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Minimum not good enough 

Minimum not good enough

In the Pulaski County Special School District, where I teach, the superintendent is striving for minimal standards for teachers. Our days are to be cut to the minimum, they want to pay us a minimum salary and we already receive minimum respect. On Teachers Appreciation day we received our non-renewal letters. Special Education classes are being expanded to have more students per teacher, so that each student will receive the minimum amount of teacher assistance. Some schools will only have a part-time resource teacher for the entire school. We turn hungry children away who owe lunch money, while the superintendent charges the district in excess of $80 for a working lunch. Our students are performing on minimum nutrition while a minimum effort is being put forth by the district to save money at the top. Textbooks will not be bought because with the new Common Core standards the state adopted we are expected to "do projects" or share a set of books with the whole school. Some people will be afraid that the result of all this negativity will be seen in student performance and teaching effort. However, this isn't our first rodeo. Attempts to destroy the unions PACT and PASS have been tried before. People tried to run our district into the ground before, so that Jacksonville would get their own district while Little Rock and North Little Rock could absorb what's left. One thing for sure remains tried and true: the teachers and support staff always continue to work. We do our job despite what's thrown at us. We're used to minimum positive assistance from administration. We persevere. Minimum isn't sufficient for us. It never has been and never will be.

Judy Stockrahm

Conway

From the web

In response to a post by Max Brantley on the Arkansas Blog on the Democrat-Gazette's decision to raise its single-copy sales from 50 cents to $1 daily and $1.25 to $2 on Sunday. Brantley noted the Arkansas Times remains free on newsstands and on the web, where it often provides more timely reporting than the daily.

The Arkansas Times and blog are the height of journalistic excellence? You spit out "news" without checking facts — if, that is, said news enables you to spew your usual crap. Sure, sometimes you deign to admit to making an error (read: jumping to conclusions). More often, you choose to ignore — or justify — your blatant mistakes or assumptions. I assure you that we who work at the Democrat-Gazette do our best to inform our readers. No, we can't throw shit onto the Internet the minute we hear something, but you can bet that by the time a story runs the next day, we've taken the time to fact-check and/or substantiate things — unlike the AT, which posts "the latest" without any regard for accuracy or double-checking.

Newspapers that continue to survive — or even thrive — don't expect to be first in publishing breaking news.

Rather, we strive to offer readers a more in-depth, layered and detailed story the following day. We have the luxury of a little extra time, which allows us to seek and report new information that online and television media don't have the hours to pursue. 

As for other types of news, however, we often are first. We write enterprise and investigative stories that can't be found on television or online.

We get the interviews that other media don't. We find the documents that require patience and persistence.

I've been a journalist for 18 years. Before moving to Arkansas in 1999, I worked at four smaller Texas dailies as a copy editor, reporter and assistant city editor. No newsroom is perfect. 

But I can say that most of the journalists I've met over the years care deeply— not only about their papers, but about their communities as well.

We at the D-G cover hundreds of communities across the state, not just central Arkansas. And as a statewide newspaper, we do our best to enlighten and inform readers in the furthest corners of Arkansas. 

Cathy Frye

In response to an item on the Arkansas Blog about an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report on Little Rock Christian Academy's refusal to admit a 4-year-old Mormon.

Let's see if I can follow the logic here. The board of Little Rock Christian believes that Mormons are going to hell, yet they are unwilling to try to prevent this young person from ending up in hell by admitting them to the school and influencing him/her otherwise? If one really believed that Mormons are going to spend eternity in an everlasting holocaust, then wouldn't you want to engage them in whatever way possible to prevent them an eternity of suffering? Wouldn't you believe that your own lifestyle and beliefs are winsome enough to convert them? I wonder if they doubt themselves that much or if they actually prefer that Mormons go to hell. Wouldn't want heaven to get too crowded.

Perplexed

In response to a post on the Arkansas Blog that suggested that the city, which plans to use eminent domain in acquiring land to build the Little Rock Technology Park, use eminent domain to take land needed to finish the River Trail from either the Dillard's headquarters or the Episcopal Collegiate School campus.

The completion of the River Trail will allow for cleaner air as we develop downtown into a thriving, livable community over the next 10 years. The completion of the River Trail won't fund Social Security, but it will promote a healthy, viable option for transportation, which will reduce future health care costs. The River Trail will also provide a sustainable option for transportation that is less taxing on society in the form of start-up costs, maintenance, and energy consumption. As many users of the River Trail (walkers, runners, and riders) will attest, it provides a recreational outlet that builds free, healthy activity for families.

Lastly, it's a proven fact that businesses invest in healthy cities (and vice versa). Young entrepreneurs, like myself, are drawn to walkable/bikeable/livable cities.

There are very few negatives to building a healthy city. Maybe some upfront costs, but it's been proven by many other cities that they pay for themselves many times over in the long run.

Jeremy Lewno

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