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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, March 18, 2018 1:00 am

Letters to the editor

Academic success means more than stars

It's that time of year – the annual, national education award charade.

The Indiana schools superintendent recently announced the Four Star School Awards. Jennifer McCormick trotted out the obligatory statement that the designation “signifies a pursuit of academic excellence.” What nonsense. The award should be called the RICHES Prize – Relative Incomes Change Educational Scores. That is what this award really signifies. Every serious study supports the conclusion that the higher a school's income level, the higher its students' test scores.

But there is an impact from this PR baloney far more pernicious than the meaninglessness of the Four Star designation. Every day, teachers march into the nation's poorest urban (and rural) districts armed with the skill, perseverance and love required to meet poverty head on. Their dedication to the “pursuit of academic excellence” is measured not in stars awarded by the state but in the number of lives they change. Those who understand this challenge (including the dedicated educators from Four Star schools) worry about the demoralizing impact these phony awards have on their colleagues who choose the difficult road of teaching the poorest of the poor.

To them, we say: Hang in there. You are the real stars of public education.

MARK E. GiaQUINTA

Fort Wayne

Tommy Who helps vets with struggles

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about war. The short version goes something like this: When there is a war, it's Tommy do this, and Tommy do that; and when there is a war no more, it's Tommy who.

The vast majority of citizens never served in any branch of the military, yet they never give a thought of the daily cost of those who did serve. They spend the rest of their lives paying for everyone else's freedom with mental and physical disabilities, with most vets never knowing where to turn for help. Most vets just give up, knowing it's easier to live within yourself than to deal with people who have never been there.

The group Tommy Who comprises local veterans from World War II to the Sandbox vets of today's wars who have spent years of our lives being rejected or denied benefits to which we all are entitled. As a group, we started to navigate through the bureaucracy of red tape, and slowly we started to acquire more and more information and people willing to exchange that information.

If you have no idea where to start or go for help, e-mail us at tommywho1789@gmail.com to find out about our monthly meetings.

Jerry P. Sell

Fort Wayne

SNAP cuts imperil our most vulnerable

Every day in Indiana, parents wake up to the realization that they don't have enough money to buy their children food. A majority of these parents work multiple jobs to support their families, but they still cannot make ends meet.

The Trump administration has proposed cuts to SNAP (formerly known as food stamps), which absolutely cannot happen.

This is a program that creates revenue in our economy. For every dollar put into the SNAP program, $1.80 goes to the economy. In 2016, more than half a million people in Indiana relied on SNAP, and for President Donald Trump to cut funds from this program is immoral and unconscionable.

I'm calling on Sen. Todd Young, as well as Fort Wayne's congressman, Jim Banks, to oppose these cuts as well as any future plans to put SNAP on the chopping block.

Sarah Leone

Fort Wayne

US in desperate need of leadership

I did not vote for Donald Trump and I never will. I don't even like him.

However, I do love this country very much and, unfortunately, he is the president. For that I am saddened for the many good Republicans and Democrats who voted for him and believed his many lies and promises. Trump has divided the country in the nearly 14 months he's been in office, caused discord in Congress, caused racial unrest, been unfair to immigrants, and broke his promise to help more than 800,000 people brought to this country by parents who work and pay taxes by the millions. He has defended neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists and racists. He's also defended child molesters and abusive men who hurt their partners. 

Trump is a bully who has a temper tantrum when he doesn't get his own way. He disrespects women and those who work for him. He seems to think he's above the law – he is unfit to be president of this great country.

Trump needs to stop tweeting, stop lying and put our country above party and be what he was elected to be – a leader. Be the president of the United States, not a dictator of this great country.

Dottie Carpenter

Fort Wayne 

Today's kids lack consequences

I am nearly 91 years old. Eighty years ago, my father owned and used a 410 shotgun. The shotgun was placed in a corner of our living room. Dad admonished all six of us children, “Do not touch.” None of us touched the gun.

Our parents were in control, and we knew if we disobeyed their instructions, there were consequences –spankings, not beatings.

We loved and respected our parents until their deaths.

Parents are allowed to provide food, clothing and a house for their children to live in but not discipline them because they have their “rights.” Children don't have consequences for disobedience.

My youngest daughter, 54 years ago, at age 21/2, was told not to leave our front yard. The demarcation line was a tree.

Aunts, uncles and grandparents watched over her and would spank her if she disobeyed. It took one spank on her diapered bottom to teach her the consequences, and she never crossed the line again.

It's wrong to blame God for children's outrageous behavior when he is neither acknowledged nor honored and his Ten Commandments are not taught or followed.

GERTRUDE JONES

Churubusco

Prioritize safety over aesthetics

I'm writing in regard to an article about an ordinance the city is considering to fund a public arts program (March 9). This isn't a lesson in math as much as an observation on social priorities. I'm not advocating for or against TIF, tax abatements, phase-in, tax deductions or the value they add in attracting development and jobs. What immediately struck me was how we prioritize the things we want vs. the things we need.

City leaders opine about funding a public arts program to promote our community, funded by a 1 percent contribution from TIF recipients. Their justification for this “need” was expressed by city director of planning Pam Holocher (“Certainly public art tells a community story”), Mayor Tom Henry (“employers are increasingly exploring the quality of life of a community”) and Councilman Tom Freistroffer (“appeal to professionals who want to live in a vibrant and interesting community”).

The math that I have done indicates funding this project with TIF recipients is sensible. After all, there are about 400 businesses receiving tax abatements on $660 million worth of assessed value.This could raise about $400,000 yearly for the purpose of improving our community.

The social observation I came away with, especially in light of today's environment on school safety, was where we've placed our priorities. I argue a better way to attract professionals and promote to “employers exploring the quality of life of a community” would be funding school safety as a higher priority. Implementing a funding program to promote the arts within our community might be something our leaders want, but prioritizing school safety ahead of that is something we need.

Kevin Roberts

Fort Wayne