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Teacher evaluations implemented for one reason only: money

Friday, February 8, 2013
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Teacher evaluations implemented for one reason only: money

Re Feb. 5 editorial, “Time for those teacher ratings”: I was struck by the irony of anyone in a state position accepting the goals of teacher ratings to be “holding teachers accountable, helping them improve, and making it easier to get rid of bad or lazy ones” without first looking into a mirror.

These rating systems were not pushed through for those reasons, but rather for the bonus money that the state could grab as a carrot from Washington. It is at the expense of the teachers that the state stands to benefit financially.

Taxpayers, you need to remember that this is not free money from Washington. It is money taken out of a different pocket of yours.

This response to effective teachers is the same reaction that officials take for every problem. Obesity can be solved by the government telling our children what they can and cannot eat; violence can easily be solved by limiting guns; teachers can be fixed by testing the children; and on and on it goes.

If you owned a company making widgets and the widgets were not turning out the way you wanted, you would not blame the assembly line worker. That worker is just putting the parts together that you provided. You would take a deeper look into the materials you were using, the design, and its intended function. You would analyze the problem from all sides.

Too often, government takes the path of least resistance rather than looking for the many underlying causes and how they work together to create the larger problem.

I am not saying that there are not ineffective teachers in the ranks. I am saying that there is a much larger set of issues that need to be factored into the solution. One of the first things that I would suggest is the abolishment of the federal Department of Education, a department not supported by the Constitution, and return the responsibility of education to the states. This would give the state and local governments more input into the cause and effect of educational outcomes. It would eliminate a layer of bureaucracy that gets in the way of real progress.

Allow teachers to teach as they were taught in their classes; untie their hands. They know what to do and will do it if unfettered. Don’t solely blame the teachers for a faulty product.

Sandra L. Malcolm

Ames

Will full of gas on issue of global warming

George Will’s Jan. 27 column, “Obama’s take on global warming not too hot,” left me perplexed. I have a hard time understanding why men with the intellectual ability of Mr. Will continue to dismiss climate change.

Mr. Will uses sound bites of information about weather (please don’t confuse weather and climate!) and storms that are rather incomplete and certainly misleading. Aside from his mathematical gyrations about how many degrees hotter or cooler the weather has been since 2000, he leaves out the single most important piece of information about global warming — the data about parts per million (ppm) of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

In 1958, Charles Keeling, a scientist working at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, started to measure the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The data collected showed that the level of carbon dioxide in 1958 was 315 ppm. The contrast was 387 ppm in 2009 (Pearson’s Environmental Science). This summer, that number reached 390 ppm. The ecological effects of this change are staggering and well documented. If I were allowed the space that Mr. Will has, I could document some of them.

Fossil fuels are a huge contributor to this situation. Mr. Will seems to see any regulation of fossil fuels and the industries that extract them as “stupendously weird.” He speaks about the Keystone Pipeline and fracking. He says that the development of the Canadian tar sands is “supposedly dangerous.” It is very dangerous!

Producing oil from tar sands is a double disaster for global warming. First it destroys the ability of forests to safely store excess carbon pollution out of the atmosphere. It uses a huge energy expenditure removing forest, dirt, etc. Then it burns extra energy — natural gas — to melt the oil out of the tar. All of this means that oil from tar sands emits twice as much carbon pollution as conventional oil.

I realize that Canada will probably continue to turn Alberta into a blight that resembles a scarred moonscape, with tar sands extraction, and sell the oil to the Chinese. But is this destruction and the pollution it creates something that Americans want to be a part of? For any price? This is faulty reasoning and sounds like, well, if we don’t kill off the planet, someone else will, so why don’t we get the financial benefit first?

Mr. Will has a lot of criticisms of President Obama, some justified. But on global warming, it is George Will who is not too hot.

Linda Neil

Schenectady

Hillary’s critics had every right to speak

In his Jan. 29 letter, “Rand Paul’s attack on Hillary way out of line,” Gene Whitney — incensed by Rep. Rand Paul’s questioning of Hillary Clinton — wants to impose the same freedom of speech restrictions placed on military personnel to anyone he deems disrespectful.

Conversely, I am sure he was in agreement with the kid-glove treatment she received from pusillanimous Democrats who were falling all over, showering her with undeserved praise.

A secretary of state’s job is the protection of our embassies and foreign service employees. The attack on our embassy in Benghazi — resulting in the murder of our ambassador and three other Americans — was a direct consequence of Clinton’s decision to ignore the ambassador’s request for help. An egregious dereliction of duty. She should have been fired.

Obama’s handling of the attack belies his position as commander in chief. Within hours of the attack on Sept. 11, and after he, Hillary, the vice-president and others had viewed the event in real time, he was flying to Las Vegas for another fundraiser — a total dereliction of duty.

In a phony gesture, she [Clinton] accepted responsibility, knowing she would never be subjected to any punishment since she had decided to resign before the hearing.

It is quite clear Mr. Whitney favors censoring speech he does not agree with — a dangerous idea that all thinking individuals abhor.

Vito Spinelli

Scotia

Don’t expect legal gun carriers to intervene

Now that stricter gun control legislation has been enacted, it’s just a matter of time before the law of unintended consequences kicks in.

One example: How many law-abiding concealed-carry permit holders will choose not to intervene in a Newtown-type shooting incident now that they are restricted to having a maximum of seven rounds in their handgun?

Surely any deranged shooter they might take on will not have complied with this limitation and, consequently, would have a decided advantage in any confrontation.

John Gargano

Clifton Park

Give Giffords her due, a crackdown on guns

One of the bravest actions I have seen is the one taken by [former Arizona Rep.] Gabby Giffords as she slowly walked into the Senate chambers, assisted by her husband, to speak out for gun control legislation [Jan. 25].

I also struggle with [a] brain injury and am aware of the effort, courage and work her action demanded.

I hope her courage will move Congress to set about the task of regulating weaponry.

Lois Dodge

Rotterdam

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comments

February 8, 2013
7:52 a.m.
wmarincic says...

Sandra L. Malcolm I agree with your letter, but also lets stop tenure and the ridiculous pay that they get once tenure is received. I have friends with kids in private Christian schools and these kids get a great education and those teachers make about 40% of public school teachers.

February 8, 2013
8:53 p.m.
JLibertarian says...

Linda Neil, there you global warming people go again! When confronted with the facts about it, you have to deny them and come up with some innocuous supposed facts that do not refute the arguments against you and don't even support your own position. Just because carbon dioxide has increased over the last 55 years doesn't mean that it is caused by human's use of carbon based fuels. Do you know what the historical levels of carbon dioxide have been throughout the billions of years history of the planet? I have done some research and what the levels are now are not high by historical standards. There really isn't any global warming. Many scientists and climatologists. many of whom were once global warming supporters, now say there isn't a man made created global warming. Don't you get it? It is just another way for Progressives to take control of our lives.

That being said, I do care about pollution and I have been a proponent of alternative energy sources for 35 years. Solar energy has been around for more than 50 years but the technology hasn't advanced too far. Wind energy cannot be used to generate large amounts of energy. What can be done for both solar and wind is for each person to generate their own energy for their personal use.

Have you ever heard of Nicolai Tesla? He was the genius who invented AC electricity and the radio among other things that we take for granted today. He spent most of his life trying to figure out a way to generate power from the atmosphere - induction. I heard recently that someone has figured out a way to do that. It will be used to power you appliances, light fixtures, and electronics devices. Now how is that for reducing pollution and carbon dioxide.

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