Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Letters to the Editor of the LA Times: September 9th

A little publicity for middle school

Re "From backdrop to center of attention," Sept. 6

The McCain campaign's claim that the picture of Walter Reed Middle School was used as a "way of illustrating the candidate's call for public education reforms" was a shallow attempt at damage control after some inept researcher mistook the school for Walter Reed Army Medical Center. At least that's the story going around.

Nobody on the Republican convention team caught the error -- not even McCain, who should have some idea what the building looks like. They all deserve a large, bold "F" on their collective homework papers.

Because they used Walter Reed Middle School as a backdrop for McCain's acceptance speech without permission or approval from the school, I feel a sizable donation is in order, along with an apology and the following statement: "Acceptance of this generous donation is in no way an endorsement for the Republican Party by Walter Reed Middle School's principal, administrative staff, teachers or parents." I don't know if Reed would be allowed to accept the donation. Perhaps if the donors earmarked the money for a leadership program.

Bruce Neckels
Studio City
The writer is a former PTA president of Walter Reed Middle School.

The folks who complained about the photo of the school being shown during the Republican convention are oversensitive. They should be elated that their school is getting publicity. None of the convention viewers are ignorant enough to think that the school endorses McCain just because the photo was shown. Those complainers need to learn to lighten up.

Robert Price

••smf: You go, Bruce!   "Lighten up!" is like hollering "uncle" after you've had a sense-of-humor-failure!  The reality is that someone in the McCain campaign didn't know the difference between photos of the world's best middle school and the world's most famous army hospital (superlatives added) for the biggest photo-op of the campaign. When health care for the military and education are campaign issues that becomes an issue.

Nobody checked the research ...isn't that how we got into Iraq?

THE NEXT LETTER gives us a clue why the Republican's failed to fund No Child Left Behind - their own impossible dream.   Setting the bar high is laudable - "We will put a man on the moon by the end of this century!"   But JFK didn't say "We will put a man on the moon by next Tuesday - and we'll fund it by cutting taxes, eliminating the Dept. of Agriculture and borrowing against the lottery."

CALLING THE ENGLISH POLICE: Do you even put the stuff people didn't say in quotation marks?

Students deserve better

Re "Half of high schools met U.S. goals," Sept. 5

The fundamental flaw in No Child Left Behind is that it uses a target model to measure growth. By 2014, almost every school in the nation will "fail." Targets that call for a 100% high school graduation rate will only be met in rare instances. Targets that call for 100% proficiency in subject matter will fare likewise. According to the various standards set by the act, there are some 25 ways that a school can "fail." It makes the whole system something of a joke.

Educators feel set up to fail. Schools that have made great progress still wind up in program improvement. It's more than a little demoralizing.

California uses a growth model rather than a target model. This is a much more fair approach than No Child Left Behind. For the act to have credibility with educators, it needs major revisions. Moving to a growth model would be a step in the right direction.

The teachers I know work incredibly hard. They are more than dedicated to improving student achievement. But the system conspires against them. They, and the students they teach, deserve better.

James A. Spence
Assistant Professor
Chapman University College
Hanford, Calif.

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