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Vail Daily letters to the editor

Vail Daily staffVail, CO, Colorado

Can’t you see we’re falling behind?Howdy Don (Rogers). I’ve tried to stay out of this. But with your piece Friday, I blew it. You’ll print anything, so here I go again.Our culture, our children, are falling behind each day. In China, kids march and wear uniforms. Average students take high level math classes at an early age. Our kids need to understand they’ll not only be competing against others in the room for a job, they’ll be competing against kids all over the world — for a job. As parents and adults, we must embrace what globalization means for our country and our children. Globalization has forever changed things. You could give Apple, Intel or Exxon all the tax breaks in the world, and that’s not going to stop them from making chips in Shenzhen and outsourcing the manufacturing of heavy equipment overseas. No amount of tax breaks will change the fact that what drives business for them or any other business is demand. No amount of tax breaks will change the fact that Americans can’t compete with the cost savings overseas. Things will only get worse until Americans embrace two concepts: we’re all going to have to pay more to get out of this, and investment is part of igniting the growth of manufacturing and the hiring of American workers.With LTE and faster networks coming, it’s only going to get easier for a kid in China or anywhere else in the world to compete against our kids. Construction is big up here. But the construction industry is in a race to the bottom as far as costs go. It won’t be long before anyone could collaborate with a call center agent in India using Google Docs to get house blueprints developed for less than what an architect now pays for rent. This economy up here was built on sand and it’s insane to think that past is prologue. I wish you and others around here would wake up, start building towards a sustainable economy, and ditch the dogma of the past.A start would be to invest in our children. Waiting, as you suggest, is not a choice — the time is now. To do anything else would be keeping us in a holding pattern for a few more years while the Chinese and other countries continue to gain ground. You and others seem to think the private sector will somehow show up and save us all, or the times of Reagan are repeatable. This is foolish. This “logic” relies on an economic model of yesteryear, on a time when the world was way different. Things are different now, but your-their plans are the same. You and the rest have also made a big deal out of what for most up here is nothing. The tax increase only applies to property owners, not anyone else. Why would landlords increase rents when they can’t even fill their properties now? Aspen and Summit County have already passed this same increase. If it doesn’t pass here, it’s a negative message. It says that one side of the tunnel and the pass cares about their kids, they get it. The other side does not. Schools play a big factor with parents considering moving here. If parents won’t move here, that hurts construction. If businesses can’t recruit because parents can’t-won’t move here, that hurts them. Some families and young couples who’d otherwise move here will choose Summit, Glenwood, Carbondale, or Basalt — because those schools are better. As a country, not as “conservatives and liberals” as you write, we must understand — emphasis we — what we are facing. We need to rally and start fighting back. Not later. Now. People need to realize that property values are going to stay low, even decrease, for the foreseeable future. So property tax revenue shortfalls will have to be made up somehow. Anything else is cutting off the nose to spite the face. If not, people will move, property values will decline. Some may read this and say, “Great, that’s capitalism, how markets work.” To that I say be careful what you wish for. We love Eagle, we’re invested here. But with that kind of thinking, I feel our valley will never be more than a pit stop. The usual kooks have written you, all shouting, “Investment doesn’t work — what works is cutting costs.” Offline they’re pointing to Solyndra as their shining example. Solyndra failed because the Chinese stole our technology and subsidized the development of solar panels. Now they’re selling what they stole back to us. If you’d had shown a picture of the Hindenburg going down in flames to investors considering the airline industry back then, I don’t think they’d have been bullish. Entrepreneurs like myself fail. It’s all a part of building something new. I don’t give up and neither will entrepreneurs in the nascent renewables markets. But sometimes we need a little help from the government — be it Small Business Administration loans or investment. The government invested in GPS, look at all the revenue being driven from GPS apps and services. The government invested in the Internet, railroads, transportation, the computer microchip, highways, farming and aerospace. Government investment is time tested and proven, as recent as just a few years ago, when GPS satellites were launched and paid for by the government. Or the recent investment in Bloom Energy, which is now producing boxes that power office buildings — no utility company needed. There’s not enough space here for me to list all the positive government ROI in renewables. To scream “no investment” while typing and talking on devices that track back to government investment is not smart. Times have changed and our country is on a fast track to a point of no return. Yes, costs play a heavy role in education, I get that. But what you and the rest totally miss is the must-have role of investment in our society. In fact, they demonize it. You’re all stuck on an ethos that’s no longer applicable. You’re all about bombs, but not books. You complain, but you’re not willing to chip in or have any skin in the game. “I’ll put my kids in private schools,” some say. Yeah? What will the kids of the parents do that fix their sinks? Andy Crouch wrote in today’s Wall Street Journal, “The only way forward in the most tenacious human troubles is to embrace difficulty and take up burdens — in Dr. King’s