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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Standard Curriculum Is About Par for LAUSD

September 13, 2003

Re "Learning Curve," Opinion, Sept. 7: I challenge L.A. Unified School District Supt. Roy Romer to sit in on an Open Court [the standard reading curriculum] "lesson" and stay awake. It is boring, uninteresting and fragmented. Worst of all, it turns kids off from reading and the joy that reading brings.

Recently, I observed an Open Court lesson. For two hours, children fidgeted, poked and almost fell asleep. At one point, an inquisitive (for now) 7-year-old boy asked, "Why is reading so boring?"

This broke my heart. Already at 7, he has received the message that reading is boring. Chances are he won't stick around long enough to find joy in stories and books. The real goal of a reading program, Mr. Romer, is that you learn to read by reading. There is great joy in this, and from this joy comes readers and, yes, high test scores. Funds would be better spent on real literature and real reading.

Rebecca Constantino

Los Angeles

*

The Los Angeles Unified School District is in the midst of a long and arduous reform process, and probably always will be. As a former student of the LAUSD who watched it implode in the aftermath of Proposition 13, I can sympathize with both Romer and parent Carol Lynn Mithers (Opinion, Sept. 7), who feel stymied at the top and bottom of the organization.

But the district's exasperating bureaucracy isn't some malignancy we can simply excise; it has taken decades of court rulings, conflicting mandates and funding shortfalls to reach this level of misery.

Board seats are underpaid, part-time positions, so it's no wonder they do not attract top talent. Our ballooning student population includes everyone from gifted kids to ones who've just arrived in this country, but because the schools can't appear to give one group special treatment, everyone staggers along with an education designed to be average.

I feel bad for Mithers. Her kids deserve better, as do the 750,000 other kids in the LAUSD. But the ability to meet her expectations fell victim years ago to voter apathy as we stood by and let unqualified board members play at politics while local funds dried up and the lawyers and regulators hamstrung the district.

Paul Kradin

Studio City

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