To the editor: That two of President-elect Donald Trump's most recent cabinet appointments are women from the "mainstream" is the least significant thing about them. ("Trump reaches beyond loyalists and adds diversity with latest Cabinet picks," Nov. 23)
Billionaire Betsy DeVos, appointed to head the Department of Education, is uniquely unqualified. She has been a longtime enemy of public education. She has no education degree, no teaching experience, has never worked in a school environment, and has never attended a public school or university. She advocates funneling money out of public schools and into for-profit and Christian education. This appointment is an all-out attack on public education in our country.
Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, Trump's pick to be ambassador to the United Nations, has no international experience and is totally out of step with the majority of world leaders on climate change.
These are the most relevant issues regarding the appointments, and they deserve to be mentioned prominently.
Neil Reichline, Tarzana
To the editor: DeVos advocates for charter schools and educational vouchers as alternatives to public schools.
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist and former chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, singled out in a 2005 essay the effect of vouchers while discussing the quality of schools, particularly for low-income families:
"Vouchers — what amounts to partial privatization of our elementary and secondary educational systems — have been put forward as a free-market solution to the shortfalls in educational quality. But the advocates of vouchers have never made a convincing case that they can be designed to promote higher educational attainments and greater racial integration across the entire educational system, rather than just for those receiving the vouchers."
George Shahinian, Huntington Beach
To the editor: Trump's misguided statements opposing Common Core show his complete lack of understanding on the issue.
The Common Core is not a curriculum to be taught; it is a method of teaching. The teach-test-reteach-retest legacy of No Child Left Behind actually left America's schools behind in the all-important areas of creativity and problem solving. Now, Trump wants to return to the simplistic education system that teaches kids what to learn, not how.
Trump forgets two things in his rush to bash public education and its teacher unions in favor of privatization. First, those heavy industry jobs he wants to "bring back" simply do not exist anymore. With increasingly computerized production, the skills set needed for these new jobs require much more mind and much less muscle.
Second, Thomas Jefferson advocated for free public education as a way to protect democracy. Does Trump want to undermine this basic tenet of our country's foundation?
Bob Bruesch, Rosemead
The writer, an inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, is a member of the Garvey School District Board of Education.