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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Rep. Paul D. Ryan as a GOP presidential candidate; standardized test scores as a teacher evaluation tool; circumcision bans on the ballot

May 29, 2011
  • Will he?: Some want Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to seek the Republican presidential nomination. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)
Will he?: Some want Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to seek the Republican presidential…

The GOP's guy?

Re "Run, Ryan, run," Opinion, May 24

What a brilliant idea to draft Wisconsin Rep. Paul D. Ryan for the Republican nomination for president. After all, he is responsible for this nonsense about privatizing Medicare to save it. He's like his fellow Republicans, who argue that our national debt demands it while they continue to add to the debt with tax breaks for oil companies and the wealthy.

Meanwhile, the middle class will be hit with more taxes as the budget crisis is passed on to state and local governments.

So bring it on, Rep. Ryan, and let's have a national debate on what kind of government and country we want: One that is run for the wealthy, or a country that cares about all citizens, including our elderly and our students.

Doug Vance

Anaheim

Jonah Goldberg proposes a suicide mission for the GOP. The Republican budget proposal written by Ryan would turn Medicare into a voucher program that would cost seniors more money while cutting services.

Newt Gingrich dipped his big toe into the waters in first rejecting the plan, then in damage control, gunning his ship into fast reverse. Yet Goldberg would reduce the Republicans' big tent to a pup tent and create a giant elephant graveyard.

So "run, Ryan, run" — and return to the inglorious years between Presidents Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower.

Paul McElroy

Laguna Woods

Goldberg tells us that if Ryan got the nomination, "many think he would clean Obama's clock in the debates."

I, for one, would like to know exactly who are a few of these "many"? After all, "many" sincerely believed that the world would end on May 21.

Ryan would need the combined debating skills of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster to clean President Obama's clock in a debate in which he must defend his reverse Robin Hood ambition of taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

Ronald Rubin

Topanga

Goldberg is absolutely right. We liberals are very much in favor of Ryan running against Obama, because in that scenario, all we would have to do is mention Ryan's proposal to throw Medicare over the cliff and Obama would be a shoo-in.

Too bad it'll never happen.

Linda Winters

Culver City

Test scores and teachers

Re "Reward for good test scores," May 24

Should a student's performance on standardized tests be an integral part of a student's overall grade? Absolutely. I am extremely surprised that the tests do not appear to have been used in such a manner.

The estimate from the Jefferson High School principal that 50% of students were not trying hard on the tests is disturbing. The tests should be used to raise or reduce a student's overall grade.

As an employer, I was always interested in seeking employees who were prepared to put in a solid effort consistently, not just when they felt motivated.

Brian Richardson

Pacific Palisades

Perhaps a better title for the article would be, "Tail wags the dog."

Those aggressively promoting high-stakes standardized testing have promised that tying teacher and student evaluations to such "data-driven accountability" would result in better outcomes. Critics have argued the opposite: Making a single test all-important would diminish what goes on in the classroom because the only results that counted would be those of a one-time test and not the time and effort spent during the entire school year on actual learning and teaching.

It looks like the "reformers" might win: Real excellence in the classroom might have to make way as the tail of standardized testing wags the dog

of actual learning and teaching.

Barry David Sell

Glendale

Finally, someone gets exactly what the problem is with using standardized test scores on evaluations to rate teachers: There is no "buy in."

Ask any high school teacher what is one of the first questions asked when an assignment is given, and you will surely get, "How much is this worth toward my grade?" It is a clear indication that for most students, the more something is worth, the greater the effort.

If these tests are worth nothing to the student, how can they be used to fairly and accurately determine teacher effectiveness?

Michael Ollins

West Hills

Calling for a little civility

Re "Quit your yakking," Editorial, May 22

How refreshing that a woman who talked nonstop for many hours on her cellphone was kicked off an Amtrak train. I'd guess 99% of the people reading about this cheered the officials who exercised their authority and restored some basic civility. We are in a time when few individuals in charge are willing to confront obnoxious behavior

If supermarket managers politely but consistently made the person with 18 items in the express checkout lane go to another lane, that customer would stop quickly. If a cop actually gave a ticket to the guy who cuts in front of you on the freeway, that driver would think twice about doing it again.

Let's hope Amtrak's positive exercise of authority encourages others who are in charge to enforce the rules that selfish people have flouted for much too long.

John Vasi

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