Letters to the editor | VailDaily.com

Letters to the editor

Sandra Donnelly

You go, Matt Zalaznick! Selfishness and ignorance are evidently rampant in the anti-immigrant group, so I am sure they won’t get your latest commentary on this subject. If these people should actually gain any credence in the real world, before you know it we of immigrant heritage will be deported back to Ireland, England, Germany, Italy, etc., etc. I can’t speak any of my heritage languages, so will probably be rejected by my family’s countries of origin. Hmmm, what to do then? Go to Mexico?Sandra Donnelly EdwardsAbout those scoresAs a proud parent of two students enrolled in the dual language program at Edwards Elementary School (EES), I am writing to give more detailed information about the test scores used for our school’s report card. There are two types of programs at EES: dual language and traditional. The CSAP test scores used for our school report card rating include the combined scores from both the traditional classes and the dual language classes. They are not representative of the dual language program. The English-speaking students who are enrolled in the dual language program have CSAP test scores that meet or beat any of the high scoring schools in the valley, with the added bonus of learning a second language. The Spanish speakers in the dual language program have high test scores, as well. Edwards is not allowed to publish these segregated test scores because the Colorado Department of Education says that publishing these scores separately from the traditional classes is discriminatory. If anyone would like to see the test scores of the students enrolled in the dual language program, you may see them at the school. The traditional classes have some students who may have been in our country for a very short time with little knowledge of the English language. The students take the test in English, whether they have been in our country one week or one year. The bottom line is that the test scores on the Web site and in the paper include both the traditional classes and the dual language program. A representative from the Colorado Department of Education told me last year that public schools with different demographics should not be compared in the same newspaper articles. Ninety-eight percent of the students at the Eagle County Charter School Academy are native English speakers. I believe about 35 percent of the students at Edwards are native English speakers. With the difference in the demographics, should our community be comparing these two public schools? Now that Edwards Elementary is a dual language focus school, the kindergarten class of 2005 consists of four dual language classes. This is our first year of not having the traditional classes. The dual language classrooms are composed of 50 percent Spanish speakers and 50 percent English speakers. I am proud to support this program because it benefits both our English- and Spanish-speaking communities. The reason the dual language program benefits both communities is because it focuses on the native language first. Studies show that forcing a second language on children causes them to have problems, starting in middle school, because they do not have the necessary cognitive skills in their native language for higher learning. The students at EES learn to read and write in their own native language, with the benefit of gradual second language acquisition. For example, my first-grader has all of her language arts classes (reading and writing) in English, and her work is above average. Her math classes alternate every three weeks from Spanish to English. I am very proud of the math work she is doing on her own, as well as the small books she is writing in Spanish. Of course, a dual language program is not appealing to everyone. Fortunately, there are many great school choices in our valley, both public and private. If the benefits of learning a second language are appealing, please do not be put off by our school’s report card. You are welcome to visit our school and receive more accurate, detailed information about our dual language program from the knowledgeable staff at Edwards Elementary. Carrie BenwayObvious conclusionsThe following analysis is driven by neither liberal nor conservative bias, it is merely a compilation of documented facts which lead to some very obvious conclusions.Although there was significant neo-conservative “thinking” in prior years, it wasn’t until 1997 that it spawned an organization with a charter and signed members. The organization adopted the initials PNAC, which was the abbreviation for Project for the New American Century. It was led by William Kristol and among its members are Richard Cheney, Lewis Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz. The stated goal of PNAC was a substantial increase in our military strength, which would lead to the recognition of the United States as the global leader.At the time, it was widely suspected that Mr. Saddam Hussein possessed and/or was developing weapons of mass destruction; and before long, that possibility was adopted by the members of PNAC as the rallying cause. Mr. Cheney and Mr. Wolfowitz became the point men to convince the president, the Congress, and our citizens of the need for military action. Towards that end:”Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.” Richard Cheney, Aug. 26, 2002. “For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.” Paul Wolfowitz, May 28, 2003.For the members of PNAC, an invasion of Iraq was essential. Although the ongoing weapons inspections might confirm the existence of WMDs, they would accomplish nothing towards PNAC’s goal of demonstrating our military power and our global leadership. Towards that end, statements were made by PNAC members in order to convince politicians and the public, that the invasion of Iraq would not be much of a burden. Their public statements included:”Only 75,000 troops will be required to police the war’s aftermath at only $16 billion a year … drawn down to several thousand soldiers, after a year or two.” William Kristol.”We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction. There’s a lot of money to pay for this. It doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money.” Paul Wolfowitz.And so intelligence data was skewed in that direction. Individuals with other opinions were discredited. Inflammatory statements were issued. And Mr. Bush was brought into the fold. He made the following statements:”Right now Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.” George W. Bush, Sept. 12, 2002.”Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraqi regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” George W. Bush, March 17, 2003.Mr. Bush had been convinced, politicians from both parties were bamboozled, the public went along with the war and there have been 20,000 U.S. casualties with 2,130 deaths. Those are the sordid facts and there have been no denials, no apologies and no repercussions.David Le VineVail, Colorado

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