Printed letters, January 30, 2014

I attended the District 51 School Board “Coffee with Teachers” meeting Saturday. I was impressed, but not surprised, that concerns voiced by many of the professional educators there closely echo the problems discussed in my parent/citizen group, “Parents and Citizens for Better Schools Mesa County.”

Several teachers expressed frustration at the yearly “reinvention of the wheel” and “fixing what ain’t broke.” Layers of student assessments, teacher assessments, the introduction of new assessments, pacing guides and administering new curricula without proper training are the tip of a dysfunctional iceberg teachers in the district are expected to deal with every day. Most teachers want to get back to basics, teach what is tried and true, and have the time and freedom to establish meaningful connections with their students.

The teachers who attended the meeting presented a number of ideas to deal with the increasingly severe behaviors of children, including bringing back a “Truancy Court,” expelling students who don’t respond to interventions, placing greater accountability on families and parents and giving real consequences to habitually disruptive students.

Several teachers called for full-day kindergarten because they’re concerned that too many children are entering first grade unprepared. For the most part, however, those present were thinking, and willing to work within, the reality that school funding will be tight for the indefinite future. Suggestions such as reallocation of existing funds and reclassification of existing personnel to fill student needs were also voiced.

District 51, like the rest of Mesa County, lives with the reality that money is short and needs are high. Teachers here seem willing to work creatively to address, in a timely way, the problems they see, without having to lobby or wait for new revenues. District 51 teachers see that the issues in education are more complex than just a lack of funding.


Grand Junction

Friedman praised for noting 
that parents rule classrooms

How refreshing it was to read Thomas Friedman’s column on why our educational system is failing. Someone finally spoke up about what is really wrong with our system. It is parents not allowing the system to fail their children.

If parents and the students in the classroom can’t put in the time and effort to succeed, we will fall even further behind the world in education. No amount of money thrown at our current system will succeed as long as parents rule the classroom and not teachers.

As long as parents force teachers to pass their children who can’t read, spell or do basic mathematics, our nation will fail. Isn’t it asking a lot of a teacher to feed, teach basic hygiene, try to keep order in a classroom and impart some knowledge?

Kudos to Friedman from bringing up a subject many want to ignore.


Grand Junction


Valley residents should 
resolve to stop polluting

Do you enjoy breathing during our inversions? Whether our polluted air comes from tailpipes and cars left idling while owners run in for quick stops, from burning or from the gas and oil industry, it’s still pollution.

Everyone living under this hovering mass suffers to some degree. Did your eyes and nose drip more than usual? Did you cough more often or have a sore throat? Did your children have more respiratory problems? Did your asthma and lung problems worsen?

We can do something about this. People in our valley burn leaves, weeds, household trash and other materials that release toxic smoke. Some may not know the open burning rules that apply to all residential and commercial areas, not just the Grand Valley. County residents must get a permit from local fire departments, since Mesa County does not issue permits to them. The fire departments review applications to ensure only allowed materials are burned.

Confusing rules apply for Collbran, De Beque, Gateway, Glade Park, Mesa and Plateau Valley, allowing burns to take place outside of burn season. The Mesa County Health Department issues permits just for East and Central Orchard Mesa and Whitewater.

We are very close to being out of compliance with EPA air-quality regulations in the Grand Valley. It would be very beneficial if we would all resolve to be better stewards of our air quality and pay more attention to what harms it. After all, everyone has to breathe.


Grand Junction


To protect young people, 
raise minimum age to enlist

I think state Sen. Steve King should introduce a bill to protect our young people from harm by raising the minimum age for military service to 21.

So, all those young servicemen and women in Afghanistan and other dangerous parts of the world are going to be breaking the law when they come home and have a cigarette? If cigarettes and alcohol are so dangerous to our young people, then let’s raise our selective service minimum age to 21.

A person who can be put in harm’s way to protect our freedom and rights should be afforded them all.


Grand Junction


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