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Letters 06/08/11

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No-brainer


    I have been puzzled for quite some time about some of the local business’ refusal to let patrons use their restrooms.  This has bothered me before when I have asked for myself, but while shopping the other day in one of my favorite local stores a child needed to use the restroom.  When asked if she could please use their facilities they were told that they were not supposed to let anyone use the restroom.  Really?  This is a child and a lot of children, not to mention some adults, cannot just wait, so instead of finishing their shopping they were forced to leave the store in order for the girl to find a restroom. 
    I guess what perplexes me the most is that the stores would rather lose a sale than have an outsider use their restroom?  What if this had been a real emergency?  If I were a store owner, I think I would bend the rules for a child or the elderly, or better yet just rethink the rules altogether for the betterment of my business.  Seems like a no-brainer to me.  
    One more thing, if the store owners think that people won’t think about these things before shopping there again, they are mistaken.  There is always someplace else that has what the consumer needs. 
 
Stephanie Johnson
Bedford
Touching hearts

    I want to thank Evelyn for coming to the Memorial Day concert, Saturday night at D-Day. 
    As I looked out over the very first rows of guests, I noted with tears in my eyes as she struggled to rise to her feet as we sang “God Bless America.”  Slowly everyone else followed suit and before long the entire audience was standing in honor of our country and fellow citizens.
    I knew there were a myriad of emotions sweeping across her  face as “Taps” was performed and her tears flowed freely.  I’m thankful to her  for her warm hug and expressions of thanks to JCS after the performance.  She stated that this may be her very last concert.  There is something I know about her.  Whether it is or perhaps she’ll come again next year, I know she will always carry last night’s music in her heart.
    And thanks to her for touching my heart. 

Jacqueline Hull
President, Jefferson Choral Society

School reform

    A recent issue of The Nation Magazine had several articles on school reform. 
    In 2010, high school graduation rates were below 70 percent and the achievement gap between white and minority students was larger than in 1988.  The US ranked 35th out of 40 countries in math and 29th in science. We dropped on reading scores even during the Bush years of the ill-conceived No Child Left Behind.  We began our backpedaling when Reagan cut the education budget in half, cut the health and human services budget and shifted costs to the States.  We slipped from 1st to 17th in college participation rates.  While more than half of many European and Asian youths are college graduates, we are less than 40 percent with fewer than 20 percent of Black and Hispanic youths receiving a degree.
    The US is at the top of the world list on income inequity, which has contributed significantly to our demise.  Wealthy suburbs frequently spend more than twice what central cities do on education and more than three times what poor, rural areas can afford.  Even more disheartening is that States not willing to spend $10,000 to ensure adequate education for children will later spend more than $30,000 to keep one in jail.  As the number of prisoners has quadrupled since 1980, State budgets for corrections have increased by more than 900 percent--three times faster than funds for education.  Today five States spend more on corrections than on public universities. 
    I’ve argued consistently in previous letters that paying for education up front is the cheapest dollar we will ever spend. It’s cheaper than prisons, welfare, lost individual talent, unemployment and much more.  Unfortunately, a rich county like Bedford would rather save taxes for the rich than support education for all.  For the right wingers who support charter schools as a viable alternative, the far right Stanford University’s Hoover Institution provides contradictory evidence.  The largest national study to date (funded by the staunchly pro charter right wing Walton Family) found that charter schools more frequently under perform their counterpart schools serving similar students.  Further, charters exacerbate segregation and serve significantly fewer special education and English-language learners.  Only 17 percent of charters outperformed a matched public school.  The other 83 percent were worse or, at the most, no better.
    There are no easy answers to our education dilemma, but getting rid of the nonsensical local control would be a start.  Just look at how our Board of Supervisors supports education in this county. In a word, they DON’T.  As reported in this paper, Wheeler, in particular, leads the charge to cut taxes that fund education. He bullies the School Board on issues that he disagrees with even though these issues are legitimately within the purview of the School Board.  Total State funding of education could allow a far more even funding of school systems in the State with the Federal government responsible for setting national standards and funding badly needed educational research.  No other country fragments its educational goals like the US and most have better outcomes.  Not siphoning off desperately needed education funds to charter schools, including religious schools, would also be a step in the right direction. 
    A little perspective:  Teachers’ hefty salaries are driving up taxes, and they only work 9 months a year!  It’s time we put things in perspective and pay them for what they do – baby-sit.  We can get that for less than minimum wage. That’s right. Let’s give them $3 an hour for babysitting and only for the hours they work; not any of that silly planning time, or any time they claim to spend before and after school. That would be $19.50 a day (7:45 to 3 p.m. with 45 min. off for lunch and planning-- that equals 6 1/2 hours). 
    Each parent should pay $19.50 a day for these teachers to baby-sit their children. Now how many students do they baby sit in a day...maybe 30? So that’s $19.50 x 30 = $585 a day.  However, remember they only work 180 days a year, so I am not going to pay them for any vacations.  Let’s see....that’s $585 x 180 = $105,300/yr.  Uh Oh!  Well how about $1.50/hr.  That should really be enough to motivate those money grubbing baby sitters on the public dole.
    A special concerning Clifford Russell’s letter 5/26/11:  As a bible thumper, surely he should know that the poor were Jesus’ main concern.  He would be aghast at his blaming the poor for being poor. Has he no Christian charity?  Jesus was surely a socialist at heart!
 
