Revamping public schools should not be partisan issue

John Feehery’s op-ed in The Hill (“Education as a Wedge Issue,” Oct. 4) begins with the incorrect statement that the National Education Association was involved in the recent D.C. mayoral election. In fact, educators in D.C. public schools belong to a different union, and NEA was not involved in the election in any way.

Given this sloppy disregard for facts, readers should be skeptical of the rest of article, including Mr. Feehery’s suggestion the failed No Child Left Behind law has done anything to improve student achievement. And contrary to his claims, NEA members across the nation are working to transform public schools, collaborating with district management and communities who share our goal of closing the achievement gaps, and focusing on the lowest-performing schools through our Priority Schools Campaign.

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Fundamental and transformative changes in education can only succeed if educators, policymakers and communities work together to meet the enormous challenges we face, including the fact that one out of five children in this country now lives in poverty. Transforming public schools is not and should not be a partisan issue.

Washington


Hold in high regard those who defend our freedom 

From Joe Bialek

This letter is in response to the articles covering the United States Supreme Court review of the case Snyder v. Westboro Baptist Church.

For whatever the reasons, right or wrong, for going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder heeded the call and took up the sword to defend those very freedoms we all enjoy but fail every day to appreciate. It sickens me to recognize how disconnected the American people are from our military defending our sovereignty worldwide.   

I believe the overt military policy in Afghanistan and Iraq is wrong. I, too, was fooled into believing the political manipulations of the powers that be; that is was worth sending our best troops to defend our liberty in a land full of lawless people.  Sadly, however, I believe we have let our own military down.  While this does not in any way diminish the sacrifice put forth by Snyder, it only bothers me more that I consented to requiring he be sent. The time is long overdue to withdraw our overt military forces from these two countries before any more of our fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters are laid to rest.   

Anyone who wants to defend our freedom regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation should be held in high regard and treated with the respect and dignity afforded to all members of the military. I highly doubt Fred Phelps, leader of Westboro Baptist Church, would object to a homosexual soldier pulling him to safety after the explosion of a roadside bomb. 

That Snyder died defending the very right that Phelps chose to exercise speaks volumes of the kind of values espoused by Westboro Baptist Church.

Cleveland, Ohio


BP’s reckless behavior must never be repeated

From Michael Pravica, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Physics, 
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Before our leaders consider removing the drilling ban on offshore oil (“Vitter predicts drilling ban to end soon, fears ‘de facto’ freeze will linger for ‘many months’” Oct. 4), they should ponder the following issues: First of all, it should by now be painfully obvious by now that major corporations such as BP, with GNPs greater than that of many nations, cannot be trusted to regulate themselves in the public’s best interest but act solely to maximize profits — the downside of “free” market capitalism. It is the role of governments of the people, by the people and for the people to protect the public and to regulate/police corporations, especially when the ill-thought actions of these corporations can do great harm to all life on this planet.  

The U.S. government needs to seek the full truth of the events that led to the tragic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in April so that they will never be repeated again. Government leaders and BP executives need to also understand that deepwater drilling (such as the unprecedented 35,000-foot well drilled in the Macondo site September 2009) pushes the limits of technology and must be first proven in the laboratory instead of performing these potentially catastrophic experiments on our only home — Mother Earth. There is absolutely no reason BP should have been allowed to take the risks it did. This reckless behavior must never be repeated.

Las Vegas, Nev.