What will Israel do to stop Iran's nuclear program?; Blue Ribbon Schools awards in Southern California; cheating by colleges

What to do on Iran

Re "A fateful choice," Opinion, Feb. 2

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may indeed be the decider this time around in choosing to attack Iran, but the whole world will then have to deal with the aftermath.

Just like in the buildup to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, you can already see the stream of editorials around the world, such as this one, making the case for striking Iran. Never mind that Netanyahu's decision is likely to be based more on fear and placating his extremist base than on actual facts.

I'm not alone in hoping cooler heads prevail in handling this crisis with Israel and Iran, with more of the effort focused on how to achieve peace in the region rather than on fanning the flames for yet another war.

Joe Handy

Venice

Op-Ed article writer Chuck Freilich's claim that an Iranian nuclear bomb may be an existential threat to Israel is not convincing. He skips over the fact that Iran says it is not now building a bomb, and that if it had a bomb it lacks a delivery system. And his analysis never mentions that Israel has nuclear weapons and fully capable delivery systems.

This leads to several questions. Why is it acceptable for Israel to have a large nuclear arsenal of hundreds while an Iran that has just a few bombs is a threat to world peace? And why doesn't Israel consider its arsenal a sufficient deterrent to Iran?

Maybe the best way to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons is for Israel and the U.S. to set up a Middle East nuclear-free zone and invite Iran to join.

Elijah Carder

Los Angeles

Earning that Blue Ribbon

Re "Passing the Blue Ribbon test," Editorial, Feb. 2

I commend the schools that were named as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Having taught for 31 years in public schools, I know that teachers work very hard to maintain the standards that lead to this kind of success.

However, as you write of the Santa Ana fundamental schools, "Both parents and their children must sign compacts promising high levels of commitment and involvement." And what happens when the child does not meet this commitment?

The child is simply sent to the local public school, which is not allowed to enforce similar compacts. Teachers in the local public school work just as hard to achieve success with their students as those in charter, fundamental or private schools (commercial or religious), perhaps even harder.

Until traditional public schools operate under the same rules that govern the alternative schools, it is unfair to label them as less effective.

Donald Kerns

Garden Grove

I find it interesting that The Times emphasizes only charter and fundamental schools when acknowledging National Blue Ribbon honors. A second look might be helpful to those seeking a model for how this can be accomplished within the framework of a traditional public school.

J. Michael McGrath Elementary School in Newhall is located in a pocket of poverty in the Santa Clarita Valley. The school district leadership assigned a highly experienced principal to its most challenged school. Teachers collaborated to share best practices and regularly assessed student progress. Professional development was given high priority. The numbers speak for themselves.

Educators can learn from each other. There are models of excellence within the traditional public school setting that need to be highlighted for the benefit of all students. Look around. They are there.

Edward Strawser

Valencia

Better ways to rate colleges

Re "When colleges cheat," Editorial, Feb. 1

Being in the throes of the college application process, it makes me sick that a list from a magazine can throw colleges, students and parents into a tizzy. We have to quit buying into the U.S. News & World Report rankings, just like we have to quit thinking that the Ivy League and top-tier schools are the only way

to go.

My daughter gave careful consideration to where she wanted to spend her college years and applied to "only" six schools, while many of her friends applied to several more. This just throws off all the statistics and makes schools seem more desirable than they may really be.

What will be a good fit for your child? What is a school's freshman retention rate? And how many students graduate in four years? This information is all available on the Internet and seems much more important to me.

Emily Picus-Lowe

Escondido

I applaud your demand for zero tolerance on college cheating on SAT scores, but that door slammed some time ago. We should have zero tolerance for misleading ballot initiative titles, for over-the-counter products claiming "amazing" results with no effort, and for politicians representing their financiers rather than constituents.

What is needed is a culture change, which cannot occur piecemeal.

Glenn Egelko

Ventura

Awlaki's fate

Re "America's drone wars," Editorial, Feb. 1

The Times refers to the drone strikes on U.S. citizens, including Anwar Awlaki, as "worrisome."

Awlaki was wanted "dead or alive" by Yemeni authorities, who had been unsuccessful in apprehending him in their own country. He was a self-declared enemy of the U.S. The Saudi media referred to him as "the Osama bin Laden of the Internet." This was, clearly, a person determined to wreak havoc on our country and its citizens.

Awlaki was an enemy combatant in every sense of the word, which did not entitle him to shield himself behind our flag. The president was absolutely correct in ordering his destruction, and in not endangering American soldiers in an effort to capture him.

Louis H. Nevell

Los Angeles

Nonprofit U.S.

Re Editorial cartoon, Feb. 2

Lisa Benson depicts the IRS Schedule C "Profit and Loss From Business" form as President Obama might file it if the United States government were a business. The "joke," I guess, is that the government is operating at a loss.

Were Benson to read the Constitution, she'd find that the government's mission is to provide for the people's defense and general welfare. Nowhere is making a profit stated as one of the goals.

The government is not a business. The more we expect it to act like one, the less we can expect it to be an organization of, by and for the people.

Stephen Mark

Santa Monica

On America

Re "Where we stand," Opinion, Feb. 1

Rosa Brooks tells us that America is in a process of inevitable decline. She councils us to "stop lying to ourselves" and live with the inevitable; the president "should unapologetically tell it like it is."

But at the end of her article, she implies illogically that if we take her advice and admit that we are in decline, the process may not be "irreversible and steep."

We do not know whether American hegemony will continue. But certainly defeatism was not what made this country great.

Jack Kaczorowski

Los Angeles

All about us

Re "Filing for IPO shines a light on Facebook," Feb. 2

This concern for privacy vis-a-vis Facebook is vastly exaggerated. If we wanted privacy, we wouldn't get on our cellphones in the middle of a restaurant to jabber away about the most intimate details of our pitiful lives.

How many people would refuse the invitation to star in a reality show? What we crave, in the words of novelist Jacqueline Susann, is "mass love."

Jack Spiegelman

Los Angeles

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