David McLoughlin
Forest

Doing the
right thing

    I am writing this letter as a concerned parent of a child that attends school in Bedford County.
    In November, 2010 my son was assaulted in the hallway of his school not once, but twice, by an older student. Instead of reacting in the way he normally would, he decided to “do the right thing” and report it to the office. He is no stranger to trouble in school by no means and decided he didn’t want to get into more trouble.
    I was summoned to the school to pick him up because he was upset. I was told he was in no trouble and he had “done the right thing.” After discussing what had taken place with the administrator, I informed him I wanted to press charges. Now I don’t believe that this is necessarily the thing to do, but that is what this system has taught us to do.    
    The SRO was not there, but he would be in contact with me. Later that day the SRO called and asked if I wanted to press charges and I said that I did. He said “I’ll take care of it.” That was in November of 2010, it is now May of 2011. We have heard nothing from the SRO or received a summons. I find this amazing for a few reasons:
    1) These assaults were caught on tape, so there was no doubt they happened.
    2) This is the second time this SRO pulled a stunt of this type. The first was last year in court.
    3) I really find it amazing that a SRO can appoint themselves judge, jury and god.
    Did I mention my son (the assaulted) is mixed race (African American/White) and the assaulter is white?
    I guess “doing the right thing” is “NOT the right thing to do.”

George Graybill
Forest

Thanks for
support

    On behalf of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Office Community Service Division and School Resource Officers we would like to thank all those who made our Annual Car Show a success. The monies raised from this event will be used to further our mission in the Bedford County Schools to educate students on the dangers of getting involved in drugs, gangs and violence.
    Please join with me in thanking the sponsors listed below, if it were not for their generosity and continued support the Car Show would not have been the huge success it was.
    Glam Consignment Boutique, Salon 74, Smith Mountain Lake Boat Yard, Dominion of Bedford, La Carreta Mexican Food - Forest, Heath Custom Homes, Bob & Cheryl’s Rainbow Drive-In, Queen Nails, Perfect Cut Flooring of VA, Taylor’s New & Used Furniture, Frank’s Place, Steve’s Auto Repair, Affordable Tires, Wray’s Autobody Shop, The Tobacco Co., Hair Designs by Whitney & Brandy, WSLK Lake Radio, Bedford Supply Co., Quality Auto Paint & Body - Roanoke, Law Offices of Steven Grant, Emily Rowe Sitzler, Furry Friends Vet, Updike Funeral Home, S.D. & S. Racing, Bakauskas Living Trust, Charles Carroll, Don Rowe Attorney, Edo Grill & Sushi, Rookies Sports Tavern, ML Sutphin Insurance Agency Inc., Cricket Excavating Co., Hair Trimmers Designs, Trend Setters Salon, El Cazador Mexican Food, Juice 1 Beauty Salon, Peddler Antiques, Duval Auto Parts, Autocraft & Repair, Olde Mill Primitives, Hall’s Garage, Glenwood Esso, Advance Auto - Bedford, R. Andrew Davis PC, Sun and Style Salon, Fisher’s Auto Parts, Linda G. Willis, J&W Trophies, Garrett & Garrett, Daltons Paint & Body, A Touch of Class Body Shop, Rebecca A. Stanley, William Bowen, and Sonny’s Racing.

Captain Tim Hayden
BCSO

Education
failures

    Regarding efforts to extend kindergarten hours to all day.
    Fact is that 7-year-olds can start school attending half days and do well with learning. Is it a nationwide project to extend kindergarten all day? I just returned from Connecticut and efforts to extend primary grades to all day is ongoing.
    As a parent of three children we chose a Christian school. The reason was that the public school removed lessons to be taught from the Founding Fathers which were, “The censures of the law and denunciations of religion against immorality and crime. We regard it as a wise use of police, by which property, life and peace of society are secure so that there may be undisturbed sleep behind unbarred doors.” (Daniel Webster 1820 - James Monroe, President)
    High quality education prevailed through the 1940s. In New York City, where I grew up, homes were open, cars in shopping areas were open with keys in the ignition. No homes were entered nor cars stolen. Upon creation of schools, we the people voted a school tax in exchange for safety of property, life and peace of society. What is it called when we the people continue to be taxed but the original instructions of purpose taken away? Not by the people, but by a court decision!
    The jurors, swor by oath to uphold we the people! Thomas Jefferson said, “Should the court error, legislature shall correct it.” As far as I know, the state of Virginia nor its Department of Education did not write or voice opposition on behalf of the people they represent to the court decision! Today taxpayers are told that more money is needed for quality education. A fact is that 25 percent of 17 year olds do not know the name of the general who won The Battle of Yorktown nor the purpose for it.
    The 1987 United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda is worldwide with public education systems preparing children to be global citizens. An element of the current ‘race to the top’ is to infuse down into primary and preschool. Why?
    One more item about quality education. Two years ago teens were graded walking up to a large unmarked map hanging on the classroom wall, to point to where the Pacific Ocean was. A good number failed the geography question. If memory serves me, it was San Diego.

Walter F. Heydt
Bedford