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Letters Sept. 29 

Incentive pay No one enters the teaching profession to make money. Maybe for the summer break but not money. However there is more than money to account for in the decision to use Little Rock School District funds to grant money to teachers at Meadowcliff who raise test scores (Max Brantley, Sept. 8). What message are we sending? An unfair message for sure. The variables at play here are endless. The obvious one: all schools should have an equal chance to receive any type of incentive the district offers. This is an unlikely possibility considering our current financial situation. For the most part, teachers are motivated intrinsically. Yes, we are under the gun, a target for blame for the failure of students. Any positive effort in support is appreciated, however this move is not supportive. Private donors have the right to give money in any direction they deem fit. However I do not understand how the leaders that represent this district can in good conscience justify giving taxpayers’ money to a handful of teachers. If you are going to reward someone, why not students? If a second grader shows promising potential why not take that $138,000, divvy it up, start a college funding program so that by the time a student has graduated he or she might have enough money to afford a year of college? Or invest in the resources the student will come in contact with in the future. Come to my school and bring a computer to my class. We have two. Another variable at play: Take a typical student that I teach. Student X arrives on his first day of seventh grade on a 4th grade reading and writing level. After many weeks of success, failure, sweat, tears, and finally smiles, student X leaves 7th grade now on a 6th grade reading and writing level. Will we praise this teacher? According to the test the student has not met the expectations. So in the end the student has failed, as has the teacher. Throwing money in various directions is not always the answer to problems. If someone asked me what he or she could do to help raise test scores, my first answer would be spend some time investing in the life of a child. Natalie Flemming Little Rock The least of us Thank you for printing the words of Judge Wendell Griffen as a guest writer Sept. 15. To carry out his theme even closer to home: It is indeed strange that the “moral values” apostles in the Arkansas Senate and House have been so quiet during these days as well. It would seem that many of those who are so quick to protect a fetus, or condemn those who seek to protect individual rights, have chosen to ignore the plight of our neighbors in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Now we all know how they view those of the “least of these” in Arkansas. Don’t we? Maylon Rice Fayetteville Fab four The photo accompanying “Fab Four Touchdown,” by Stephen Koch, was taken from the album cover for “Let It Be,” which the Beatles released in 1970. Yet the caption under the photo reads, “The Way They Were: When they landed at a Walnut Ridge airstrip in 1964.” The clean-shaven, mop-headed Beatles of 1964, which was the year the group released “A Hard Days Night” and “Beatles For Sale,” played a peppy, bubble-gum flavored rock-and-roll that was safe for the Ed Sullivan show and made the group a hit in the U.S. Those classic tunes constitute the embryo of the sophisticated and experimental sounds of the 1970 album. Thus, your error is not merely one of chronology, but a confusion of music history. Daniel Nasaw Little Rock Funny bone suppressed Excuse me? “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen’s” is being equated with “crap”? Did David Koon write that line while he was still at full boil following his media column about the Democrat-Gazette’s editorials? Because he certainly didn’t see the same “Munchausen” that I saw: Lighthearted, delightful, wry, clever and an excellent distraction from the foofaraw of everyday life. High Cinema it was not, sure, but it sure wasn’t “Waterworld.” Maybe Mr. Koon is no longer in touch with his inner child. Next thing you know, he’ll be disparaging “Time Bandits” or “Buckaroo Banzai.” From now on, please keep Mr. Koon away from Paul Greenberg’s columns during weeks he’s also reviewing movies; they are suppressing his funny bone. Eric Francis Little Rock On physics Bob Lancaster and Warwick Sabin kicked around some physics ideas in their respective columns of Aug. 25 (“Bad theories” and “The decline of reason”), and as a result readers are likely to misunderstand the subject even more. Lancaster seemed to be not entirely in the satirical mode when he said, “Relativity is just another name for situation ethics, which means everybody can just do what they want to and not worry about it.” Sabin, referring to the heliocentric model of the solar system, says, “Of course, we now know that Galileo was absolutely right.” With respect to motion itself, relativity does say everybody is free not to worry