LETTERS: Teachers should support union; district needs to settle contract dispute

Teachers union numbers

Approximately 1,500 new teachers joined me at the Rio in 2001 as I accepted my first contract with the Clark County School District. From day one, I was a member of the Clark County Education Association, the teachers union. The reason was quite simple: the CCEA negotiated my contract agreement with the district. The union was instrumental in putting food on my family’s table. Period. That’s how I was raised.

The Review-Journal reported that teachers union membership numbers are dangerously low, to the point where the CCEA might not be able to negotiate for the teachers before long (“Teachers union membership slipping,” Sept. 28). So to my colleagues reading this, I ask: Who will represent you? Until you nonpaying members who choose to ride on the backs of the dues-paying membership come up with a better strategy for resolving our contract concerns, I’ll stay with the CCEA, because its officials are at the table for all of us — even you who are going along for free.

Regarding the CCEA, I will note that several years ago, it was almost ousted by the Teamsters. When that option was posed to the members, many of us would have endorsed the Teamsters to represent us. The CCEA negotiated better after that scare, but has since fallen back into a state of complacency.

As a registered independent, I do not support many of the union’s political endorsements, but that’s why we live in America. We can disagree and still resolve problems amicably.

The district appears to be in no rush to settle our contract issue, but until it creates a salary schedule commensurate with our education and experience, it will always be near 1,000 teachers short in the classrooms. The taxpaying public should want to know how many teachers are instructing in subjects they have no degree for. Why isn’t the Nevada Policy Research Institute interested in that number?

Please stop this ridiculous backyard fighting and settle the contract — unless of course education is not the priority the district says it is. If that’s the case, then at least say so and show that the district only wants the students to be rushed through this assembly-line system we are calling education. Shame on you.

Frank Russo

Henderson

School staffing

A recent article stated that the Clark County School District plans to spend $4.1 billion to construct 37 new schools and make additions and renovations to dozens of other campuses. (“CCSD approves $4.1 billion building plan,” Sept. 25 Review-Journal).

Each year there is a shortage of more than 1,000 qualified teachers in the district. If the average school needs at minimum 40 teachers, how is the district going to staff those schools?

The policies in place continue to put teachers down, and the so-called union — the Clark County Education Association — does nothing to stand up for the teachers. There have been no raises for eight years, and the medical plan makes teachers pay for everything at a higher co-pay and deductible, which is outrageous. Is it any wonder that Nevada is at the bottom of the nation in education?

Using long-term substitutes to educate children is not the solution. As a money-saving measure, it’s also outrageous to use cohorts who do not have the degree or special education certification to handle autistic and other special needs children.

At the end of the 2015-16 school year, there will again be a shortage of at least 1,000 teachers. The Superman character portrayed in the recent CCSD recruitment push will not help.

Walter Goldstein

Henderson

McClinton release

I do not know all the legal ramifications regarding the Warren McClinton case, but no citizen should be in jail for six years without a conviction (“Man jailed six years without conviction released,” Sept. 24 Review-Journal). The fact that prosecutors withheld DNA evidence should have led to Mr. McClinton being released immediately, by a judge.

The fact that he was even held a few extra days on a minor traffic violation shows that prosecutors and the district attorney’s office aren’t interested in justice, but rather the lust to obtain a conviction, regardless of the evidence. Shame on these people.

Arnie Blakeman

North Las Vegas

Religious freedom

Religious freedom is a concept that dates back centuries. Yet today, there are many who are too eager to politicize the concept. Religious freedom means simply that people may practice whatever religion they choose. They may also choose not to practice any religion at all, or even choose not to accept the existence of God. In a free society we must accept all three positions.

With these broad options and freedoms to choose, we must avoid selfish attempts to make religious freedom a single individual’s view. Society must consider the collective view.

Religious freedom is to be practiced at home with one’s family or with one’s congregation. Individual views are not meant to be trotted out in the workplace. Religion is not meant to usurp the behavior or choices of others with claims of sin by proxy. Providing a marriage permit to a same-sex couple cannot be a sin for the clerk who signs the certificate. This insertion into the affairs of others is self-serving and judgmental.

Churches guard their tax-exempt status without considering that this privilege comes from the government, not God. Businesses take advantage of roads, police protection and water provided by all taxpaying citizens, gay and straight. It is unfair to discriminate against gay, taxpaying citizens.

Those who oppose abortion should not have one. Those opposed to same-sex marriage should only marry the opposite sex. By so doing, they will meet their chosen religious obligation and a basic religious tenet: Judge not, lest ye be judged.

Reginald England

Henderson

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