The article "A Virtual Education" (Features, June 6- June 12) ascribes positions to me that are the antithesis of my work in education over nearly 40 years. By inventing these views, you have trivialized a complex, vitally important subject that America has been struggling with since the National Commission on Excellence in Education published A Nation at Risk in 1983. Anyone who wants to know my real thoughts about education can read them at www.wheressputnik.com, where I propose six strategies for national renewal including education reform.
I've taught in public school classrooms regularly since the 1970s. Soon after establishing the Milken Family Foundation in 1982, my brother and I created the largest educator recognition program in the nation. Separately, more than 1 million children have benefited from our philanthropic programs.
Your article's hyperbole about my passive investment in a single company obscures the fact that I have no management role and do not sit on the company's board. It is not even my largest investment in for-profit education. K12 is a great company that will play an important role in the future of education, but my investment there is dwarfed by far greater investments in a wide range of philanthropic programs. The article also distorts the nature of the recent Milken Institute Global Conference, where 11 education panels featured leading education and union leaders, including the president of the American Federation of Teachers. These panels can be viewed at www.milkeninstitute.org.
Chairman, Milken Institute
Co-founder, Milken Family Foundation
Santa Monica, Calif.
Regarding your article, it appears the only party getting passing marks is K12. While it is making substantial profits, the academic results are not making the grade. Progress on standardized tests is well behind. More research and investigation should be done to ensure that the most valuable asset in the equation, children's educations and futures, receives an adequate return on investment and is not money squandered away.
Thank you for taking the time and investing the effort in "God's MBAs" (Features, June 13-June 19). It was delightfully refreshing to see you dig enough to get beyond the pat, incredulous patter churned out by many who try to write about the LDS Church and our beliefs. They are not easy to explain in ways people can relate.
You succeeded in doing that very well. I was impressed with the number of people you interviewed. Not easy with the lifestyles and schedules of those you named. Kudos.
It is always refreshing to read a clearly written, objective article on the LDS religion and lifestyle. It is more than a set of beliefs; it is a way of life.
You mentioned hard work. Yes, we work. We come from pioneer heritage, and I can't imagine how they kept building and building and going everywhere they landed. Yet we don't work for ourselves, and I think that is a huge difference. We work for our families, our kids. We work to save up to serve a mission later in life. If we are not willing to sacrifice everything we have at the request of our church, then perhaps we really don't believe in it—so we work expecting to serve or give. It is hard to be part of it and give so much time and means to the "good work" and not be fully convinced/converted to it. At some point everyone faces up to their feelings about it and discovers for themselves what they believe.
Anyway, thanks for a balanced article. Thanks for not digging up another tired, bitter former Mormon individual to dig up dirt or stir up controversy (we've seen our share of that). I'm not perfect, we're not perfect. But I'd like to think we're a positive influence in the world, and I fully feel happier as a result of what Mormonism has challenged me to be.
P.S., We're Trying
Your recent Cover Story about the U.S. Postal Service ("The End of Mail," Features, May 30-June 5) missed an opportunity to highlight how the Postal Service is competing aggressively for customers in a challenging marketplace.
Yes, we are currently facing a financial crisis, but absent unique congressional mandates, the Postal Service would have recorded a cumulative profit over the last four years. Our successful flat-rate shipping products are just one example of how we are generating new revenue and providing quality products and services to meet the changing needs of our customers. As for the story's numerous "junk mail" references, advertising mail is what helps make the Postal Service core to a trillion-dollar mailing industry that employs more than 8 million people and drives our nation's commerce.
With the right legislation, the Postal Service can return to profitability and continue to deliver value, convenience, and innovation to American businesses and residences for generations to come.
Patrick R. Donahoe
Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer
U.S. Postal Service