Letters to the Editor week of 7-1-10

10

Illegal immigrants

To the Editor:

I would like to question the article (To the Point) by the paper’s editor Pat Lanman in the June 10th, 2010, edition of the Vevay Reveille. Part of the article dealt with illegal immigration. As the editor states in his article, “. . . since there is all of this talk about building huge walls along the Mexican border to keep out illegal immigrants, I can’t help but wonder if we’re also going to build walls along our northern border to keep illegal Canadians out of our country? Who knows how many Canadians have snuck into this country and are taking our jobs and living off the federal system. Those Canadians are a tricky bunch because they closely resemble Americans. . .”; “. . . to set a Federal policy that is geographic and is mostly pointed at people who don’t look like us is not the American Way either. I want a big fence and security along the north border of North Dakota. If we’re in the business of keeping people out, then let’s keep them all out.”

Many statistics estimate the illegal population currently up to 20 million. Meaning one out of every 15 people in America is an illegal. Seventy percent of the illegals are thought to come from Mexico alone. Ninety percent of the illegals are thought to come from Latin American countries (all of which are on our southern border). A study on criminal activity of illegals requested by Congress and done by the government accounting office sampled over 55,000 illegal aliens. The study found an average of eight arrests and 13 offenses per illegal alien. A breakdown in offenses is as follows: 45 percent drug or immigration; 15 percent theft, burglary, or property damage; 12 percent murder, robbery, or assault. Communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, polio, malaria, Chagas disease, and Dengue fever, which were near eradication or never existed here in the U.S., are now on the rise due to the illegal alien invasion from Latin American countries. Some of these diseases have no cure.

In Arizona the federal government has issued unsafe travel warnings to people who wish to visit three of our National Monuments, multiple wild life refugees, and other government lands near the border. This is due to the repeated violence from the traffic of illegal border crossings. I found no similar threat in North Dakota.

Given these statistics I do not understand why it would be racist to give priority to build a wall on the southern border. I also do not understand the sarcasm toward a barrier to stop the overwhelming tidal wave of illegals.

I have one further question. Why do some people automatically assume our country is racist? Why do they believe the worst of this country so easily? I may have misinterpreted this article. If so, maybe a clarification may be in order.

R.B. Meyer

Braytown Road

Forming committee

To The Editor:

Last week, my letter to the editor went astray in cyberspace through some mishap I haven’t figured out.

At the June 16th planning commission meeting the board and the attending public were unable to come to any agreement about forming a Citizens Advisory Committee. Disheartened by this, I spoke with the county commissioners at their June 21st meeting. Mark Archer, who was also there, suggested that we wait to organize the CAC until the new planning board commissioner and the yet to be selected Vevay planning board representative could be in place and brought up to speed. I asked how long the process of forming the CAC would take (thinking that both groups could be developed and ready simultaneously). Mark told Joe Watson, a faithful regular at commissioner meetings, and myself that they were waiting for someone to “step up and say I’ll be the chair of that committee”. Joe looked at me, and said, “We will.”

So, Joe and I have offered to get the word out to Switzerland County residents in an effort to begin the process of forming a Citizens Advisory Committee. Although Mark used the term “chair”, Joe and I instead consider ourselves volunteers trying to get the ball rolling so that this group can get started. Hopefully, we will have meetings arranged soon.

Anyone and everyone who cares about the future direction of our county will be welcome at these meetings. The county commissioners requested that the CAC be diverse, so if you have a particular interest, be it rural or urban, farming, retail, services, or anything else that needs to be represented by the CAC, or just want your voice heard, this is your chance to be involved. While I have my own thoughts about this organization, it is not meant to be my personal group, but a reflection of all of Switzerland County’s people, and the direction they want to take this. My hope is to see as many of our community as possible engaged in this project, working as was laid out by the planning board during the May planning commission meeting: to review the 1996 and 2008 comprehensive plans to glean whatever may be useful for the new plan, and above all to listen to the concerns of other residents, in order to present them to the board. 

An email account has been set up for anyone who is interested in this organization, and for collecting constructive ideas and concerns: scvoices@yahoo.com. There is also an online discussion forum at tribe.net, under the “Switzerland County Indiana” tribe, with the following URL: http://invite.tribe.net/?inviteId=f4cebd05-1828-4934-862f-4c0e48e6d273

A Facebook site is also in the planning stage.

Traci Weber

Switzerland County resident

Great community

To the Editor:

The weekend is over and the 2010 Relay for Life of Switzerland County event has ended. It was a great night on Friday due in part to the great community that we are a part of. Throughout this year many individuals have given of themselves as they look to the greater need of helping to find a cure for cancer. The Relay night is the time to come together as a community as we Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back against cancer.

This event would not be possible if it wasn’t for all the support that was received. Sponsors, teams, individuals, and you helped make this year another great success. Through your generous support our goal was reached and exceeded. Please thank our sponsors, committee members, and team members for their part in this success. As the need to find a cure for cancer continues, so does the need to Relay for Life. You can be a part of the cure. Think about it. How much more satisfying could it be than to know that you helped cure cancer in the loves of your family, friends and neighbors. Will you join us?

