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Howard Lappin

October 30, 1994

In your Oct. 23 article "Rethinking Schools: Scenes From the Front Line of Education Reform in L.A.," you described how Principal Howard Lappin turned the Foshay Middle School in South-Central into a case study on how educators can bring the best of public education to the worst of schools.

I personally experienced Lappin's influence 20 years ago when I was a student at Van Nuys High School. Lappin was my history teacher. He asked me, "Have you ever thought about college?" and pushed me to take college preparatory courses. When I went to the counselor's office to request a change in my classes, I was told that I did not need these courses to graduate. "Why make life hard on yourself?"

When I told Lappin of the response of the counselor, he became visibly angry. He marched down with me to the counselor's office and saw to it that I was registered in the appropriate courses.

Lappin expects and encourages each student to reach his/her fullest potential. As he stated in your article, "The overt form of classism and racism is when we say to a student, you can't learn. . . ."

I went on to graduate from college and also from law school. I do not know if this would have happened without Lappin's intervention.

I am a Mexican immigrant from a lower-middle-class background. If Proposition 187 had been law when I was in high school, Lappin and other teachers would have been legally obligated to report students such as myself to the INS.

If Californians would focus on improving our state in areas such as education reform, as Lappin is doing, instead of wasting energy on an initiative that would throw innocent children out of school, our society would be greatly improved.


Granada Hills

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