Readers’ forum: July 3, 2014

Teacher testing a must


While I enjoyed the informed op-ed on “Keeping good teachers,” the title was misleading since there wasn’t any discussion of differentiating good teachers from bad. Indeed, it was recommended that there be a shift from “testing and accountability to teacher centered support.” So, yes, indeed let’s make an effort to keep good teachers — more pay for the good ones is a reasonable recommendation — but first we must know who they are.

Without testing, we will not only not know how good teachers are, we will have no idea of how well the schools are doing their jobs. It seems the curriculum has been dumbed down over the past few decades while job requirements for educated workers are going up. Doing away with system-wide standardized tests would only worsen this slow decline into chaos — movies with popcorn every Friday. And, in the end, little would be accomplished since employers will continue to insist that prospective employees be tested.

Given the economic decline of the 99 percent and the accompanying social dysfunction, teaching has gotten to be a tough job. If teachers cannot maintain discipline, then unfortunately, the police will have to be used. But we must hang tough — the USA produces less-educated graduates than most developed (OECD) countries, and poor old West Virginia produces less-educated students than most states. Enough!

John D. Palmer


Unnecessary upgrades


In 1992, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to expand the locking facilities of the Marmet Locks and Dam on the Belle side of the Kanawha River. An entire community of over 200 homes and several small businesses were wiped out during the up-grading process.

The expansion of the Marmet Locks was completed in 2009. Entire tows can now lock through without being broken up, making for practically no delays; however, the commercial tonnage and number of lockages is about one-half of what it was in 1992. According to the Huntington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the commercial tonnage passing through the Marmet facility was 15,193,000 tons in 1992. In 2013, the tonnage was 8,197,000. This is a decrease of 46 percent. It is very unlikely that the new lock facilities will ever see the traffic for which it was designed.

I believe, and always have, that the destruction of over 200 homes was unnecessary.

Jack H. Albert


Environment comes first


Another election is upon us. For the first time ever I find that I will have no one to vote for. All the candidates are declaring that they will fight the EPA over strict regulations and work for miners’ jobs and everything will be great again, milk and honey, just like before. The only politician who ever told us the truth was Jay Rockefeller. Now that he’s leaving, no one is left. They want to fight regulations to get miners a short-term paycheck. Coal is on its way out. Any job in coal will at best be temporary. They need to start making the economy change over now. Tell the miners the truth and start retraining the ones who want it now. Believe me it will be harder when its forced. But for the sake of votes they won’t do this.

They should work with the president and the EPA to insure clean air and water for the future. Mountaintop removal has destroyed I don’t know how many miles of streams. This has to stop. The Spruce River mine they are discussing now would wipe out eight to 10 more miles of fresh water. The politicians need to work for a clean environment for all of us, and future generations. They should be honest and tell miners the truth. Obama is not the devil. He’s not against coal; he just realizes the environment has to come first.

Stanley B. Fitzwater


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