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[Susan notes: I decided to post all of these letters, showing as they do how antagonistic the public is toward "dropouts." We have a job to do.]

Published in Los Angeles Times
03/06/2006

To the editor


Re "L.A. Mayor Sees Dropout Rate as 'Civil Rights Issue,' " March 2



If L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa sincerely wants to improve the Los Angeles Unified School District, he must listen to the teachers working in the trenches of the classroom every day.

Taking the advice of politicians, university pundits and administrators who have not stepped foot in a classroom in the last 20 years will only lead to more rhetoric, expensive Band-Aid fixes and the continued failure of our students.



DIANA SWEENEY

North Hollywood High School





I am puzzled and bothered by Villaraigosa's framing of the district's dropout problem as a civil rights issue. How can this be? No one is kicking out the dropouts. No one is preventing them from re-enrolling either.



Is Villaraigosa implying that the district or society selectively encourages black and especially Latino students to drop out?



Where's the evidence?



High school wasn't interesting when I went 40 years ago, and I doubt that it's more interesting today. But kids dropping out isn't a civil rights issue, and to frame it as such insults the citizens of Los Angeles and draws attention from the real problem: the homes and families these children come from, where education is not encouraged and where the children are allowed to become dropouts.



DANIEL FINK

Los Angeles





Villaraigosa's comparison of current L.A. Unified dropout rates with "the National Guard blocking the door in Little Rock" is outrageous and cheapens the notion of civil rights.



The children and parents in Little Rock desperately wanted access to education. The dropouts are bored with education. No one is barring the door. In fact, taxpayers have funded a facilities expansion project of unprecedented size and the hiring of teachers to staff those schools.



Hundreds of tho usands of children do well in the very same schools about which the dropouts complain. It's time for the children and their parents to take some responsibility for their futures.



MARGARET M. MANNING

multiple authors


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