Letters to the Editor: Week of Jan. 31, 2013

A slow and steady disinvestment in public education

As parents, educators, and residents of Hanover County, we are very concerned about the five years of deep cuts to Hanover’s school system. There has been a slow and steady disinvestment in our schools. Unlike many transplants in Hanover County, we did not move here for the schools; frankly, we didn’t know anything about them before we came. We moved here in 2009 for a job. After spending a few years here, however, we decided to buy a house and to stay here, for the Ashland community but also for the schools, in particular for Henry Clay and John Gandy elementary schools.
Since 2009, we have seen class sizes rise and positions get cut. We have seen school faculty, administration, and staff, given more responsibilities than is reasonable to ask. We have seen facilities in need of renovation and repair. As parents, we’ve also been asked to contribute more: fees for basic classroom supplies and materials, fees for field trips, contributions to upgrade technology, fees for school-based activities. We’ve participated in many PTA fundraisers.
While it’s not feasible for the PTAs of our kids’ schools to raise this kind of money, we’ve heard of schools in other parts of the county raising tens of thousands of dollars to fund technology and computers. Paying for such things is not the job of the PTA; it’s the job of the tax payers. Furthermore, we would wager that we and other parents have contributed far more in the way of fees and contributions than we would have were our taxes a little higher. We’d rather pay the taxes. It’s more fair, it’s more cost-effective, and it means not just investing in our children’s school or classrooms, but in our community. Paying for schools through our taxes recognizes that education does not simply aid the individual who gains knowledge and skills, but benefits the entire community. Education may help an individual get ahead, but it is also a public good. Well-funded, good public schools lift all boats.
Furthermore, when developers build in our county, they profit from the resources our local government devotes to make this an attractive community. They should also be asked to contribute to the infrastructure needed to support the newest members of our community. It’s the right thing to do and the fair thing to do.
A good public school system means less crime, higher property values, lower unemployment, and a better quality of life. A good public school system educates the employees of the future but also equips the citizens of the future. Investment in our public schools is not just an investment in the future of our industries but also in the future of our democratic society. We can either invest, proactively and positively, in our community and children now, or we will surely pay later.

Rachel Levy & Cedar Riener
Ashland

 

You’re safer with a gun than a doctor

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000 and the accidental deaths caused by physicians per year are 120,000 which means the accidental deaths per physician is 17.1 percent.
According to the FBI, the number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000.  The number of accidental gun deaths per year, all age groups, is 1,500, which means the number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .00188 percent.
Not everyone has a gun, but almost everyone has at least one doctor.  This means that statistically speaking, you are over 9,000 times more likely to be killed by a doctor than by a gun owner.
Please alert your friends of this alarming threat. Maybe we should we rush out and ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand.
Out of concern for the public at large, I have withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention!

Wilma Royer
Mechanicsville

Posted on Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 10:51 am