Letters to the Editor: The pandemic gives educators an opportunity to close so many divides

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BELL GARDENS, CA - MARCH 24: Jacinto Zavala, center, principal of Suva Elementary School in Bell Gardens, shows the layout of a first-grade classroom. Montebello Unified School District officials did a walk-through of the campus to better understand what precautions are needed before they can open. Photographed at Suva Elementary School on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 in Bell Gardens, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
Jacinto Zavala, center, principal of Suva Elementary School in Bell Gardens, shows the layout of a first-grade classroom March 24. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: A recent article focused on English-language learners struggling with remote learning during the pandemic and the problems this may cause long term. However, since "necessity is the mother of all invention," we can use this opportunity to make education better.

Although this year may cause a loss in learning across the globe, I believe it has created a pathway to close the digital divide and improve education forever. When we are able to go back to our classrooms, we are going to be able to look at education in a whole new light that will accelerate learning like never before.

For 38 years I have tried to teach my students not to be defined by circumstances — to be victors, not victims. Now is our chance to get better and provide equitable opportunities for all children.

Shane Twamley, Santa Ana

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To the editor: This article gives the impression that part of the problem is that English learners don't have the chance to "practice" in everyday conversations.

Research (including mine) has been telling us for the last 40 years that language acquisition does not come from practicing speaking, but from understanding what we hear and read. The ability to speak that emerges comes as a result of acquiring language from listening and reading.

This means our English learners need to spend time listening to stories and engage in more reading for pleasure.

Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles

The writer is a professor emeritus of education at USC.

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To the editor: Schools are soon going to need more teachers than ever in classrooms. Why not build a volunteer corps of retired teachers, particularly bilingual retired teachers, for classrooms?

Volunteerism gives retired teachers the option to teach as many or as few hours as they wish. And they probably have already been vaccinated.

Jenny Cardenas, Riverside

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.