Teacher testing, core learning no panacea, but a reasonable start
Kathryn Biel’s Nov. 4 Viewpoint [“Core Learning, teacher testing hurting kids and home life”] makes a case against teacher testing and higher expectations for our students. She describes unhappy children, children who must learn at a higher rate and parents who are forced to ask, “Can I let my children play?”
While I agree there are many problems with our educational system that are not addressed by the Common Core Learning Standards, or by the addition of testing for teacher evaluation, we should consider these steps in the right direction.
We should not be asking children how happy they are. Some children will not be up to the challenge, and the indicator of our success may be returning to the less-comfortable time when some children were held back because their home situations are distracting or their abilities are well below expectations. This will make neither those children nor their parents happier. It does reflect the reality that not every child is the same as every other.
There is plenty of evidence that our failings are deeply rooted: We are reinventing the English language because the majority cannot learn grammar; there is a common association between excelling at math or science and being unpopular; it is acceptable for organized sports and other unlikely careers to displace study time; it is acceptable to challenge a teacher who feels a child is misbehaving.
Until our society changes its attitude, no government program will effect real change.
Gov’t shouldn’t push contraceptives on teens
Contraceptives are offered free through the national health system in England, and they have the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe.
Mounting evidence in several developed countries points to unplanned pregnancies increasing with higher access to contraceptives. On the other hand, policies that decrease access to contraception, and hence sexual activity, are likely to lower pregnancy rates in the long run.
The Department of Health and Human Services hopes to provide free contraceptives to the poor, but the poor have the highest contraceptive failure rates. For example, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, poor women 20 and under who use the pill have a 48.4 percent chance of getting pregnant in one year. The same girl using a condom has a 71.7 percent chance.
A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health showed that with the use of hormonal contraceptives, condom use drops.
We are in the midst of a sexually transmitted disease epidemic, where one in four girls has a sexually transmitted disease or infection. It is well established that the pill increases a woman’s chance of getting an STI [sexually transmitted infection].
In 2005 the World Health Organization classified the combined estrogen-progestin birth control pill as the highest class of carcinogen. A congressional report released in July stated that abstinence programs are the “superior” approach to teen sex ed.
The government should stay out of the contraceptive business.
Flawed flood buyback plan deserved to sink
I am glad the flood buyback proposal sank in Rotterdam [Oct. 11 Gazette]. The program would have hindered the redevelopment of Rotterdam Junction.
Town Board member Bob Godlewski tried to push the proposal through on the basis that 75 percent of the property’s purchase cost would be covered by the federal government (if certain requirements were met). But he failed to inform taxpayers that demolition costs would be paid by them — and that these properties would forever be off the tax rolls and could never be redeveloped again.
Rotterdam has seen unprecedented growth since Supervisor Harry Buffardi took over. At the board meetings I have attended, Mr. Godlewski, time and time again, tries to make it as unproductive as possible by interrupting and cutting off other board members.
What Rotterdam needs from Bob Godlewski is fewer proposals sought for political gain and more cooperation on the issues the town is facing.
No denying Mini Page message on warming
Within his brief Nov. 2 letter complaining about a Mini Page story on sugar maples that mentions global warming, Darrell Roeters manages to bring up a host of implications. Unfortunately, most of those implications are wrong.
First, Mr. Roeters suggests that referring to global warming must show a “political agenda.” But here in the 21st century, the only thing keeping climate change a “political” issue is that some politicians continue to deny its reality. And despite their hiding behind claims of “unsettled” science, there is in actual fact very broad agreement among scientists across this country, and throughout the world, that global warming is happening, is caused by humans, and has already started creating serious problems.
I agree with Mr. Roeters’ implication that it’s a harsh idea for children to face. But the sooner adults stop trying to dispute our impact on Earth’s climate in the face of over 50 years of consistent research and evidence — and start taking serious action to mitigate our impact — the more likely our children’s future will still include maple trees.
Four more years sliding toward mediocrity
It’s a sad day for America when 50 percent of the country votes to re-elect, in my view, the worst president since Jimmy Carter rather than giving Romney a chance to rebuild the greatest nation in the world.
Obama handled Libya attack poorly all around
How can it be that the Benghazi consulate scandal gets no coverage by the mainstream media? If it were not for Fox News, there would be almost no information on the circumstances surrounding the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans by al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists on the 11th anniversary of 9/11.
The Obama administration is claiming they will find the guilty and bring them to justice. It has been seven weeks and little has been done. Post-9/11, the invasion of Afghanistan was accomplished in less than four weeks.
During the Benghazi fire fight, a couple of brave ex-SEALs repeatedly called for help, but no help was forthcoming, and they died from mortar fire eight hours after the consulate was first attacked.
For the longest time the administration claimed the attack resulted from spontaneous rage over an Internet video. Fox journalists have found out that the administration knew it was a terrorist attack within the first few hours from radio contact, e-mails and drone surveillance.
As with the Watergate scandal, post-election this incident will be fully investigated. But at least with Watergate, no one died.
Obama called on the SEALs and they got bin Laden. When the SEALs called Obama, they were ignored.
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