Mailbag: Genocide happened, but don't rile Turkey

I am aware that many residents in our community applaud efforts by Congress to pass a resolution, authored by Adam Schiff, affirming claims that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of the Turkish government during World War I.

According to a front-page article in the June 26 News-Press titled "Resolution gets extra push," those efforts have gained momentum, with 144 U.S. Representatives signing on as co-sponsors of the genocide resolution.

I trust that, in this case, the motives of most of these members of Congress are sincere, that our congressional representatives are not using the resolution as a means of scoring political points against the administration.

Fifty to 60 years ago, long before the two recent waves of Armenian immigrations started in 1979 and 1989, I recall listening to my history professors identify the events in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. That was the consensus of historians then, and it remains the consensus now.

The historical fact of genocide has been well established by those who are responsible for making such judgments. For the time being, we should be content to leave the genocide issue in the hands of the historians.

In my mind, it is counterproductive to bring this issue to the fore to embarrass Turkey at a time when our relations with that country are exceedingly delicate. Right now, Turkey is important for two of our nation's major foreign policy objectives — making progress toward peace in the Middle East and blocking Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Cooperation from Turkey is sorely needed for achieving both these objectives.

Gerry Rankin


Toll teacher should not have been fired

I am writing regarding the article on June 22 that detailed the firing of Toll Middle School teacher Jennifer Pakradouni ("Teacher sues district principal," June 22).

This action was, and is, shocking and appalling! I've been a teacher at Toll Middle School for 22 years and have taught with many, many excellent, exemplary teachers. Pakradouni is one of these, and one of the best! She is intelligent, enthusiastic, energetic, creative and beloved by parents, students and teachers alike.

This is exemplified by the fact that she was voted "Toll Teacher of the Year" this year. The firing of a teacher like Jennifer is indeed a tragedy for Toll. As I have already stated, it is shocking and appalling!

What is also a tragedy, not only for Toll, but for the entire Glendale Unified School District, is the change in attitude and atmosphere within the district, from the top down. I have been a part of the district since 1971, when my children began their schooling at Mark Keppel. I was a PTA mom at Keppel, Toll and Hoover for years, and then became a teacher at Toll in 1988.

Through the years, I've had close friends on the Glendale Unified school board, and enjoyed a warm relationship with district officials. All of the above were supportive, appreciative and affirming of me and the other Toll teachers, often stopping by our classrooms to extend their thankfulness for our hard and successful work. That was then; this is now.

In these last years since Michael Escalante has been superintendent, the atmosphere within our district has changed. The attitude, from Escalante and some school board members, now seems to be: "Everything is the teachers' fault; they aren't working hard enough; let's look for what they are doing wrong."

This attitude is incorrect and unproductive, and has led to great injustices, such as the firing of Pakradouni under Principal Paula Nelson. We can now only hope that this disservice, not only to Jennifer, but to the students and parents at Toll, will be righted, and she will be reinstated by the new superintendent.

We can also only hope that he will bring our district back to what worked so extremely well for all concerned in the past: appreciation and affirmation for Glendale Unified's teachers.

Connie Hanson

South Pasadena

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