Filling American jobs with Americans

While I agree with Pat Holt's opinion piece ("US should fill its own high-tech jobs," Aug. 3) that Americans, rather than immigrants, should be filling American high-tech jobs, I disagree with him on what's holding American kids back. The problem with American youth is not the lack of a good education system. The problem is television and pop culture.

I am in my late 20s, and it saddens me to see former high school classmates working retail or clerical jobs, while immigrants of the same age earn generous salaries as engineers.

Television is robbing the attention spans of our youngest children, making them unteachable in the classroom.

Violence and sex in the media are desensitizing young minds to the point that nothing of quality interests them - certainly not calculus. And I need not even mention the moral toll that pop culture is taking on our entire nation.

This country has a very serious problem with its youth. However, raising tax dollars in an effort to improve our public schools will not fill the 300,000 high-tech job openings with American college graduates, as Mr. Holt seems to think.

Even the finest private schools cannot meet the needs of children who have no self-discipline, no attention span, and who lack the moral values necessary to respect authority - which is the first step in learning.

Do I sound old fashioned? Ask any Indian or Chinese engineer working in Silicon Valley, and she will tell you the same thing.

Jennifer Hodge Smith San Jose, Calif.

Whether we manage to fill these 300,000 high-tech jobs a year with domestic graduates or continue the importation of talented and educated individuals from abroad seems like a small problem when compared with the more than 1 million foreign low-skill workers a year needed to fill the jobs that, as some say, Americans don't want.

Our schools certainly can produce better-educated graduates to help meet the demand for high-tech workers, although it may take years of effort and billions of dollars to accomplish that.

They can, though, quickly and inexpensively address the low-skill labor shortages by getting back to fair grading practices and meaningful (as opposed to social) promotion. Only then will those who cannot or do not want to perform academically at a desired level have to reconsider their reluctance toward the not-so-prestigious and lower-paying jobs.

Otherwise, we will have to stick to the humorous definition of a high school diploma (a piece of paper some graduates can read) and keep importing millions of uneducated, low-skilled workers indefinitely.

Marek Suchenek Cal State University Redondo Beach, Calif.

Cover the protests, not the 'nonevent'

Nearly every media source has agreed that the Republican National Convention is a nonevent akin to an "infomercial" - the Monitor included.

Yet, issue after issue has been dedicated to the minutiae of this carefully scripted event, while real issues are being discussed in the streets.

In a paper that routinely presents full-page articles in its world section about people rising up and protesting against unresponsive and repressive governments, should there not be equal representation when this happens locally?

"Hundreds of protesters arrested" would make headlines if it happened in another country, but when it happens here there is barely a whisper. You should be ashamed.

Noah Scalin Hoboken, N.J.

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