Printed letters, October 6, 2013
Without the encouragement and support Tom Parrish gave me in the 1990s there would be no Math and Science Center in Grand Junction.
I met Parrish in 1992 while helping a team of kids with Odyssey of the Mind at Wingate Elementary. A fifth-grade teacher was looking for help with science in her classroom.
Finding I was a retired physicist, Parrish asked me if I would like to come into the school and help her. His attitude to provide every resource possible to help kids resulted in my bringing hands-on science into Wingate Elementary for the next seven years as a volunteer and starting outreach to other schools in western Colorado.
We had numerous discussions on helping kids. With his support and encouragement, I built the Sci-Tech Exploratorium in an empty classroom in 1998. Just as I have mentored others, Parrish was like a mentor, nudging me on to provide science education to kids. That start prompted Audrey and me to build the John McConnell Math and Science Center in 1999. That nudge has resulted in benefits to thousands of kids from Colorado to Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska.
We thank Tom for enriching our lives, as well. Because of his interest in the education of our young people and his compassion for those kids, we believe he will serve the students and community well by being elected to the school board.
JOHN and AUDREY MCCONNELL
School board elections must focus on students, not politics
The upcoming school board election has become — for some — an opportunity for partisan gain. As a long-term, and now mostly retired, teacher in District 51, I have deep concerns about this trend.
A movement toward partisan school board elections will only foster a climate of polarization and division. Endorsement and support by political parties may encourage strong alignment with party positions instead of encouraging problem solving and consensus building when deciding important school district issues. Here’s what we should consider in choosing a school board candidate:
What are the candidate’s vision and goals for high academic achievement for all students?
Does the candidate inspire parents and other stakeholders to have confidence in the public schools?
Does the candidate understand that the school board’s role is about the big picture — setting the direction for the district and providing oversight and accountability — rather than day-to-day management?
Is the candidate “data savvy” and able to justify decisions based on data?
Will the candidate be able to craft a working relationship with the superintendent, teachers and administrators based on mutual respect, collegiality and a joint commitment to student success?
When considering which candidates to support in Mesa County, all voters have an obligation to elect those who will best serve the needs of our children and our community without concern for party affiliation.
It is also highly important that we honor and support our teachers, the everyday “soldiers” within our classrooms, who commit extraordinary time and effort to help ensure success for all of our students.
Voters must look closely at each candidate and ask themselves which candidates will support improving, not dismantling, public education and will continue to build on our successes, while constantly seeking accountability for all involved, within a collaborative and respectful environment.
What would Abe Lincoln say about government shutdown?
The government shutdown and related shenanigans in Washington put me in mind of the Great Emancipator addressing what was then a clique of fire-eating Democrats who were intent on getting their way despite political realities.
Toward the end of his remarks, Lincoln asked, ” … do you really feel yourselves justified to break up this Government…? ... And then say that the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear and mutters through his teeth, ‘Stand and deliver or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!’” (Abraham Lincoln, Coopers Union Speech. Feb. 27, 1860)
Hikes in price of crude oil matched by production costs
Jim Spehar’s commentary on oil shale reminded me of what I told my classes when I was a professor of geology at Oklahoma State University 40 years ago. At that time, just before the first OPEC (aka Arab) oil embargo, west Texas sweet crude oil was selling for $3 a barrel.
Conventional wisdom at that time held that when the price rose to $10, oil from the Green River Formation would become economically viable. Now the price of oil is $100 a barrel, and oil-shale oil still can’t cut it economically.
The reason for this is that when the price of energy goes up, the price of everything needed to produce energy goes up. I believe that this relationship will continue until oil from other sources is almost used up or until government decides to heavily subsidize it.
Also, recent advances in the technology of energy production such as horizontal drilling and fracturing in tight formations have pushed the viability of oil shale farther into the future. Moreover, after all the exploration over the years would seem to have found all the hydrocarbon reservoirs, new ones continue to be identified.
So far, I’m satisfied that what I told my students has proved correct.
Don’t trust state government to solve rural fire problems
How wonderful that The Daily Sentinel thinks the state government can efficiently implement an insurance assessment program for thousands of Colorado wildland/urban interface homes. I feel confident that Gov. Hickenlooper and the Colorado Legislature, after hiring hundreds of new employees, will make it as professional and cost-efficient as Obamacare.
They are giving the private insurance carriers a legal reason to raise our insurance rates while the taxpayers pay for the studies and implementation of the program. Don’t insurance carriers have the resources and ability to assess their policyholders?
I sat in a sheriff’s vehicle this summer and watched the start of the Papoose fire in the San Juan Mountains. I listened to a Forest Service dispatcher tell the deputy that they had no report of a fire and had no resources available even if it was a fire. Millions of dollars later they were able to control it. You want me to pay extra for that?
Above Lake City, we have attempted for years to be accepted into a fire district. Rural areas in most states are in a fire district and each homeowner/landowner pays a tax to maintain the district. Colorado has no such law.
If the politicians in this state want to do something positive, then expand the fire districts to include the whole state. Decisions would be made at the district level, equipment and resources would be available where needed and control would be local. The best part is that homeowners such as me would be paying for the costs of the district and things would actually get accomplished.
Unfortunately, our liberal governor and Legislature would rather do the “big brother knows best” act and nothing will be done except to spend our money — in Denver.