Speak Out 10/26/03

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Ban leaf burning

WHEN YOU step outside in Cape Girardeau, you can tell autumn has arrived. I am not talking about the cooler weather or the changing of leaves. I am talking about the odors that fill the air. Your lungs are filled with the noxious fumes of burning leaves. The city will pick up leaves that you h rake to the roadside. It is time for Cape to outlaw the burning of leaves inside the city limits.

Religious intolerance

YOUR SEPARATION of church and state cartoon could as easily have borne the opposite caption: "Which Ones Opposes Separation of Church and State?" The answer is the religious fanatics in the Middle East who lead religious extremist governments. When the state becomes the church, religious intolerance is the outcome.

Online information

I WANT to let the Jackson School District know that I like the new online system available to parents. I love being able to check on my children to see how they are doing and surprising them with the truth. I know the district just started this system, but I hope it will add different items like daily teachers' notes, recommendations and concerns and honor roll. Keep up the good work, Jackson.

Making a difference

WITH THE emphasis this month on Make A Difference Day, I'm reminded of a person in our neighborhood who truly makes a difference every day. This person is seen walking in the neighborhood equipped with rubber gloves and a trash bag. She picks up trash as she walks. I stopped one day to thank her. She did not complain about the thoughtless people who throw out their trash. She said, "Since I have started doing this, I have lost 40 pounds." Not only are we rewarded by her efforts, but she has benefited too.

Distorted spending

ALL OF Missouri's state-funded universities face the same level of cuts, yet only SEMO declared a financial emergency and launched a scorched-earth academic review. Funds are tight, but hundreds of students will be denied an opportunity to pursue the courses or careers of their choosing. Tragically, faculty members who have staked their futures on SEMO will be fired, not because of a financial emergency, but because of the institution's distorted spending priorities.

Change the leaders

SEMO HAS been through tough budget years before, but never in my 25 years has employee morale been so low. The brightest young Ph.D.s are leaving and being replaced with people who graduated from SEMO master's programs. Even if the budget situation improves, only a change in administrative leadership will reverse the slide.

On the backs of students

IT IS absolutely absurd to claim, as Ken Dobbins is reported to have claimed, that the regents "won't balance the budget on the back of the students." If closing departments and programs is not exactly balancing the budget at the expense of students, I'd like to know what is. On the other hand, deleting intercollegiate athletics would not harm the degree program of a single student.

Teaching interference

YEA, THOUGH I walked through the halls of school for 30-plus years, I feared no thought of poor skills, for with my multiple college degrees, summer classes, workshops, seminars and correspondence courses to my credit I saw no shortfalls in my ability to teach. They served me well and I served my children well. I would still be teaching and loving it were it not for the interference -- from the governor to the janitors who feel they know best how to teach. You have to go through a lot of bad apples to get to the bottom of the barrel where the cream of the crop is. They have the strength and determination to uphold the bad apples infiltrating the remainder of the barrel. If you read this and understand it, thank a teacher. If you read this and didn't understand it, ask yourself why and then think about what you put into your own education to get out of it the skills needed for life.

Brings back memories

DEFENSE SECRETARY Donald Rumsfeld's internal memo concerning terrorism was pessimistic. His public proclamations are always positive and upbeat. This reminds me of another secretary of defense and another conflict: Robert McNamara and Vietnam.

He had his chance

IF BILL Clinton tried so hard to stop al-Qaida and Osama bin Ladin, why did he not take him into U.S. custody when the Sudanese government offered him to us? This was after the first attack on the World Trade Center.

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