July 18 letters

Jul 18, 2014

Negativity hinders solutions

To the editor:

I recently attended an informal meeting about the Haywood prison project. The exchange of ideas was informative, and although there are problems with something of this scope, it will eventually be a positive and meaningful undertaking.

And it can be a helpful first step for a lot of folks who need a second chance in life. As the points about the benefits of the program were discussed, I was shocked by one of the participants who found fault with each point.

And rather than listen and reflect and offer constructive comments, this person offered reasons why the program wouldn’t work. I was struck by the similarity to the negative tone and inflexible rhetoric of the Republicans in the state Legislature, the governor’s office, and the U.S. Congress. Their intention is to hinder solutions instead of offering to solve problems.

Bill Lusto



Recent education letters reviewed

To the editor:

Recent letters on education inspired the following research and conclusions. I retired in 1998 at age 66 (43 working years) making $78K as senior project engineer and plant manager. My annual pension is $12,000 (15 percent); my medical benefits are zero. The company was lean, has lowest costs in their field and prospers.

High school teachers in North Carolina retire after 36 working years (age 58) making $55,000, receive a 65 percent pension of $36,000 (i.e., worked seven years less, made $23,000 less, receives $24,000 more — plus health benefits).

School staffing isn’t lean. Haywood lists 545 teachers, but 800 support personnel. North Carolina failure/dropout rate of 23 percent is high. Compare 8 to 11 percent in other states, including Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin (farm states). Many dropouts want to work with their hands — not four years in college pursuits.

Why aren’t fluid flow/plumbing taught? Home structure loads/construction? Household electricity/wiring? Use Tech College’s $10 million machine shop. Experience suggests educators wont do anything that requires losing budget money to trade schools.

Consider the political insanity that 80 percent of kids attend college; doubling loan debt to $2 trillion. BLS statistics show 80 percent of our 139 million job force’s median income is under $35,000; 20 percent is over $37,500.

Meanwhile, 10 million illegal immigrants took American jobs. Businesses shipped 5 million jobs overseas. Unemployed are not required to take open jobs paying less than the job lost.

Don’t harass teachers about national achievement scores and dropouts. Publish them, by class, in our newspapers so parents see what’s happening. Ensure scarcer advance-degree teachers are teaching math and science; pay them a premium despite the unions.

Psychology, biology, physics texts denied reasoned, non-material reality — our soul and God’s existence — undermining most parents’ desire for their kids. Religious history/philosophy electives are banned.  Vouchers enabling parents’ right to select schools where their kids can learn about ethics and spiritual reality are “economically” banned. Sunday school teaching levels don’t exceed storybook levels. Congress, school boards and meddling courts foster America’s religious death — like France.

Jack Ryan


Comments (4)
Posted by: Scott Lilly | Jul 18, 2014 11:37

Mr. Lusto, I think I am about as right-wing, conservative, and Republican as they come.  Even I see the benefit in finding a way to make the prison project work.  And I would encourage anyone to see the same.  Yes, there are things that aren't yet thought through.  Typically it's the left-leaning that champion these kinds of things.  As someone other than the left-wing, I cheer the effort.  I hope those in charge of the effort solicit ALL opinions.  Some of us right-wingers seemingly have contributions to make this a success as well.


And so fair-is-fair, I'd be willing to bet I could find some Democrats that attempt to hinder solutions instead of solve problems.  No Democrats in this forum would publicly give credit to a Republican solution that has shown to increase those employed in the state by more than 80,000.  Instead, all that was offered was "negative tone and inflexible rhetoric".

Posted by: John C Sanderson | Jul 21, 2014 15:39

I'm not sure what Mr. Ryan's main point was in his stream of consciousness LTE, but I took it primarily as a criticism of public schools and the compensation teachers receive. Just a few thoughts in response:

  1. Citing statistical data in an "apples to oranges" comparison is meaningless. The variables to be considered in order to make a valid comparison between Mr. Ryan (i.e., one data point, using 1998 vintage data from private industry) and the current composite "average" public HS teacher in NC he offers are too numerous to consider in this space.
  2. School staffing in Haywood County is hardly bloated. "Support personnel" includes teacher assistants, bus drivers, maintenance workers, clerical workers, cafeteria workers, and the list goes on. I seriously doubt Mr. Ryan would have been able to manage his "plant" effectively without adequate support personnel, even in a "lean" operation. Given that the Haywood County School System is responsible for the safety and well being (in addition to the academic progress) of over 7,000 students on a daily basis, some of those support services are perhaps even more vital than they are in profit generating industries.
  3. Our school system has worked in partnership with Haywood Community College in many ways over the years. Both of our traditional high schools continue to offer vocational/technical course offerings. As far as what specific courses are offered, schools generally respond to the demands of the workplace. Personally, I support expansion of vocational/technical course offerings, but these cannot be "dead end" courses leading nowhere in an ever changing global economy.
  4. I'm not sure what "national achievement scores" Mr. Ryan wants published "by class, in our newspapers." State test results are published every year. Dropout figures are published, as well. Publishing test results "by class," however could, in my opinion, be considered a form of harassment for those teachers who are responsible for teaching a greater percentage of students with identified special needs (e.g., learning disabilities). The teachers' abilities and effectiveness might be questioned unfairly when their test results were compared to those from classes serving more academically advanced students. A public airing of this classroom data would serve no constructive purpose at all.
  5. Teacher pay scales are set at the state level. NC has no teacher union with the power to bargain collectively for salaries or benefits.
  6. Yes, science texts and science classes do not generally consider questions regarding the soul or the nature of God. Those topics are left for parents and/or clergy to provide the guidance and instruction they see as appropriate for their own children/church members. I am unaware of any "banning" of religious history courses in NC. Many high schools across the state offer "Bible as History" courses.
I offer these observations and thoughts to help provide some balance to the conversation Mr. Ryan initiated.

Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jul 22, 2014 09:17

       And there is this: " All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and no human authority shall, in any case whatsoever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience," North Carolina Religious Clause.

         Plus "No Taxation Without Representation"!



Posted by: Doris Hammett | Jul 22, 2014 13:06

Recent education letters reviewed

Jack Ryan 7/18/2014


            I find Mr. Ryan’s use of statistics interesting and informative.  I am not sure how they apply to Haywood County.

            Haywood Community College prides itself in its vocational courses that apply for the students who seek post secondary education in the vocational fields.  Haywood Public schools leads in the concept for early College which includes vocational courses.                 

Mr. Ryan states North Carolina failure/drop out rate as 23%. I do not know from what report Mr. Ryan gets his figures.  In the Report to NC General Assembly 2012-2013 states  “The rate of 2.45 for 2012-13 is the lowest ever recorded in the state.”  This same report gives the dropout rate for Haywood County as 1.48 which was a decrease from 3.36 (56.8%) from 2011-12.

            I hope Mr. Ryan will use his knowledge to work for positive ways that we can continue to improve the education we provide for our students in our public school system.

Doris B. Hammett, MD


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