Letters 05/04/11

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Living with

their mistakes
    Long after the superintendent of Bedford County schools has left the area, Bedford County School Board members will still be here.  Superintendents come and go; however, school board members must live with their mistakes.   Let’s face it; the residents of Bedford have long memories.   Therefore, it is prudent, ethical, and wise that they make decisions that, in their gut, they know are the right ones, even though they do not agree with the recommendations of the superintendent!
    The consensus decision that they made this week: to keep Bedford Primary School open as a “preschool” and move the K-2 students to Bedford Elementary School and the 6th grade students to Bedford Middle School was a cop-out!  As you know, the purpose to keep Bedford Primary School open is to keep the K-2 students in that school – not to keep the school open and transition the make-up of the school.  I can’t believe that they would agree with this recommendation.  One doesn’t need a doctorate degree to see that this recommendation was a deliberate attempt to forestall a civil suit.
    I hope that they will stand on their own two feet and not capitulate to the pressure from the superintendent.  Make the decision to keep the students K-2 at Bedford Primary School and the grade 6 students at Bedford Elementary School.  This decision is in the best educational interest of the students.  And, isn’t this the reason why they were elected to be on the school board?
    This is not the time to introduce new programs in the high school, which will include a handful of students.  Let’s face it:  if high school students need additional assistance and/or advanced programs, they are the most knowledgeable to achieve the results.
    A ¾ of 1 percent raise for teachers is not much of a morale booster.  For example, how much will a teacher realize in this raise:  ¾ of 1 percent of $35,000 – when taxes are taken – not much.  Is it worth it to forfeit the educational advantage of keeping Bedford Primary School open with students K-2?
    Isn’t it enough that the starting and ending times of Bedford County schools are being drastically changed this year, eliminating a number of bus driver positions?
    Perhaps it is time to eliminate a few “central office” positions.  That’s another place they can cut.  Let’s face it:  the central office is overloaded.  And, if there are too many employees in the central office, move some of them to the schools, which is where they should be since their focus should be the education of these same students.
    Realistically, moving five, 6th grade classes from Bedford Elementary School to Bedford Middle school; moving 15 grades K-2 classes from Bedford Primary School to Bedford Elementary School, does not compute.  It seems that there will not be adequate classrooms within the building or classes will be overcrowded.  How can you move five classes out and move 15 classes in?  Think about it!

Constance L. Messier

Editor’s Note: The School Board, on Thursday, approved a budget that made Bedford Primary a Pre-K, K and first grade school, moving the second graders to BES and moving the sixth graders from that school to Bedford Middle School.

Letter of thanks

    Please accept our sincere appreciation for the publicity for the Standard Flower Show – “Night at the Museum,” which occurred April 14, 15, and 16 at the Salem Museum.  This  event was a successful culmination of the cooperative efforts of  The Salem Museum; the Blue Ridge District of Garden Clubs;  the Roanoke Council of Garden Clubs;  the Flower Show Committee;  many Garden Club members from the various clubs in the District; and Rita Leiser and Brenda McManaway, who served as co-chairmen for this event.
    This event showcased 48 designs, which included 36 beautiful floral designs and 12 exhibits in a special exhibits section for artistic crafts.  There were also 199 horticulture entries and five outstanding educational exhibits.  All of the exhibits were placed throughout the Museum by Museum volunteers and garden club members in a manner that enhanced both the exhibits and the building.  The Museum made special effort to ensure that the Flower Show entries were prominent.  
    It was well attended and estimates put the attendance at over 500 visitors to the show.    We feel that many attended because they had read about the event in one of the local papers or saw the coverage on WSLS television. 
    We believe that the large public attendance to the show was a direct response to the publicity given to this event.   Thank you, for all of the attention that was given on behalf of this flower show. 

