Teacher-run charter schools; public sector unions; Jonah Goldberg on the Citizens United ruling


A chance on charters

Re “Whistle-blowers to open a charter,” Jan. 18

Congratulations to the Los Angeles teachers who are opening their own charter school.

They will have the professional autonomy to do the very best they can for their students without being micromanaged from above. They can manage the school themselves or select someone to be head teacher. They will be able to make key decisions about the budget as well as curriculum, instruction and staffing. This is truly the beginning of full professional status for teachers, and I hope that other teachers will follow the example of these visionary educators.


Whether we like it or not, charter schools are probably here to stay, and teachers are wise to take control of each and every one of them.

Linda Mele Johnson

Long Beach

Government and unions

Re “Public unions,” Opinion, Jan. 17

In the private sector, unions understand that the employer has to be profitable or the company will go out of business. Management needs high-quality labor, and there is a legitimate give-and-take to the negotiations.


In the public sector, the unions select the boss through the involuntary deductions from members’ paychecks, part of which they contribute to politicians. The politicians then reward the unions with ever-sweeter benefits, and the cycle continues. The taxpayers don’t get a seat at the negotiating table.

In a 401(k), the investor has no guarantee, but in the public sector, if the investment returns don’t come through, the taxpayers have to make up the difference. The whole thing is a scam that has left California with hundreds of billions of dollars in pension obligations.

Robert Chapman


Those who would deny employees the rights of collective bargaining and the power to back it up by striking are also the ones who believe the market should define all economic activity. Yet they would refuse that freedom to public employees.

What is there about employment in government that should deprive those employees of job stability and good working conditions, which only collective bargaining and the threat of a strike can provide? Why should lawmakers be protected from the need to make hard decisions regarding their employees?


It is dishonest to pander to public employee unions while trying to pass off to the voters the responsibility of denying to those unions and their members the right to strike. If acceding to the demands of public employee unions would be contrary to the interests of constituents, lawmakers need to say no and take the heat.

Donald J. Loundy

Simi Valley

Paying a political price

Re “People Inc.,” Opinion, Jan. 17

The essence of Jonah Goldberg’s argument is this: People shouldn’t lose their political voice when they come together in groups, therefore corporations should be allowed to influence the political process as much as, for example, the NAACP or the Wilderness Society.


Yet Goldberg knows that people who work for corporations aren’t there to band together for a political cause. They have no say in how the CEO spends corporate political money, and in most cases neither do shareholders. And when I have to put gas in my Prius, I’m exchanging money for gasoline, not making a willing contribution to a petroleum industry candidate.

The outsized influence of big money in politics was already bad before the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, and now it’s a joke.

Peter Coonradt


Goldberg was able to ignore the elephant in the room: the corrupting influence of unlimited corporate money backing candidates. The Citizens United decision has further opened the door to unlimited funding of candidates by corporations.

No mention was given to the very obvious fact that receiving corporate money makes candidates beholden to corporations rather than the general welfare.


Eleanor Kirby


Don’t take the easy way out

Re “LAUSD without borders,” Editorial, Jan. 16

So the L.A. Unified School District is considering a plan to make every child within its boundaries a free agent. No more residential restrictions; you can go where you please — where your feet, car or bus can take you. The justification? Failing schools.

Whatever happened to staying put and making a difference, of being the light in the room? If your school is below par, the thought in today’s L.A. Unified is to just up and move to where the grass is greener.


What would Sal Castro think? In the 1960s, the legendary L.A. Unified teacher saw failing schools in East Los Angeles. Did he tell his students to give up and move? No. He told them to change things.

That’s what we should be asking the parents and students of underperforming schools to do: Stay and make a difference.

Tom Iannucci

Los Angeles

Though I agree with your editorial about the need for the L.A. school board to look beyond incremental change in the district, and I applaud it for floating the idea of being able to send a child

to any school throughout L.A. Unified (even though it appears highly impractical), maybe we need to think even bigger. Vouchers would give parents even more choices and possibly enable them to send their children to better schools closer to home.


Elaine Pershing

Los Angeles

It’s apples and bananas

Re “Campaign trail monkey business,” Opinion, Jan. 15

Robert Sapolsky’s article morphing monkeys into politicians and back again does a disservice to both.

Monkeys do not choose their behavior; they are born that way. People, including politicians (we are going broad here, so stay with me), have unlimited choices about what behavior they display; they aren’t born that way. For example, as a person, I am not a politician and I do not, hopefully, act like one. That’s my choice. A politician, like any other person, can choose whatever “political” behavior he or she wants; a monkey cannot.


Politicians are not monkeys and monkeys are not politicians, even if they may sometimes seem to be identical.

Herbert E. Dreyer

Palm Desert

The research cited by Sapolsky suggests that successful politicians are adept at perceiving what voters think they know, accurate or not. The solution: to better educate ourselves.

Michael Helperin

Los Angeles


Israel’s path

Re “W. Bank housing data show 20% rise,” Jan. 18

For anyone still banking on a “two-state solution” to the Israel-Palestine issue, this article would seem to be more bad news.

With each additional unit that is built in the occupied territories, the chances of an independent Palestine decrease. The point of viability may already be past; with about 600,000 Jewish Israelis living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, it may no longer be possible for Israel to extract its settlers from a future Palestine.

As a result of its ongoing settlement policy, Israel will most likely face more advocacy and resistance in the name of a rights-based approach, which asserts the equality and dignity of all people within a single Israel-Palestine entity.

From the viewpoint of Americans raised on equality without regard to race or religion, this might not be such a bad outcome.


Rand Clark

Santa Barbara

Slaking our thirst

Re “Adding up the water deficit,” Opinion, Jan. 15

Even though an alarming water shortage is imminent, I will not be around to suffer the consequences. Still, all of us have the responsibility to implement safeguards for future generations.

We cannot control climatic temperature, nor can we control snowfall and rainfall and therefore available river and groundwater volume. The only sensible option, although costly now, is ocean water desalination.


The ocean water supply is unlimited; it is right here at our vast coast; it will be available forever; and the technology is already highly developed. What better investment can be made for the sustainability of our area for generations to follow?

Albert Glick

West Covina