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Letters to the editor

On the verdict in an Oakland shooting case; an L.A. school's education experiment; and food stamps for the elderly

July 12, 2010

Turmoil in Oakland

Re "Ex-BART officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter," and "Oakland rally turns violent," July 9

When I read about the involuntary manslaughter verdict against a former transit police officer who fatally shot an unarmed man on an Oakland train station platform — and the violent response from the people of Oakland — I had an idea: Perhaps we should have the communities affected participate with the police department in sensitizing officers to ways of responding in situations that may provoke excessive force or extreme fear.

It may be as simple as requiring that they spend time off duty in the communities they serve, getting to see the African Americans there in a different light than they can when they are on duty.

Sister Maureen Kris
Los Angeles

Reading the news about the verdict brought to mind the old country song, "Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?"

What a travesty of justice. A teachable moment for the police was lost by a jury that could not see beyond color.

A sad day for America and for humanity.

Varini de Silva
Huntington Beach

I'm trying to imagine the outrage and media attention the killing of a white man by a black officer would engender, but I'm coming up empty.

Black men kill each other with impunity, but their families and phony sympathizers seem to find it somehow more profitable when the deed is committed by a white man.

Hey, President Obama. Where's this change we were promised?

Frederick Cleveland
Los Angeles

Building better students

Re "A school's grand experiment," July 7

Until we figure out how to hold parents as accountable as we are going to hold educators for the lack of progress a school makes academically, change at Fremont and schools like it will be slow and painful.

We must not forget that educators have their students for one hour a day per class, while parents have their children for a lifetime. The foundation for a good education is established in the home the moment a child is born. Lets start creating programs to help young parents from low-performing areas establish sound educational practices within their homes.

I'd like to see what test scores would look like then.

Tom Iannucci
Los Angeles
The writer is assistant principal at Paul Revere Charter Middle School.

Top-quality teachers leaving Fremont High School? No worries, they're a dime a dozen. L.A. Unified regularly displaces our finest while retaining and protecting the worst. And UTLA is just as at fault for allowing it to happen.

Eight administrators in 12 years at Fremont? That's nothing. Come to Sun Valley Middle School, where we've had five principals and more than 20 assistant principals in the past 10 years.

Is it any surprise that we too are on the list of lowest performing schools, in danger of reconstitution for the second time in nine years?

Teachers' fault? Absolutely not. We have an excellent faculty (with the exception of a few bad ones who administration can only "recommend" leaving), yet administrators with no time commitment requirements can move on as soon as the next best thing comes along, leaving the next guy to "reinvent the wheel" on an almost annual basis.

Kids need consistency and stability. The superintendent, the mayor and the president must stop placing all of the blame on teachers and share the responsibility with the administrators who care more about their career progression than the kids.

Bradley Greer
The writer is arts/electives department chair at Sun Valley Middle School.

Our hungry senior citizens

Re "Food stamp policy faulted," July 6

Thank you for the excellent analysis of the adverse impacts of California's policy of denying food stamps to low-income seniors.

With California's high rents, low-income seniors all too frequently face the choice of paying the rent and going hungry or buying food and falling behind in the rent.

Shelter Partnership's Homeless Older Adults Strategic Plan, released in March 2008, found that the number of homeless older adults in Los Angeles County is increasing.

The state's archaic policy of denying food stamps to Supplemental Security Income recipients only increases that number.

Ruth Schwartz
Los Angeles
The writer is founder and executive director of Shelter Partnership.

The high price of green grass

Re "L.A. may add 3rd day for watering," July 7

Should we really be concerned that lawns are turning brown? Outdoor watering restrictions are a great first step, but municipalities should go further and consider restrictions on lawn size.

The typical residential lawn didn't become common until after the American Garden Club undertook a campaign about a century ago to convince homeowners that having a lawn was akin to a civic duty.

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