words, to embrace a ‘dangerous unselfishness.'” The children, not the clowns holding “Don’t Tread on Me” signs, are our future. We need to be unselfish and invest in them. Because the better educated our kids are, the better they’ll be able to compete and win globally, lead us out of this mess we’re in. It’s the kids, not these old farts who write you, that’ll lead us back to No. 1. I’m reminded of a great bumper sticker: “It’ll be a great day when schools have all the money they need and the government has to hold a bake sale to pay for bombs.”Paul Kulas EagleCan’t spend like boom timesAfter 41 years living in Eagle County, I’m compelled to speak up. In the past I’ve supported tax increases to assure the kids and young adults of our community an excellent education. They are the future of our country. And they deserve the tools to help them make the right decisions in life. But over the past 15 years, spending in Eagle County has been out of control. I agree with Buddy Shipley. Even though I don’t know him personally, what he wrote in response to increasing school taxes has a resounding ring of the truth. The reality is that the economy is winding down, not just in this country but around the globe. Revenues statewide are in a death spiral. And for the first time in a long time, the county population growth is at or near decline.We have been privileged to live in a false economy in relation to the rest of the country, weathering economic downturns fairly well in comparison. This is obviously not your average economic downturn. Those in charge of spending must come to their senses. It will be far better to face reality now rather than later. Look around, identify and use the tremendous resources Eagle County has accumulated over the past two decades.I think a telling comparison would be if the public could see an honest accounting of how much of every school tax dollar is actually spent on improving the quality and quantity of education for our kids. I’m sure an accounting of that type will never be made available to the public. It would be counter productive to those crying for more tax dollars. This is going to be a long one. Lose the appetite for spending. If the current administration can’t do it, replace them with some of the many gifted people who live in this county that can. It’s time to use the resources at hand and stop banking on what’s going to be available in the future from a population that is already suffering to make ends meet. Not everyone who lives in and owns property in Eagle County is wealthy. And it is this economic, social and spiritual diversity that forms the truer wealth of our community. We stand to lose that wealth if the status quo is maintained without regard for the consequences. I believe at this critical crossroads in or economy, higher thinkers in office would greatly outweigh higher taxes.Thom W. Davis Wolcott Keep the progress goingIf you are the parent of a child in Eagle County Schools, please make it a priority to vote “yes” on 3B.We need to be clear about the great things ECS has been doing. Our schools now have the structure and team teaching models in place that address each student’s needs in the form of individual learning plans. This means that each child has a specific, individualized, goal oriented, learning plan. This is a new and powerful teaching approach put in place by ECS, which focuses on each child individually, not just a one-size-fits-all approach. It is very unusual in the public school system to be able to focus on each child individually. This is a new and very promising approach. Very few school districts, if any, are currently doing this — at least not yet. ECS is now beginning to see measurable improvements in performance.This teaching model focused on each child’s learning needs is working! My first-grade son needed speech therapy last year. His kindergarten teacher recognized that he needed assistance and arranged for him to see a district speech specialist. The speech specialist pulled him from class during reading-literacy for 10 minutes two times per week. Our school district specialist gave him the necessary tools to pronounce letters and letter blends, with which he was having difficulty. This helped him immensely with reading. He is now reading at an advanced level in his class and has developed confidence and a love of reading, to himself and most importantly aloud. The failure of 3B threatens to increase class sizes and take away this type of targeted learning support. Without proper staffing and the funds to keep our effective support teachers, many of our students will be left behind and become disengaged. Please do not put the brakes on now when we are beginning to see improvements. Significant positive change like this takes time. The district has suffered $9 million in state funding cuts over the past two years and we will lose more in the upcoming years. We must act now before it is too late and our effective team-teaching models are decimated with more cuts, or even worse our children are lost in the shuffle in more crowded classrooms with less attention placed on their individual learning needs. It will be extremely difficult to get back to where we are now if we allow ourselves to slide backwards on the progress that has been made.I am not willing to take that chance.I urge anyone who might be on the fence about 3B to watch “The Education Show, Focus on Education” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEGrutDGAhI&feature.I am voting yes on 3B and hope you will join me.Amber Prince AvonHow schools succeedYou want to get involved? Attend a school board meeting.It is refreshing to me to know that Eagle County parents do care about our local schools (school tax ballot issue 3B). Parental involvement is key to improving our schools. One way for the parents to become involved is to attend school board meetings. School board meetings are valuable sources of ideas, strategies, and products for improving our schools. They provide the prime opportunity for parents to get involved and speak directly to those in power. So regardless of the 3B outcome, parents must get involved for our schools to succeed.Eric Lyon Edwards


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