Letters to the editor

Published: Friday, January 3, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 6:11 p.m.

Right person, wrong job

As a lifelong Republican, I especially enjoyed the "Speaking Out" article (Dec. 22) by Mildred Russell and Robert L. Woody, past chair and state committeeman of the Republican Party of Alachua County, respectively.

However, I find it difficult to believe that no one has written to The Sun about the gaffe in the second paragraph.

Dr. Condoleezza Rice is national security advisor. The referenced article identified her as "Dr. Condeleza Rice" and told of her position as secretary of Defense.

As Russell and Woody should be well aware, Donald Rumsfeld is Defense secretary.

Robert Shaw,


Teachers can't be blamed

for students who don't learn

When I opened The Gainesville Sun (Dec. 30), I was dismayed to see another column by Harriet Ludwig.

She states that 37 percent of the Alachua County K-12 population is black, but 69 percent of the educable mentally retarded and 11 percent of the gifted students are black.

By the way, other socio-economic groups are also disproportionately represented in special education: children from single parent households, children living below the poverty level, children with one or both parents in prison, children in foster care, etc.

Why does this disparity exist? Is it the fault of lazy teachers, who she blames with her statement, "Of that number, 40 percent have never been taught to read?"

Does anyone honestly believe that teachers do not want their students to learn? Does anyone doubt that teachers try and try and try again to teacher their students to read?

Perhaps we should look at what many of these children have missed: good pre-natal and post-natal care, proper nutrition, a stable and predictable routine, an environment in which learning is valued and reading is encouraged, a family that ensures that its children arrive at school regularly, on time, appropriately dressed and well fed.

Looking at statistics is interesting and placing blame can be satisfying, but neither activity gives us the information we need.

What is our goal? Are we striving to lower the number of black students in special education without providing the support they need to succeed in regular education classes?

Changing the testing instruments or changing the placement criteria will not help the student who is not prepared to learn in a regular classroom environment.

The higher pupil to teacher ratio and the routine distractions of the regular classroom are not the best learning environment for many students who have learning disabilities.

The goal of special education is to help the student achieve his or her maximum potential. We strive mightily to give these students the tools they need to succeed in the mainstream classroom, in their social milieu and in the working world.

There are many solutions to the problem of students with disabilities, and special education is only one of those solutions.

Families, governmental agencies, health care providers and others must work together to help these children benefit from the excellent educational opportunities the schools provide.

Please don't ask overworked, underpaid and unappreciated teachers and administrators to work unaided to fix a problem we did not create.

Nancy Weed Taylor,

Lake City

A matter of conservatism

A recent letter writer was indignant because The Sun reported that "Municipalities are moving to protest the Patriot Act."

He went on to say that this was an example of "left-wing politics as usual," and implied that The Sun was somehow in cahoots with the commies and terrorists.

Other letter writers have also tarred environmentalists and supporters of the comprehensive plan with the same brush, implying that any attempt to curb sprawl is a left-wing plot.

As an avowed right-winger, environmentalist and lover of liberty, I take issue with this.

From my perspective, upholding our individual liberties as guaranteed by the Constitution is a conservative position. So is conserving our forests, rivers and way of life.

Those of us who are so conservative as to be "no growthers" often lambast The Sun for being "pro-growth," but the reality is that The Sun does an excellent job of balancing the disparate views within our community.

May I remind you that this is supposed to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave."

Those who live in gridlocked cities are not free, and those who expect the government to protect them from every imaginable danger are not brave.

To get some perspective from the heart of old-time conservative America, I contacted a well-armed friend who lives in a cabin on top of a mountain in West Virginia with a mule and two hound dogs to ask him what he and his neighbors thought of the Patriot Act.

He said they are all stocking up on food and ammunition, but not because of bin Laden. They intend to protect their liberties regardless of where the threat is coming from.

Let's take off the gloves. Anyone who would use a tragedy such as 9/11 or the minuscule threat posed by Saddam Hussein to subvert the individual liberties of the American people is neither conservative nor patriotic.

They are, in fact, traitors who are willing to use any pretext to further their fascistic political agenda.

World War II was supposed to have settled all that, but those who place greed and power above all else exist in every age, and it is up to us, the brave and the free, to confront them.

Now that is what I call being conservative.

Bruce J. Morgan,


An ignorance of history

Does it seem humorous to anyone else that in his letter (Dec. 24), Joe Richard first comments on the "average American's ignorance of military history" and just a few sentences later, credits Winston Churchill with saying, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.''

Of course, President Franklin Roosevelt made this statement in his inaugural address in 1932 and was referring to the fear of a poor economy, not a fear of war.

It appears that Richard should include himself in the group of people "ignorant of history" and quite likely a lot of other things.

Frank Hawley,


County on road to disaster

I thoroughly agree with comments by Tom Hoctor about growth management published (Dec. 21) in The Gainesville Sun.

The County Commission majority, in collaboration with The Gainesville Sun, is marching on the road to disaster for the future of Alachua County.

Horance G. Davis Jr.,


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