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Letters to the editor

Michelle Obama's 'news-free zone'; pink-slipping librarians; remembering Fess Parker

March 27, 2010

Rules of the house

Re “TLI: Too Little Info,” Opinion, March 22

I don't understand Gregory Rodriguez's analogy comparing the head-in-the-sand attitude of so many in suburbia with Michelle Obama's declaration that her domain in the White House was a "news-free zone."

The first family is not your average suburban family. Michelle Obama is married to the most powerful man in the world. If she finds a way of making life more peaceful, then she is entitled to her news-free zone.

The column closes by saying that many people are hiding from "the harshness of reality" and calls this "escapism." It is quite a stretch to say that Michelle Obama has chosen escapism, considering the issues her husband deals with on a daily basis.

L. Nichols
Sherman Oaks

State Fund's pricey president

Re “Paying dearly for reform,” March 21

As an employee of State Fund in the 1960s and '70s, I still remember the great people and managers of that time. State Fund was the best of the workers' compensation carriers, and helping injured workers was its No. 1 priority. We were not allowed to accept even a free lunch from anyone.

I can't imagine why there was a need to go out of state to look for a president. To then cave in on a huge salary and perks is inexcusable.

Times have changed, and not always for the better.

Ray Block

Reading former State Fund President Janet Frank's statement that The Times' inquiry into the $1.6 million she earned at the private-public insurer over two years "has nothing to do with me; I'm a private citizen," one comes to the realization that she has become the clone-like offspring of the private corporations she has been working for -- a private tyranny unto herself, whose primary function is to increase her profits, whether or not her actions cause significant harm to the public she ostensibly has been working for.

Indeed, Frank's conduct allows a view into a brave new world where corporations have become so powerful that the humans within are inclined to emulate these institutions and then hold themselves as strictly "private citizens," and thus wholly unaccountable to the public around them.

Tom Wilde
Santa Monica

Help is just a librarian away

Re “Saving the Google students,” Opinion, March 21

"Help me . . . my teacher and my mother are going to kill me! You got a really thin book? I gotta write a book report for tomorrow!"

Credentialed librarians connect with kids. We're there to help them in their hour of need. Not all calls for help are humorous. There are the heartbreaking requests for a story or information on divorce, violence, bullying and the myriad problems our children face.

We connect with teachers. Collaborate on lessons. Help raise our students' reading scores. And yes, as Sara Scribner stated, bridge that informational divide.

Pink-slipping school librarians today will sweep away that literacy and information link our children deserve. Tomorrow our community, our state and our nation will be the poorer for it.

Roza Besser
The writer is a librarian at Portola Middle School in Tarzana.

As a children's librarian, I recognize the phenomenon Scribner describes -- students with the ability to find information but lacking the sophistication to evaluate or understand it.

A junior-high-age student recently asked me for help researching a certain scientist who had "invented colors. You know; red, green, blue."

After I couldn't find anything about this scientist in books or databases, I did a Google search to find out where the student's information had come from. The only mention online was a post that was undoubtedly a prank -- and that the student had copied verbatim as the start of her research paper.

The problem with the Internet is that it allows anyone to be "published." If we don't give children the critical thinking skills and skepticism necessary to navigate this new world, we will have a generation that simultaneously knows more and understands less about the world they live in.

Jason Daly

Listen up, KPCC

Re “Pasadena radio station making waves,” March 20

I'm happy that KPCC has a new studio and is doing so well, and I guess it's fine that Southern California Public Radio President Bill Davis' next goal "is to improve the station's signal on the Westside and in Santa Clarita, and expand it north toward Santa Barbara and down to south Orange County."

But I live in Altadena, maybe six miles from the station, and we have to twist and turn our radio, move it and, depending on the weather, go through all kinds of gyrations to get a decent signal.

Despite years of swearing I would not become a member until KPCC fixed that -- and after being told by one KPCC engineer that the solution was for me to wire my house with antennas -- I joined last year.

Now, Bill, could you do something to get me the product I've paid for? I'm a neighbor!

Dave Datz

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