Letters to the Editor

Fighting for our children

On May 15, 2009, I graduated from the University of Southern California and earned a doctorate degree in education. While this graduation was going on, thousands of my education colleagues were protesting against impending state and local budget cuts that, if approved, would terminate their employment at schools located across California. Ironically, the USC graduation keynote speaker was California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is the main advocate of these multi-billion dollar cuts.

As part of the governor’s speech, he stated that we live in America, which he called the greatest country in the world. He added that, based on personal experience, this is a place of great opportunity for all who wish to realize great American dreams. He then presented graduates with the following Six Rules of Success: 1) trust yourself; 2) break the rules; 3) don’t be afraid to fail; 4) don’t listen to naysayers; 5) work hard; and 6) give back. With due respect to the governor’s speech, instead of trying to harm America’s children by victimizing the education profession, he needs to walk his talk and help educators to succeed. Specifically, he needs to listen to educators and our interpretation of his rules.

On trust, the governor must understand that it does not come automatically; rather, it must be earned by thinking, speaking and behaving with integrity. This includes keeping all of our promises. During his political campaigns, he promised to be a strong ally of educators and committed to help us make our schools safe and successful learning environments, where principals lead, teachers teach and students achieve at the highest educational levels. If he wants our trust, then he must learn to keep all of his promises.

Breaking the rules requires us to separate those that oppress and dehumanize us from those that strengthen our existence. If California’s executive and legislative budget rules are used to oppress and victimize the lives of educators and students, then they must be opposed and changed. California’s rules of origin must ensure the continuous employment, promotion and success of educators and the education profession.

As educators, we have also learned that fear of failure must be conquered with the love, courage and wisdom of our human spirits. In addressing the social, economic and educational challenges confronting all our students, failure is not an option. Hence, the governor needs to understand that, despite all threats to our existence — if criminals, terrorists, or politicians try to harm our students — we will not allow them to succeed. Purposefully, we are ready, willing and able to struggle and risk our lives to protect the lives of our students.

Beyond the negativity of naysayers, educators believe that all humans are born with the evolving capability to learn and achieve success at home, at school and in the world. In particular, we believe in using our talents to help transform negatives into positives. For example, we can take weak students and teach them how to cultivate their inner and outer strengths. Therefore, despite the most difficult circumstances confronting us, we have the highest expectations of all our students. We believe that all students can and will learn to achieve success at the highest educational levels.

To help realize the great American dreams of our students, as educational leaders, we are committed to work hard and be smart. This work includes sacrificing our personal comforts to heal the wounds of students, wipe their tears, feed their hungry stomachs, calm their fears, ensure their health and safety, help them do their school work and motivate them to succeed. Accordingly, we do not want preferential treatment based on political convenience; rather, we demand the highest respect for our hard work.

A great leader once said that, “Education is learning to do the work of God.” We agree with this definition. Our purpose is to be civil servants and give back to our local school communities. Specifically, we are committed to sharing our blessings with all our needy students. Our lives are thus dedicated to ensure the survival and success of America’s future, which is represented by our students.

The above interpretations of the governor’s Rules of Success represent a higher calling that the he and the California legislature need to respect in restoring full faith and funding to the education profession. In this light, we urge the governor and the legislature to please stop the cuts to education and assist us in serving, protecting and empowering the lives of our children. In the words of the governor: “We owe humanity at least as much as it has given us.” Put in other words, we owe our children, and the educators that influence our schooling, our greatest appreciation, respect and support.

Gus Frias

Class of 2009

Israel’s contributions substantial

Recently, arguments for an American boycott of Israel have been suggested; however, boycotting Israel is ill-advised. We, the undersigned organizations, strongly express our opposition to an economic, academic or cultural boycott of the State of Israel. As both Americans and USC students, we should respect Israel’s vibrant and pluralistic democracy.

To begin with, Israel is a democracy in the Middle East that ensures equal rights to all of its citizens, including women. Arab citizens of Israel, including Arab woman, enjoy these rights, one of which is the right to vote. Arab citizens have the added perk of being able to opt out of Israel’s draft. Israel’s achievements have made a significant global impact.

Israel has been instrumental in developing modern medical advancements. The PillCam, developed in Israel by Given Imaging Ltd., is an ingestible disposable miniature camera used by doctors to noninvasively visualize the small intestine and esophagus.

Israel is a leader in green energy production. In Southern California, the Mojave Desert’s Solar Electric Generating System was engineered by Israelis in the 1980s. Currently, Solel Solar Systems Ltd., helps operate this field of solar panels, which comprise the world’s largest and most productive solar power plant. SEGS generates enough energy to supply 230,000 homes with power, offsetting 3,800 tons of pollution annually and reducing US dependence on oil by more than 1 million barrels per year.

Israel is an important part of our national security. Security officials from Ben Gurion International Airport, perhaps the safest airport in the world, advise local authorities on how to improve security at the Los Angeles International Airport, and US law enforcement agencies are trained by Israeli officials in tactics against terrorism.

Israel has made many technological advances, which many students take for granted. The first popular instant messaging program, ICQ, was developed by the Israeli company Mirabilis. The ICQ technology was used to vastly improve AOL Instant Messaging technology. The Israeli company Comverse, then called Efrat, invented voicemail. Israel pioneered the first Voice Over Internet Protocol technology for an internet phone network. This same technology is used by Skype. Many of Cisco’s recent computer technologies were developed in Israel, including the Pentium-4 Microprocessor, the Centrino Processor, the Pentium MMX and the Pentium M series. M-system, an Israeli company, developed the first USB flash drive.

In short, the majority of computers and cell phones used by USC students contain technology developed in Israel. Each time we use Skype or save information on a USB flash drive, we are using technology produced in Israel. Every time we depart from or arrive in LAX, we have a reassured sense of security, because of Israel’s advances in security techniques. The fact is, without students even being aware of it, Israel has vastly improved the lives of everyone on our campus.

Whether medical, environmental or technological, Israel continually demonstrates its commitment to improving the global human condition, and we, as university students, can aspire to do the same.

USC Trojans for Israel, USC College Democrats, USC College Republicans