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Is L.A.'s charter school expansion plan alarming, or a godsend?

Is L.A.'s charter school expansion plan alarming, or a godsend?
Teacher Michelle Lee, center, works with students in a kindergarten class at Metro Charter Elementary. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I read with interest your article on charter school expansion and the incipient need to develop and/or import "a lot of talent." ("A huge plan to expand charter schools, " Sept.22)

There is a rich trove of talented individuals who would leap at the chance to really make a difference in the L.A. school system: senior citizens.

We are a resourceful and wily bunch with years of experience dealing with children and teens, plenty of patience, breadth of knowledge and a sense of humor.

Our education emphasized teamwork, self-discipline, the analytical process and critical reasoning. As a result, we can actually read, write, speak and think really well.

No need to import anything. Just tap the local vintage.

Victoria Lynch-Knight, Los Angeles

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To the editor: This is alarming. Can we not understand that charter expansion is another huge ploy by the very wealthy to control education, the most important factor besides healthcare in this country?

What do these billionaires know about what takes place in an educator's job to inspire young people to find that passion to have a fulfilling life?

The outrageous No Child Left Behind Act, blindly followed by Race to the Top, line the pockets of so many corporations with "pre-tests" and "tests" purchased by the school districts.

Meanwhile, educators no longer have time in their robotic day for creative instruction including art, music, hands-on projects, dialoguing with the students and engaging in critical thinking instruction.

The elimination of vocational classes in favor of this one-size-fits-all model that declares that test scores determine achievement and student success is abhorrent.

Dee White, Capistrano Beach

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To the editor: I am increasingly concerned with the state of affairs at LA Unified.

With as much funding that goes into the system, you would think that our students would at least be excelling in some areas, but as we hear time and time again, this is not the case.

The opportunity for change is now. We should receive the generosity and commitment of philanthropists with open arms and work together to implement this gift in a way that is mutually beneficial to all educational institutions in Los Angeles.

To denounce a plan of action to enrich the education of our children based on strife between a few people or organizations is selfish and irresponsible.

Elisa Giron, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Support for charter schools by Eli Broad, Bill Gates and others comes from their passion for encouraging innovation, and to take advantage of "just try it" opportunities that are impractical and maybe impossible for any monolithic entity like the Los Angeles Unified School District to accomplish.

Progress requires some trial-and-error experimentation.

One huge problem with charter schools is their inherent process of cherry-picking the best and brightest, more motivated and maybe more financially secure students away from the public school system, leaving it with more problems.

If a portion of charter schools were specifically dedicated to helping those kids in L.A. Unified with special issues — especially kids with learning and physical disabilities — charter schools could become more of a partner than a competitor.

Les Hall, Santa Ana

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To the editor: Critics say charter schools create greater inequities because they frequently draw more motivated and higher-achieving students.

What about the inequity of forcing such students to attend schools where they cannot achieve their potential because classes are dumbed down to levels that can be attained by their less motivated and lower-achieving classmates?

Why shouldn't better students be permitted to attend schools where they can maximize their potential?

Gerry Swider, Sherman Oaks

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To the editor: The push for many privately funded charter schools undermines the public education system in Los Angeles.

Private money will fund schools for rich kids whose parents can drive miles and miles in their fancy cars.

In the meantime, poor families with no way to transport their intelligent kids have to put up with failing public schools.

I am especially upset because there is a privately funded charter school next door to me. The school sprang up with no notice to neighbors.

Within a year, the school has been expanded to 300 students. The noise from the school and the traffic has transformed the quiet residential area into a nightmare.

Mary Wiser, Van Nuys

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To the editor: Does this not amount to a frank admission that Los Angeles Unified's revolving-door leadership, top-heavy administration and union-entrenched teachers are incapable of doing the job?

And if so, is it not time to flush out that Augean stable and start over?

John W. Hazlet Jr., Pasadena

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