Betsy Klein
Blue Ridge District of Garden Clubs


    Our nation is spending itself into oblivion.  One thing we should not be forced to pay for is someone else’s elective abortion.  Yet every year federal amendments have to be passed to protect taxpayers from funding or subsidizing abortions.  It’s time to make them permanent.
    I urge my representative, Robert Hurt, to vote for the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, H.R. 3, which is coming up for a vote soon in the House of Representatives.  The bill will prohibit public funding of abortion in all federal programs and would ensure that no federal funds would be used for elective abortions.
    At this time of fiscal crisis, we all need to take personal responsibility.  It is not responsible to require taxpayers — many who are suffering financially — to pay for elective abortions.
Janet Robey

What the R’s want to do

    Forbes magazine says there are 1210 billionaires in the world worth a total of $4 trillion--$500 billion greater than the combined worth of 4 billion people.  This concentration of wealth is the greatest in history and is why the US has the worst income inequality in the world..  In the US alone, there are 413 billionaires.  Many made their fortunes through speculative activity; i.e., they were predators on the economy and exploiters of the property and stock markets. But no Republican (R) tax increase for them.  Oh no!  They worked hard for their riches!   Baloney.  The May 1 News Advance reported that only 18 percent of their income comes from work.  The rest comes from their wealth--eg capital gains taxed at less than half their income rate.
    In 1976 the top 10 percent held 20 percent of the US wealth - today over 35 percent.  Eighty percent of Americans own only 15 percent.  The capitalistic parasitic speculators employee no people, make no products, export no items, and pay lower taxes than productive workers. They lobby for favorable tax loopholes and bailouts and press for cuts in social budgets, which devastate those who, because of unemployment, bankruptcy, divorce, or other life-altering circumstances or who are the product of ever decreasing support to our school systems, are struggling to make ends meet.  These exploiters have recovered their losses from the Great Recession and are flourishing, but not contributing to recovery.
    Unions, with all of their faults, built our middle class.  But starting with Reagan and continuing with the Republican (R) Governors of WI, OH, MD, NJ and IN, the attack on unions has been devastatingly brutal.  It’s clear that these anti-union activities have nothing to do with debt.  They have to do with the politics of destroying Democratic supporters.
    It took Reagan and two Bushes 30 years to accumulate 90 percent of our debt by 2008.  Clinton brought the deficit down in 4 years and had 4 years of surplus. Bush handed Obama an 18 month Great Recession and record deficits from his tax cuts and deregulation and from two unnecessary wars..  Now who screams about the debt they caused-- naturally the Republican conservatives with the loudest screams from the Tea Baggers.
    The R fiscal response continues to be as hypocritical as ever.  They thwarted all efforts at thrift by opposing a cost saving government option for health care reform and now propose draconian plans to turn Medicare into a voucher system.  They want to turn Medicaid over to the already financially strapped states with reduced Federal support. This will devastate both programs.  These proposals are not cost saving. They are cost shifting to the poor and middle class.
    Sure we need to reduce our debt, but with a scalpel—not a meat axe and not all at once. We have time to act and some debt is manageable.  Rep Ryan and his Path To Prosperity is an Ayn Rand disciple and it shows.  His budget, based on “expansionary fiscal contraction” (what a contradiction in terms) is nothing but hot air. The poor and middle class sustain two thirds of his budget cuts with no tax increases for the fat cats.  The idea that cutting government spending will so improve business and consumer confidence that it will cause immediate growth is pure fiction.  The concept has been rejected by Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and IMF economists but not by the R’s.  Ryan voted for two unfunded wars, but is now the “Squawker in Chief” for debt reduction.  Where was he when it counted?
    The national R’s are as bad as our Republican Governor and some of our local conservative County Board members.  McDonald and his Republicans borrowed $3 billion for road improvements rather than raise the gas tax as they should have.  Just transfer the debt to our kids and grandkids as the R’s have always done, then scream about it when a Democrat is in office.  Our local juvenile Supervisors are about as bad. In their pique over an issue clearly in the purview of the School Board, they cut $1.1 million from our kids education.  What bullies!
    The upshot of all this is the R’s are trying to use the fiscal woes they created to “starve the beast” and destroy all of the social support systems they hate.  Just think what an R controlled government would do to this nation.  Thankfully we have a grown up President to lead us.
David McLoughlin