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School Renamed for Milkens

September 18, 1995

Re "Jewish School Renamed for Milkens," Sept. 9: As an American I am shocked that $5 million can buy a convicted felon "respectability" by having a high school named after him. As a parent I am saddened that our sons and daughters have been presented with such a role model.

As a Jew I am humiliated that the decision-makers of the Stephen S. Wise Temple have chosen to perpetuate a false stereotype that money can buy anything. Shame on Principal Bruce Powell for his convenient rationalization that Michael Milken was "tried and convicted in the press by innuendo." He was convicted in a court of law.

I can only hope that the leaders of the temple will see the harm they are inflicting on the youth of today and change the name of the school to one deserving the honor. Perhaps if every Jew in Los Angeles donated $5 they could return the $5 million to Milken and name the school after Louis Brandeis, Jonas Salk, Albert Einstein, Golda Meir, or any number of more appropriate role models for our youngsters.

MICHAEL P. BALABAN

Santa Ynez

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* I agree with one point regarding the newly named Milken Family Community High School. Names are very important. The Los Angeles Urban League Milken Family Literacy and Youth Training Center is a source of great pride--to the Los Angeles Urban League as an institution, to the people who lead it and to the thousands of individuals of all ages and various racial economic backgrounds who benefit from its many educational programs and community services.

The Milken Family Foundation understands the powerful connection between education and the well-being of every segment of Los Angeles.

JOHN W. MACK, President

Los Angeles Urban League

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* I was disappointed by your incomplete account of our decision to change the name of our school to the Milken Community High School of Stephen Wise Temple.

While it is true that the Milken family has long been a generous supporter of Stephen Wise, their generosity has always extended to their time and individual commitment to a range of temple activities. Most notable has been in the family's longstanding personal involvement in our education efforts, through which they have touched many individual children and families in our congregation. We are pleased to honor the family with a community school bearing their name.

That spirit of community would have been better served if The Times had reported the story as a symbol of what it is--an appropriate honor for all the Milken Family Foundation has done to further educational excellence in communities across the nation.

RABBI ISAIAH ZELDIN

Stephen S. Wise Temple, L.A.

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