Email letters, January 28, 2013

Parents should voice opinions on changes to school calendars

Are parents are fully aware of what the school board is proposing concerning changing the school calendars?  I know that meetings were held, but information was confusing at best. The options involve starting your students either the first week of August or in the latter weeks of July.

Some parents have no idea that the new proposals make August nonexistent as a vacation option. The school board has stated that the benefits for the community will be that “after time to adjust to changes” most are positive, teachers are more motivated (really?) and a study from 2003 was quoted as “there being a possibility of this intended change having an impact on students.”

One ten-year-old study does not convince me that our entire community needs to be so drastically impacted. Researching more current documents (2011), a professor from Stanford argues that the real issue is the quality of education that students receive while they’re in school. In his book, “Hugging the Middle,” Larry Cuban showcases studies that provide little evidence to suggest that lengthening the school day will make marked change in student performance.

Teachers who used a combination of old-school with new-school agendas were shown to be the most productive. Mesa County has many wonderful respected teachers who feel they are not being heard.

Numerous studies have shown that later school start times are directly correlated with lower truancy, better student health and decreased tardiness which results in higher test scores. Also many countries with shorter school years and school days boast higher scores and grades.

Another factor that dramatically affects test scores is the class size. Teachers have been saying this for years, but what do they know? Any teacher who has had the privilege and joy of teaching a class with 25 or fewer students will testify that the interaction and quality of the instructional day is significantly greater than teaching a classroom of 30 or more student

Yes, cutbacks have been necessary due to budget cuts, but some things don’t make sense. Several changes were put into play as soon as they were announced. Input is asked for and quickly acted upon before you can spit in the air. My mom always said,  “When you spit in the air, it may land in your face!”

Please let the school board members know that they don’t need to rush ahead on drastic and immediate changes without getting more input from the community.

Starting the school year this early will also impact many businesses, programs, students with summer jobs, etc. Please let your voices be heard. (Yes, I am a teacher.)

JACKIE ROSS

Grand Junction

Kerry’s nomination a slap in face to Vietnam veterans

The nomination by President Obama of John Kerry to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State comes as no surprise to the political class, but to a generation of veterans who fought in Vietnam, it is a slap in the face

Kerry’s “bipartisan” confirmation is almost assured. A sitting president is rarely rebuffed when it comes to nominations for key cabinet positions, and Kerry, as a hard-core leftist, is an ideological match for Obama. But none of these unpleasant facts can change the legacy of betrayal that will forever define Kerry. Those of us whose formative years included the Vietnam Era know Kerry as nothing less than a traitor.

The “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth” were instrumental in derailing Kerry’s 2004 run for the presidency when they exposed his dubious record as a Navy commander in Vietnam. It is widely known that Kerry wrote the reports that resulted in his being awarded three Purple Hearts and other service medals. It is also well known that Kerry’s political ambition overshadowed his sense of honor and duty, and that he did everything he could to turn minor injuries into major issues. His third Purple Heart was a ticket out of Vietnam, and he knew it.

It wasn’t long after he left the Navy that he launched into the anti-war activities that lead to the destruction of morale among our troops in Vietnam, and extended the incarcerations of many American prisoners of war held in North Vietnamese prison camps.

Our Vietnam veterans may not be as willing as Congress to forgive and forget when it comes to Kerry’s sickening testimonies during the infamous ‘Winter Soldier’ hearings in which he accused our fighting men in Vietnam of rape, the burning of villages, torture, murder and the general ravaging of the Vietnamese countryside. His anti-war activism was in concert with that of “Hanoi” Jane Fonda and other Hollywood elites and children of privilege who traveled to North Vietnam to aid and comfort the Communist regime that was actively killing Americans.

Kerry, Fonda and their cohorts were, and still are, guilty of treason. Kerry has never disavowed his testimony during the discredited Winter Soldier hearings. Even more breathtaking is the fact that he has been a serious Democrat candidate for president, and will now hold the most powerful cabinet office in the executive branch.

