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Retired Italian Dentist to the Rescue

July 29, 2001

Re "If I Were a Carpenter," Commentary, July 25: Do I have a story to tell. I grew up thinking that every man is handy, if not a carpenter. So when I met my man I did not ask him about his qualifications in that department. That was a big mistake, because he needs my stand-by assistance to screw in a lightbulb. (Sorry, darling--of course you do have other skills!)

Therefore, a small project ($5,000) in our house is still waiting to be done because the craftsmen in this spoiled town do not even return my phone calls. Complaining to my sister halfway around the world about this lack of professionalism and my frustration to find a man or woman willing to do the work, she gleefully pointed out that her husband could do the remodeling. More distraught than envious, I complained that that's not helping me, or so I thought.

The plot in the story took an interesting turn when my brother-in-law (a retired dentist and PhD who almost single-handedly built his first house) decided to travel via cargo boat from Italy to L.A. through the Panama Canal (a lifelong dream of his) to spend a month with us and build our addition. Talk about the need to import foreign workers. Thank God for small favors.

Erika Blos

Santa Barbara

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We constantly read articles about the quality of education at the elementary and high school levels. But as soon as education becomes noncompulsory, it is considered a gold standard beyond criticism. Students pay enormous sums to attend college, yet do not question the quality of that education.

Most college graduates offer no tangible skills for job placement. College professors revere publication and resent teaching; while they work toward their PhDs they are not given any pedagogical skills. Exploited and often neglected graduate students do the bulk of the undergraduate teaching. And the higher the school is ranked, the more this is true. Balzar's commentary is just one more reason the system of higher education should come under scrutiny.

Barbara Zaragoza

San Diego

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