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In today's pages: Teachers, cops and animal cruelty

September 15, 2009 | 12:41 pm

Kids Should California teachers be evaluated based on their students' performance on test scores? That's the subject of dueling pro vs. con commentaries on today's Op-Ed page. On the pro side is state Board of Education President Ted Mitchell, who says California must change a law forbidding such evaluations if it is to qualify for millions of dollars in federal funds, and that the system would help school districts reward exceptional teaching and weed out instructors who can't make the grade. On the con side is former LAUSD teacher Walt Gardner, who points out that teachers in low-performing schools are often dealing with kids from very poor families who are dealing with pressures that make learning a serious challenge, and expecting teachers to overcome such obstacles on their own is unrealistic.

Meanwhile, physicist Frank von Hippel aims to debunk claims from the nuclear-power industry that reprocessing nuclear waste is a solution to our problems with storing the highly radioactive materials. Not only is it extremely expensive, it fails to reduce the stream of long-lived nuclear waste and provides access to weapons material that could fall into dangerous hands.

Today's editorial page notes the one-year anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Bros. by pointing out that the $700-billion federal bailout that followed helped prop up the nation's financial system, and without it the economy would undoubtedly be in worse shape than it is. Nonetheless, now that the economy is on the rebound, "it's time for the administration and the Federal Reserve to lay out a strategy for pulling the government out of the financial industry."

The Times also weighs in on prospective furloughs or layoffs for city employees, who in tough financial times may be sacrificed in order to keep alive Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's ambition to keep hiring more police officers. Though that seems unfair, it's the right thing to do for Los Angeles.

And we give a boost to a package of state bills aimed at fighting animal cruelty, including a ban on puppy mills, a crackdown on dogfighting (thanks Michael Vick!), and a measure mocked by the governor to forbid docking (cutting off) the tails of cattle.

Photo by Seth Perlman / AP

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