Many of you may not have heard about the Vergara lawsuit against the LAUSD, which seeks to eliminate teacher tenure and teacher seniority as a basis to determine layoffs. While I consider public education a hopeless morass beyond the fundamental reform necessary to fix it, this lawsuit would marginally improve public education for the better. In a state as blue as California and controlled by the teacher unions, the courts are the only hope. Every year, I have seen many excellent new teachers let go and burned-out older teachers kept to the detriment of students. There are many great experienced teachers, but there are more than a few whose time to retire is long past and who ought to leave to keep the many energetic new teachers employed. Experience does matter, but it is not the only gauge of effective teaching. When I was going for my master’s in education, our professor, a former school superintendent, told us that it cost a district an average of $250,000 to get rid of an ineffective teacher. This is not acceptable and makes it nearly impossible to dislodge teachers who may damage the future of thousands of students. In a state with very liberal courts and politicians to kowtow to a reactionary teacher’s union, this gives all of us who know better an inkling of hope.
Scott Hurban, Tracy
Council members need to say what they know
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Maciel said that when their employee, City Manager Leon Churchill, misused his city credit card and the City Council members dealt with it in a private (i.e., secret) meeting, they were done with the matter. He said they cannot go back and reconsider their decisions or reveal details of the violations to the public, because that would be a violation of Mr. Churchill’s rights.
Mr. Churchill and certain members of the council may not be the villains some portray, but there are too many unanswered questions to let the matter slide. Mr. Churchill lost some rights to privacy when he took a public job managing public resources with public money. The council cannot hide him behind city attorney Daniel Sodergren. It’s time for them to tell us everything they know, in detail.
Bob Young, Tracy
Don’t ignore climate change
A letter to a reality that not everybody wants to confront.
Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree manmade climate change is real.
Fifty-six percent of Congressional Republicans, including Rep. Jeff Denham, are climate deniers. This is a shameful percentage of ignorance. Do we need to require a basic science exam of candidates for Congress?
While no single drought, flood, wildfire, heat wave, storm or flood can be attributed to the heating of the planet, the increase in the numbers of these extreme weather events is due to climate change, better labeled as climate chaos. Every year, new records are set related to temperature and weather with more record highs than lows. Our planet Earth is like a baby with a fever. An increase of a few degrees is life threatening.
A hotter planet changes rain patterns, creating both floods and drought. Farmers have always been vulnerable to varying weather conditions. 2013 was the driest year on record in California. If this gets worse, how can farmers cope? What will happen to the nation’s food supply?
The cost to our nation to fund FEMA to clean up after more and more disasters will send our tax bills soaring. We simply cannot afford for climate deniers to be in control of our country.
Lilia Vazquez, Tracy
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