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Defending teachers; the verdict on Supreme Court decisions; the role of air power in war

April 09, 2011

Vital role of teachers

Re "A noble profession," Opinion, April 2

Thank you, Susan Straight, for calling teaching a "noble profession." It seems that only those of us who teach understand the truth of that headline. It is disheartening to hear the constant criticism heaped on us.

Every story Straight reported of the resistance teachers face, I have heard time and time again. Somehow, everyone that hasn't been a teacher thinks they know best how to do the job. Does that happen in other professions?

Just as Straight is very proud of her daughter becoming a teacher, I felt the same way when my daughter became a teacher. If our society does not support education, what does that say about our society?

Lucia Dzwonczyk

San Pedro

I am a fan of Straight's writing and appreciate her excitement over her daughter's next step. I would like to point out, however, that Teach For America suffers from the same sort of condescension toward the teaching profession that she notes with her various examples.

The premise that high-achieving students can become effective teachers with a summer bootcamp is ludicrous. Highly effective teachers, as Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond points out, need a vision, a theoretical foundation, deep content knowledge, a variety of teaching strategies and effective classroom management.

And that's even before addressing the interpersonal skills that so define the memorable teachers that touched our lives and made us the people we are today.

Desiree Zamorano

Altadena

I too learned to read early and was allowed read novels in the back of the classroom while my classmates were at the "Dick and Jane" level.

My 5th grade English teacher was the first to predict I'd grow up to be a writer, a 7th grade history teacher sparked my lifelong love affair with history, and a high school teacher gifted me with love and respect for the English language. All played a vital role in my becoming a historical writer.

What other profession offers the opportunity to favorably impact so many lives?

Marilyn Jensen

La Habra

Public K-12 education started with the intent to offer equal education to all students. A segment of today's society views this use of taxes as too generous.

Consider this: Today's students, from all districts, will determine the society we live in, not just those students from districts in which parents are able to contribute extra time and money or send their children to private schools.

Equal education is not just a dream, it is a necessity for a stable society. Helping with this, by providing equally for all students, is a noble profession indeed.

Wendell H. Jones

Ojai

Judging the Supreme Court

Re "Scholars look at 'Supreme Mistakes,' "April 2

We learned that one terrible decision by the Supreme Court was used as precedent for a subsequent terrible decision. Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine's law school, argued that the Supreme Court hasn't always embraced the lessons of its mistakes.

I think the court has indeed learned from its past. The justices fixed the problem in their decision in Bush vs. Gore when they stated that their ruling was "limited only to the present circumstances."

Now, when they knowingly make a bad decision or just aren't quite sure it will hold up under scrutiny, they can just say it can't be used as precedent for any other case. They have a sort of "get out of jail free card."

Bob Suddaby

Torrance

Do "high-powered" legal scholars passing out-of-context judgments on events taking place before most of them were born ever feel as silly as they sound?

Case in point: The sentiment after the attack on Pearl Harbor was such that the Japanese residing in this country were actually safer being relocated to the relative isolation of internment camps. Scholars notoriously view such decisions as if they had been made in a vacuum.

Chemerinsky cannot make the statement that relocation "didn't make us any safer" with any degree of certainty. It is documented that a significant number of Japanese both here and in Hawaii at the time felt an unqualified sense of loyalty to their ancestral homeland.

Robert Voss

Moreno Valley

Nuclear power's risks, benefits

Re "Nuclear fault lines," Editorial, April 3

While acknowledging the potential benefits of nuclear energy, you conclude that the dangers outweigh the benefits.

What is really needed is a comprehensive study of all energy alternatives including solar, natural gas, oil, nuclear, coal and wind and their associated benefits, risks and costs. Seldom are the risks and safety records of other forms of energy production compared with nuclear energy. For example, a May 2007 Times article noted that thousands had died in coal mining accidents in China in 2006 alone.

Yes, I agree that fault-line studies need to be completed prior to renewal of licenses of California nuclear plants. But do not reject nuclear energy without comparing it to other forms of energy.

John C. McKinney

Cerritos

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