I am a former math teacher now volunteering at a San Quentin prison education program. Your article on high-tech cheating ("A Cheating Situation," Aug. 15) made me think that this may expose the folly of the current testing frenzy and reliance on multiple-choice, fill-in-the-bubble skills rather than real learning.
I have a colleague who gives only take-home, open-book tests and permits collaboration with others as well as the use of the internet when taking the test. All work must be shown. If he suspects that a student has simply copied the answer, he interviews that student and asks for a detailed explanation of how the problem was solved. Of course, this requires more time than computer correction of filled-in bubbles, and it cannot be done online, but it provides an accurate assessment of the student. It also is cheat-proof.
Perhaps the proliferation of cheating will force administrators and teachers into providing a better learning environment than what currently passes for education.
The arguments in support of the ballot measure to abolish the death penalty are exaggerated at best and, in most cases, misleading and erroneous ("Lethal Blow," Aug. 8). Proposition 34 is being funded primarily by a wealthy, left-wing company out of Chicago, the ACLU and similarly oriented trust funds. It includes provisions that would only make our prisons less safe for both other prisoners and prison officials and significantly increase the costs to taxpayers due to lifetime medical costs, the increased security required to coerce former death-row inmates to work, etc. The amount "saved" in order to help fund law enforcement is negligible and only for a short period of time. Bottom line, the SAFE Act is an attempt by those who are responsible for the high costs and lack of executions to now persuade voters to abandon it on those grounds. Obviously, these arguments would disappear if the death penalty was carried forth in accordance with the law.
In the Aug. 15 Open Mic, Susan Simon Corwin asked, "What explains the lemming-like nature of so many women subjecting themselves to ultra-high heels?" I'd like to share something I came across not to long ago in a book called Yoga and Vegetarianism, by Sharon Gannon:
"When naked and walking in high heels, a human female, viewed from behind, bears a striking resemblance to the hindquarters of a cow, goat, or pig—animals whose hooves have the effect of elevating their rumps, making them look like they are walking on tip-toes. Advertisements for rib joints or barbecue restaurants often use images of pigs and cows wearing high heels and skimpy clothes."
It stems from a culture rooted in exploitation of nature's gifts. Women are objectifying and exploiting themselves also, with leg shaving and tanning, making their legs look like roasted, skinless, hairless drumsticks, on display, ready to consume. They want to be hot "chicks," with a nice piece of ass, nice hams, thighs and large breasts.
So back to the question, what explains the lemming-like nature? A culture that exploits nature, animals, people and life for profit! And what justifies their willingness? Well, this is a free-will planet! Each person must decide to wake up on his or her own. I personally, will be walking around on my flat-footed, furry human-animal legs, setting an example of bodily self-acceptance.
California isn't the only place looking out for the welfare of ducks and geese ("Opportunity Quacks," June 27). The Compass Group, a British company that caters events such as Wimbledon, has decided it will no longer serve foie gras due to ethical concerns. It's an important reminder that California's foie gras ban was the right thing to do, even as chefs and restaurants look for sneaky loopholes to continue serving diseased livers to diners. Hopefully, other businesses and states will also agree that it is better to have a heart for animals' welfare than to dine on their engorged livers, especially when chefs are capable of creating so many other wonderful options.
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