Professional development? Get them in the classroom

To the editor:

I am a math teacher at Durango High School. I have recently become discouraged with current events regarding public education.

The first of these is the passing rate of the district mandated exams. The Review-Journal ran several pieces on how our students are failing the district-mandated tests.

The second of my concerns is the ongoing budget crisis for public education.

I believe I have a solution that can kill two birds with one stone.

The Regional Professional Development Program is filled with several “expert” teaches who have left the classroom to work for the development program. The Southern Nevada RPDP alone has a budget of around $4 million. Why not cancel this program? This will allow at least 45 expert math teachers alone (I realize RPDP covers other subjects) to go back to the classroom. The district has a great need for math teachers, and it is having a hard time filling all of the vacant math positions. Why not bring back 45 expert math teachers into the schools, where they can help our students pass the tests they helped design?

This will also save the state money, which can be used to keep the education budget at its current level. Teachers can still benefit from the experience and advice of the RPDP teachers. We can observe them in the classroom. We could learn so much more if we could see a Bill Hanlon in action, rather than just listen to him speak. Surely the district and the state would still be saving money if they had to pay a substitute for a day so we could observe the experts in action.

This is a time of crisis. The development program provides support to teachers. However, at this time, their expertise is needed in the classroom, where they can make a bigger impact on education. Not only can they still help us regular teachers out by having us observe them in action, but they can help the students achieve higher results on the tests they helped design. The state will be saving money in the meantime.

This is certainly a win-win situation for all involved, especially the students who will be lucky enough to be taught by the experts. Isn’t education supposed to be about the students?

Mark Jimenez

LAS VEGAS

Your money

To the editor:

A plea for greater clarity in reporting. An item headline on page 3B in the May 29 Review-Journal tells us “Police to pay $290,000 to settle suit.” Surely this should read “Taxpayers to pay $290,000 to settle suit” — or, even better, “Taxpayers, via Metropolitan Police Department, to pay $290,000 to settle suit.”

I’m challenging the assumption that when people read this kind of item they remember it’s their hard-earned money being spent. Since we’re in election season, would the Review-Journal be willing to try a new style of reporting for six months? The rule of the game is simple: No headline regarding taxpayer-funded expenditures without the words “taxpayer funded.”

The objective? To see the affect, if any, on the behavior of candidates for taxpayer-funded offices, and of the taxpayers who elect them.

Graham H. Tye

NORTH LAS VEGAS

Pay hikes

To the editor:

Gov. Jim Gibbons should hold a special session and repeal that overly generous pay raise for state workers, university employees and teachers. The powerful unions of teachers and state workers built in a mandatory 4 percent salary increase this year for themselves — and now the teachers still want a special tax just for themselves so they can again increase their salary. Yet these teachers and state employees have super health, pension and retirement benefits that we regular people in the private sector will never see.

As one of tens of thousands of senior citizens who resides in Nevada and pays taxes already for education and teacher salaries, I suggest they realize what we make in meager Social Security increases each year. For their information we get between 2.1 percent and 2.3 percent cost-of-living raises, and that is what it has been in the last few years. Further, by the time the government takes out the mandated monthly medical cost we seniors have to pay, we make only a few dollars per month as a jump in income.

This elitist attitude that teachers and state workers deserve more than other occupations when they already enjoy more than most is outrageous. I urge all of the public to refuse to vote for any tax that is meant to support only one group of people. If there is a tax implemented, each and every one of us should share in the benefits of that tax.

So, yes, governor, repeal the pay raise for this demanding, greedy group. We taxpayers are already paying our share for their work.

BRAD EVANS

LAS VEGAS

Private matter

To the editor:

Pertaining to your Friday article “First lady: ‘I need to be strong’ “:

From one divorcee to soon-to-be Dawn Gibbons: Shut up. You are definitely not a role model for other middle-aged women going through divorce.

A divorce is a painful time for any woman, but for her to air things so publicly and to conduct herself as she has only feeds stereotypes of the “scorned woman.”

This should be a private matter, whether the husband is a salesman or a governor.

I am definitely not a political supporter of Jim Gibbons, but I find Mrs. Gibbons behavior deplorable. Let her continue her good deeds whether she is first lady or a private citizen, but move on through these difficult days privately, Mrs. Gibbons.

Carole Fishman

LAS VEGAS

Clinging to power

To the editor:

Regarding term limits:

Nevada voters have spoken very loud twice. The secretary of state and the attorney general have had their say. It’s past time for the hogs to get their snouts out of the public trough, and that includes back-room politics.

DAVID SMITH

LAS VEGAS

Bush failures

To the editor:

In his May 21 letter criticizing Barack Obama, Louis Frederick displays all the characteristics of a tract writer. Admittedly, we must deal with “terrorists and madmen,” but almost anyone — except the neoconservatives and the oil moguls who got us into this religious quagmire — could do a better job of it than the present administration.

Mr. Frederick makes a passing reference to Sun Tsu, an outstanding military theorist, but he doesn’t understand him. War is a lot more complicated than Mr. Frederick (or President Bush) realizes. One of the reason we’re in this mess is that Mr. Bush ignored the advice of our military leaders.

The long-range consequences for America are appalling. To quote Thomas Friedman of The New York Times, “The failure of Bush … has helped to fuel the rise of a collection of petro-authoritarian states — from Russia to Venezuela to Iran — that are shaping global politics in their own image.”

Kind-a makes you sick, doesn’t it?

ROLF GOETH

LAS VEGAS

Political problems

To the editor:

Having read your article on the matter and having listened to Barack H. Obama on our local TV channel, I feel so much better that he graced us with his visit to Nevada. Once we make him our president, he will solve a number of our problems, not the least of which is the mortgage crisis.

Conveniently, however, he overlooked the fact that he was and is in a great position (the U.S. Senate) to sponsor or push legislation to correct our problems. Unfortunately, he and a number of other senators, three of whom are still doing so, were too busy running around the countryside trying to get a better job rather than doing the one we pay them to do.

It has been said with both cynicism and truth that politicians are the only people in the world who create problems ad then campaign against them. Ain’t politics grand?

AL CIRICILLO

LAS VEGAS

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