Printed letters, October 31, 2013
The articles concerning the District 51 school board election demonstrate a fevered interest in what kind of influence is being peddled.
Much has been made of the donation to the three reform candidates by someone from the Front Range who shares the philosophy that parents need to have a choice in where their students attend school and taxpayers deserve to have students graduate with basic academic proficiencies that will set them up for success in life.
What has never been addressed is the 44-page negotiated agreement between the teacher’s union and the District 51 school board. This may be found on the Internet by entering Mesa Valley Teachers’ Association, then clicking on “About Us.”
There you will find a plethora of topics beginning with the myriad of types of work absences available; the acceptable methods of being transferred on the job; evaluation, employment files; planning time, association rights; health, dental and vision insurance; activity passes; resignation/retirement; class size and other issues germane to teachers and staff. The union does exactly what it is designed to do: represent the interests of its membership.
Donors support candidates who agree with them on the issues. It seems the union and individual members support the candidates they know agree with them. To say that the union puts the interest of students and parents first is simply not true, based on the negotiated agreement signed by Darren Cook, association president, and Greg Mikolai, president of the District 51 school board.
We need a school board to represent the interests of the students and parents. My vote is for Pat Kanda, Mike Lowenstein and John Sluder.
JERRY ARLAND HUNSINGER
Teachers’ union is not an entity to be feared
I taught in School District 51 for many years, and I was a union member the entire time. I’m here to tell the truth about that union.
Most teachers belong for this reason: the $1 million liability policy that is included with membership. It’s a sad commentary on our society that educators feel the need for such a policy, but I would not have taught, tutored, coached or driven students anywhere without it.
Are teachers activists? Just ask any building union representative, and you’ll hear that few union members attend the meetings. In fact, union reps will report how difficult it is to get teachers simply to fill in a one-page form listing items for possible negotiation. When given a choice between catching up on grading or attending a union meeting, most teachers will choose grading every time.
During the recession, teachers — like others in this valley — had their salaries frozen. Plus they lost days of service, essentially lowering their pay. It was as hard on their families as it was on yours. Also, teachers’ health insurance now covers much less and costs them more, just like many other people’s insurance. Yet there are no demonstrations, and certainly no strike votes. The teachers’ union is hardly an entity to be feared.
Yes, there is an organization in the United States with the agenda of ending public education and making all schools “private.” If it is successful, you will pay for your children’s education, and members of this organization will profit. Hint: It’s not the teachers’ union.
Mikolai has weighed in against school choice
I have heard many ads for school board candidates. Most say how they will help improve education, encourage “multiple pathways to graduation,” etc.
Recently, however, it was disturbing to hear a radio ad by incumbent Greg Mikolai. It claims his opponents would be controlled by interests on the Front Range and that Wall Street and private profits would control the education of our children. This makes no sense. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to discredit reform candidates due to an unsolicited donation from the Front Range with, as one candidate said, “no strings attached.”
What Mikolai’s rhetoric shows, however, is that he has weighed in solidly against school choice. In the past years, the survival of District 51 choice schools has been threatened. Scenic and Vision, both high-achieving schools with large choice attendance, have been fighting for their lives. District 51 also has a key choice concept called “Multiple Paths to Graduation.” Students who have dropped out can find one of these paths, which will enable them to graduate.
Ask yourself this question, “Do I really want a member of the school board who is against school choice?” Shouldn’t parents and kids have enough options within the school district so they don’t have to go to costly schools outside the district? Shouldn’t the district get more funds by attracting and keeping students?
Vote for the candidates who will protect school choice: Sluder, Lowenstein and Kanda.
Educators must address needs of businesses and government
I will support more money for our union-controlled public education system when it addresses the needs of our businesses and government.
I am not interested in free busing, free lunches or more teachers in non-essential curricula. I am interested in having well-educated, qualified people to work for solutions of the problems that we have. I want to see graduates having better math, reading and reasoning skills.
As for teacher evaluation, I taught adults the skills needed for work in business and industry for more than 20 years. If you want to know my effectiveness as a teacher, ask my students.
Daily Sentinel’s historical snippets are fun to read
I want you to know how much I enjoy reading the articles “celebrating 120 years of The Daily Sentinel.” It is fun and interesting to see the many changes that have occurred and how much the area has grown over the years.
Thank you for including this great information regarding our wonderful Grand Valley.
CCC article brought back memories of tough time
I thoroughly enjoyed Bob Silbernagel’s article about the Civilian Conservation Corps — especially of its work and camps on the Western Slope. I remember the Fruita camp in the building of the monument’s Rim Rock Drive.
If my memory is correct, there were several boys from the camp in my senior class, 1940-1941, at Fruita High School — then Fruita Union High School.
So, I think there must have been regulations or permits for the boys to finish high school. Perhaps Silbernagel knows about this part of the CCC history.
The corps was one of the several plans implemented by President Roosevelt to bring us out of the Depression. Then all our young men went to war.
History in the making. We were there.
C. ANNE KEIFER SCHMALZ
State audit committee’s work shows refreshing cooperation
How refreshing to read about the Colorado Legislative Audit Committee, made up of Republicans and Democrats, working together in a nonpartisan (heaven forbid) manner to solve difficult problems for Colorado citizens. And to think a national evaluation agency acknowledged this cooperation and honored the audit committee with its “Excellence in Evaluation Award.”
With Sen. Steve King scheduled to become the chairman and his commitment to continue the nonpartisan cooperation, could this example be a template for more nonpartisan work in solving other Colorado problems, even down to the local level? What a unique concept: elected Republican and Democratic officials working together for solutions to the challenges that impact all Coloradans.
Would it not be something if county commissioners and city councilpersons would follow this proven example by recognizing many local challenges have nonpartisan solutions? If we would only listen and respect those coming from different perspectives rather than making every issue a bipartisan issue, much could be accomplished.