By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Thank you for your overview of this convoluted mess. Your map, showing the school sites that already sit on the borders of the L.A. City Oil Field, show how casually the city and state have traditionally treated the other reality under Los Angeles, in addition to those sliding plates.
Howard Blume’s attacks against Dr. Bernard Endres, a very knowledgeable person in his field, are unwarranted. Besides graduating magna cum laude from the University of Detroit, he studied at UCLA and USC and finished his Ph.D. in systems safety engineering at Pacific Western University, and not through a correspondence course, as stated in the article.
HOWARD BLUME RESPONDS: According to Pacific Western, the school offers degrees only through correspondence — or “distance learning,” as the school puts it. As for any differences Mr. Endres may have with our position on Belmont, the accuracy of scientific information and analysis in our final text was independently reviewed by the state’s Division of Oil and Gas and five separate environmental-science professionals, as well as by experts from both the school district and O’Melveny & Myers, who are adverse parties in Belmont-related litigation. In the rare instances of disagreement among these parties, our writers and editors made the call.
Re: Erin Aubry Kaplan’s “Whose Children Do We Cherish?” [May 18–24]. The Coalition for Educational Justice is certainly right to be raising the issue of improving education for black children, but it has the wrong arguments and is looking for the wrong answers. It’s another example of quick-fix solutions. Claiming that tests are culturally biased is absurd. Since when are vocabulary words and arithmetic biased? If students can’t even master basic math and reading skills, then how are they going to succeed after they get out of school?
The parents who are so upset need to look at themselves before they look at the schools. Are they doing everything they can do for their children? Maybe educational problems arise from broken homes, teen pregnancy, gangs, and drugs and alcohol in the home, not from standardized tests.
The two advocacy groups denouncing the use of standardized tests are right, but for reasons that go beyond what they claim are the issues. A standardized test compares the performance of a student with the performance of a previous group of test takers, called the test’s “norm group.” If scores are too similar, they cannot be contrasted satisfactorily. To engineer score spread, test makers build into the test items highly unlikely to be taught in class. That’s why a standardized test measures, to a large extent, what students bring to the classroom and not what they learn there.
In fact, if an item is answered correctly by more than about half of the test takers, it is almost always discarded when the test is revised. Strange as it may seem, the best items from the point of view of the test makers are those that cannot be influenced by even the finest instruction. So much for the myth that a standardized test measures instructional effectiveness and educational quality.
Former teacher, LAUSD
I am utterly sick of government corruption: public officials taking kickbacks or flatly refusing to simply obey the law and do their jobs. Jorge Casuso, in “Maybe Politics Doesn’t Pay” [May 18–24], addresses both issues — the anti-corruption Proposition LL and our public officials’ unlawful refusal to implement it. Mr. Casuso may have been unaware that Proposition LL, overwhelmingly passed by the voters, is not unconstitutional. The decision about constitutionality was vacated (thrown out) by an appeals court. This means an unconstitutionality decision is not on the books and does not exist. Yet Santa Monica officials not only ignore this and thwart the will of the voters, they seek to waste more of our tax money to continue to do so. And for whose interests? Certainly not the voters they represent, whose will was made plain.
The kind of campaign-finance reform that the voters of Santa Monica have approved is exactly what’s needed. That’s why, with the help of an all-volunteer force no less, the citizens of Santa Monica qualified this initiative and passed it overwhelmingly. The current system lends itself to so much corruption by special-interest money that, in general, only the wealthy have a say in how our tax dollars are spent. One has to wonder why the city officials are so fearful.
Re: Charles Rappleye’s “The Fatal Holiday” [May 18–24]. Once again, the L.A. Weekly has taken the side of criminals and bashed the men who risk their lives every day to protect us from them. If you fire a gun in the air on New Year’s Eve, you deserve whatever you get in return.
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