July 13, 2011
Letters to the Editor: Education, Prager, my single peeps
More Than One Way to Support Higher Education
Rob Eshman decries the bipartisan political agreement that favors cutting funds from the Cal State and UC systems (“Goodbye, California,” July 8). He missed the opportunity to cite one remedy that, ironically, also addresses his concern about the environment. The Tax on California Oil initiative statute would allocate dedicated funding for the very educational systems (and others) that he discussed by adding $2 billion to $3 billion a year to the budget for this purpose. As California is the only state in the nation that does not employ this revenue source, this is a particularly egregious oversight.
I read Rob Eshman’s column, “Goodbye, California,” with some interest. There is a need for a reality check. Seventy percent of the job market involves skills that are obtained at a vocational college, not a university. One could get a humanities degree from a prestigious university and wind up driving a taxicab or flipping treif hamburgers. Our public vocational colleges are very affordable and do a fantastic job of training people for well-paying jobs. When my wife broke her wrist building our sukkah, I watched a very skilled man cast her wrist. Admiring his remarkable abilities, I asked him where he learned this skill. His answer? The military! I have a word of advice for parents [who are] about to squander their savings on that “college education”: Save your money and enable your child to earn a dignified living.
Rabbi Louis J. Feldman
Unbridled Optimism Disastrous
Marty Kaplan’s recent article (“Pessimism Is the Last Taboo,” July 1) struck me as one of the most important articles/themes I’ve come across in quite some time, and long overdue. In short, Americans suffer from “Disneyfied thinking,” where no matter what happens, we are exceptional and great. This is simply not true. France is now ahead of us in upward mobility (we are 10th among developed countries). But to be pessimistic, according to the mainstream, is to be unpatriotic. This sort of thinking (or lack thereof) promotes disastrous outcomes. I am reminded of late 1920s/early 1930s Germany. Had more Germans been more pessimistic/cynical about the Nazi Party, perhaps we would not have seen its horrific outcome.
Bill Maher has been saying for several years now, “Americans need to be more cynical.” He couldn’t be more correct. And I believe he is well backed up by Thomas Jefferson, if anyone bothers to read him anymore. Oh, that’s right; Texas removed him from their textbooks. Oh well! Hey! We are exceptional anyway!
Prager Distorts Danger of Left
Prager argues that the passage of an unjust law would open up our eyes to the dangers of the left (“Maybe San Francisco Will Wake Jews Up,” July 8). While the left is behind this silly ballot initiative, banning circumcision does not make the Bay Area Nazis, as Prager implies. While there is criticism of Israel on the left, this does not make it anti-Semitic. Much of the criticism is mainstream and repeated in the pages of this journal by many moderate Jews. Israel is not perfect, and these commentators point out her flaws. The fact that a few neo-cons support Israel even when she does wrong does not immunize the right.
A discussion with the Anti-Defamation League or review of its Web site demonstrates that it fears anti-Semitism from all quarters, but a recent resurgence comes from right-wing hate groups. Since the recession, especially with the rise of the Tea Party, incidents against Jews have increased. Jews and others have been easy scapegoats in hard economic times. But why has Prager sought to make it a partisan issue? Both parties in Congress support Israel, and our local members are leaders on Israel, both Democrats and Republicans. Prager needs to find something positive to say. Why does he try to divide us?
More Props for a Peep
Six years ago, at my daughter’s bridal shower, I met Abby (“Abby L.,” July 1). Abby is not just funny; Abby is a riot. I remember laughing when Abby did an impromptu skit at the shower, which was expressively filled with humor, light and love. She was endearing and “kooky” at the same time, quite unlike others of her age. She created something out of almost nothing.
Abby also touched my heart when she visited my very ill husband, z”l, that same summer and spent an hour making him smile and laugh as she told him funny stories and jokes.
I hope this peek into Abby — adorable and perky, and now back in Los Angeles from Jerusalem — opens a window into someone’s heart. Abby is a treasure.
In “The Education of LAUSD’s Steve Zimmer” (July 8), the correct graduation rate for LAUSD students should have been approximately 50 percent, and for California public school students closer to 70 percent, according to the California Department of Education.