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THE CASE FOR MOONLIGHTING

Re: “Degrees
of Deceit” [July 19–25]
. While I much appreciate Howard Blume’s exposures
of the chicanery and shenanigans of the LAUSD’s bureaucracy, I must make a suggestion.
Why doesn’t your staff volunteer to work in the district’s worst secondary schools?
(Believe me, the LAUSD is so desperate for teachers they’ll hire almost anyone.)
Teach remedial classes with 40-plus students. Try contacting the homes of all
the students on your roll who are either missing or no-shows, and see how many
parents you actually reach. This may clarify much of the dropout problem.


However, what would happen if LAUSD’s dropouts didn’t drop out? Where would
you put them? For years, the mentality of the LAUSD has resembled the mentality
of the owners of slave ships: How many people can we cram into a given physical
space? This mentality has given rise to all sorts of educational “reforms”:
multitrack schools (with less instructional time) and roving teachers, to name
two. The ugly truth is that without a high dropout rate, the LAUSD would simply
run out of room.

In a way, though, blaming the LAUSD for its dropout rate is like “blaming
the victim.” The real culprits are the politicians and educational reformers
who derided the traditional schedule because most classrooms were vacant for
three months, then proposed year-round, multitrack schools as a way to save
taxpayer dollars and economize on unused classroom space. Equally blameworthy
is the state Department of Education, which encouraged overcrowding by promising
additional funds for schools that went multitrack. (In the case of Los Angeles,
the state has not delivered the funds.)

So by all means, rail against the LAUSD for its real follies and ineptitude
if you will, but the real boobies are the voters of California — including those
whose work appears in the pages of the L.A. Weekly.

—W. Joseph Miller
Los Angeles

Cooking the books to improve attendance figures and diminish dropout rates
at Manual Arts High School was bound to happen eventually because of the way
educational quality is measured. As long as only quantifiable data are considered
in assessing school performance, incentives will exist to engage in fraudulent
practices. This is particularly the case today, when the standards movement
demands accountability every year, no excuses accepted.

Perhaps it’s time to give more weight to qualitative factors in rating a school’s
success. Anonymous reports by the students themselves, regarding a school’s
success in meeting their needs and interests, can be as revealing as traditional
yardsticks. The student who was failing when she attended Manual Arts but is
now thriving at Metro because of its supportive environment serves as an instructive
example.

—Walt Gardner
Retired LAUSD teacher

THROW ME THE MONEY!

Re: Christopher Noxon’s “A
King’s Ransom” [A Considerable Town, July 19–25]
. Poor Scott King. Why doesn’t
he make a documentary with “complete period accuracy” about the United States
of Profit and its decades of global mischief, so his family and friends can
connect the ugly dots and see that the causes of terrorism exist right in our
own back yard? With King’s money, I think I could find a way to expose the hypocrisy.
It’d be challenging, and it just might make me some bank. Then I could finally
try some materialism of my own on for size. And that would shock my friends.

—Scott Webber
Pasadena

OWNERS AND OPERATORS

I wonder if TrizecHahn was as surprised as I to read in “Megaplex
Monopoly” by Nikki Finke [July 19–25]
that they had sold the Kodak Theater
to the Anschutz Corp. Did Phil Anschutz make the purchase as a consolation prize
for the rejection of his plan to lure an NFL franchise to downtown L.A.? Does
he intend to propose that Hollywood ought to be the new site? Indeed, Anschutz
Entertainment Group does own Staples Center, but as far as I know they only
operate the Kodak Theater.

—Ruth Kramer Ziony
Los Angeles

reality check

Re: Greg Burk’s “She
Had To Stay” [July 26–August 1]
. I would find Exene Cervenka’s complaints
about L.A. not being “real” enough for her more convincing if she could produce
a baptismal certificate with the name “Exene” on it.

—Robert Fiore
Los Angeles

 


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