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Climate change in flooding in the Midwest; the debate over raising the debt ceiling; a new approach to bilingual education

May 13, 2011
  • Waterlogged: Residents paddle past houses flooded by the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tenn.
Waterlogged: Residents paddle past houses flooded by the Mississippi…

Saving the planet

Re "The flood this time," Opinion, May 10

Many thanks to Bill McKibben for his persistent attempts to be heard above the irrational squabbling that defines our national dialogue. It is agonizing to watch our country stand by as the Earth warms and some of the grim effects — droughts, wildfires and floods — become apparent.

Congress is consumed by a faction that seeks to shrink government at all costs, supposedly because the federal debt threatens our children. They ignore and even deny the overwhelming threat that climate change poses to our descendants in perpetuity. Robust government support of a carbon-free energy system is essential but politically impossible.

I make this appeal to scientists: Please come down from your ivory tower. You understand the gravity of the situation better than anyone. Isn't it time you pitched in forcefully to save our civilization?

Grace Bertalot


What to do about the debt

Re "Debt ceiling denial," Editorial, May 11

The Times' advocacy of automatic enforcement mechanisms to keep the budget deficit down needs elaboration. Could this mean a cap on Medicare and Medicaid spending?

Hopefully the state of Vermont will demonstrate the efficacy of a single-payer system in keeping healthcare costs down. Then maybe it will be clearer that budget cuts should be applied not to programs that meet basic human needs but to those that mainly serve the private profits of corporations and the wealthy.

Victor Nicassio

Los Angeles

The Times derides Republicans for demanding spending cuts before agreeing to raise the federal debt limit. Maybe the editors should look at several countries in Europe to see what happens with increasing debt.

Also be sure to look at Canada and how well it's doing now, and why it just reelected a conservative government.

Dick Ettington

Palos Verdes

Bilingual's comeback

Re "New approach to bilingual teaching," May 9

I was amazed to read that 20 years after bilingual education was routine in the Los Angeles Unified School District, it is now touted as "new."

The problem with bilingual education was mainly political. It also lacked needed resources to prepare teachers for effective implementation. Then it was buried by Proposition 227. Teachers who worked, as I did, at an L.A. Unified school with a good bilingual program saw positive results year after year.

Today, many of these schools struggle. Teachers stress over why it is so difficult to teach English learners to read at the levels expected of them. And L.A. Unified adopts English reading programs that are inappropriate for many students.

What's going on now reminds me of the electric car: The talk of the town now, it was a bad idea a few years ago.

Olga Palo

South Pasadena

I would like to see the percentages of students who go on to a university after all this second-language training in elementary school. The percentage may be high for upper- and middle-class students. In our city, a large percentage of students drop out before finishing high school; many do not speak and write standard English well.

Our universities deliver education in English. Shouldn't we concentrate on the language that will be useful in raising American student achievement first? Those who want their child to learn their home language should teach it to them at home.

Jean Solomon

Los Angeles

Our children went to a French school. They are all adults now and speak at least two languages. They went to good schools and have good jobs.

We firmly believe learning other languages at a young age is a great stepping-stone to success.

Kathleen Kawamoto


Big split

Re "After 25 years, Shriver and Schwarzenegger separate," May 10

First Al and Tipper; now Arnold and Maria. Whatever happened to prominent people setting an example for everyone else?

There is simply no reason why these power players should have separated when they could have lived lives of quiet desperation while convincing us how much they deserve our adoration. It's all about priorities, and personal happiness should always be sacrificed for the greater good of the people.

At least that's the way it used to be.

A.J. Buttacavoli


Water waste

Re "Something in the water," Editorial, May 9

I hope California doesn't follow Pennsylvania down into the chemical hell of "fracking." Ask the farmers back East whose well water is now so toxic they can't even wash with it if a list of the chemicals the oil companies pump down the wells is any help.

AB 591, which would require companies to disclose what chemicals they use in fracking, is not a solution.

Where does America go for its drinking water when the aquifers are carcinogenic? What good is domestic energy if you can't wash your face from the tap, or if drinking water costs $25 a bottle?

Suvan Geer

Santa Ana

Huff's duty

Re "Wife's consulting may pose conflict for state senator," May 10

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