about it. In particular, all that worrying about whether the sun or the earth is moving became a moot point with Einstein’s discovery of general relativity — his theory of gravity — 90 years ago. Einstein outdid Ptolemy, Galileo, Newton and all the rest, because his theory says you can put your “rest frame” wherever you want it — earth, sun, an electron in your fingernail — and your laws of physics will agree with everyone else’s laws of physics. That was not the case with Newton’s theory of gravity. This year is the centennial of the publication of Einstein’s first two relativity papers, so it’s worth mentioning here that relativity demolished the need for a single, absolute, privileged rest frame and in doing so simplified electromagnetism, repaired Newton’s mechanics, and produced a set of universal laws. Relativity is to physics what the Declaration of Independence is to politics and human rights. David Trulock Pine Bluff The ballpark I think something was missing from the headline of the Aug. 4 editorial, “Play on.” You state, “The tax increase, which would end after two years … And a two-year tax is less offensive than a permanent tax.” Rather, in light of how governments always seem to find a “need” to keep taxes in place regardless of what the people vote for, should it not have read “Play on – dream on”? Ray Burgermeister Greenbrier Make his Subway Your dining review on Blue Coast Burrito’s food basically concluded that the giant burrito is so good it gave the reviewer flatulence. How appetizing is that? Such a review makes this reader want to order a Subway Veggie Delight on whole wheat, with extra onions, and mustard — no cheese, please. George McFadden Jr. Pottsville The world watches The president asserts “No one ever thought the levees would fail …” He blithely ignores that others seriously considered a full scale disaster in New Orleans for years. Clearly, Mr. Bush did not think about it. He and his too-comfortable kind turn away from struggling cities, and roar off to gated communities, armed to the hilt and singing God Bless Saved Saved Me Me Me. Their Teflon consciences clean. This whole sad spectacle is the latest episode in one long parade of not caring. Who cared to think how people without decent cars and money would flee, or where they would go? Who cared to offer them any protection? Not Mr. Bush and his kind, that’s for sure. Conservatives have been running from the cities, running from the poor for decades. They pre-programmed what happened in New Orleans. This was not a mistake. This was not an accident. It accurately reflects the way it is. Yes, there is voluntary kindness in response. Yes, there will be money given freely, for a while. But charity alone cannot band-aid years of systemic neglect. This is about failure of government to care. It is about a grossly fattened owning class, starving government of its ability to care. This is about race. This is about class, and how we shun the poor. As we flee cities, and build huge exurban temples to ourselves, let’s not assume undeserved morality. Dollars spent on self-worship do not count as real charity. As we harden our hearts and imprison the poor, let’s not fake goodness. The rest of the world watches and judges. The images do not flatter. Paul Dodds Little Rock Rich and poor Warwick Sabin blames President Bush for the growing disparity between rich and poor. He might be surprised to hear that liberal Democrats are also partly responsible for this disparity. In some cases poor people themselves share the blame. Stagnant wages are largely due to high levels of legal and illegal immigration. Changes to immigration law by Democrats to provide them with a new source of voters have flooded this country with an excess of low-skill workers and slowed wage growth. Refusing to control illegal immigration depresses wages also. The Democrats depend on these votes to stay competitive in national elections and oppose curtailing immigration even if it harms the very constituents they claim to represent. However both parties are responsible for maintaining these policies and long term wage growth will remain slow as long as they are continued. The Federal Reserve Bank focuses primarily on the inflation rate. That leaves tax cuts as the only stimulus to create jobs. To the extent that there is wage growth, it is largely due to Bush’s tax cuts. New Deal type programs could not have achieved the same results. High state and local property and sales taxes supported by liberals also lower poor people’s standard of living. For poor families it takes two incomes to stay above the poverty line. Refraining from having children until after marriage is something anyone can do to avoid poverty. If a family falls into poverty because of divorce or desertion that’s a different story. Otherwise they should just accept the consequences of poor choices like the rest of us and not be complaining about how bad off they are. Thomas Pope Little Roc
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