Printed letters, October 2, 2013
Recently, school board member Jeff Leany said, “Douglas County is 15 points ahead of us (on Transitional Colorado Assessment Program scores). Why wouldn’t we want to emulate that?” This question displays an alarming lack of understanding of what has happened in Douglas County.
First, Leany makes the incorrect assumption that the current Douglas County school board is responsible for increasing TCAP scores. In fact, by comparing the 2009 and 2013 state data, you can see the district has decreased its lead over the state average in all core academic areas. Prior to the current board taking over, Douglas County was “Accredited with Distinction.” That is no longer the case.
Second, while it has increased the number of upper administrators by 10 percent, it has decreased the number of teachers by 1 percent, which is especially alarming when you consider the district has gained more than 6,000 students during the current board’s tenure. This has increased the average class size by 11 percent.
During the same period, the average teacher salary has decreased by 5 percent and the school board made the superintendent the highest-paid public school executive in Colorado, paying her $280,350 a year.
Third, Douglas County is now one of the least transparent school boards in the state. Overall it went from being 8 percent closed to the public before the current board to being 49 percent closed to the public with the current board.
Brian Malone, a man who was arrested for taking video of a meeting of the Douglas County school board, will be screening his documentary “The Reformers” Oct. 7 at the Mesa Theater.
Ironically, the same day that the Sentinel reported Leany’s admiration for the Douglas County school system, the Denver Post reported 200 parents were rallying in support of their teachers outside the district’s administration building.
Knowing parent satisfaction in Douglas County is at 38 percent and teacher satisfaction is at a staggering 14 perecent, the real question for Leany is: “Why would we want to emulate that?”
DARREN A. COOK, President
Mesa Valley Education Association
Past, current board members served in nonpartisan fashion
I had the honor to serve with one of the finest school board members we will ever have, Harry Butler. I am offended that letter writer Sue Benjamin, in her letter to the editor, would even suggest that Harry and I, both Republicans, were “highly partisan.” I feel that Harry, Greg Mikolai and I listened objectively and voted accordingly. We did not have an agenda.
I do not know what school board meetings Benjamin has attended, but in the last two years, I can only recall two split votes. The first one concerned the clinic agreement with Community Hospital. That vote was 4 to 1. The clinic has been very successful at providing quality health care for the employees of District 51, along with saving the taxpayers money.
The only other split vote (3-2) was this past spring over approval of the MVEA contract. It should be noted that on the last day of negotiations with MVEA, the most critical in the process, the only members present to represent the school board were Mikolai, Butler and me.
It saddens me that some have taken to spreading such misinformation about our school district to win an election. I think Butler would be very disappointed in the tone the election has taken, as am I. He didn’t believe that partisan politics had any place in our schools or with our students. When you vote for representatives to the school board this year, think about the falsehoods spread by certain people.
I think Butler would have preferred that caring people vote for the nonpartisan candidates — Mikolai, Tom Parrish and John Williams, who care more about our students and their learning.
If Obamacare is so great, feds should sign up, too
Unhappy with the 20-plus-hour speech of Sen. Ted Cruz, in a Sept. 26 letter to the editor, writer Al Amirault suggested the “far righties” should try a new approach of allowing Obamacare to be implemented and, if it’s harmful, Americans will repeal it.
But on the same page as Amirault’s letter, we learned from George Will’s column that “no major entitlement, once tasted, has been repealed.” So, after reading Proverbs 27:6 from the Bible, I wonder if Amirault’s suggestion is a “wound from a friend” or a “kiss from an enemy.” I choose to believe that Amirault wants what is best for our nation.
In the spirit of what’s best for our nation, if the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is as beneficial as they claim, I suggest the far-lefties should try the new approach of insisting that President Obama, his family and his elite friends should also be forced into Obamacare with us non-elite folks. When the chef refuses to even consider taking even a taste of what he has cooked up and does everything possible to protect his loved ones from his cooking, are we time-wasting obstructionists for not diving right in?
In the aforementioned column, Will suggested that “members of Congress and their staffs must experience the full enjoyment of the ACA without special ameliorating subsidies.” Why does Obama want Obamacare for my children, but not his children? Why are all the wonderful promises of Obamacare already proving false? It almost seems like Obamacare is only for us useful idiots, not the president or his special interest groups, nor for members of Congress and their staffs.
Was Cruz wasting time, or was he delaying disaster? No matter. The food is ready. Eat up, folks.
Editorial failed to include key info on air pollution
It my understanding that greenhouse gases are one of the major factors in creating a warming climate. There are several facts that dispute what was stated in The Daily Sentinel editorial regarding methane gas.
The University of Texas study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved taking direct measurements of actual methane emissions — as opposed to estimating emissions through indirect methods such as engineering formulas, as has often been the case in earlier studies.
According to data in the University of Texas study, operators in the Rockies may be releasing up to 2.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas annually into the atmosphere through fugitive emissions — i.e., leaky equipment — instead of getting it into a sales line.
From a greenhouse gas perspective, that is the equivalent of pollution from almost 560,000 passenger vehicles. And at $3.00 per million cubic feet of natural gas, it represents an economic waste of more than $75 million per year.
Regarding air quality, the University Texas study did not focus on volatile organic compounds whatsoever, and it has been documented in several studies that oil and gas production in Colorado is far and away the leading source of ozone-causing pollutants.
What Colorado needs to do is require that gas and oil drillers practice methane control. Studies show this is possible and has major benefits when practiced in the correct fashion. All this points to why the state Air Quality Control Commission’s upcoming rule making is a big opportunity for Colorado to protect us from further pollution problems.
Colorado has the chance to set a new bar on methane and air pollution safeguards. Let’s work together to make this a reality.
Claim illogical that oceans are soaking up the heat
In the news the other day, it was said by some anti-coal-fired-power-plant group that the atmosphere has been cooling for a while now, but the heat is going into the ocean and killing the fish. All this is due to the power plants and refineries etc.
Common sense tell us that heat goes up and out. Besides, Earth’s center core is several million degrees Fahrenheit.
I think this group should go down in the ocean and check for heat escaping from Earth’s core and heating up the water.