In his May 8 column "The Racialization of L.A.Politics," Joel Kotkin makes the point that "reasoned debate" on therelative merits of Proposition 227 is not taking place, because of "the issue's rapid racialization." I would like to attempt somereasoned debate by describing what is in Proposition 227, and howeach aspect of the proposal leads to very serious problems forlimited English proficient children, teachers, and schooldistricts.
Proposition 227 limits special English classes toonly one school year: After one year (180 school days), children willhave to know enough English to do book reports, read science andsocial studies texts, and solve story problems. All of the availableresearch shows this is far too little time.
Cal State Long Beach Professor David Ramirezstudied the progress of limited English proficient children in animmersion program similar to the kind Proposition 227 would impose:After one year, only 1.3 percent of the children were mainstreamed,and most knew some English when they started. Even after two years,only 11 percent knew enough English to be placed into regularclasses. University of Riverside researchers found similar results:It took children four years of immersion to reach the level ofEnglish considered necessary to do regular classwork inEnglish.
Proposition 227, if it passes, can only beoverturned by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the statelegislature along with the governor's approval, or anotherinitiative. Thus, if children do not do well under the new plan,districts will be powerless to change the program. It completelyeliminates local control, and gives local districts noflexibility.
If Proposition 227 passes, $500 million will bediverted from the education budget to adult education, to help adultslearn English if they promise to teach English to their children, atruly bizarre idea that substitutes beginning second languageacquirers for professional teachers of English as a secondlanguage.
Proposition 227 is not a referendum on bilingualeducation: It is an attempt to impose a rigid plan on limited Englishproficient children, a plan that is completely unsupported byexperience and research. It robs local school boards and schooldistricts from making policy and robs them of all flexibility.
Proposition 227 is not "English for the children."It erects a massive barrier preventing children from acquiringEnglish.
Professor of Education Universityof Southern California
Joel Kotkin paints a rather dreary picture ofLatino/Jewish politics identifying everything about Latinopoliticians that he apparently dislikes: opposition to Proposition227, Richard Katz, Howard Berman and the MTA controversy.
His vision fails to look at the whole picture.There are many Latino members of Congress who are longtime supportersof Israel, including Lucille Roybal-Allard, Esteban Torres, LorettaSanchez and Matthew Martinez.
Moreover, Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosahas been a source of enormous strength and pride to those who prizestrong positive relations between the Jewish and Latino communities.His actions are numerous, but let me site a few. Last year, heco-authored a bill that provided citizenship assistance for elderlyrefugees who were in jeopardy of losing their welfare benefits. Inthe three months that he has been in his current position, he hasspoken to at least five Jewish groups that I am aware of. In the MTAcontroversy, he has taken a problem-solving approach. He frequentlytalks of the need to work with different communities, a politics ofinclusion and not division. Last November, he was part of The JewishFederation's Mega Mission to Israel.
I see a much brighter future to Latino/Jewishrelations than the one painted by Mr. Kotkin.
Discussing shifting demographics, political forcesand racial polarization, Joel Kotkin avoids some crucialpoints:
Latino politicians called Proposition 209 a"wedge" issue. But many voters recognized the inevitable result ofthe theft of affirmative action from black Americans by the progenyof immigrants and illegal aliens demanding undeserved preferences forthemselves.
Stating Proposition 187 was launched by nativistsis dishonest. It wasn't xenophobic, racial nor ethnic. Latinoactivists racialized it. It simply denied benefits to illegal alienswho demonstrate no obligation to our laws. When he opposedProposition 187, Ron Unz uttered the outrageous lie that passagewould turn California into a giant prison of "mothers wanting to sendtheir kids to school." Calling illegal aliens "immigrants"grotesquely distorts that word and insults immigrants who obeyed U.S.laws.
Through decades of illegal immigration to whichCongress turns a blind eye, Latinization of the Southwest isinevitable. Never in modern history has a citizenry had to enduresuch rapid demographic transformation. Those opposing Proposition187's rational remedy can now bleat to their hearts' content aboutthe challenges facing us.
Middle East Peace
There is good reason to question Bibi Netanyahu'spriorities when he schedules five days for trying to influence UnitedStates institutions while objecting to our pressure on Israel to cometo a peaceful solution of the Middle East crisis ("Bibi's Blitz," May15). It would seem more important for him to spend that time dealingwith his own country's problem of coming to a consensus.
Herbert R. Bloch, Jr.
The concern of AIPAC and the Conference ofPresidents of Major Jewish Organizations regarding PresidentClinton's so-called pressure on Prime Minister Netanyahu ismisplaced. As the Schuen Associates poll of May 6 and 7 demonstrated,some 80 percent of American Jews are supportive of PresidentClinton's efforts to bring two non-trusting parties to pursue thepeace with security that Israel so desperately needs, as well as thePalestinian need for confidence-building acts on the part ofIsrael.
No amount of counter-pressure against PresidentClinton and his peace team can disguise the reality of the devotionto Israel and its future that they have demonstrated these pastyears.
As one who has been to Israel nearly 30 timesbecause of my love for the country, I applaud President Clinton forhis courageous vision in this difficult time. Prime MinisterNetanyahu has publicly expressed his disdain for the Oslo accords.They remain, however, the single best path to an equitable peace forall concerned.
