Some Republican presidential candidates’ blast from the past; a poll on teachers; ending the Occupy L.A. encampment

Backward thinking

Re “Clueless candidates,” Editorial, Nov. 23

Your editorial exposing the clueless, arcane, 19th century policy positions of GOP presidential candidates — focusing on Newt Gingrich’s call to roll back child labor laws — was brilliant.

It reminded me of the famous scene in “Blazing Saddles” in which the Waco Kid explains this kind of folly to Sheriff Bart: “What did you expect? ‘Welcome, sonny’? ‘Make yourself at home’? ‘Marry my daughter’? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know — morons.”


Joe Bonino


Harsh times often yield benefits. As a youngster, my grandfather worked as a janitor in his parochial school. He also sold produce from a cart. He left school after the eighth grade to become a jeweler’s apprentice.

I remember him as a successful businessman, dedicated husband and father (who put three daughters though college), and probably the most fun grandpa anyone ever had.


Because he had an early stake in his family’s welfare, he became a fully rounded, responsible man.

Sue Cuthbertson


Standardized tests vs. teachers

Re “Voters want accountability for teachers,” USC Dornsife/Times Poll, Nov. 21

Are the folks who were polled and who support tying test scores to teacher accountability aware of just how damaging this testing has been to the children they want to protect from “bad teachers”?

Are they aware that what they really seem to want are not highly qualified teachers but highly qualified test givers who will no longer devote their time in the classroom to educating the child but to teaching the latest in test-taking strategies?

What they really want are fewer arts classes but two or three math classes so the school’s test data will give them the superficial comfort of knowing that their child is receiving the best education possible.


Bradley Greer


Students are not accountable for the results of their standardized tests. In other words, the results of the tests do not determine promotion from grade to grade, letter grades in classes or graduation.

The test scores seem to be used only to judge teachers and schools. Was this information a part of the poll questions?

I certainly wouldn’t want my teenager’s performance on one test to count toward 30% of my evaluation as a successful parent.

Laurie Pincus

Los Angeles

Key questions: How will budget cuts, teacher layoffs and a shortened school year affect student progress? And how will test scores be affected by all this?


The push to use standardized tests as a part of teacher evaluations reminds me of the old story of the experimenter with grasshoppers.

The tester clapped his hands behind the grasshopper and measured how far it could jump. Then he cut off a leg, clapped his hands, and measured a much shorter jump. Then he cut off the other leg, clapped his hands, and the grasshopper didn’t move.

The conclusion: Removing the grasshopper’s legs made it deaf.

I taught for 33 years, but I would not advise any student to plan on a career in teaching.

Blair Ceniceros


So voters want accountability for teachers.

Suggestion: Voters should first make it a priority to use their voice and influence to create places and policies that are conducive to the art and reality of teaching.

Ava Lerner-Wooton

Sherman Oaks

How to handle Occupy L.A.

Re “Buying off Occupy L.A.,” Editorial, Nov. 23

Do our laws mean anything anymore? Instead of enforcing the laws that are broken, we negotiate with the lawbreakers? Occupy someone else’s land and partially destroy it, and the city of L.A. will give you 10,000 square feet of office space and, oh by the way, some farmland too?

This will set a terrible precedent and encourage others to commit similar acts. When will our mayor, city attorney and police chief do their jobs and enforce the law?

I support free speech, but taking over public property and refusing to leave is not a right.

Robert Curtis

Los Angeles

So, if I bring a sleeping bag over to the mayor’s office and hang there for a few weeks to protest the business tax break given only to some of the new businesses in the city (I figure we old businesses constitute about 99%), can I get the city to give me some office space for $1 a year?

I might even pay $2 a year, and I don’t even need farmland.

Jeffrey C. Briggs


Meanings of the cross

Re “Complaint spurs review of cross,” Nov. 22

I have no personal feelings about the cross being erected to honor four Marines killed in Iraq. I am a veteran of the Vietnam War, having served in the U.S. Army from 1968-70. I also happen to be Jewish.

Let the cross stand to honor Christian veterans, but please do not presume that it honors “all” veterans.

I am certain there must be veterans of other faiths and beliefs who feel the same way. On this point I agree with the atheists who filed the complaint. But I do feel the cross should stand. Just let it stand for what it is intended to represent.

Sam Prew


About that cross at Camp Pendleton: Why not simply replace it with a thoughtful monument to veterans of all faiths or no faith? It would be more inclusive and honor everyone.

Sylvie Drake Jurras

Los Angeles

For impounding

Re “Towing policy may be revised,” Nov. 23

Why shouldn’t someone who chooses to drive without a license not have his car impounded? Those who knowingly let unlicensed drivers use their vehicles should also have their cars impounded.

Like most law-abiding citizens of this city, I have a valid license, current registration and insurance, so why should the police be forced to look the other way for those who break the law?

Can’t get a license? Then take a bus, ride a bike or walk. Driving is not a right.

Frankly, if the city approves this measure, L.A. residents should seriously consider recalling their leaders.

Charles L. Freeman

Baldwin Hills

Mexico’s gains

Re “Mexico’s war with itself,” Editorial, Nov. 21

Your editorial misses the full picture of the exceptional progress Mexico has achieved in the protection of human rights.

Mexico’s landmark judicial reform, approved in 2008, takes into consideration the full enforcement of due process. Such an ambitious reform cannot be implemented overnight. For this reason, the Mexican Congress has set a time frame of eight years to put it into practice.

Additionally, Mexico’s Supreme Court has issued guidelines establishing that all cases involving human rights violations by military personnel be tried in civilian courts. Any alleged human rights violation by the military must be investigated and sanctioned rigorously.

There’s much work to be done in Mexico, but it is important to recognize the major steps the government has made in recent years. It believes that there is no dilemma between protecting human rights and fighting for security in Mexico.

Ricardo Alday


The writer is a spokesman for the Mexican embassy.

That’ll teach ‘em

Re “Attacking the nonviolent,” Editorial, Nov. 22

It was time for the protesters at UC Davis to leave; they had overstayed their legal right. They were told to leave; they refused.

The alternative to pepper spray was allowing the protesters to stay in violation of the law (unacceptable) or using physical force. I’m sure pictures of protesters writhing on the ground, having their arms twisted to force compliance, maybe resulting in some sprains or broken bones, would have resulted in just as much outcry as using pepper spray (probably more).

As is, the protesters were dispersed without anyone being seriously harmed. The police should be congratulated for doing their job with great restraint and as little force as possible.

P.J. Gendell

Beverly Hills

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