Printed letters, May 9, 2010

SB 191 is not what’s best for state’s public education

My husband and I have taught high school special education at Fruita Monument High School for nine years. We do not have tenure. We do have due process rights given to us by the Legislature many years ago. Nowhere in any state law has any teacher been given “tenure” in Colorado. They have been given due process, just as federal law gives employees due process rights against being fired for no reason.

In District 51, our teacher evaluation system ensures that teachers are evaluated for their performance on a regular basis and that if their teaching is deemed ineffective, they are put on a plan to help them improve their teaching skills. If that doesn’t work, the evaluation system — created by the teachers and the administrators in District 51 — allows for the dismissal of teachers.

Intelligently, the team that took many months to create this evaluation system did not place, as one of its requirements to be deemed an effective teacher, the caveat that students must pass a test. This ludicrous idea is akin to telling a doctor that, because his patients aren’t in perfect health, he is ineffective and can no longer practice medicine. What about the dentist whose patients need fillings, crowns or root canals? Is he a bad dentist who deserves to have his dental license yanked? Or the attorney who doesn’t win every case? Should we “fire” him from practicing law?

My evaluator, who just gave me my evaluation and came into my room 11 times without notifying me that she would be there to evaluate my teaching skills, can attest to the fact that I work diligently with and for my students, as does every teacher on our campus. We are intelligent, dedicated and caring and we go above and beyond for our students. But I guarantee you that there would be teachers on this campus who would be fired under the Senate Bill 191 plan because some of their kids wouldn’t be able to pass a test at the level the non-educators in the Legislature say they must.

For many reasons — the cost of implementing this bill included — this is a bad idea for Colorado. Local taxpayers will be left to shoulder the cost of this if it passes, as I don’t know where the estimated $172 million will come from to fund it. Look closely at the truth behind this bill and contact your legislators to tell them to vote “No” on SB 191. It is not what is best for public education.



Friedman off-target with claim about guns

In Thomas Friedman’s May 4 column, he stated that Mexican “Narcos have bigger guns than the Mexican Army — most smuggled in from U.S. gun stores.”

This would not require, but would certainly imply the following: U.S. gun stores have access to better weapons than the Mexican Army does, nobody in Mexico can figure out how to solve that problem and find a better source (for example, buy their own guns from U.S. gun stores), and I can walk into a sporting goods store in the United States and walk out better armed than a combat soldier in the Mexican Army.

Since it is extremely unlikely that any of these could be true, one would expect a competent journalist to research that point very carefully before putting it into print. Unfortunately for Mr. Friedman’s credibility, only a few minutes of research are needed to show that the statement is false.

You cannot buy better weapons in U.S. gun stores than the Mexican Army has, and most guns used by Mexican narcos are not smuggled in from U.S. gun stores.

But he writes for The New York Times, where the general rule is, “If it fits our story line, who cares if it’s true?”



Garco did right thing to restore exemption

Thank you to Garfield County Commissioner John Martin for his leadership in restoring a “justifiable entitlement” for many of us old people. Gov. Ritter’s regime, in its many dubious decisions, reneged on its prior commitment to allow a senior property tax exemption to those of us 65 or older who have occupied their primary residence for at least 10 years.

The Garfield County commissioners are to be commended for taking action to reverse this injustice. All too often they are subjected to public scrutiny only for the more controversial decisions they are required to make.

Not only was this a “righteous” decision, but it could be a “good omen” as well, by proving to the nation’s voting public that bad political decisions made by inept administrations can be rightfully changed, providing we elect the right people to office to represent us.

God bless America for our duly elected representatives and our republic form of government.




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