An open letter to Govenor Owens

To the Editor:

It was with astonishment that I read The Gazette and discovered that a part of the education reforms (Senate Bill 186) being sought by your administration includes a decrease in the current proactive health education provisions. These provisions focus on violence and substance abuse prevention as well as human sexuality and family roles. I am deeply concerned about Colorado's children and how negatively this piece of legislation could impact them.

If I am not mistaken, during the past year Colorado has experienced some of the worst violence resulting in deaths of children, youth and adults in its history. Whole families have perished and the violence at Columbine is unsurpassed in our times. The majority of homicides and suicides involve alcohol and drugs as does child abuse and family violence.

Colorado also has the dubious distinction of having an exponentially increasing teen suicide problem. As a parent of six adolescent and adult children I am amazed that you believe we should not offer these fundamental human topics in the public school curriculum. To believe that our children will be better prepared for life simply by learning the "basics" of reading, writing and mathematics without learning about themselves is incredibly shortsighted. As a resident of Colorado for 15 years, I have been and continue to be amazed by the neglectful attitude of so many elected officials when it comes to setting priorities to support our children.

I hope you will reconsider your position on this issue and look more closely at the reality of what so many children experience in their homes daily, not the ideal you or I might envision. The children of this state need you to recognize that physical and emotional well-being is equally as important as intellectual aptitude. Please act accordingly.

-- Rita K. Wiley, MEd, MA, LPC
Colorado Springs

This land is their land

To the Editor:

On Friday, Feb. 11, the State Land Board made a grievous error in its decision to defer action on a proposal to lease 10 acres of Stewardship Trust land to a new charter school, the Black Forest School. The board cited its desire not to get in the middle of a public discussion on the use of the land. But by deferring a decision the board is harming the very beneficiaries that it is responsible for representing.

The State Land Board is charged with administering state Stewardship Trust land for the benefit of Colorado's current and future school children. The 630-acre Black Forest Section 16 land is a part of the Stewardship Trust. It was given to Colorado by the Federal Government in 1876 specifically to benefit public schools. This purpose was reinforced by Colorado voters in 1998 when they voted Amendment 16 into law. The purpose of the law was, for a third time, expressed by Academy District 20's nomination and the State Land Board's acceptance of the land in the Stewardship Trust in 1998.

But all of those declarations were invalidated by the State Land Board's decision on Feb. 11. By bowing to pressure from other groups with an interest in the land, and acting against its own staff's recommendations, the board turned its back on years of legislative precedent, ignored the voters' mandate, and failed Colorado's school children.

As development along the Front Range continues to boom, we need to reinforce the structures that nourish and enrich our children's lives. We need to direct more resources to our public schools, which scored dismally in comparison to other states over the last year. The public institutions that are entrusted with protecting our children's interests have to stand strong against the groups who will ever more frequently compete for the land, money and other resources that have been dedicated to our children.

A lot of groups now stake a claim to the School Section land in Black Forest -- the Slash and Mulch Program, the Black Forest Trails Association, the El Paso County Parks Department, the State Forest Service, even the Sierra Club. Not one of them exists for the specific benefits of Colorado's school children.

The Black Forest School does. It is a small, grassroots charter school founded by parents whose only motivation is to provide the best education possible for elementary-aged children in the Pikes Peak region. The board's action -- or lack of action -- seriously jeopardizes the school's very existence given the lack of affordable property in such a booming economy.

What a shame that no one with the power to look out for children's interests is willing to stand up on their behalf.

-- Patty Meier
Black Forest

Move over, buddy

To the Editor:

Last time I wrote to the Independent, it was to vent my anger about a photograph I took that was hanging at a local restaurant, and was stolen. My feelings were that humans were basically good, and that there are just a few bad seeds. But, I've changed my mind. Now I believe that humans are basically bad, and that there are just a few good seeds.

After spending last weekend in San Francisco, my boyfriend and I were flying home to Colorado Springs Monday evening. Our flight was canceled out of San Fran, but they were able to squeeze us onto an earlier flight. Because we were squeezed on, our seats were separated by 2 rows. We both had middle seats.

I asked the two single gentlemen, flying alone, sitting on either side of my boyfriend, if they'd be willing to trade seats with me because my boyfriend and I couldn't get seats next to each other. Both were unwilling. Then I asked the two single gentlemen, flying alone, sitting on either side of myself, if they'd be willing, and again, neither would budge. In fact, one response was, "Give up an aisle seat? No way!"

I became a little upset, with it being Valentine's Day, and having to end my weekend sitting away from my boyfriend, and instead having to sit next to two selfish jerks. Then I thought to myself, with the recent plane crashes, if our plane would have crashed, who would I have held hands with and spoken my last loving words to?

I just think it's amazing how many people have complete disregard for anyone else and their feelings. It's sad to think that so many people in today's society think about only themselves and what they can gain out of life. Any slight inconveniences disrupt their precious lives. I think we'd all agree that it's slightly inconvenient to give blood to a dying family member, and it's inconvenient to push a sliding car out of the snow, but I saw someone do that today. The good seeds are out there, they're just very hard to find.

Wouldn't the world be a much more tolerable and better place to live in if there were more good seeds, and fewer selfish jerks?

-- Jennifer Waltmon
Colorado Springs

Minority representation

To the Editor:

What were the voters of Senate District 11 thinking about when they elected State Senator Mary Ellen Epps? She moved into their district to run for office and they elected her. Now she is living back in her old residence in Security! This cannot be a shining example of representative government.

Citizens in House District 17 will consider electing candidate Steve Hester, a card-carrying member of the John Birch Society! This could hardly be considered a candidate with a majority view. However, Sen. Mary Ellen Epps is endorsing him! What has happened to representative government?

-- Sally Henderson
Colorado Springs

Downtown entertainment a'plenty

To the Editor:

I was sad to hear Kimball Bayles is selling the Peak theater. It has been a wonderful place to go and see a movie in the downtown area. I hope that it remains a movie house and that whoever buys it keeps up the tradition. However, I must take issue with a statement that Mr. Bayles made in the article "The Last Picture Show" (News, Feb. 8).

Mr. Bayles said: "We're the only downtown entertainment; it's the bars and us." That just is simply not true. There is the Smokebrush Center for the Arts and Theater, which has featured high quality theater and will continue to do so with the addition of Colorado Actor's Theater. It also houses such awesome entertainment as Jim Jackson, Patti Smithsonian, Upstart Performing ensemble, as well as being an intimate venue for many world-renowned musicians.

The Pikes Peak Center is also downtown and hosts some of the best touring companies of Broadway shows. The City Auditorium hosts many concerts as well as the yearly metaphysical fair, and it also includes the Lon Chaney Theater, home to the Star Bar Players as well as venues for other local community theater groups. Although a few blocks from "downtown," the Fine Arts Center also has a great repertory theater company, and also brings in great shows. Colorado College has Armstrong Hall, as well as some smaller venues for student productions.

It is sad that Mr. Bayles is losing money due to competition from mega cineplexes. You see, those of us involved in live theater can relate to that. Live theater has been losing patrons ever since movies were invented. The problem is really the fact that the local media spends a lot of its space to promote those cineplexes, as well as focusing on the arts scene in Denver, or, as in the case of The Gazette, using two pages of what could be more arts coverage to print singles ads that should go in the classifieds. There are many cultural jewels and a lot of great entertainment downtown. It's just too bad that the media doesn't let you know about it.

-- Tony Babin
Colorado Springs


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