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Opinion

Readers React: Of course California students won’t be required to work on farms — and that’s a shame

OXNARD, CA-DECEMBER 22, 2017: Farm workers pick strawberries in a field in Oxnard on December 22, 2
Farm workers pick strawberries in a field in Oxnard on Dec. 22.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Gustavo Arellano’s idea to have all high school students work on farms for a week as a graduation requirement is a wonderful solution to a wide variety of the problems confronting Californians today.

It is highly doubtful that it will bear any fruit (pun intended) because it is impractical and really can’t be implemented, and that’s a shame.

Speaking personally, I’m sure I would not have been appointed a Superior Court judge without having worked in the peach orchards of Gridley and Chico for three summers during high school and college, living with the “braceros” and experiencing that particular lifestyle. It was truly an eye-opening experience that today’s youth are insulated from because they tend to live on their smartphones.

It would be nice if Arellano could persuade some of our leaders to implement his idea.

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Michael C. Solner, Burbank

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To the editor: Arrellano’s suggestion that high school graduates work as fruit pickers as part of California’s proposed new ethnic studies requirement only underscores the need for a serious ethnics studies curriculum.

Though it’s tempting to infer differences by outward appearance and function, the reality of who we deem different or the “other” is not so obvious. The field worker we assume is Latino and undocumented may not be while our daughter’s boyfriend may be. Our child’s best friend may have documents, but her parents may not.

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Our differences need to be studied in an educational environment, because why these differences matter or don’t has to do with people’s willingness to examine policies, laws, cultural norms and attitudes that affect all people rather than what will be gained having students pick almonds or grapes.

The latter can build bridges, but it doesn’t supply the ideas and understanding that make building those bridges a necessity.

Maggie Light, Carpinteria

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To the editor: Arellano’s proposal to require high school students to put in a week as a farm hand is a good one.

The summer after my first year of college, I signed on to pick plums at an orchard near Santa Clara. It took only one day of picking in the hot sun and with all the fruit flies to realize it was not the life for me.

The next day I took the bus to San Francisco and got a job as a copy boy at the Examiner. Some would say that was a bad career move. If so, it took me 40 years to find out.

Don Anderson, Ojai

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