I agree with Joel Kotkin that any politicalactions that serve to further divide Californians along racial linesare hurtful to all of us (“The Racialization of L.A. Politics,” May8). However, I take issue at his support of Proposition 227 and itsco-author Ron Unz.
As a teacher in inner city Los Angeles for 10years and a bilingual teacher for three years, I am aware that thebilingual program is not completely successful. I taught for a numberof years at a school where few, if any, students were transitionedinto mainstream English. I am currently at a school where thetransition rate is very high and has been increasing over the pastseveral years.
As current law mandates, parents may opt theirchildren out of a bilingual program as they see fit. Individualclassroom teachers and the levels of implementation at specificschools make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessfulbilingual program. In my second grade classroom, my students recentlytook the Stanford 9 Examinations along with non-bilingual studentsacross LAUSD. I would not be surprised if my students’ scores equalor surpass the scores of their non-bilingual counterparts in ourcluster.
Proposition 227 is written in a way that restrictsteachers’ abilities to effectively teach limited English proficiencystudents. It mandates a ridiculously short time limit for students toacquire sufficient English language skills to become literate.
I cannot disagree that the bilingual programstatewide is full of failures. I can only offer that there are also agreat number of successes. Proposition 227 does not seek to build onthe successes and minimize the failures, it seeks to prohibit thesuccesses.
I had a chance to hear Mr. Unz speak on thismeasure in a forum where teachers from across the state, both for andagainst Proposition 227 got a chance to speak their minds. Mr. Unz isseeking a political foot in the door and is using a very unfortunateinstance that occurred in one specific school (which should not havehappened under the current laws) to prevent parents, teachers andschools from having a choice.
Yes, every child in our country should speakEnglish and every student graduating from our high schools shouldhave a level of English literacy that will provide them with accessto higher education or viable working skills. On those points I agreewith Mr. Unz. But as one of the individuals charged with theresponsibility of giving children these skills, don’t tie my handsand prevent me from giving my students all the success that Ican.
Katje A Lehrman
Leaving Behind Hate
The inspiring article on former skinhead FrankMeeink (“Leaving Hate Behind,” May 8), who has repented of hisviolent hate-filled past, left out a salient detail explainingMeeink’s change of heart.
Your article suggests that, in prison, he juststarted to relate to blacks, Hispanics and Jews. But as I have readelsewhere, Meeink had a religious epiphany while in prison after afellow inmate shared a Bible with him. He became literally whatChristians would term born-again. That is the explanation for hisremarkable and dramatic transformation in deciding to love his formerenemies and forsake his former friends.
His conversion was not the result of some ad hocmulticultural sensitivity or diversity training course, but rather,came from newly acquired religious convictions. Meeink has beenquoted as stating that the work he is doing in preaching tolerance isGod’s work, and that God has intended for him to continue in thatwork. Such language would lead many secularists to term him areligious fanatic. And I am aware that, unfortunately, there are manyreligious groups who actually preach the hate which Meeink formerlyprofessed. But their failure to grasp the ideals of their religionshould not tarnish his success in putting those ideals intopractice.
It is interesting to note that onlyreligious-based programs seem to have any impact in redressing theevils of drug addiction, alcoholism, and teen-age promiscuity.Perhaps hate is in the same category, and only will yield toreligious morality.
On Israeli Men
I just loved Teresa Strasser’s column (“WhenFlattery Turns to Fatigue,” April 17). It had me laughinghysterically because it was so true apart from one fact: Israeli menonly like pretty women.
This was demonstrated to me last year in Israel. Iwent for a drink with two girlfriends and I was made up and lookingcute in a sexy dress.
As we were standing in the bar, an Israeli guycame up and offered me his seat. My two friends said, “Israeli mennever offer their seats to anyone.” And I felt like saying “with theway you two look, I’m not surprised.”
They basically looked like Ms. Frump and Ms.Frumpier. No makeup, no lipstick, wearing dirty old jeans with theirgray roots showing through. And they both live in Israel and shouldknow better; I’m a yearly visitor.
Long live all our gorgeous Israeli men!
Poland and NATO
As U.S. senators debate Poland’s entry into NATO,they ought to consider that, in recent weeks, the Polish governmenthas approved the building of a parking lot and a visitor’s centerthat would include a fast food restaurant just across from the maingates at the Auschwitz death camp. This, of course, would be aterrible desecration of Jewish memory.
Also, the construction of the parking lot andvisitor’s center as well as a church established in Birkenau in 1984in the only building remaining of SS headquarters, is in violation ofthe international UNESCO agreement which forbids any constructionwithin 1,000 meters of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.
May Poland be trusted to become a member of NATOeven as it violates international agreements on an issue as sensitiveas Jewish memory at Auschwitz?
We think not.
Rabbi Avi Weiss
Coalition for Jewish Concerns-Amchaof the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, N.Y.
“A Price Above Rubies”
Regarding Sally Ogle Davis’ review of “A Price Above Rubies” (“Putting on the Sheitel,” March 27):
The film does not do justice to its theme: theemotional and spiritual nature and needs of a woman in a rigid,patriarchal community based on teachings hostile to the life force,to passion, romance, and worship of the goddess in women.
If only it had been more subtle, less obvious, andwith less clichéd characters, instead of assumptions by thedirector that the audience needed to be hit over the head with thethemes.
Her interwoven spirituality and sexuality isstifled by patriarchy. She drops out of the Chassidic community,realizing that she, as an individual, is not suited for it. Thequestion is, “How many Jewish women have dropped out for similarreasons?”
“A Price Above Rubies” is a flawed film. ThePuerto Rican character is clichéd; the brother-in-law isunremittingly despicable. The incredibly insensitive sexualintercourse with its absence of sentiment, passion, romance,affection shown as characteristic of these Brooklyn Orthodox Jews hasto be exaggerated.
Thanks Rabbi Huttler
As the teacher representing the class of 35Russian immigrants who are studying English at Etz JacobCongregation, I would like to express our deep appreciation to RabbiHuttler for his understanding, kindness and wisdom. He has opened notonly the doors of the congregation, but also has taught us thehistory of the Jewish people, our heritage, as well as the meaning ofthe laws of the Torah.
Russian Class Teacher
Etz Jacob Congregation
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