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Save teacher positions at Big Island Elementary

We being concerned citizens, residents, grandparents, and parents of the Big Island School District and of the Bedford County School System strongly, urgently, and respectfully request that the Bedford County School Board reconsider the elimination of teacher positions at Big Island Elementary School.

A prime example of having <*U>one<*P> teacher per classroom is happening right now at Big Island Elementary. There is <*U>one<*P> fifth grade classroom with a large number of students and it is combined with several special needs students. Some of these fifth grade students are struggling <*U>academically<*P> and are <*U>very, very frustrated.<*P>

In an article published in the Lynchburg News and Advance on Jan. 12, 2008, titled "Teacher raises, job cuts on the table for Bedford County School Board" states "reductions in assistant principal positions would be seniority based." If positions at Big Island Elementary have to be eliminated we hope this same courtesy is being done for every employee whether they are a teacher, aide, secretary, custodian, bus driver or in nutrition services. Every employee should be treated equal and with the same respect no matter what position they hold.

Why should an employee want to stay in the Bedford County School district if their years of service and dedication don't count?

We would also like to know why the PTA President and or the Principal of Big Island Elementary did not notify at least the PTA members and parents of Big Island Elementary that they were speaking at the school board meeting held in January 2008? We the people would have attended this very important meeting to support the school, the students, and the teachers had we only been notified!

Thank you to the teachers at Big Island Elementary for being committed and dedicated to the education of the students and for always going above and beyond what is expected of them! Also, thank you to the Bedford County School Board Committee for considering our concerns.

Johnny Carter and 115 others signed this letter

Big Island

Should follow his own advice

David McLoughlin should have followed the cultural advice mentioned in his letter to the editor about Jerry Falwell- “Clearly Misguided,” Jan. 30, ’08. “It’s wrong to speak ill of the dead.” And the reason he should have followed it is because he seems as belligerent as he claims Mr. Falwell was.

Mr. McLoughlin is “clearly misguided.” While I do not defend everything Mr. Falwell did, Mr. McLoughlin’s summation can be turned back on himself. To quote the letter, “So every time you fight to keep evolution in the public schools, oppose censorship at the local library, stand up for gay rights, or march in support of legal abortion, you are proactive for forces that seek to control your lives through the imposition of rigid ee dogma.”

Let the reader note the three words I changed in the quote and realize that it is just two sides of the same coin. In promoting his own dogma, Mr. McLoughlin is doing what he accuses Mr. Falwell of doing. Ways of looking at the world vary. There was only one who was right all the time and that was Jesus. He gives each of us the right to make our own choices and guides us in making the correct ones if we let him.

Roger Dixon


Outraged by statement

As a member of the Azerbaijani-American, and wider Turkic-American community, myself and my family are outraged by Sen. Obama's Jan. 19 Web statement (http://www.barackobama.com/2008/01/19/barack_obama_on_the_importance.php) where he not only recognizes the allegations of highly disputed so-called Armenian genocide as true and valid but goes one step further, speculating about assumed Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades of Armenia and throwing his support behind Armenia's aggression, occupation and ethnic cleansing of 16 percent of Azerbaijan by stating that he would favor the principle of self determination in settling the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

At best, this is utter ignorance and absence of understanding of foreign policy, geopolitics, history, and US strategic allied relations with important predominantly Muslin but secular Azerbaijan and Turkey. At worst this is a complete mockery of democracy, justice and fairness, where the votes of Armenian-Americans just before the California and other primaries are essentially bribed with Azerbaijani, Turkish and Kurdish blood and sufferings (1914-1994). Is this the change Sen. Obama is promising, to sell his Presidential bid to the largest and wealthiest special interest groups?

To begin with, if Mr. Obama is truly interested in finding out more about genocides, the qualifications of the likes of Prof. Guenter Lewy, a Holocaust survivor and author of <*I>The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide<*P> (2005), would offer a more balanced and scholarly perspective than Sen. Obama's advisors.

Secondly, in the wake of the approaching 16th anniversary of the Khojaly Massacre (Feb. 25, 1992), Sen. Obama should evaluate that tragedy (as many U.S. publications, journalists and Congressmen have), since it is the biggest modern slaughter of innocent civilians in the Caucasus region, and was perpetrated by the Armenian military.

Thirdly, there is no blockade of Armenia by either Turkey or Azerbaijan, instead, there is an economic embargo which can be ended by Armenia as soon as it ceases occupation of 16 percent of Azerbaijan and allows 800,000 Azerbaijani displaced to return home. Indeed, both countries keep their airspace with Armenia open, and in the case of Turkey, it is a favorite destination for American tourists, as well as illegal workers (numbering 60,000 persons). Meanwhile, Armenia has been blockading and occupying parts of Nakhichevan, and Azerbaijani enclave with a population of 300,000 (1/6th of Armenia's own population) since 1989.

Finally, the NK conflict is not to be settled along Mr. Obama's ill-advised lines, but the way four UN Security Council Resolutions, in favor of which US voted, state: "cessation of hostilities, removal of all occupying forces from Azerbaijan, return of displaced, full restoration of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Azerbaijan."

Sen. Obama should apologize for his offensive and immoral statement, not just to the 700,000 Turkic-Americans, but also to the tens of millions of Azeris and Turks around the world. Same Azeris and Turks who serve alongside with Americans in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq; who are helping to diversify US oil supply and reduce world energy prices, thus directly contributing to American energy security; who have expanding and rapidly growing economies, which present huge opportunities for US exports; and finally, who have shown a proud tradition of ethnic and religious tolerance, the traits completely absent in monoethnic Armenia, a country which has been working against US interests, was even included in the DoJ Terrorism list in 2002, whilst its refugees were deported from the US in 2005 for committing, according to the DHS, crimes against humanity in Azerbaijan. This flies in the face of Sen. Obama's moral and ethical principles, he should value all human lives, and condemn all suffering, irrespective of how strong ones lobby and how deep ones pockets.

Zeki Gokce


The Power of the Press

It is hard to understand why it sometimes takes a public outcry to get results, but that seemed to be the situation with the street light on Jefferson Terrace.

After months of trying to get it repaired, it took only three days, after the publication of the editorial outlining our frustration with the City, for someone to come and fix the light. That’s right; no phone calls, no work orders. Just a guy with the bucket truck and in less than an hour the light went off. And at dusk, it came on. Which all goes to prove that there is truly power in the press.

Although, complaints are much more frequent than compliments in our lives, it seems they should receive equal attention. We should have a rule that if you complain, and your complaint is addressed and the situation is resolved, you owe someone a compliment. And with that rule in mind, we wish to thank the City Electric Department in their response to our editorial concerning the street light on Jefferson Terrace. The light has been repaired and now functions as it should, on at dusk; off at dawn.

Mike and Sue Trussell