One educational challenge no one wants to talk about
In his Jan. 2 commentary, Bob King, president of Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education, laid out a broad framework for where we are and where we should be going regarding our education system.
Here is the portion that caught my eye: "Highly effective teachers understand the myriad factors that impact student learning and have applied their skills and training to navigate through them, creating brilliant results, obstacles not withstanding."
The questions we should consider are: What are those obstacles, and why should teachers have to overcome obstacles in the first place?
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I began teaching in 1970 in public schools and stayed in the classroom for the duration of my career. I know something about obstacles.
The primary one is simple lack of respect for proper decorum on the part of too many students and the seeming inability of administrators to establish and enforce rules that assure a proper learning environment.
Educators believe if a child is properly motivated and engaged, he will magically lose his desire to torment classmates and torture teachers. This attitude comes from having spent their lives attending the "All You Need Is Love School of Education."
Nowhere in King's commentary does he mention parents or students or the overall community expectation of how our children should behave.
No amount of money, no new curriculum and no innovative methodology will change a thing until we require it. That's not sexy and won't sit well with many educators, but every classroom teacher worth her salt will tell you the same.
The value of hornets
In his meandering Dec. 26 column, Jesus Rivas metaphorically compared the rich to hornets in a nest which should be snuffed out with a plastic bag. He should reconsider his metaphor.
A hornet's nest is a wondrous creation of cooperative, individual effort. Likewise, through cooperative free trade, individual men and women everywhere build their homes, their companies, their communities and their nations out of nothing.
Their interactions cement the bonds of society, foster mutual benefits and create wealth for all. To harm any cooperative effort through excessive regulation and taxation or class warfare is an act of aggression and a destroyer of wealth creation.
Who is actually harmed in a freely entered, private transaction between two parties? If a man becomes wealthy through a number of such transactions, are his customers or his employees harmed?
Haven't all those who have dealt with him benefited? If not, why did they trade with or work for him in the first place? This is the moral basis of capitalism and the economic form of the Golden Rule: I respect your right to trade freely, just as you respect mine.
Those who attack or redistribute wealth destroy the mechanisms that create it, weaken the bonds of society and particularly harm the poor. It is no mystery why the communist economies of the last century disintegrated.
They were asphyxiated by a giant plastic bag that disrupted the free association of human beings and the natural flow of capital.
Cameron S. Schaeffer
Paul's big test
Sen. Rand Paul has promised to present a plan later this month to balance the federal budget and eliminate the deficit that undermines the value of the dollar.
There is a single litmus test that will determine whether Paul is a serious, genuine conservative like his father, Ron, or a run-of-the-mill, big-government, hypocritical Republican politician (examples include Mitch McConnell, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Glenn Beck).
That test is whether he works very hard to cut the military budget by a significant percentage, such as 50 percent.
It really is as simple as that. It is ridiculous to think the federal budget can ever be balanced as long as the military budget remains out of control.
Our military has been assigned by Washington politicians to maintain and expand a world-dominating empire and to fight endless wars, all of which are unnecessary.
Our military currently has no relationship to its constitutional function, which is to defend the American people.
We Kentuckians who are members of the Green Party look forward to studying Paul's budget proposal in detail when he releases it.
Geoffrey M. Young
Unfair to Williams
Your Jan. 5 editorial criticizes state Sen. President David Williams for staging a "cynical political show" by introducing bills you don't approve of. However, if he had proposed nothing, you would have criticized him for not doing anything but campaigning for governor. Your editorial was petty.
The Democrats in the legislature managed to match your pettiness.
Sen. Julian Carroll, who lost the position of Senate minority leader to Sen. R.J. Palmer, said the Palmer win was "tantamount to a victory for Williams." Carroll showed himself to be a very sore loser.
Equally disgraceful was House Speaker Greg Stumbo's comment that "the Democratic House generally does not take up the Senate's bills until the Senate passes House bills." That, in a nutshell, explains why the U.S. House Democrats disgraced themselves last November. The voters had had enough.
The people of Kentucky are tired of the pettiness emanating from Frankfort (and from the Herald-Leader editorial staff). None of you are working to make Kentucky better. All you are doing is throwing mud and childishly obstructing any kind of progress.
Unions under attack
Over 30 years ago, the corporate and political right wing in this country began to mobilize through direct mail and lavishly funded think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation to deprive American workers of any control over their conditions of employment.
This movement, paid for by reactionaries such as the Coors, Scaife, and Koch families, has put organized labor on the defensive and discredited collective bargaining as a countervailing force to corporate control of civic life.
Two generations of young Americans have absorbed the propaganda that the idea of workers having a voice at their place of employment — or of being paid a living wage — is outdated and "uncompetitive."
The current initiative in this right-wing assault is the demonization of public employees, particularly those in unions. The anti-government frenzy on the corporate right, which has wrecked the American Dream for all but about 20 percent of us, is being rerouted from the 7 percent of private-sector union workers to the 35 percent of unionized public employees nationwide — you know, all those lazy fat cats who clean streets, teach school, put out fires and protect us.
It is no coincidence the 30-year crusade to kill unions and destroy the social contract between government and the people corresponds with the growing wealth gap, the decline in American living standards and the corporate ownership of law and politics. A prediction: That crusade will infect the legislative session in Kentucky.
Toughen social services
What a sad story: We have a 12-year-old having a baby and then that baby drinking drain cleaner and dying. The Herald-Leader editorial says, "As long as Kentucky pinches its pennies on drug screening and treatment, children like Kayden will live in danger."
As long as social workers leave at-risk children in the care of people who can't pass a drug test, then they have a hand in the death of these children. If social workers don't have the laws in place to give them that power, our elected officials need to stop campaigning and start doing their jobs.
A large percentage of the blame has to be placed on those who are sober and could protect these helpless babies but instead scold the parent for not taking a drug test. They leave the babies in the home. All the money in the world won't change this train wreck of a program.
A lot of the parents are living off the monthly check or benefits they get for these children. If they lose their children, they lose that check. The desire to get their kids back would be a stronger drive than social workers scolding them.
Why is it that this story is more concerned with the drug problem of the grandparents and family, when the loss of this baby could have been prevented if he and his mother had been taken to a safe place where they could break this cycle of abuse?
Vivian A. Mitchell
Too, too much Pett
Having finished reading the Sports section of last Sunday's Herald-Leader — which is about all that I find interesting — I turned to Opinions/Ideas and what to my wondering eyes should appear but two entire pages devoted to Joel Pett cartoons in living color!
I don't care that it was a year-end review or that he is a Pulitzer-Prize winning editorial cartoonist. His work still is, and always will be, way less than amusing, glaringly amateurish and unmistakably offensive.
Can the Herald-Leader not come up with enough news articles to fill its pages? Has it exhausted its supply of mattress or automobile advertisers?
As if two pages of Pett weren't quite enough, I was instructed I could find more by going to Kentucky.com. How helpful.