Extension of school year ill-conceived
The plan to extend the school year 20 additional days, as proposed by Joseph Shilling, state superintendent of schools, and endorsed by a majority of the state Board of Education, is fiscally irresponsible and educationally ill-conceived. It is also socially disruptive.
Most comments in the media seem to echo these sentiments. Educators, politicians, parents, children and businessmen, for the most part, have expressed their dislike for the proposal. This, of course, will not stop the education hierarchy from pursuing this preposterous scheme.
Critics of the plan point out that there are many other less costly and less socially disruptive ways to enhance student performance. Few give concrete alternatives. I would propose the following:
Students who are performing below a set standard -- let's says a "C" average in a core of academic subjects -- shall attend school one extra hour per day and be taught in "appropriate assistance" classes. This would include high school athletes, who could still be on a team but would miss the first part of practice while attending the appropriate assistance class. Once the student began meeting the "C" standard, say at the end of a quarter, he or she would no longer attend the class.
There are some costs to this program, but nowhere near the astronomical figures related to the longer school year. We could even lessen the costs in term of teacher pay and involve administrators, who are still smarting from the failure of numerous programs initiated by them in the '70s and '80s. These personnel, being experts in the field and generally working a 9-to-5 day, could be brought into the schools to staff a portion of the appropriate assistance classes. This would give them something to do that would contribute to the welfare of students and eliminate the time the administrators spend conjuring up costly make-work schemes which they dump on real teachers.
Why Israel worries
Poor Israel! Without first taking into account the exceedingly provocative actions of the Moslem mob, which created the necessity for restoring order in Jerusalem, that beleaguered little democracy has been condemned by the United Nations for killing 21 Palestinians in the fracas.
Now that the damage is done, President Bush and the National Security Council are talking about "investigating" the situation. That is like locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen.
Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, wrote an excellent article (Other Voices, Oct. 1) entitled: "My Dear King Hussein . . ."
He said: "Your Majesty, you claimed to defend the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and a state of their own -- but you were responsible for the Palestinian homeland on the West Bank from 1948 to 1967. Why in all that period did you not give them their right to statehood?"
The ambassador's article was true, but one statement was misleading: "Your Majesty, what have you done to safeguard the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which you lost to Israel in 1967?" This statement mistakenly equates Iraq's occupation of Kuwait to Israel's occupation of the West Bank. Israel's occupation is not the same as the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait because Israel did not attack and invade Jordan like Iraq attacked and invaded Kuwait. Jordan attacked Israel and lost the war and territory. If Jordan had never attacked Israel, King Hussein would still have all of the West Bank today; and it could have been used as a homeland for the Palestinians.
The Persian Gulf crisis has only reinforced Israel's fears of not being able to trust their Palestinian neighbors. If Iraq would invade their own Arab brothers, and even gas their own minority Kurdish countrymen, including women and children; if Iraqi soldiers would commit horrifying acts of rape and destruction on innocent non-combatant Kuwaiti citizens, then one can imagine what they would do to the Israelis if they and their PLO friends had complete control of the West Bank.
Bearing the burden
I am angry about the impending furloughs at the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies if there is no budget agreement.
The public has got to realize that not only will our pay be cut 40 percent, but our services to you, the public, will be cut at least 40 percent. No one will be there for you when you are in dire need of your benefits. As far as SSA is concerned, anyone currently applying to receive or receiving retirement benefits, disability benefits and/or supplemental security income will be affected.
This goes to show that our president and Congress are willing to put your income and mine on the line in order for the rich to get a capital gains tax cut. The claim is that the tax cut will "help stimulate the economy." The only economy it stimulates is that among the rich. We are tired of having to carry the load of their greed. Congress should give up the 25 percent pay raise.
I don't hear members of Congress suggesting this as a method to help reduce our deficit.
Surprise: President Bush believes in charity for the truly rich. Whatever became of "defending the general welfare," an important part of the Constitution?
Mary O. Styrt