Vital role of teachers
Re "A noble profession," Opinion, April 2
Thank you, Susan Straight, for calling teaching a "noble profession." It seems that only those of us who teach understand the truth of that headline. It is disheartening to hear the constant criticism heaped on us.
Every story Straight reported of the resistance teachers face, I have heard time and time again. Somehow, everyone that hasn't been a teacher thinks they know best how to do the job. Does that happen in other professions?
Just as Straight is very proud of her daughter becoming a teacher, I felt the same way when my daughter became a teacher. If our society does not support education, what does that say about our society?
I am a fan of Straight's writing and appreciate her excitement over her daughter's next step. I would like to point out, however, that Teach For America suffers from the same sort of condescension toward the teaching profession that she notes with her various examples.
The premise that high-achieving students can become effective teachers with a summer bootcamp is ludicrous. Highly effective teachers, as Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond points out, need a vision, a theoretical foundation, deep content knowledge, a variety of teaching strategies and effective classroom management.
And that's even before addressing the interpersonal skills that so define the memorable teachers that touched our lives and made us the people we are today.
I too learned to read early and was allowed read novels in the back of the classroom while my classmates were at the "Dick and Jane" level.
My 5th grade English teacher was the first to predict I'd grow up to be a writer, a 7th grade history teacher sparked my lifelong love affair with history, and a high school teacher gifted me with love and respect for the English language. All played a vital role in my becoming a historical writer.
What other profession offers the opportunity to favorably impact so many lives?
Public K-12 education started with the intent to offer equal education to all students. A segment of today's society views this use of taxes as too generous.
Consider this: Today's students, from all districts, will determine the society we live in, not just those students from districts in which parents are able to contribute extra time and money or send their children to private schools.
Equal education is not just a dream, it is a necessity for a stable society. Helping with this, by providing equally for all students, is a noble profession indeed.
Wendell H. Jones
Judging the Supreme Court
Re "Scholars look at 'Supreme Mistakes,' "April 2
We learned that one terrible decision by the Supreme Court was used as precedent for a subsequent terrible decision. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine's law school, argued that the Supreme Court hasn't always embraced the lessons of its mistakes.
I think the court has indeed learned from its past. The justices fixed the problem in their decision in Bush vs. Gore when they stated that their ruling was "limited only to the present circumstances."
Now, when they knowingly make a bad decision or just aren't quite sure it will hold up under scrutiny, they can just say it can't be used as precedent for any other case. They have a sort of "get out of jail free card."
Do "high-powered" legal scholars passing out-of-context judgments on events taking place before most of them were born ever feel as silly as they sound?
Case in point: The sentiment after the attack on Pearl Harbor was such that the Japanese residing in this country were actually safer being relocated to the relative isolation of internment camps. Scholars notoriously view such decisions as if they had been made in a vacuum.
Chemerinsky cannot make the statement that relocation "didn't make us any safer" with any degree of certainty. It is documented that a significant number of Japanese both here and in Hawaii at the time felt an unqualified sense of loyalty to their ancestral homeland.
Nuclear power's risks, benefits
Re "Nuclear fault lines," Editorial, April 3
While acknowledging the potential benefits of nuclear energy, you conclude that the dangers outweigh the benefits.
What is really needed is a comprehensive study of all energy alternatives including solar, natural gas, oil, nuclear, coal and wind and their associated benefits, risks and costs. Seldom are the risks and safety records of other forms of energy production compared with nuclear energy. For example, a May 2007 Times article noted that thousands had died in coal mining accidents in China in 2006 alone.
Yes, I agree that fault-line studies need to be completed prior to renewal of licenses of California nuclear plants. But do not reject nuclear energy without comparing it to other forms of energy.
John C. McKinney
Thank you for your editorial on Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, but it is not strong enough.
All nuclear power plants that are within 100 miles of an earthquake fault should be decommissioned until their operators can present evidence of safety from either a 9.0 earthquake or a power outage lasting two weeks.
Decisions regarding their safety should be made by panels consisting equally of citizens living within 50 miles of the nuclear power plant and nuclear scientists with no financial connection to the industry.
Change of plan on terror trials
Re "Obama bows to military terror trials," April 5
Last year the Obama administration announced it would move the accused terrorists' trials from the military to the civilian court system. The reasons given were to show the world that America is a nation of laws and justice for all.
But Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said this week that he "reluctantly" reversed course because Congress passed legislation barring the use of federal funds for this transfer. The legislation was passed in December, when the Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House.
It seems to me that the administration is accepting the wishes of its own party and does not care what the world thinks of our justice system.
The chickens in Congress have clucked and clucked and scored another victory for Al Qaeda.
More to war than air power
Re "The limits of air power in war," April 3
Andrew Cockburn doesn't understand that air power is but one tool that requires an effective strategy to attain the desired security objectives. To view "air power" as an all-encompassing force is simplistic.
His focus on destruction rather than effects blinds him to the fact that Slobodan Milosevic did surrender after 99 days of air attacks and that the Taliban regime was removed in less than 60 days after an effective air-ground synergy was achieved in Afghanistan. Similarly, the synergy of air and ground forces led to the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.
These objectives were achieved with varying degrees of integrated air and surface operations. Strategy drives the use of force in these respective domains.
Arguing that one is dominant over another betrays a lack of understanding of modern joint operations.
David A. Deptula
The writer, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, was planner of the Desert Storm air campaign, commander of the no-fly zone in northern Iraq and air operations center commander for Afghanistan in 2001.
I was an Air Force air traffic controller who served in Vietnam at what was then the world's busiest airport, Tan Son Nhut. Many pilots and air traffic controllers learned Cockburn's lesson firsthand.
According to "The Vietnam War Almanac" by Army Col. Harry G. Summers, bomb tonnage by U.S. Air Force bombers and fighters totaled some 6.1 million tons, almost triple the tonnage dropped during World War II.
No one tactic, branch of service or weapons system leads to victory in all situations. Terrain, weather, political constraints and enemy endurance and ingenuity are always critical factors.