The king is not in the building

To the Editor:

For all of the politicians running around trying to buy votes by claiming to have a personal relationship with Jesus, I offer one suggestion: Please provide the public with notarized affidavits from the Man himself! Meetings with Elvis do not count!

-- John A. DeRuntz, Jr., Ph.D.
Colorado Springs

Earth in the balance

To the Editor:

Al Gore breezed through town on Monday, spouting all sorts if rhetoric on issues ranging from urban sprawl to gun control. To young voters, it was more of the same -- a beltway politician trying to convince us that he is different. Mr. Gore, young people are looking for clean air, not hot air.

Americans want a president who will make environmental protection a top priority. America needs a president who will act rather than poll each move. Al Gore says he will "fight" for us. Young Colorado voters want to know where he's been for the past eight years. The vice-president has let down young voters on issues ranging from mining and logging, to global warming and mega-hog farming -- an issue Colorado is all too familiar with.

When pressed for detailed environmental plans, Mr. Gore's patent answer is "read my book." Well, Mr. Gore, we did and we sent it back. We suggest you read your own book, and address the issues that young people care about if you ever hope to be, as you yourself wrote, a leader "with vision, courage and real commitment to the future." Thus far, we've seen little of this from you or any other candidate.

-- Phil Winters

Get off teachers' backs

To the Editor:

So, it's come to this! Schools are now learning factories in which testing is the measure of productive achievement. In "The Standards Stampede" (March 2 Independent), teacher Bob Carlson is right to note that time spent "administering, scoring and recording the results" with more tests on the way, produces lots of charts and graphs for politicians but has "minimal education payoff" for students. I wonder if testing is supposed to make up for current conditions of failure such as large classroom populations. As an unemployed Ph.D. recently substituting in District 11, and engaging in faculty lounge chat, I've heard and seen that 32 students per class in English composition and literature has been normal for many years in several D-11 high schools. With 32 per class, nearly 10 students are not having their needs met.

Does Governor Owens have any commitment to lowering class sizes as a first step to giving young people the atmosphere they need to concentrate and to improve their work? Is there any commitment to hiring the teachers that would make smaller classes possible? As high as the cost of testing is and with as little as teachers are paid, surely no one will argue against hiring new teachers because it's too expensive.

Along with the anti-teacher, anti-professional "erosion of job security" reporter Campbell mentions, teachers will become machine-like test administrators to warehoused students trained to compete for the few jobs in the corporate feudal castle.

Carlson mentions that teachers may be held accountable for solving the societal problems beyond their scope such as "bad home environments." In primary schools, I've heard of children who lose skills over the summer often from lack of parental motivation. I've also heard that there are parents who do not want their children doing "school work" at home.

And, Governor Owens has not considered that teachers compete with electronic media for student time and attention. In several places where I've substituted, I've had to tear children away from computer-driven "educational" games in order to make them sit and read. It is easier for D-11 to pay for a CD-ROM game, The Oregon Trail, than for young people to read a book about it. Community colleges and universities, which have been teaching remedial writing for years, are often the only way people can learn the writing skills they missed in high school due to these societal factors.

To hear that teachers are being attacked rather than morally supported, is the latest indicator that governments want the power to test students without the responsibility of loving them enough to give eduation as a gift.

-- Tamara M. Teale
Colorado Springs

Get out and vote!

To the Editor:

I am a 24-year-old voter and I'm sick of being classified as apathetic, disinterested and uneducated about the political process. It's clear that people my age get this rap for traditionally being no-shows at the polls. But I think it's important to ask why we don't vote. Here's what I think: we're disheartened by our elected officials repeatedly ignoring our issues and/or making false promises to our constituency. Issues like protecting the environment have received a quiet pat on the head from our elected officials and then tossed aside.

On the eve of Colorado's primary, I have one thing to say: GET OUT THERE AND VOTE! Our generation needs to open our eyes and realize that voting protects our interests.

I attended Monday's campaign event with Vice President Al Gore, and listened to him praise Clinton and himself for the lowest unemployment and the best economy in the history of the United States, in addition to attacking the two Republican candidates in the race. My question is: "What's your plan for addressing global warming?" Our generation will be most affected by the consequences of America's reliance on fossil fuels. We will pay for the mistakes made by current leaders. Too bad none of the candidates have included environmental issues in their campaign stump speeches. Too bad politicians aren't listening to America's future.

Don't forget to vote in the presidential primary on March 10, and again in the general election on November 7. Maybe then, our political leaders will start talking about how to protect Colorado's environment.

-- Amy Livingston
Campus Green Vote

Words of wisdom from "the average man"

To the Editor:

I guess there must be an election coming, and it's the big one again. Where does the time go? Has it been four years already? I try to distance myself from politics and elections big and small, due to my distaste for such machinery, but even the strictest Polo-phobic gets splashed when the big election rolls by.

The national pushing and posturing has arrived in earnest, and I'm still not over my last upset stomach. Is campaigning a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, never-too-early-to-start, look-what-I've-done process now, or is it just me? I think politicians are professional campaigners. It's what they do best. We should cut the crap and rename them for what they are.

Which brings up this point -- why do we pay our elected officials to be out stumping the campaign trail? Shouldn't they be busy punching the clock and fulfilling the promises they made to us the last time around? Isn't such behavior a conflict of interest? That would be like me telling my boss I'm using the company van to look for another job. Shouldn't Al Gore be doing vice-presidential stuff? Shouldn't Sen. Bradley be fulfilling his senatorial responsibilities? It's SENATOR McCain, isn't it? Do the good folks of Arizona know John's on the clock? Don't governors from Texas have a job description, Mr. Bush? Is your secretary doing all of the work while you're away? Maybe he or she should have been elected instead of you.

Ick, this junk grosses me out. Candidate A calls candidate B a no-good dirty louse. Candidate B counters by insisting candidate A is lower than Louisiana pond scum, and yada, yada, yada. Eventually, it's a name-calling contest of epic proportion, culminating in a worthless wash of barbs, innuendo, and insults that would make Howard Stern blush. In the end they all kiss and make up, and insist it was nothing personal. Yeah, nothing personal, but your mama dresses you funny, you ugly, and you a loser. These guys sling muck I wouldn't throw at my worst enemy.

What has this mess we call the electoral process become? It's pathetic. Big business and their special interests pour mountains of money on the front runners, and when the dust settles, and when their hired hands are firmly entrenched in the oval office, the favors start to flow. Think it doesn't work that way? I thought I was naive.

I don't trust any of it anymore. Sad, huh? I don't have a clear-cut better idea, but I think I'd rather vote for my friend Jake. He steals cable T.V. service, but he doesn't want to be president, so I think he can be trusted. Those candidates with the fixed smiles and the trendy slogans make me nervous. They say they want to represent me, but I don't even know who they are, and they sure don't know who I am. They look like wind-up dolls in a store-front window. Shouldn't there be another option? I'm worried about our country. I'm worried about me. Who would I vote for, assuming I even vote this time, and is there an answer for my apathy? Voting for the lesser of two evils is not a choice.

I got an idea. Why don't we scrap all of this running for office malarkey, and we'll start a random draft for president, kind of like our jury duty program. It'll be a don't-call-us, we'll-call-you system, with a gaming slant. It couldn't be any worse than what we have now, and this election debacle will be eliminated altogether. We won't give the enlistee access to the doomsday button until they've passed their 30-day probationary period, and if they don't pass and we don't like 'em, they're out and we enlist the next person.

-- The Average Man


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