Your editorial shows a baffling ignorance of the law, California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, and the recommendations he made regarding the future of testing. Contrary to your unfounded assertions, the superintendent was required by law to prepare this report and required by law to submit it to the governor and the Legislature. Contrary to your misguided criticisms, the report was developed over months of discussions with local school officials and other stakeholders -- as the report itself outlines in detail. A state education bond measure would contain no tax increase whatsoever. Far from containing "unfunded mandates," the report calls for the state to provide unprecedented new support and flexibility to schools as they make the transition to these new assessments.
And contrary to your willful misreading of the facts, the superintendent made this report only after outlining his own detailed plans for improving education, including the most thorough examination of the teaching profession in a generation -- and after he worked tirelessly to address the financial emergency facing California's schools. Dozens of media organizations across California have weighed in on this work, recognizing the incredible potential of using these new assessments to foster improved learning among our students: None has made the bizarre, amateurish and silly mistakes contained in your editorial.
-- Paul Hefner, Sacramento
The letter writer is director of communications for the California Department of Education
Trouble with water-cleanup tax
Los Angeles County Supervisors are meeting Tuesday to propose a property tax to clean up the water that flows into the ocean and other waterways. The project does not earmark funds for specific projects and programs. We are being asked to pay a tax for a huge problem without a specific solution. One solution shown on a county flier is catch basin screens. While a great idea for bathtubs, it's not reasonable for water hurdling through enormous storm drains. Who would clean these screens? Inspect them? Where's that money? Screens are useless for toxins and chemicals. How will the county clean toxic water? Trying to clean all the water in Los Angeles County without a scientific engineering plan is ludicrous. Taxing us without a plan is worse.
-- Elaine Irick, Palos Verdes Estates
TSA's procedures make us safer
Re "Take our airports back" (Letters, Jan. 9):
I disagree with letter writer Joe Tassinari. I fly almost weekly and have never seen the Gestapo-like tactics he claims are present at our airports and practiced by the TSA. Like it or not, we live in a dangerous world. The need for increased security was required after 9/11. Though they are not perfect and can be frustrating at times, they are professional and an improvement over the private contractors who slept through their jobs. I feel far safer flying with them around. Yes, it would be nice to go back to when families could go to the gate, but one can still get a pass to accompany a loved one if needed.
-- George Funk, El Segundo
Nixon fondly remembered
Re "Nixon" (Jan. 9):
I believe former Israeli leader Golda Meir said it best: "As President Nixon says, presidents can do most anything, and President Nixon has done many things that no one would have thought of doing."
His role in the Yom Kippur War -- when Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack on Israel on the Jewish festival of Yom Kippur in 1973 -- saved Israel. He was neither vacillating nor confused concerning the part he was destined to play in this remarkable moment in time. Whatever else he was involved in, Israel will always remember him fondly, as will those who love Israel.
-- Lynn Mead, Mission Hills