Too much security?
Re “Flashcards flash point,” and “Language classes funded,” Feb. 12
How interesting that The Times should have an article demonstrating the difficulty one student had with the TSA, the FBI and local police over flashcards of Arabic/English words, as well as a report that the U.S. government has provided $2.88 million to a Cal State program that trains students in specified foreign languages, which includes Arabic.
Paranoia over anything Arabic or Muslim is rampant in this country. President Obama is aware that this is part of defense spending, so he needs to make sure that students taking these languages can travel unmolested by the TSA. We need better targeting of potential terrorists and not students.
I'm not sure what's worse, the way Nicholas George was treated by the TSA for carrying Arabic flashcards or the utter waste of taxpayer dollars meant to fight terrorism.
I'm no expert on terrorism, but I am a veteran and an Arab American, and I'm fairly certain most Al Qaeda affiliates aren't going to carry Arabic flashcards on their way to hijack a plane.
I'm a firm believer in the rights afforded in the 1st Amendment, but perhaps George was pushing his luck when he boarded a plane with the words "terrorism" and "bomb" written in Arabic on his flashcards.
His ACLU attorney might have a tough time, especially when it is commonly known not to joke around with the TSA or flight attendants about anything that could be misunderstood or taken out of context.
George should learn from this lesson, especially if he is considering being a U.S. diplomat someday.
Cortines' ties to Scholastic Inc.
Re “Cortines works for L.A Unified supplier,” Feb. 12
As an elementary school library aide in the Los Angeles Unified School District for more than 15 years, I invite Supt. Ramon C. Cortines to use his windfall to pay back the librarians who currently must take furlough days.
And perhaps he could also fund those of us who run the in-school Scholastic Book Fairs that pad his pocket.
Laurie Sisson Pisano
Rancho Palos Verdes
"I'm tired of the selfish attitudes of some," says Cortines, as he collects $151,186 this year from his side job on the board of Scholastic Inc., which, according to The Times, has received $5.2 million from the LAUSD since Cortines' arrival.
Maybe Cortines needs to return to school to learn the meaning of the word "hypocrisy."
Your article about Cortines appears to infer he is up to some sinister act, but goes on to explain his full disclosure and continued efforts not to overstep his boundaries.
Los Angeles is fortunate to have this very capable individual handling what must seem like a completely thankless job -- and he is attacked for being ethical. I just don't get it.
Re “LAUSD may cut 6 days,” Feb. 13
I don't understand why Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa doesn't just advocate cutting six days' pay out of each teacher's salary and keeping the present length of the school year.
Teachers want to be perceived as professionals. As professionals, they must realize the work required for a full year of education doesn't magically shrink to fit a mayoral edict.
I am a faculty member at a private university, and as we are experiencing cuts in finances -- including salaries -- I am still expected to teach the same number of classes, hold the same office hours and so on.
I can't help feeling the sense of entitlement felt by teachers is antithetical to their being perceived as professionals.
Meanings of the 'R-word'
Re “Wronged by the ‘R-word,’ ” Opinion, Feb. 11
Shortly after the term "developmentally disabled" came into use, I attended a meeting where a psychologist, "Mr. Jones," used the term while talking to a student, a 17-year-old I'll call "Johnny."
Toward the end of the meeting, Johnny raised his hand. "Mr. Jones," he said, "you keep saying I'm developmentally disabled. You do know I'm retarded, don't you?"
Though undoubtedly we want people to refrain from using the word "retarded" in a pejorative sense, this current furor about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel strikes me as the proverbial tempest in a teapot.
Pretending that elimination of this word through federal law will result in its nonuse further strikes me as legislators putting their heads in the sand.
Then again, they seem to be good at that. Perhaps that's the best we can expect from them.
I am confident that Meghan Daum would not have attempted to downplay the situation had Karl Rove used the word "retarded" in the same manner Emanuel did. In all likelihood The Times would have promptly written an editorial condemning him.
Daum mentions that Rush Limbaugh also used the word "retarded," but she never notes that Limbaugh is a radio talk-show host -- not the president's closest advisor.