What books do best
Re "Who needs books? All of us," Opinion, June 20
Susan Straight supports what many of us know from decades of teaching the classics in literature. The better we understand the struggles and triumphs and defeats of those who preceded us, the better we understand ourselves.
My students' appreciation for novels, poetry and drama has little to do with their (or the author's) gender or ethnicity or religious background. The books come alive for them because of what they discover about the unchanging human heart. Like the growth rings of a tree, each reading adds more substance, breadth and strength to their own experiences, and the layers continue to grow and expand as long as they do.
The writer is a professor of English at Citrus College.
This is one high school English teacher who says thank you, thank you, thank you for running Straight's wonderful essay.
I have noticed in recent years that my students seem more restless, and that my classes are personally less fulfilling. I realized it's because I'm trying to be a "good soldier" and adhere to an LAUSD-imposed timeline that makes us focus on "persuasive" and "expository" reading material with the rationale that this will make teens better thinkers and communicators.
This strategy works only sporadically. Do students need to be better critical readers and writers, more convincing in the arguments they make? Most definitely. Can nonfiction be mesmerizing? Yes, indeed. But I also know that we all need story, which is the soul-satisfying part — for me, anyway — of teaching English.
It is through reading splendid narratives that we experience revelations about our own lives. I've seen this time and again when my entire class becomes a community as they experience truth through fiction. My resolution as I teach summer school is to keep it full of story. Persuasion and exposition are going to have to fit in the cracks.
Lori Pike Uebersax
Restoring majority rule
Re "Ending the filibuster debate," Editorial, June 20
I had a good laugh when in your editorial you felt a need to point out that Richard Nixon was a Republican. Perhaps I am just getting old and many of your readers, especially the younger ones, would not know that.
As for me, I have consistently objected to the filibuster, regardless of who has been in the majority over the years: Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals. That is in stark contrast to the many hypocrites that switch positions depending on who is in power or the particular issue.
The increased use of the filibuster in recent times is a testimony to past abuse by both sides and the strong grip political parties have on individual members who do not dare deviate from the party line.
John C. McKinney
I fervently agree with The Times. A minority should not find it so easy to unnecessarily delay the people's business.
Lowering the Senate requirement of 60 to 51 for ending a debate is the fairest way to curtail the excessive and often abusive use of the filibuster. It would more truly reflect the democratic principle of majority rule.
With equal fervor, I strongly condemn any aspect of voting for legislation that requires a two-thirds vote to pass. That means that a minority of 34% can hold the majority hostage on many issues. One of the basic tenets of our democracy has been that the passage of any laws should require a vote of 50% plus one.
The filibuster system and the two-thirds majority vote are two examples of the erosion of our democratic way of life. I would think all fair-minded citizens would agree.
Robert C. Lutes
Money exists for social programs
Re "How will we ever retire?," Editorial, June 19
What nonsense. There is enough money to fund Social Security and other social and environmental programs if we stop wasting trillions on unnecessary wars, for-profit healthcare, Wall Street bailouts, tax cuts for the wealthy and other forms of enriching the already rich.
I have been reading for years that the retirement of the baby boom generation will leave too many retirees to be supported by the Social Security and Medicare contributions of the working population. I would think that Americans who worry about the loss of a safety net would be anxious to welcome immigrants into the contributing classes to fill the void.
It puzzles me why more people do not support providing a path to citizenship for the many currently illegal immigrants who want to become a part of the country. Those people are their future source of security. They will buttress social support systems.
The clamor to throw them all out is not in the interest of current generations of workers in the U.S. Maybe that's why so many of the nativist faces I see at those rallies are older folks who are already retired and getting theirs.
Support for terror groups
Re "High court rules against advising terror groups," June 22