Printed letters, April 30, 2010

SB 191 won’t improve education in our schools

It is apparent that there is confusion concerning the process of teachers being dismissed or fired from school districts.

The first misconception is the terms being used. “Tenure” is being expressed by media, legislators and the governor as a source of a problem, yet the term “tenure” cannot be found in any state statute or school-board policy in Colorado.

There are procedures of due process and just cause defined if a teacher is to be dismissed. Without getting into specifics, those procedures are also awarded to doctors and lawyers who are licensed professionals. Those procedures only guarantee that the evaluation of the supervisor is valid and there is an actual flaw in the employee’s performance.

The stance that “tenured” teachers are almost impossible to get rid of is false. It does require a competent administrator who is able to be an educational leader.

Teacher associations have been accused of not wanting to change how teachers are evaluated. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Colorado Education Association was a participant in a task force that Gov. Bill Ritter established to develop principles and guidelines for teacher evaluations. The CEA supported this task force, recognizing the evaluation system in Colorado is ineffective and believing a collaborative effort between professionals, parents and the private sector could address the concerns of teacher evaluation.

The CEA is opposed to Senate Bill 191, which circumvents the work that Ritter’s task force would accomplish.

The true problem facing public education is recruiting and retaining quality new teachers to the profession. Bright, young people thinking about going into teaching look at the constant attacks and lack of respect toward teachers from media, legislators, community leaders, parents and students and quickly come to a conclusion to pursue other studies.

Public education is in dire need of teachers being supported by the community they serve. Senate Bill 191 is based on misconceptions, is very costly and will not improve teaching quality in our schools.

GARY W. JOHNSON

JIM SMYTH

Mesa Valley Education Association

Grand Junction

Main cause of recession was the housing bubble

The Daily Sentinel’s recent editorial saying that the “GOP is on hot seat with financial reform” overlooks the fundamental cause of the tanking of the economy in 2008. The Sentinel said that it was brought on by a banking and insurance crisis.

The collapse of the housing bubble brought on the financial problems. Our own government created the housing bubble by forcing banks to write subprime mortgage loans. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-run mortgage companies, were excused from prudent banking rules so they could buy the risky loans to encourage home ownership.

A large number of these loans went into mortgage-backed securities sold by the two government-managed mortgage companies. AIG and many large banks were entangled in the melt down, but were not its cause. Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd insisted that Fannie and Freddie were on solid ground when they should have known better. The two are now in charge of financial reform.

President Obama said, “Unless your business model relies on bilking people, there’s little to fear from these new rules.” The Democrats want to quickly pass a financial “reform” bill that gives too much discretionary power to a new commission. Yet nothing is being done to protect taxpayers from the total lack judgment in running government mortgage companies.

Americans have had enough scapegoating. When forced by regulators to make bad loans, banks were called predatory lenders. No one really believes that banks increase profits by making loans that cannot be repaid. But of course, if government mortgage companies buy the loans, the banks can profit from the fees and they do, just like citizens taking advantage of “Cash for Clunkers.”

Republicans have nothing to fear from voters if they slow the process down and try for meaningful input.

BRUCE TAYLOR

Grand Junction

Orchard Mesa trails offer biking opportunities

The April 25 edition of The Daily Sentinel included the beautiful special edition devoted to biking around the Grand Valley and I was glad that it had some information about family-bike-riding opportunities.

Bike riders of all levels of experience may want to check out the Old Spanish Trail and Gunnison River Bluffs area — the Sister Trails — from Orchard Mesa to Whitewater. While these two trails may not provide the technical features some area trails do, there are certain advantages: both trailheads are within minutes of downtown Grand Junction, they are family-friendly and motorized vehicles are prohibited.

More information about the Sister Trails can be viewed at sistertrails.org.

VICKI FELMLEE

Orchard Mesa Neighbors in Action

Grand Junction



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