Drones for U.S. law enforcement; value-added teachers’ ratings; and Oregon’s death penalty moratorium

Little snoops

Re “Opening home skies to drones,” Nov. 27

Drones may be inevitable, but why here, and what’s the hurry? Wouldn’t Iran, Syria and North Korea be more likely markets for this latest “gotta have” law enforcement tool? It’s more their style. (And don’t say we never arm our enemies.)

Yes, we’ll probably end up with drones overhead; money and power always get what they want. But I’ll bet that the first American citizen who shoots one down in U.S. territory will become a folk hero.


Bob Carlson

Garden Grove

What test scores don’t measure

Re “Make the scores public,” Opinion, Nov. 28


The problem with Jim Newton’s argument for publishing teachers’ value-added scores, which are determined by multiple-choice standardized tests, is that it is based on the dubious assumption that the scores are a reliable measure of a teacher’s performance. They are not.

There are better ways to assess learning and teaching, and there are better ways to keep parents abreast of their children’s progress in school. Publishing such scores along with teachers’ names is a reckless and irresponsible way to assess teachers and schools.

Gary Nagy


I hereby request the public disclosure of Newton’s employee file.

Alan Buckley

Newbury Park

Oregon’s quiet death row


Re “Oregon’s conscience,” Editorial, Nov. 25

I take issue with your editorial praising Oregon’s governor for disregarding his courts’ rulings regarding execution — and advocating that California Gov. Jerry Brown do likewise. I prefer that our elected officials follow the law and the people’s will and proceed with executing the convicted now on death row.

The same goes for the governor’s and the attorney general’s refusal to defend Proposition 8 in court, as is their responsibility. Our elected officials should not pick and choose which laws they like. They have taken an oath to follow the law.

Neil Morchower


As an Oregonian who visits family in Long Beach, I applaud your editorial on Gov. John Kitzhaber’s stand in giving reprieves to our death row inmates.

As a believer in both justice and love, I wonder if Jesus’ statement to “let the person who is without sin cast the first stone” has relevance to what our governor did?

I also wonder if jury members who hand down the death penalty in court would be willing to be the executioners. That could be an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth — and maybe an end to the death penalty itself.


L.A. Jacobson

Wilsonville, Ore.

The Times asks “Is that justice?” regarding the death penalty. No, it’s not. Justice would be a trial, conviction, one six-month-maximum appeal and then execution. That would be justice for the victims and their families.

Murderers are not worth the high price of

25 years of free room and board, medical care and all the other benefits of our ridiculous system.

Why talk about it anyway? Nobody gets executed anymore.

Mike Kohl

Simi Valley

Thanks to Brown for upholding the will of the majority of California voters. Why else do we vote on an issue if our vote doesn’t count?

Maybe The Times should listen to the families with loved ones who have been murdered before applauding Oregon’s governor.

Janice Gick

Los Angeles

Quibbling with the thank yous

Re “Thanks and no thanks,” Editorial, Nov. 24

Your list of things for which we should be thankful omitted the Occupy movement. Some have criticized the movement because it lacks a specific agenda. However, that paucity highlights that this country’s many problems — from holding Wall Street responsible for ruining the economy for the middle class to income inequality and ever-increasing tuition — are interconnected.

When we elect officials who view government as the problem and not as a positive force in society, we end up with a dysfunctional government.

We should be thankful for the Occupy movement for focusing attention on income inequality while some in Congress want to cut taxes for the rich and allow unemployment benefits to expire.

Arch Miller


The Times should have neither criticized Tony Rackauckas, the Orange County district attorney, for charging 11 students for disrupting a major speech at UC Irvine, nor described the students’ action as an act of rudeness that deserved only a university sanction.

What good is freedom of legally permissible speech when the speech cannot be heard by an interested audience because of disruptions by organized opponents?

Such disruptions are more than acts of rudeness. It seems that is what the jury said when it found the students to be guilty.

Marc Jacobson

Los Angeles

The Air Force moves forward

Re “Air Force Academy adapts to pagans,” Nov. 27

If the Air Force Academy follows through with its stated intent to “accommodate all religions,” including identical “respect” for atheists, the example could be one that other government agencies would be right to follow. The academy has a history of numerous claims of bias against non-Christians, so a public announcement that it is working to change that negative culture should be applauded.

While it can be difficult to change military culture, it can happen. We’ve seen positive results with the transitions toward equal treatment regardless of race, sex and most recently sexual orientation.

We hope that these additional improvements at the academy will spread religious tolerance and respect throughout the Air Force and beyond.

Roy Speckhardt


The writer is executive director of the American Humanist Assn.

Eighty thousand dollars to put a few boulders in a circle for pagans to worship at? Come on.

Is it any wonder we’re so far in debt, with our government throwing our hard-earned taxpayer dollars around so freely?

Emily Ruffner

Granada Hills

It’s just a log

Re “On log, an image that inspires devout,” Nov. 24

As someone skeptical of such claims, I can only say that I always find it amusing when believers find another iconic image that they think somehow justifies their faith. One would think that an all-powerful deity would be able to find a more dignified way of announcing its presence than by using a dead tree trunk.

Let them call it faith. We call it gullibility.

Jon Nelson

Panorama City

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