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Letters to the editor

White House party crashers; trouble at an L.A. Unified school; budget cuts at Cal State

December 01, 2009

Guests . . . not!

Re “Crashers made it to the top,” Nov. 28

The Secret Service's reaction to the breach of its own White House security during the recent state dinner appears to be obfuscation, or missing the point, or both, in concerning itself more with whether unauthorized guests broke the law rather than on how it happened.

Whatever the interlopers' nonmalicious motivation -- a prank, a dare, a wager, publicity or social climbing -- they literally exposed a serious weakness in security, yet without tragic consequences to the president and a visiting head of state.

Instead of issuing the uninvited an arrest citation, how about a thank-you note?

Paul Napier
Sherman Oaks

Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words.

If you're blond and beautiful the world is your oyster -- including, apparently, the White House.

Virginia Cassara

The trouble with Markham

Re “Markham’s not working,” Editorial, Nov. 25

Although we agree with your editorial that states that teachers who want to work at Markham Middle School should be allowed to do so without regard to how long they have been in a classroom at the Los Angeles Unified School District, the reality is that the state education code requires teacher placement to be determined by seniority, a practice that is reinforced by the UTLA contract.

Regarding Markham's loss of new, enthusiastic and energetic teachers, it is heartbreaking when the district must lay off teachers due to budget cuts imposed by the state's grim financial situation. Fortunately, 13 of those laid-off teachers are working as extended substitutes at Markham, and will continue to work there for the rest of the school year.

Vivian Ekchian
Los Angeles
The writer is chief human resources officer, Los Angeles Unified School District.

Why is this tolerated?

We pay lip service to a commitment to the future of our children, yet constantly budgets are reduced, teachers are laid off, classes are enlarged and reduced, testing schemes are promised and diluted, and politically congratulatory slogans are broadcast for each educational chair moved on the Titanic's deck.

Where does anyone expect that the uneducated and under-educated will go? Or, more apt, which welfare office, street corner, prison, jail or mortuary?

John O'Donnell
Los Angeles

When and if we ever realize that the terrorists that most affect American lives are not in the Middle East, we may be able to solve the problems of Markham Middle School.

The people who live in Nickerson Gardens and Jordan Downs are subjected daily to homegrown acts of terrorism. These terrorists continue to cause havoc generation after generation.

The media glorify them by euphemistically calling them "gangs." They are not gangs. They are terrorists.

Afghanistan does not need our soldiers. We need them here policing our worst neighborhoods.

When children are free of the fear generated by these thugs, maybe then the children of Nickerson Gardens and Jordan Downs can enjoy the benefits of education.

Carlos Magallanes

Cal State cuts cut deep

Re “Cal State cuts felt on many levels,” Nov. 29

I've been a professor at Cal State Northridge for 37 years and will be going to Washington shortly to celebrate my receipt of a U.S. Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

This will be a bittersweet celebration because budget cuts are forcing us to substantially reduce student research opportunities. My award is a testament to the value of these opportunities. Students say these are what got them in to medical school, dental school, pharmacy school, doctoral programs and more.

Our public university system -- which has prided itself in providing perhaps the most numerous high-quality research opportunities for its undergraduate students anywhere in the world -- is now on a crash course toward its biggest decline in history.

I thank The Times for the public service you provide in bringing this issue to citizens. If enough of us ask officials to bring back funding for education, the demise of public education in the Golden State will be halted.

Steve Oppenheimer

What scientists believe

Re “Faith inside science,” Opinion, Nov. 24

There is a big difference between faith inside science and faith inside scientists.

That scientists may believe in God or even a revelation is neither here nor there as long as that faith is compartmentalized and does not condition the outcome of empirical observation and critical analysis.

Science is a game played by human players with human faculties and their attendant failings and frailties. Science cannot be perfect, but it would not be improved by the addition of liberal doses of the divine.

Elliott Oring
Long Beach

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