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Torpedoed Science

The story of the week, judging by reactions from readers, was our report that three highly successful Marine Science Academy teachers at Lawndale High School had been involuntarily transferred from the school, effectively gutting an excellent marine science program. The three, Kimberly Merritt, Julie Ichiroku and Tali Sherman, were transferred after involving parents in a fight to challenge the Centinela Valley Unified High School District's decision to curtail the marine sciences curriculum.

Reader Bryant Mercado writes: "If it wasn't for MSA I would've been at Lloyd continuation right now, or even jail. Ms. Sherman extended her hand and showed me how to push myself, how to truly work hard at something. Not just her, but the whole MSA staff. Thanks to them I'm currently a junior at Cal State University, Long Beach, and to be honest, it's a breeze. They prepared me for what was coming and I was ready."

Monique writes: "You would think a program that had like a 99% graduation rate, and most of those went to some form of college, and a good number of those went to universities like UCLA, UC Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Amherst, etc. ... you would think a program like that would receive more funding and support from Lawndale and the community, but instead was shot down. And besides the statistics and the facts, this program was so smart because in a broken community like ours, they created a sense of safety and family and we were all able to thrive and achieve amazing things in that environment because of amazing people like Tali Sherman and Kim Merritt. I would not have gone to UCLA without those two specifically, and the program as a whole."

"Just a mom" writes: "My daughter was lucky enough to get through the MSA program. It was an amazing program with amazing teachers who truly cared about their students. [District Superintendent Jose Fernandez] and his board of idiots care about only themselves, not what's best for our children. And when teachers, parents and students spoke out about the way Fernandez and the board did things, we were ignored and basically told we had no rights when it came to decisions about our children's education. Lawndale lost a staff of devoted, caring teachers and an awesome principal, under Fernandez and his puppets' watch."

Kumar writes: "I was a MSA student from 2004-2008 now going to Brown University for the summer as a research scientist. This is unbelievable now I have absolutely nothing to come back to and it was just when I had something to give back to this Academy or school."

The Lonely War

Our cover story on a Cambodian accountant serving a life sentence in the United States for trying to overthrow the government of Cambodia drew a divided response from readers. Some thought the sentence unduly harsh. Others thought that accountant Yasith Chhun deserved the sentence, which is under appeal.

Rick Abrams writes: "Now that the strong message has been sent, hopefully the 9th Circuit will decide that the sentencing judge gave undue weight to improper criteria and Chhun will be free.

"There is a lesson, however. And people will not like to hear it, but faith is dangerous. Without his irrational faith that God called him to this mission, Chhun would probably have assessed the situation in a more realistic light. Had Chhun assessed facts rather than relied on faith, many people would not have died and [Cambodian leader] Hun Sen might not still be in power.

Gary Fultheim writes: "Many died because of Chhun. He not only could have ruined relations between the USA and Cambodia but he could have added to Cambodian poverty and hindered relations.

"With Hun Sen came thousands of schools, bridges, new roads, peace and development. What have [opposition figure] Sam Rainsy and Chhun brought besides deceit and despair?"

Ted Kane writes: "I gather from the tone of the article that we are supposed to feel that a miscarriage of justice took place. But the only problem I see is that the individual wasn't arrested once it became apparent that he was responsible for the attack that cost so many lives in Cambodia. The part about his growing up under the Khmer Rouge is indeed very sad, but it doesn't justify his vigilante tactics."

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