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Letters to the editor: Weeding the Angeles National Forest; evaulating teachers; insurance covering pregnancies

October 06, 2011
  • Andrew Fish of the U.S. Forest Service works to get rid of nonnative plant species such as Spanish broom in the Angeles National Forest. (Don Kelson / Los Angeles Times)
Andrew Fish of the U.S. Forest Service works to get rid of nonnative plant…

Plant-life lover

Re "It's a forest-sized weeding job," Oct. 3

Forest Service botanist Katie VinZant seems enthusiastic about removing exotic plants from the Angeles National Forest. She has begun a campaign to root out one of my favorite plants in the forest, Spanish broom. True, that hardy plant with the beautiful yellow flower is not native to California, but neither are most of us human inhabitants.

What's next? Must we eradicate eucalyptus trees and wild mustard? These plants help define California just as our human immigrants from all over the world do. Unlike most of California's human inhabitants, these plants have been here a long time.

I say let them stay to continue to make our state beautiful.

Gerry Rankin

Glendale

What teachers bring to the table

Re "Just rewards for teachers," Opinion, Oct. 2

Marcus A. Winters admits that what makes a teacher successful is not easily quantifiable, but that doesn't stop him from trying to do so. By promoting the deeply flawed "value-added analysis" model, he perpetuates the myth that teacher effectiveness can be measured by students' bubble-in-the-answer test scores.

Standardized tests were not designed to evaluate teachers, and they aren't valid instruments for doing so. Teachers embrace the legitimate use of data to help improve their practice. On a schoolwide level, data on student performance should be used to discover what is working in the classroom and to guide teachers in working collaboratively.

As an English teacher for more than 25 years, I can't support a system that elevates standardized test scores above all else. Standardized test scores are one tool to assess student learning, but they must be used to inform instruction, not deform it.

Warren Fletcher

Los Angeles

The writer is president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

In the first paragraph, Winters claims that we all know there are "good" teachers and "bad" teachers. I suggest that there are some great teachers on one end of the spectrum and some incompetent teachers on the other. The vast majority are dedicated and show up every day to deal with odds not in their favor.

Some teachers, regardless of credentials and experience, are gifted, and students are fortunate to have one of them in their 13 years of public education. The majority of the rest are working hard to serve their students.

The success of the students is related to so many factors. Ongoing education and support for teachers, community outreach, parent effectiveness and evaluation of the administration are places to look at if there is money to be awarded for better results.

Marty Wilson

Whittier

As a retired middle school teacher, I found a lot missing in Winters' article.

What I find really interesting is that I still run into students I had a decade ago who thank me. I've been told that with the foundation I gave them, many were able to go on to higher math in high school and college.

What I have always said is that parents need to turn off televisions, computers and phones. They need to make sure homework is done and that their children get a good night's sleep. They need a home that is pro-education.

Margaret Schaffer

Tarzana

Pointless partisanship

Re "Who's being partisan?," Postscript, Oct. 1

Both Marvin J. Wolf and Tom Campbell appear oblivious to a fundamental construct of a representative republic.

Each member of the House and Senate is sent to represent the constituents of his or her district or state. The voters know what the elected person "stands for" and expect just that, not some wishy-washy compromise of the individual's fundamental principles to serve the interests of constituents in some other person's district or state.

John F. Kennedy said after the 1960 election that even a one-vote victory is a mandate. That's the way the American electoral process works, and Campbell and Wolf should well know and get over it.

Kip Dellinger

Santa Monica

Campbell attempts to defend his position that uncompromising partisanship is from both sides with the statement in his closing paragraph: "The president said he won't agree to a long-term budget deal without tax increases, and Republicans won't accept tax increases." To paraphrase Campbell: The president will not cave in without concessions, and the Republicans refuse all compromise.

Campbell succinctly repeats the concern of the original letter writer and thus concedes that he was correct in his assessment. Unfortunately, Campbell shows that he is so partisan that he is unable to recognize the obvious failures of the GOP.

Keith Price

Los Angeles

Our deputies

Re "Three say jail abuse reports ignored," Sept. 28

The article unfairly casts deputies as thugs and brutes. It cited an obvious anti-police ACLU report that referenced only a few incidents and numerous inmate complaints, a far cry from justifying the condemnation of an entire class of jail deputies.

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