man on the moon, and we may put

one on Mars, but we cannot guard our border and

stop the smuggling of humans and drugs? Give me

a break.

Haydee Pavia

Laguna Woods

Regarding concerns about migrant deaths in the desert, much criticism always is leveled at U.S. immigration policy, but how much responsibility is ever assigned to the

governments of the so-called migrant sending countries?

A reflection of America’s political system? No doubt. But when it results in the callous deaths of hundreds of citizens per year, year after year, one might expect a greater sense of urgency in solving the problem from those governments, whose political leaders are failing their own people.

Doug Bell

San Diego

Not buying these ‘savings’

Re “Anthem cleared to hike rates,” Business, Aug. 26

I’m in awe of the mathematics that Deputy Insurance Commissioner Byron Tucker uses to praise the “savings” for Blue Cross policyholders because of the slower implementation of Anthem’s latest rate increase.

To me, the analogy would be of a man coming out of a bank with a $1,000 withdrawal in his pocket. A robber holds a gun to his ribs and apologizes for his action but demands $900, saying, “Why are you frowning? I just saved you $100.”

Bill Robbins

Los Angeles

So here come the rate hikes. All the big insurance companies do is wait for the heat to cool down and do what they intended to do anyway.

Come on people, get to the phones and write letters to your reps and the insurance commission. It’s time to be heard.

Carolyn Lopez


Is Tucker on drugs? The six-month delay in implementing Anthem’s rate hike “saved” policyholders $184 million?

If that’s how folks in Sacramento calculate “savings,” it’s no wonder California is in a budget crisis.

Hey Byron: For those of us who aren’t covered by generous public employee insurance plans, “savings” would mean an actual decrease in insurance premiums.

Liz Fautsch


A solution for RV waste

Re “RV dweller facing sewage charges,” Aug. 26

Insufficient sanitation facilities for visitors to Venice and elsewhere are a long-standing regional problem that the city is finally recognizing and addressing.

Though not a perfect solution, sump trucks can provide a bridge until proper sanitation facilities can be put in place and can serve as a prevention safeguard, always preferable to pollution and spills.

And creating active neighborhood watch programs as we are doing will put citizens in position to identify — and prevent — illegal dumping with less delay in response time.

A serious plan to immediately address sanitation problems and enforce the laws against polluting our neighborhoods must be swift, and forceful enough to be a deterrent.

Linda Lucks


Arne Duncan’s bad idea

Re “U.S. schools chief to push disclosure,” Aug. 25

I taught elementary school in the Los Angeles Unified School District for 38 years. The Times reports that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan stated that in the district, “most administrators never shared [data on students] with teachers in a useful way.” That is absolutely not true.

Classroom instruction is driven by test scores. Analysis of our test scores is done on a weekly basis.

I am so tired of politicians and the media promoting their careers on the backs of teachers. If one really wants to improve our country, why not publish daily votes of the Republican members of Congress who are standing in the way of getting our nation moving again?

And publishing individual student test scores might encourage our young people to attend school on a regular basis and study. What a concept.

Laurie Ellen Koff


So it’s down to this: The only effective educator is one who raises standardized test scores. The only important thing in education is the standardized test score. Welcome to Arne Duncan’s world.

I’m not ashamed of any success I might have in my classroom. But I am thoroughly ashamed that our secretary of Education shamelessly dangles federal money to coerce schools into degenerating education to its lowest form, the Scantron test.

Brian Miller

San Luis Obispo

Let’s publish the scores. But, because the teacher isn’t the only influence on the child’s testing, we need some other data.

Let’s publish the child’s attendance record. Can we find out if the parents have made sure that their child has consistently gotten enough sleep? Research tells us how important this is for success in school.

Perhaps we should also publish each child’s classroom behavior. Did the child do all of his or her assignments and turn them in on time?

And, sorry to say, I’d also like verification that the tests were administered honestly and that no teacher had an opportunity to alter tests.

We do need teacher accountability. But we also need student and parent accountability. If a teacher’s scores are consistently low, get that teacher some help.

It does no good to publicly humiliate a teacher. A successful teacher knows that you won’t improve student work or behavior by humiliation. It won’t do much for a classroom teacher’s success either.

Laura Teter


For the last 33 years, I’ve been telling my back-to-school audiences that education is a student-teacher-parent partnership, but now Duncan insists that I’ve been wrong all along — that I am the only one responsible. And he wants to publicly rank my teaching effectiveness, as determined by one annual test.

But why stop there? Publish every test score and attach the student’s name to each. You will see instant improvement because everyone will be forced to care. As it stands, teachers are the only ones with any kind of investment in these tests because they don’t affect student grades or promotion in any way.

I know that the three-way partnership is crucial to educating a child. Duncan and the Obama administration are wrong.

Kurt Page

Laguna Niguel

Regarding an art museum

Re “Broad picks Grand Ave. for museum,” Aug. 24

“Coveted” art collection? Please tell me who covets it? Any public official who thinks the economy is going to recover and that yet another art museum is going to be anything other than a long-term drain on the public treasury doesn’t deserve to be in office.

The folly of this project is staggering, from the parking garage to the redundancy of its separate existence to the design that is clearly intended to flatter the patron rather than integrate with the cityscape or enhance the pedestrian’s experience of the city.

Broad is unloading his collection on the public while the getting is good. And what if the public gets stuck with the tab for maintaining a building that can’t be repurposed, right in the center of a supposedly pedestrian-friendly urban core?

Danila Oder

Los Angeles