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Start school early 

Just read Max Brantley’s column about the Toyota plant decision and workforce education. While administering an Advanced Placement exam yesterday, I read an article in an education magazine about the same issue.

First, a question about AP tests. The legislature, in its ultimate wisdom, decided that AP students had to take the exam to get their weighted credit (the reason most take the classes in the first place). No minimum score is required to get the four grade points for their B. As I watched students sleep on the essay portion of the exam, I had to ask at what cost/benefit to the state is paying for these kids to fill in an answer sheet to get their GPA boost?

In the last year I’ve come to a realization that many students and parents feel entitled to a C or even a B for merely showing up in class regularly. Never mind whether the student actually learns anything. They do homework, so they expect to be rewarded with the grade. Never passed a test or never made a C on a test, but what does all that mean anyway?

It is this attitude that translates into students who have a diploma but can’t read (at grade level), do basic arithmetic, write a cohesive paragraph or even express an idea effectively. We’ve focused too long on providing advanced opportunities to a few while failing to ensure that all can do the basics well.

The article in Education Week, written not by educators but Federal Reserve bankers, discussed the value of investing in early childhood education to drive the economy rather than offering tax breaks to corporations. As they put it, jobs are not created they are relocated. Toyota didn’t build a plant in Arkansas because our workforce is not as productive as that of Tupelo. I agree with you that it is not just a race issue but one driven by education and economics. Most of the research I’ve seen shows that poor children (regardless of race) under-perform those of higher socio-economic strata. The whys are more elusive, but many agree that access to high-quality early childhood education is a major factor.

Tim Eubanks

National Board Certified Teacher

Parkview Arts and Science Magnet High School

The ‘tsunami’ of aliens

The Little Rock National Airport is courting two different Mexican airlines to set up shop, to serve the growing Hispanic population in Arkansas. This comes on the heels of the opening of a Mexican consulate for the same reason.

The mainstream press has been following the increased northward migration of Hispanics since the enactment of NAFTA (Bill Clinton’s greatest mistake), but always seems to profile this as a totally natural and acceptable phenomenon. This is folly pure and simple and clearly demonstrates our confused priorities, where we’re willing to deploy the vast majority of our National Guard and other domestic military assets abroad but won’t even think about defending our southern border from a tsunami of illegal aliens.

The comment that best illustrates the mindset of these immigrants was actually uttered two full years ago, during the convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens. Its Arkansas state chaplain, Rev. Julio Barquero of Sherwood, was quoted as saying: “Little Rock is the border between Mexico and the U.S., not Texas anymore. Texas has been CONQUERED.” It was an odd word to use to put a positive spin on things. That comment was reported in this very newspaper and others.

I have no problem with any foreign national wanting to come into this country, legally and within the constraints of current quotas, and assimilating into American culture. That’s exactly what isn’t happening with the current crop of immigrants, who want to transplant their entire culture onto American soil, including their use of Spanish. We’ve seen how well the dual approach to national language has worked in Canada, and it will serve to fracture the U.S. as well.

For years the alternative press has been informing us of such concepts as La Raza and Reconquista, essentially the planned recapture of Mexican homelands taken away in the 1800s. These former homelands include the entire southwestern U.S. and extend eastward as far as — Arkansas. I believe this is the true face of Mexican immigration, not simply honest workers seeking daily wages. We are being invaded pure and simple, and don’t have the sense to realize it.

It won’t be long before we will be singing “Jose can you see …” to begin athletic contests, not out of satire but due to demographic reality.

R. A. Rogers

Conway

Defends science

Moderator Chris Matthews asked the Republican presidential candidates at their recent debate whether any did not believe in evolution. Mike Huckabee was among those who chose to reject the scientific fact of evolution in favor of religious fundamentalism. Perhaps even more revealing of the current state of American politics, Huckabee was quoted after the debate saying, “I’m not sure what in the world that has to do with being president of the United States.”

Perhaps the Huckster could learn a thing or two from the signers of the “Defend Science” statement, one of whom put it this way: “All people must employ critical thinking, must understand the scientific method, and discern clearly between fact and opinion, between truth and theory, and between understanding and belief. It is essential for the progress and truly for the life of humanity.”

I am a proud signatory to the statement, part of which can be seen in an ad in this month’s New Republic.

Steven W. Barger

Little Rock

Missouri angle

Thanks for Ernest Dumas’ column “Justice Obstructed,” particularly what you wrote about Missouri. My husband and I live in Springfield, take the daily paper, and watch the local news when we can. Astonishingly enough, neither of us had been aware of the connection between the Justice Department scandal and the licensing office franchise allegations [that Gov. Matt Blunt awarded them without bids]. We do miss things, but how ironic is it that I had to turn to Arkansas Times to learn what’s happening in my own state?

Marilyn Dean

Springfield, Mo.

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