On a personal note, my eldest brother served in the same Navy divisions in which Kerry was a commander. My brother volunteered for the river patrols just months after Kerry returned to the states. These river patrols were extremely dangerous. During Kerry’s tenure he implemented a Psyops campaign to broadcast propaganda to Vietnamese natives from loud speakers mounted on the river patrol boats. Psyops operations took many forms in Vietnam, but this particular version made the swiftboats on the rivers easy targets for the Viet Cong. My brother’s three-boat patrol was targeted in such an attack in the spring of 1970, during which he received mortal wounds and died at the age of 22. My brother earned his Purple Heart.

Not unlike my eldest brother, there is a generation of men who served and fought in Vietnam—some came home, some did not. But they fought honorably without defaming their buddies or betraying their country. The same cannot be said about Kerry. Never forget that the man who will be in charge of our foreign policy cheated to get his war medals and lied about the activities of our warriors in Vietnam. How can Americans expect our servicemen and women to have an iota of respect for Kerry, or a president and congress who would put such a man in a place of influence and power.

MARJORIE HAUN
Grand Junction

Customer lawsuit would take $5 million bite out of Subway

So Ngyuen Buren is suing Subway for $5 million because his foot long sandwich was only 11 inches. If one inch of a Subway sandwich is worth $5 million, I’ve been getting a heck of a deal on the 11-inch one I get!

This is only one of the (who knows how many) frivolous lawsuits that get filed on a routine basis. And they win! Remember the McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit in 1994 in which $2.7 million was awarded?

But wait! Don’t order yet! We’re going to double your offer! In the legal realm, sanity is not only being attacked on the litigation side, but on the lawmaking side, as well. We really need to pass a law that sets a limit on how much beverage I have in my cup?

“Yeah! We’ll make it a law that says how many ounces they can have! That will fix the problem!”

“Hey, we can do the same with how many bullets we let them have! Look at us! We know how to fix problems!”

If you want a snapshot of our society, there it is.

Seriously? This is where we have gotten?

I had a lot of respect for the United States in which I grew up. Enough to spend 20 years of my life defending our rights, and this is where we have gone? I can guarantee you it is not the country for which I spent 20 years in uniform.

GLENN MENARD
Grand Junction

Appeals court ruling may help downsize government

On Friday, Jan. 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled that Obama appointments made to the National Labor Relations Board was unconstitutional. 

Let us pray this is a sign that the downsizing of our “Big Bother” and disregard-the-Constitution government has started.

LARRY M. HEAD
Hotchkiss

Education of ‘good old days’ viewed through distorted lenses

I’m sorry that Susan Benjamin feels that children are getting an education that is not equivalent to the one she received 60-70 years ago. Unfortunately, the argument she makes would fall flat in my English classroom because she failed to provide any specific evidence to support her claims.

As a Language Arts teacher, I can say with confidence in my class and the classes of most of my colleagues in the district my students must provide specific evidence from credible sources to prove the nature of the problem, and in Benjamin’s case, would additionally need to provide evidence of the superiority of the education she received.

I believe that she did receive an excellent education, as did many children in the United States as a direct result of the provision for education to all citizens, regardless of race, religion, or socio-economic status. I would argue that we in fact, have a moral obligation to continue to provide this if we want to be considered a world leader.

The “good old days” are often not as good when looked at through the lens of history. Look back at McCarthy in the Fifties, and at the low-skill, low-wage manufacturing jobs that were available to every kid who dropped out of school.

I agree that our textbooks should reflect the great history of our country; however, we must move forward with bravery and honesty that looks at triumphs, yet does not shirk at exposing our failures. Perhaps the most common refrain amongst leaders in industry is that we must learn from our failures and persevere in order to gain triumph. In reading the biographies of Franklin and Washington, I think they might agree with this sentiment, as well.

Today’s world is remarkably different than the world of early America with information about almost every significant event at the tips of our fingers. Also, we have the ability to process information at speeds that were beyond comprehension when we were growing up. Instead of pointing fingers and saying “they are not as good,” what if instead, we joined forces to tutor, mentor and lift kids up to become something even greater than we are ourselves. Now that is a legacy.

