Education is more
than teachers, tests
I worked in the Somers Point public-school system for nearly 30 years as the director of Community Education Recreation. In that position, I was involved with elementary school children both before and after school through a variety of programs.
What I witnessed during my tenure was that teachers do a very good job. The vast majority are very dedicated and work many hours for which they are not financially compensated. However, over the last half century, society has lost track of the simple fact that the primary educator is the parents and the community.
By losing sight of this fact, society in general and those responsible for dictating education policy in particular have unfairly heaped countless tasks on teachers and the public schools. These tasks had previously been the responsibility of the family and the community.
In addition, state and federal authorities have chosen to attempt to quantify something that is not quantifiable. Learning is a process that takes place within a broad spectrum that includes family, friends, peer groups, as well as the school environment. To hold teachers alone accountable is unfair at best.
We want to find fault. We want to somehow figure out what went wrong. So the public schools, the teachers and the children have become fodder for the giant testing corporations - the educational-industrial complex.
But we are the problem. Parents, educators and especially legislators need to begin to understand how true learning takes place, by recognizing the worth of play, imagination, exploration and creativity in the daily lives of our schools. By not doing so, we will continue going down the wrong road.
U.S. shouldn't be trying
to foment discord in Cuba
Reading the news could send anyone into a deep funk. But perhaps the most chilling recent story was the plan by the U.S. Agency for International Development to use an online messaging network to reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans under the guise of providing news on soccer, music and hurricanes. The actual intent was to introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize mass gatherings that might trigger a "Cuban spring."
Is this the role of the United States - to foment more trouble in the world? Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said the USAID should be applauded for creating a flow of information to a closed society. As a son of Cuban parents, it seems he has a personal ax to grind. There are thousands upon thousands of satisfied citizens of Cuba who are not harming us. Do we need a U.S. agency or a U.S. senator to start more problems?
•eeded to save A.C.
Atlantic City must take some drastic steps if it is going to survive. I recommend the following:
• Impose an immediate hiring freeze in city government and enact a 25 percent pay cut for all employees from the mayor on down.
• Eliminate all tax abatements for developers.
• Renegotiate the property tax structure for The Walk.
• Establish some kind of floor for casino tax assessments, replacing the ongoing appeals circus.
• Make a concerted effort to sell Bader Field and use sale proceeds solely for the elimination of municipal and school debt.
And these are just the baby steps. Much more also needs to be done.
Pipeline isn't necessary
for us to have power
The March 23 story - "South Jersey electricity supply: Power Drain?" - was excellent in explaining exactly how we get the power in our homes and all the policies and procedures in place to ensure our current and future energy needs are met.
It also confirmed what those of us who fought against the natural-gas pipeline through the Pine Barrens already knew - that that pipeline wasn't a necessity. Fortunately the Pinelands Commission was brave enough to follow the Comprehensive Management Plan and vote it down.
Advocates want you to believe that if the pipeline is not built, we'll be living in the dark. But not even the most ardent environmentalist wants anyone to go back to living in caves.
Conservation is one answer. State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, said conservation is "no way to plan for the future." But I feel we all should be doing it anyway.
Most conservation is painless and virtually unnoticeable but collectively makes a huge impact. And conserving energy saves you money.
As far as the B.L. England Generating Station is concerned, Americans are creative and resourceful - we will figure this out.