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The challenges teachers face; tinkering with Prop. 13; 'tea party' economics

April 06, 2011

The media's role

Re "9 more killed in Afghan protests," April 3

I was touring in Egypt last September when the Koran-burning story was originally reported. The story was being continuously repeated on cable news channels. I wanted to cringe when I was out in public; what must these people think of us?

The media blitz was still on when I returned home. U.S. generals, politicians and State Department officials all expressed the view that the Rev. Terry Jones' irresponsible actions could have deadly consequences. I believe that the irresponsible reporting in the media's continuing effort to create sensational news is what leads to deadly consequences overseas.

The original story should not have been considered newsworthy even at the local level. Of course, this type of sensational reporting does create more news, as evidenced by The Times' April 3 article. Jones got his 15 minutes of fame.

Ruth Knapp

Hermosa Beach

The challenges of teaching

Re "Singled out for skills, he's now a role model," April 3

As a retired teacher, forgive me for saying "poppycock." The only "news" about the teacher collaboration at Broadus Elementary School is that administrators let it happen. Teachers already seek, invite and at times demand collaboration.

My experience spanned at least seven accreditations at four schools. The most important goal was "collaboration time." Teachers despaired when meetings and opportunities for collaboration were absorbed instead by administrative work.

If you want to know who the effective teachers are, try asking the kids. At one of my schools in the early '90s, students produced an underground evaluation of the faculty. Teachers who were quite popular did not necessarily rate highly, and two stood out with ratings that said, "Not always nice but you learn every day." It was a revelation that I never forgot.

Lynne Culp

Toluca Lake

Bravo to both Miguel Aguilar and The Times for focusing on the kind of teaching that I hope is a prediction of things to come: teaching children to think. What better equipment can be given to children than the ability to think critically? It's not on the what that needs to be learned, but the why.

I feel encouraged to know that attention is being paid — on the front page, to be sure — to this important issue.

Peggy Aylsworth

Santa Monica

Re "Teaching is tough sell amid layoffs," April 4

How about reporting that teaching is a tough sell thanks to poor treatment by society, including The Times? The paper brands teachers as ineffective based on test scores and then puts some of them on the front page. Radio show hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou are emboldened to ridicule teachers.

Has another profession ever been this disrespected? Who would sign up for this job in the future?

My children are interested in teaching, but I have told them over and over again to teach in college, where students still have a degree of responsibility for their educations. Don't allow yourself to be scapegoated teaching K-12.

Stan Brown


This tells half the story. Just getting a credential these days — especially at a Cal State campus — is an exercise in frustration as you deal with a muddled bureaucracy that seems to be primarily set up to deter would-be applicants with incessant demands for paperwork, endless certificates of this and that and increasing fees. What you get at the end is just a ticket that maybe entitles you to apply for a job.

I'm not a teacher, but I'm married to one, which for many years meant that I had to earn for two, as her wages never really covered the expenses of going to work. Now I have to watch my son enter the system; once again I'm paying for certifications, courses, exams and much more.

Heaven only knows why they do it. All I know is that I'm fed up with politicians, talking heads and bureaucrats.

Martin Usher

Thousand Oaks

Prop. 13 inequities

Re "Time to tinker with Prop. 13," Column, April 3

Steve Lopez may be right, but whoever tries to change Proposition 13 better be wearing flak protectors. I voted against Proposition 13 because I thought it was bad public policy. It turned out to be much worse than anything I imagined in 1978. Today I am an octogenarian still living in a house I bought 40 years ago by the grace of Proposition 13, which I know is still bad public policy.

Anyone who would tinker with Proposition 13 had better begin by correcting the undeserved benefits given to industrial and commercial property owners before they even begin to think about the residential inequities, which pale by comparison. I and others will go ballistic if anyone tries to address residential inequities before dealing with the far greater commercial problem.

Charles M. Weisenberg

Beverly Hills

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