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Letters: School reform we could use

March 14, 2013
  • What is the best way forward for L.A. Unified schools? The teachers union has a proposal.
What is the best way forward for L.A. Unified schools? The teachers union… (Los Angeles Times )

Re "Divided over L.A. Unified," Editorial, March 12

How odd to see The Times characterize a resolution by United Teachers Los Angeles calling for "reduced class sizes, full staffing of our schools ... safe and clean schools [and] better pay for all school employees" as being "anti-reform." If that's true, does "reform" mean higher class sizes, understaffed schools, unsafe and dirty campuses and low pay for school employees?

My daughter's excellent middle-school teachers could give more individual attention to students if class sizes were capped at 25 instead of what many teachers face today, which no private-school parent would tolerate. Education Week ranks California 47th in the nation for its per-pupil spending. Isn't it time we tried investing in our young people?

Katy Hickman

Los Angeles

The quest for educational improvement in L.A. Unified is commendable. Of course, there is a big "but."

In recent years, widespread student testing showed that at least 40% of district students were proficient or advanced in English and math. Several years ago that number was much lower. Some disadvantaged and minority students are lagging, but teachers deserve congratulations for these improved scores instead of the constant cacophony of the "woe is me" attitude.

Instead of making teachers scapegoats for the wrongly perceived condition of the district, we should use the carrot, not the stick, to bring out the best in all of our teachers. And we should say congratulations to them — folks who arguably hold the most important jobs in the world.

Steven B. Oppenheimer

Northridge

The writer, a professor of biology at Cal State Northridge, is a U.S. Presidential Award winner for student mentoring.

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