Lathrop school blues
According to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website, the following occurred in Lathrop after the four-day schedule started in 2010:
• Graduation rates fell from nearly 97 percent in 2008 to 79.2 percent last year.
• Lathrop’s adequate yearly progress dropped significantly. With the state’s goal at 75.5, the district scored a 56.8 proficiency.
• After meeting proficiency goals nine straight years in mathematics, Lathrop elementary students failed the two years of the four-day with 59.1 and 56.8.
• Lathrop Middle School dropped to a 51.1 proficiency in communication arts.
• Special-needs students’ proficiency plummeted from 31.6 to 12.8 as a district, and from 27.3 to 9.1 for elementary students.
• Three of the four AYP measurements scored a “not met” status for Lathrop in 2011.
The shortened week contradicts the tools needed for learning, namely frequency and consistency. Kids don’t retain new information with longer days and three days off.
Now that the results are in, parents and schools can see the four-day school week is an assault on our children and their futures. As adults, we need to promote sound learning principles that make educational sense.
Thomas A. Briscoe
More preschool data
Advocates for universal preschool fail to convince me in an important way: They have not shown me how kids are falling short in kindergarten — the specific knowledge, skills and abilities new kindergartners should already possess but do not.
And how is a quality preschool curriculum designed to correct those deficiencies?
For universal preschool advocates or the president to convince me of the real value of spending $1.2 billion per year on preschool, they need to show me the specific areas where kids are struggling in kindergarten and the what and how behind the preschool curriculum that will mitigate these issues.
Shame on YMCA plan
Well, the Young Men’s Christian Association has shown its true colors (3-13, A4, “YMCA closings anger many”). It’s hard to believe that if Christ were its chief executive officer he would be closing the YMCA branches in Kansas City, Kan., Independence and Raytown.
These are cities that are truly blue collar and middle class and don’t have the political clout of Johnson County and Kansas City. To close these branches to build a downtown Kansas City YMCA is a laugh and political joke.
Do you think this will bring downtown Kansas City back? If you do, then I have an Emery, Bird, Thayer department store I’d like to sell you, and I’ll throw in a Rothschild’s clothing store as a bonus.
Shame on the YMCA and all of those who sold this plan to Kansas City Mayor Sly James and his cronies.
John D. Koehler
Cheering Pope Francis
The election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy is great news.
Bergoglio is a spiritual soul of deep prayer who tends to accent growth in personal holiness over efforts for structural reform.
He is known for his great personal humility. Despite his status as a prince of the church, he chose to live in a simple apartment rather than in the archbishop’s palace. He also cooked his own meals and gave up his chauffeured limousine, taking the bus to work.
Bergoglio is a defender of Catholic moral teaching. He has opposed the intrinsic immorality of divorce, homosexual practices, abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage and contraception. In 2010, he was one of the first to propose that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children.
His doctrinal orthodoxy has always emphasized Christ’s mandate to love: He is well remembered for his 2001 visit to a hospice, where he washed and kissed the feet of 12 AIDS patients.
The new Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, is a rare example of a humble intellectual.
With him guiding the Barque of Peter, the horizon looks bright not only for Catholics but for all of good faith.
Obama not pragmatic
A March 8 letter describes President Barack Obama as the “most pragmatic, non-ideological president” in a generation.
In the second presidential debate, Obama made it sound as if Arizona’s immigration law let police stop someone who looked Hispanic. Arizona’s law prohibits such action.
In the third debate, Obama made it seem as if the sequester bill was proposed by the Republicans, and in an interview, the president blamed the Bush administration for the Fast and Furious gun-running program.
By definition, Obama isn’t pragmatic.
Even though the 2008 recession ended in June 2009, Obama often said former President George W. Bush was responsible for the slow pace of the recovery.
Obama appears ideological.
The letter blames Bush for Medicare’s unfunded mandate. However, a 1967 estimate was that Medicare’s cost for 1990 would be $12 billion. It was $110 billion.
Bush was attending Yale in 1967 and flying F-102s for the Texas Air National Guard in 1970. By 1990, Bush was an owner/managing partner for the Texas Rangers baseball team.
And Obamacare expands Bush’s 2006 Medicare Part D by phasing out the doughnut hole.
Bush is not responsible for Medicare’s unfunded mandate.
Supreme U.S. ruler?
Congress needs to rescind the flagrantly abused executive privilege law bestowed on “King” Barack Obama before we go broke. (We’re already there.)
Obama’s decisions such as the one on the Keystone XL pipeline should not be the decision of one young and inexperienced person.
It’s not as if the country doesn’t already have dozens of pipelines already in use.
I thought Obama was the president. When was he ordained king/dictator to make these major decisions without congressional approval?
Tea party disruptions
When thinking about the tea party faction of the Republican Party, which was launched through the efforts of people like Sarah Palin, who was brought to us by the desperate pick for running mate made by Sen. John McCain, one is reminded of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and that period of madness he put our nation through in the mid-1950s.
Sen. McCarthy was on a “commie” hunt, claiming that the U.S. State Department shielded many communists in its ranks. He contended that the U.S. Army was riddled with communists, and finally he explicitly associated the Democrats with being commies.
Both these periods seem so similar in the amount of turmoil they then produced and are now producing in the U.S. Congress.
Compassion for others
If you are Caucasian, your ancestors likely came from the British Isles or continental Europe. They might have owned slaves or participated in importing millions of blacks to this country to be bought and sold as property.
There was no problem with immigration then.
Possibly our ancestors forced indigenous people off lands that had been their homes for centuries, infected those same people with their diseases or overlooked treaties with native tribes when it was to the Europeans’ advantage to do so.
Too bad the original occupants of this continent had neither the laws nor the capability to export our ancestors back from whence they came.
Reflecting on this realization might help us be a little more compassionate when it comes to finding a path to citizenship for the current illegal immigrants who are law-abiding, serve our families, work on our farms and in our factories, and pay their taxes.
Pay matches skills
Evidently, some people have never taken a basic economics course and don’t know that a worker’s pay is partly based on the number of people able to perform the function.
The reason dishwashers and maids get paid so little is that almost anyone can do those jobs.
Very few people can serve as a chief executive officer, professional sports athlete or an engineer, so people in those jobs receive much more pay.
The purpose of a business is not to provide jobs, but to provide an item or service that will enrich the business owner or its stockholders.
If the newest worker at a McDonald’s restaurant made $20 an hour, you would be paying $10 for a Happy Meal and $20 for a combo. Who would do that?
When workers’ pay is raised, businesses must pass the cost on to the customer because they usually do not intend to eat the additional overhead.
The solution is not to worry about how much the minimum wage is, but for people to develop skills that fewer people have so they can make more money because of their unique skills.
H. David Pendleton