STEVE BROWN
Grand Junction

Hillary Clinton deserves Pulitzer, next presidency

In my opinion Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is one of the most important diplomats in the world today. Her knowledge and strong decision-making skills helped capture bin Laden. If I could, I would recommend her to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her steadfast achievements in the Middle East.

If it weren’t for Obama, Clinton would have been today’s president. She will undoubtedly succeed Obama as our next president of the United States.

GORDON OLSEN

Grand Junction

Putting women into combat opens new can of worms

Women in combat roles. There are definitely two sides to this coin.

On the one side, you have the die-hards who firmly believe women will distract and soften the front-line troops, since it is human nature (as it has been for hundreds of thousands of years) for males to protect females. On this side of the coin, you also have the wives and girlfriends back home that don’t want their men serving in confined quarters with women (for obvious reasons).

On the other side, women have already been serving in forward positions. If you are being shot at, it’s hard to return fire with a medical kit.

Of course, there are a lot more positions involved than just guns on the ground. I have no doubt there are female helicopter and fighter pilots that rival their male counterparts, and they should be allowed to fly comparable missions. However, due to the immediate environment, guns on the ground constitute a different animal.

When one considers that it was primarily women who pushed for this change, then it is only fair that in keeping with “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” that same group MUST push for female draft registration. To not do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy. If two groups of people are qualified to do the same job, but only one group is subject to draft, is this not the definition of discrimination? We went through this once in our nation where “equal” was determined by race. Now we’re going to do it by gender?

My personal preference would be to leave things the way they were. Women in uniform already provide valuable service to their country. But, no, we have to open another can of worms.

I’ve had enough “progressive” thinking for a while. We need to put our leaders in a “time-out” for say… four years or so.


GLENN MENARD
Grand Junction

Firearm restriction ineffective in preventing another Newtown

For those that want to restrict the type of firearm or the magazine size, imagine the following scenario: You are at home one night with your wife and kids. Suddenly in the middle of the night someone is trying to break into your home, or several people are trying to break into your home. Maybe you are out of town and it’s just your wife and kids there. 911 has been called, but there is no way they are going to be able to respond before these people have broken into your house. Maybe you can find a way out and avoid a confrontation, but maybe there isn’t or there isn’t enough time. Hopefully, you have chosen not to be a victim and you are armed for the confrontation.

Here are my questions: At that point do you want the government dictating what kind of weapon with which you can use to defend your life, the lives of your family members, and your home? Or maybe you feel like you are better able to make that decision yourself. How many bullets should be your limit? Six? Ten? Or as many as you feel you need? There is a reason that the Second Amendment states that, “the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

These limitations on government serve to protect our natural rights of liberty and property from those that would attempt to take it, as well as prevent our own government from trying to do the same thing.

As saddened and horrified as I am by the events in Connecticut, I have not heard of one proposal by those wanting to regulate firearms which would have prevented any of these mass shootings. Just like there are those that want to deny that our federal government has a spending problem. I suspect the same group of people want to close their eyes and pretend we don’t have a violence of the culture problem.

MICHAEL HIGGINS

Grand Junction

Hagel’s records show he’s unfit to lead Defense Dept.

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel is everything a Secretary of Defense should NOT be. He opposed financial sanctions against Iran, he was wrong about troop deployments to Iraq, and one of his many controversial statements was “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people.” Israel is our strongest ally in the Middle East. Are we going to have both a president and a defense secretary with less than lukewarm support of Israel?

Hagel was co-author of a 2012 report that recommended eliminating the Minuteman land-based ICBM, which could leave America dangerously vulnerable to nuclear weapons. Hello! What about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons and showing us just how much it likes the U.S. by sending one our way? North Korea would love to hear that we don’t have any ICBM protection.

In addition, Hagel seems to believe that it is OK to slash our military budget, stating in the past that the Pentagon “is bloated.” His views are certainly contrary to what our current Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has expressed; that cuts to defense would be devastating and “would severely damage our national defense.”

