Article contrasted school claims with reality

To the editor:

As a Medill School of Journalism graduate and retired out-of-state school administrator, I commend the Review-Journal’s Trevon Milliard for his balanced, in-depth March 10 story, “Jones defends school reforms.”

Throughout the article, Mr. Milliard cites contrasts to show balance and thoroughness, citing figures, interviews and reports from various sources.

An example of balanced reporting: Mr. Milliard presents outgoing Superintendent Dwight Jones’ own reported success at Western High School and putting up the school as a “model”; then, the writer cites only 55 percent of the school’s seniors earned diplomas in 2012 and adds “just” 5 percent of the school’s Algebra I students and 1 percent of Algebra II students passed end-of-semester exams in the same school year.

He further contrasts the evaluation methods of the state of Nevada’s and the Washington, D.C.-based Alliance for Excellent Education, on one side, with Mr. Jones’ School Performance Framework — a contrast that can lead readers to conclude how manipulative and self-serving Mr. Jones’ approach to school evaluation techniques has been.

At the end of the article, Mr. Milliard quotes Victor Joecks, spokesman for the conservative Nevada Policy Research Institute, saying, “The idea of the framework (Jones’ school evaluation approach) is amazing.”

As a Clark County taxpayer (contributing to Jones’ enviable salary) and one of your newspaper’s readers, I say, “Amusing” — a reaction resulting from Mr. Milliard’s enlightening article.



Police salaries

To the editor:

The analysis of police officer pay in Southern Nevada presented in the recent Nevada Policy Research Institute report is so seriously flawed that it couldn’t be taken seriously (“Police criticized as overpaid,” Wednesday Review-Journal). The report is distorted and heavily biased, lumping together the salaries of management as well as line officers without distinguishing the difference. Even more disingenuous is how the report overly inflates its numbers by including lump-sum payments of unused leave time for retiring officers as if this was part of their annual salary.

If NPRI would evaluate the salaries of line officers objectively and without bias, they would find that salaries and benefits for Las Vegas police officers are not excessive, nor are they out of line with pay for metropolitan communities with similar policing needs.

Our officers, whose starting salary is $45,505 per year, are responsible for the safety of 2 million residents and hundreds of thousands of tourists on any given day, and they face perils and situations that are unimaginably sudden and unpredictable. They put their lives on the line every time they step out into the streets so our families are protected and our visitors are safe.

Is this really where we want our community to scrimp on its resources? In order to recruit and keep talented men and women to do this tough job, we must be competitive, fair and take into account the specialized training and the risks that being a police officer entails.

So to the NPRI we would say, “Get your facts straight and then we can have a meaningful discussion.”



The writer is executive director of Las Vegas Police Protective Association.

The ‘10 Cannots’

To the editor:

Many years ago, when I was teaching the classics, I came across an article which inspired and intrigued me so much that I cut it out and have had it in my possession ever since.

I feel it’s now appropriate for me to share it with those many Democrats in the White House, Congress, the Cabinet and elsewhere who are striving to destroy this America that was formed by those giants we call the Founding Fathers.

The article in question was written by the Rev. William J.H. Boetcker, and is titled “The Ten Cannots.” The reverend was very perceptive and far seeing, as well as very American.

The article, I venture to hazard, has never been read by those who now seek to destroy this great country of ours, a country to which my Sicilian parents immigrated at the turn of the 20th century.

Do these people know that this great country was mostly built by men of substance and wealth? Do they understand that it was the American enterprise system that made America the greatest country in the world?

Have they ever heard or read about President Calvin Coolidge, who when asked what the business of America was, replied, “Gentlemen, the business of America is business”? What part of this answer is not quite understood by President Barack Obama, Sen. Harry Reid, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, etc.?

The greatness of this country was made manifest by men of courage, enterprise and ingenuity, willing to risk everything they had through hard work, blood, sweat, tears and prayers so their enterprises would be successful. These are the people who the modern-day Democrats consider anathema to America.

The Ten Cannots:

• You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.

• You cannot help small people by tearing down big men.

• You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.

• You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.

• You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich man.

• You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.

• You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

• You cannot establish security on borrowed money.

• You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence.

• You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

I realize this may seem bombastic, but as one who was born at the beginning of the presidency of Calvin Coolidge and has lived through the Great Depression and three wars — and participated in one — what I write comes from my heart, what I believe to be true and my love for this great country in which I had the privilege of being born.

I grew up in poverty and was a “latch-key” kid before it became popular and fashionable. It was a very long and arduous struggle for me. I overcame many obstacles. But ultimately I became a damn good teacher of many subjects for little pay (which did not bother me in the least) for a very long time.



Hugo’s good works

To the editor:

In your March 8 article, “Fiery funeral for Venezuela’s Chavez,” many perspectives on how Hugo Chavez conducted his presidency emphasized his sarcastic style and his derogatory language against the United States. There was no effort to show the good he did for Venezuela, or other countries for that matter, including the United States.

You left out how he ordered assistance for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and allowed heating oil to be provided free of charge for those victims. All this while the U.S. government could not take care of its own because Congress was too busy playing partisan politics.

Citgo, the main entity for Venezuelan oil, took to the streets of the poor neighborhoods of Brooklyn and areas of New Jersey.

This is irresponsible journalism. The report should at the very least have provided both sides of the story and let the reader decide. The article even goes to the extent of showing that “enemies” of the United States were also present at the funeral, as if this is relevant to the death of a head of state.

How long can we go on as a society creating a great divide that benefits only a few wealthy individuals who want to drive the information mechanisms as they please?

Enough! Other countries offer opportunities as well, and when treated with respect, they can greatly help those in need — in good times and in bad.