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The MDA without Jerry Lewis; cheating teachers; Hiltzik on deficits

August 08, 2011
  • Donations: Jerry Lewis' telethons have raised $2.5 billion for the Muscular Dystrophy Assn.
Donations: Jerry Lewis' telethons have raised $2.5 billion for the… (Eric McCandless, Associated…)

Lewis' contribution

Re "Jerry Lewis ousted by MDA," Aug. 5

The Times mentions the strides made in muscular dystrophy research almost parenthetically to Jerry Lewis and the telethon. To be sure, the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. is more than a telethon and more than Jerry Lewis, but the great advances in treatment were due in no small measure to Lewis' efforts.

The article quotes Lewis as saying, "Get the cure for muscular dystrophy, then I'm fine." The fact is, his efforts and that of the MDA may well have led to just that. They led to isolating the gene that causes muscular dystrophy and that has led to advances and treatments that have made life better for so many suffering from this horrible disease.

The telethon is not about Lewis and neither is the MDA; it's about a disease and its impact on the patients and their families. Artists making negative comments do Lewis and the charity a disservice.

Michael Solomon

Canoga Park

Know the score on cheating

Re "Overreacting to cheating," Editorial, Aug. 3

When, oh when, will muddle-headed politicos — and editorial boards — realize that, in the modern school classroom, testing scores should never be used solely for evaluating students or teachers? They are diagnostic tools teachers should use to gauge how effective their lessons were and which students need additional help. School districts should use them to design remedial programs for some teachers.

If you want to legislate or editorialize about the importance of testing, visit a school that uses such acclaimed programs as Response to Intervention or Professional Learning Communities — schools where teachers meet regularly to use test data to design programs that aim at the remediation of specific skills for specific groups of students.

Using computer data for one purpose only — measuring "achievement," an illusory term — is demeaning the power and utility of those data.

Bob Bruesch


The writer is a member of the Garvey School District Board of Education.

We've seen cheating by researchers bending results to assure continuing grants, universities inflating grades to enhance their reputation, college students hiring others to write their papers, and grade school administrators and teachers finding ways to turn wrong answers on tests into correct ones.

And then there's business, politics, athletics, the law and the media — it's an endless list that suggests that cheating and lying are endemic to us, almost a part of our DNA.

When doing good is at least on par with being the winner, rich, famous or the strongest, we can expect this to change. I'm not holding my breath.

Hal Rothberg


What drives the deficits

Re "Debt deal ignores real driver of deficits," Business, Aug. 3

Michael Hiltzik asserts that the debt-ceiling agreement "targets spending that isn't a significant problem in the federal budget." Quite true, unfortunately for us all. But he continues, "The chief driver of deficit growth [is] healthcare costs."

According to testimony by Chad Stone, chief economist for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, before a congressional committee in June, far larger contributors are "the economic downturn, tax cuts enacted under President Bush and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," together explaining "virtually the entire federal budget deficit over the next 10 years."

Those three drivers are where Congress and the Obama administration should focus their deficit reduction efforts if they really want results.

Edward Fisher


Hiltzik's reference to the 1940s debt and GDP data when contrasted against the current data sets serves as a clear illustration of his statistical selectivity.

Hiltzik compares today's debt-to-GDP ratios against those recorded in the 1940s as if these are recorded under similar circumstances. They are not. In the 1940s, we were the only first-tier financial country that escaped the ravages of World War II. We were net lenders; our cash was king.

Today, our dollars are not supreme, we borrow heavily, we import a huge fraction of our energy needs, our financial product output is larger than our manufactured goods' value added, and our military is overextended. The world of today is vastly different from the world of the 1940s.

Michael J. Gyetvay


The president's next move

Re "Obama is out of options," Opinion, Aug. 2

Pigs appear to be flying, and I am in agreement (sort of) with Jonah Goldberg. Sadly, it is true that President Obama seems to be out of options for dealing with the ills plaguing our country.

What is missing from Goldberg's piece is the fact that right-wing Republicans have made it their mission to ensure the president's current situation. Let the poor, the elderly, education, the economy and the social safety net be damned; it's all about ensuring that Barack Obama is a one-term president.

The saner voices have been silenced and the inmates have taken control.

Stephen S. Anderson

Hacienda Heights

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