The United States needs a defense secretary who will stand strong on national security and on protecting our nation. Hagel, by word and by deed, does not fit that job description.

JANET BLACKMAN
Grand Junction

Having weapons in school could result in accidents

Ever since the school shooting at Newtown, I see and read more and more each day that we should go and arm the teachers or school personnel in order to stop these shootings.

Yet I also hear and read in the news practically every other day, at least, how children were able to pick up weapons left out, by supposedly responsible adults, and fire the weapons, either harming themselves or someone else.

Now we are asking our teachers to take on something else to be held accountable and responsible for. These teachers are already being asked to be accountable and responsible for enough each and every day in our schools.

Now we are asking teachers to take on an even bigger responsibility, and they may not even have any familiarity or knowledge on what to do with any type of weapon. And with all the activities that teachers have going on in a day at work, who is to say that they may inadvertently leave this weapon out in a place where a child may be able to pick it up and accidently have it fire? Then what do we do?

Each and every parent out there with a child of school age needs to think about this before allowing any school district to arm their teachers and allow weapons into their child’s school.

JAMES OWEN
Fruita

While more students graduate, do they have critical skills?

A recent Sentinel article by journalist Emily Shockley reports graduation rates in District 51. Using a complex of numbers it describes student progress through public schools. A 2012 high school graduation rate of 77.7 percent is a celebratory milestone compared to the previous academic year.

The article draws us through a vast swamp of numbers. Tales of graduation rate increases, tracking students, administrative reactions, special monitoring of seniors, dropout rates, GED’s, early grad rates, alternative schools, and on and on. Supplemental oxygen may be helpful working through it all where, at the end, we will infer that great effort is expended keeping students in school.

The article lacks mention of academic accomplishment. Can the students read? Have they been exposed to historically good literature? Do they grasp analysis? Can they demonstrate arithmetic, algebra and geometry computations? Can they write what is in their minds in a readable manner? Do they know an unvarnished history of our country? Do they understand the structure of our government?

Most importantly, is learning effectively imparted by simply keeping them in school? If so, how do we know that? Why do so many, most surprisingly at the senior level, drop out?

Students abandon the system despite being bombarded with all manner of new teaching methods, clever encouragement, tantalizing entertainment and vague assurances of how staying in school applies to a successful future.

Consider a radical notion. It may be that some dropouts have an innate sense that their own time is being wasted and they’re being cheated.

ALAN METCALFE

Delta

Raising debt ceiling covers up greedy spending binges

A lot of fuzzy financial math is floating around in Washington, D.C. these days.

Last week, the House passed the first hurdle of raising the debt ceiling on to the Senate for passage this week.

The debt ceiling, like the fiscal cliff drama, can be difficult for American citizens to follow. The debt ceiling is a request by the Obama administration to have the U. S. Treasury print more money so the federal government can pay the bills that the government owes such as Social Security checks and military paychecks and whatever else is on the list. 

If the temporary debt-ceiling bill eventually gets passed, it is only good until March 27, when the government is scheduled for its next default. Then, after that, other default hurdles are lined up for this summer and probably beyond.

The Social Security Trust Fund is supposed to have actual cash assets on hand. Apparently, the government does not have the cash on hand to write senior citizens their Social Security checks. It’s gone! 

Remember August 2011? President Obama needed specifically an extra $20 billion to write the Social Security checks and the military paychecks at that time. Our government has borrowed the surplus and probably all of the cash from the Social Security trust fund by now and can’t pay it back!  Apparently, the non-marketable securities (the government’s IOU’s) are worthless.

That is why Congress and the president are in panic mode to pass the debt ceiling so they can continue to cover up their greedy spending binges—such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is why the debt ceiling is a hoax! 

No other modern industrialized country has a debt ceiling. Why? Because their governments did not spend their citizens’ Social Security pension funds on endless wars and on bloated government agency budgets. Our federal government does not use Quicken books. It uses the cooking-the-books accounting system.

