Chaparral leading charge to improvement

To the editor:

Vin Suprynowicz’s Oct. 3 commentary concerning “The test scores from hell” strikes me as “two-fifths fudge,” to borrow James Russell Lowell’s criticism of Edgar Allan Poe. The fudge factor in this case might be a trifle higher.

No right-thinking, concerned citizen can doubt or deny that math scores, nationally and locally, are matters of high concern. But to suggest to the public through your newspaper that Chaparral High School is somehow actively and, by implication, obdurately not meeting students’ needs calls for a prompt corrective.

Statistics speak for themselves. Math scores are down. That is not debatable. What is debatable is the tone and tenor with which Mr. Suprynowicz, however sincere, assails the principal of Chaparral, Kevin McPartlin.

As a classroom instructor proud to be part of Chaparral’s faculty, I can state unequivocally and through first-hand observation that our school, via Mr. McPartlin, is taking masterful strides to elevate not only math scores but scores in every academic discipline. What Mr. Suprynowicz’s report fails to take into account is that class sizes in math at Chaparral have been reduced by five students per class (this is thanks to empowerment funding, I might add). Chaparral has created a plan, again through empowerment, that offers more opportunities for instruction than previously possible in the Clark County School District. We are the only school to offer pre-algebra, algebra or geometry for 85 minutes each day for students in need of additional support.

As to the issue of Mr. McPartlin’s urging students to protest, this did not occur during the school year, but during summer vacation, and it was strictly in the interest of helping to prevent two deans from losing their jobs, which at the time seemed imminent.

All of us desire optimal education for our children: parents, teachers, administrators and certainly Mr. Suprynowicz, as evidenced by his impassioned prose. I do believe, however, that his work would be better served by a more temperate approach.

DAVID WINKLER

LAS VEGAS

No on Question 1

To the editor:

Do you appreciate irony? If you do, consider this: In the summer of 2006, the Los Angeles Times ran a series of articles titled “Juice vs. Justice.”

The newspaper documented the record of several Nevada judges whose primary job description seemed to be to make political contacts and raise a ton of money for their re-election.

The Times report is being used by those who support appointing all state judges as a prime reason we should give up our direct vote and leave judicial selection to the insiders of the legal/political establishment.

Here’s the irony: The majority of the judges covered in the series initially rose to the bench by way of the appointment process.

The Times series is a clear and quantifiable reason for us to hold on to our direct vote and to not disenfranchise ourselves when it comes to selecting the judicial branch of government.

Here’s another piece of information you might find useful. On March 20, 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported that “a 2007 Harvard study actually found that judges who are elected directly by voters are overall less corrupt than those who win their robes through other methods of selection.”

Harvard University is hardly a bastion of radical populist passion. Yet its own independent study found direct election of the judiciary is better than what is being thrown at us in Question 1.

Let’s be realistic. Both direct election and appointment have their political negatives. What makes direct election better is that the politics are dispersed and diffused throughout the entire population base. In appointment, the negative politics are concentrated in the hands of a small number of people in a system that is insidious, if not outright incestuous.

Both the record and the research make it clear: Open and direct election of the judiciary is superior.

Vote no on Question 1.

KNIGHT ALLEN

LAS VEGAS

Save PISTOL

To the editor:

Former County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury’s Oct. 4 letter in support of ballot Question 4, seems to have some gaping holes in it. For example, he states these are clarifications and revisions to PISTOL. If that’s all they are doing, then how come they want to repeal it?

Wording from the ballot “explanation”: “Approval of this question would repeal Article 1, Section 22 of the Nevada Constitution known as the People’s Initiative to Stop the Taking of Our Land (PISTOL).”

Mr. Woodbury states, “The prohibition against a government taking of property from one private owner and selling it to another private owner as occurred in the Kelo and Pappas cases must remain unmodified.” Is he for real?

Again, wording from the ballot “explanation”: “The proposed amendment provides five exceptions to the prohibition against exercising eminent domain in order to transfer property from one private party to another.”

Once PISTOL is repealed and the five exceptions are in place, it will be open season on property owners and party time for government bureaucrats and lawyers pushing their agenda to expand the parameters of “tightly defined public uses.”

Mr. Woodbury’s Orewellian definition of clarification, revision and preservation of property owners’ protection would be a bad joke if the stakes were not so high.

Vote no on Question 4.

EDWARD DUFFY

LAS VEGAS

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