As an American Jew, I want my president andgovernment to use all available and reasonable means to bring peaceand resolution of conflict between Israel and Palestine. Peace notonly brings an end to violence, but promotes growth, prosperity andopportunity for all parties.
It is our president's duty to propose, cajole,advocate, promote, prompt and convince the parties to settle. Isupport placing conditions on meetings as a reasonable settlementtool. If the parties agree, fine; if the parties do not meet theconditions, other means may be explored and used.
President Clinton may not be able to dictateIsraeli and Palestinian policies, but he should let the partiesclearly know the policy of the U.S. Is this not the essence ofdiplomacy?
I am shocked, saddened and aghast that the editorof a Jewish newspaper can be in opposition to CAMERA, an organizationwhere every person, regardless of religion, who cares about truth andaccuracy in report should support ("Musings on the Los AngelesTimes," May 8). Of course, CAMERA is on the offensive. That is itsraison d'etre.
I strongly suggest that Mr. Lichtenstein read"Jerusalem Betrayed" by Mike Evans, a Christian journalist who doessee a "vendetta against Israel and the Jews."
My view is that Mr. Lichtenstein is not the personto be editor-in-chief of a Jewish newspaper in the second largestU.S. city. We need a person who cares for a strong, secure Israel andunderstands the true nature of anti-Semitism.
Marina Del Rey
In response to Teresa Strasser's May 15 column,"Looking for a Few Good Therapists," I am pleased to offer a solutionto her dilemma.
Yes, it is sometimes a challenge to find atherapist with whom you feel comfortable enough to share yourfeelings and who can provide the listening ear that Ms. Strasser isseeking, and it sometimes takes a few tries before you find the rightmatch. There are many fine therapists in the area, but I would liketo suggest that she try contacting Jewish Family Service of LosAngeles as a positive alternative.
JFS has many excellent therapists and severallocations in the city, Valley and the South Bay, and a sliding scaleof fees. Individual sessions, as well as a variety of support groups,are available during the day and in the evening. We have been servingthe Jewish community of Los Angeles for 144 years, and enjoy thefinest reputation for professional excellence. Each year, hundreds ofpeople in the community have found the help they needed.
So, Ms. Strasser, give Jewish Family Service acall at (213) 761-8800 to get connected with that "perfect therapist"and we are convinced your quest will end happily.
Vivian Sauer, LCSW
Director of Adult and ChildrensServices
Jewish Family Service of LosAngeles
South Bay Festival
Commendation to reporter Ruth Stroud for herthorough coverage of the South Bay Israel Israel 50 Jubilee ("SouthBay's Big Bash," May 8).
Those of us in the business of community buildingare fond of pointing to attendance figures as the ultimate gauge ofan event's success. Although, as Stroud noted, the celebrationcaptured a considerably larger audience than anticipated, numbersalone attest to only part of the story.
Perhaps even more noteworthy is this additionalfactor: The yearlong effort that created the event engaged the fullparticipation and sponsorship of South Bay synagogues fromWestchester all the way south to San Pedro. It was conceived byleadership from two different synagogues (Rabbi David Lieb fromTemple Beth El and Renee Sokolski of Congregation Ner Tamid), whoapproached the Jewish Federation as convener and then proceeded tobuild a talented team from every sector of Jewish organizationallife. Never before has a team of volunteers representing disparatepopulations from the entire South Bay area come together to engage inan event of this magnitude.
The only downside to Stroud's vibrant eventreporting is that we in the South Bay will probably have to scramblefor an identity other than the "Jewish L.A.'s best-kept secret" towhich we've become accustomed.
Shira L. Most
Jewish Federation , South BayCouncil
Your article on the bagel bakery ("Home Is Wherethe Hearth Is," May 15) neglected to point out that a treif bagel is as Jewish as aham-and-swiss on rye!
Saul Z. Newman M.D.
A Circle of Tradition
I was deeply moved by the tribute to Ruth Gruberby Sue Shapiro ("A Circle of Tradition," May 8).
Ruth Gruber is indeed a role model to me, myhusband, our daughter and our two sons. During World War II, shesupervised the rescue of 1,000 displaced Jews from a camp in Italy.As a photojournalist immediately after the war, she started to coverthe efforts by the surviving remnants of European Jewry who weretrying to get out of Europe.
My personal experience with her began 16 years agowhen she joined the executive board of the North American Conferenceon Ethiopian Jewry. In 1986, she accompanied my daughter and me onone of the many NACOEJ missions to remote Ethiopian Jewishvillages.
It has indeed been an honor to know and work withRuth Gruber over these many years. May she go from strength tostrength!
Chair of the Board
North American Conference onEthiopian Jewry
In last week's article "Donor Dilemma," we omittedKaren Synesiou's first name and title. She is the director andco-owner of the Center for Surrogate Parenting and Egg Donation Inc.,in Beverly Hills.
The men pictured in a photo accompanying thearticle "Digging Behind Yesterday's Headlines" (May 1) weresharp-shooters, not soldiers.
THE JEWISH JOURNAL welcomes letters from allreaders. Letters should be no more than 250 words and we reserve theright to edit for space. All letters must include a signature, validaddress and phone number. Pseudonyms and initials will not be used,but names will be withheld on request. Unsolicited manuscripts andother materials should include a self-addressed, stamped envelope inorder to be returned.Publisher, Stanley Hirsh
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