It is time for a national audit of our federal government starting with the Social Security trust fund.

RANDY FRICKE
New Castle

Grant’s column on history books elicits misguided responses

While it is locally unfashionable and usually futile to question the popular myth of America’s divinely-inspired historical perfection, Bill Grant’s expose (“Radical right-wing history has no place in School District 51’s curriculum”, Jan, 23) demands the attention of SD 51’s supporters and those who would relocate to the Grand Valley, planning to enroll their children in our chronically under-funded public schools.

Note, first, that Marcia Neal—our elected representative to the Colorado State Board of Education – appeals to familiar nativist parochialism by implying that any U.S. history text or television series that exposes the warts of our political development is somehow “anti-American” (“Teachers also informally use Zinn’s slanted history book”, Jan. 27). A true educator – absent evidence of factual inaccuracies – would regard Zinn’s and Stone’s “slant” as factual fodder for teaching the essential skills of critical thinking.

Similarly misguided is Cody Davis’s retort (“Founding Fathers deeply invested in faith in God,” Jan. 27). Contrary to Davis’ contrived misinterpretation, Grant’s “revisionist” history accurately insists that “this country was founded by men” who were guided by Enlightenment principles while hortatively citing their religious beliefs – not that the latter had “no bearing on their moral compasses.”

In 1787 our Founders were politicians seeking to replace the decentralized framework of the Articles of Confederation with a more centralized federal government. Opposed by the “anti-Federalists,” they garnered public support for the Constitution by appealing to “divine guidance.”  Even with no knowledge of “Darwinism,” they also prohibited any religious tests for public office.

“Enlightenment principles” sought to transcend centuries of internecine warfare and intra-Christian intolerance. Pilgrims and Puritans were persecuted by other “Christians” and killed Indians and each other in God’s name. That is why our Constitution implies a “wall of separation” between church and state – which is about to be retested in our Supreme Court in connection with Obamacare.

BILL HUGENBERG
Grand Junction

Those lifting combat ban don’t understand consequences

I doubt if the people who were responsible for lifting the ban on woman serving in direct combat have ever been directly involved in a bloody, terrifying combat situation.

BOB STRONG
Montrose

Front-line combat not right for women

Front-line combat is no place for a woman. There are many positions in the armed forces for women to fill and play a very important part in supporting the troops in the combat zones.

Why this policy was changed? I cannot understand.

Would our commander in chief like to see his daughters in foxholes with men? Knowing what conditions troops have to live with such as facing the enemy night and day in foxholes, why did our generals not say NO?

I am a veteran from WWII. I served six years as a combat sergeant with the Australian Army and five years and six months combat overseas. I fought the Italians in Libya, the Germans in Greece and Crete, pro-German French in Lebanon and the Japanese in New Guinea and Borneo. I have seen it all.

It’s difficult to even think of what would happen to these young women if captured by the enemy. It was hard on our prisoners of war.

I don’t think troops in the front line would like to share a foxhole with a woman.

HENRY A. WHEELER

Grand Junction

Delta County officials show disdain for Amendment 64

Unfortunately, having elected officials in charge of most anything seems much more dangerous to our rights and liberties every day. Delta County is the latest example in seeking to restrict gardening paraphernalia in the vain hope that restricts the use of pot.

This is much more than a crew of small-minded twits and hypocrites at work. These folks prove how little different they are than those liberals they so profess to loathe time and again. They prove that they actually care little for the constitutional process.

The people actually used the first power they withheld from their elected representatives in the state Constitution –- the power of the initiative -– to legislate as the people desire, not the elected. They prove that where the rubber meets the road there is not a dime’s worth of difference between them and their liberal, so-called-counterparts. They showed their disdain of the TABOR and Gallagher amendments.

Now they show their disdain of Amendment 64. They want to rule the way they want to rule and to hell with what the voters want or demand. It’s well past time to clean on the hypocrites of the left and the right. It is the ideologies that are killing us.

JEFF WRIGHT

Colorado Springs



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