Roy Duckworth, Event Chair

Switzerland County Relay for Life

Adverse effects

To the Editor:

I am writing this letter to the editor as a taxpayer and a very concerned citizen of Switzerland County but more importantly as a parent of four children. One of my children is a special needs child who attends Jefferson-Craig Elementary. This child, as well as my third grader and high school age child, are being effected very adversely by the transfer of all of the county’s sixth graders to Jefferson-Craig. To date, I have not been contacted by the Jefferson-Craig principal, the superintendent, or the special education director about all the drastic changes which my six-year-old special needs son will have to endure because of this haphazardly planned reconfiguration plan.

I am also very concerned about the special needs children younger than my son, those who are three, four, and five years of age who have been enrolled in the developmental preschool at Jefferson-Craig but for next year have been moved to Switzerland County Elementary School. I fear that the changes for these two groups of special education students are going to do much more harm than good. I wonder why these children who must deal with so many daily challenges must suffer the consequences for the poorly planned transfer of the sixth graders.

The developmental preschool class is being moved to a much smaller room at Switzerland County Elementary School. I wonder whether their specialized and necessary equipment will even fit into this smaller room. It appears that they are also losing the opportunity to go to the YMCA for swimming therapy. These two special education classes were ideally located right across the hallway from each other at Jefferson-Craig. These two groups of children and their teachers were very helpful to one another in the course of their daily activities. The special needs five year olds go through a very important transition period in which they visit the kindergarten program to get used to the new room, new classmates, and new teacher.

Those who do not understand special needs children would not understand the importance of this transition period for these very young special needs children. Change is a major issue for them and it is often not accepted easily. Just starting a school year, let alone different classrooms and/or school buildings are major and very disruptive events in these children’s lives. How is this transition supposed to occur when the children are going to be housed in two different buildings 15 miles apart? Are the school administrators prepared to help the special needs children handle the stress of this change and all the issues that go with it, or is it just going to be up to the teachers to “deal with it?”

This group of very vulnerable special needs children cannot be ignored and the “out of sight” “out of mind” approach in dealing with their education cannot be accepted by their parents. The special needs of these children cannot be overlooked to accommodate what the admistrators say are the special needs of sixth graders. When was the last time a school board member, superintendent, or principal spent a day in a classroom with any of these special needs children? Most likely not one of them has any idea as to what the teachers or parents of these children go through on a daily basis. If any of these school officias walked in these parents’ and teachers’ shoes they would get a glimpse of the numerous physical, mental, and financial challenges which the adults who work with special education children continually face. Not only is one of these groups of children going to have to get used to a remodeled classroom, but they are also getting a new teacher as well. Talk about sensory overload!

The special needs kindergarten through grade five classroom at Jefferson-Craig is being completely gutted and remodeled this summer. This classroom used to have carpet on the floor. It is now going to have tile floors. Some of these little kids have temper tantrums like “normal” two year olds do. Some of these children have seizures. Some have trouble walking. Instead of getting rug burns from the carpet, now they are going to have major bruises, stitches, and broken bones. Is the school system going to pay for the doctor visits for these unnecessary injuries to our children?

My son’s classroom used to have a well-padded area and equipment specifically designed for climbing, but the teachers were made to take it down because it supposedly wasn’t safe for the kids to climb on, so what’s left for them to use – tables, chairs, desks, counter tops and bookshelves for climbing? Now add tile floors into the mixture. Which is/was safer?

I’ve heard that Jefferson-Craig is trying to be “greener,” therefore, no microwaves or refrigerators are going to be permitted in the special needs classes. A lot of these children pack their lunches and bring special drinks to school. If there is no way to keep their food safe what are the children supposed to do? The school sure isn’t going to cater to these children’s special diets and limited food preferences and prepare special meals for them. What is going to happen to the special needs children who have feeding tubes?

Another question I have involves the bus routes for the special needs chhildren. How are the drivers going to get these children to two different schools without added confusion and expense?

Some special needs children who are driven to school by their parents need to be walked to their classrooms, but some parents, depending on who they are, are not allowed to do this. Parents want to help their children and help the teachers help their children, but how are they supposed to be involved in their children’s education when they are not permitted in the special education classrooms? (It is against the law to keep parents out of the classrooms, by the way.) But then again, why try to help the school if as a parent you are subjected to hostility and made to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome each time you try to visit. This is not the kind of atmosphere or setting I’m comfortable leaving my children in.

Problems for special education students are unfortunately not limited to those at the elementary school. The middle school special education class was located in the old home economics room at SCMS so that the older special needs kids could learn some life skills. This room is being “gutted” to make room for sixth graders. Again the special needs kids are being kicked out of one room and forced into another. What is this new classroom going to be like? Is it going to be equipped like the home economics room or is the teacher again going to have to “make do” with what she has?

At Jefferson-Craig two kindergarten classes and teachers will be using one classroom so that there will be room for yet another sixth grade classroom. How is this going to work for these children and teachers?

The transfer of the sixth graders to Jefferson-Craig has also caused some Switzerland County teachers to be reassigned to teach classes they have never taught before. How is this going to benefit our children? Here are a few examples: 1. A middle school language arts teacher is now a first grade teacher at Jefferson-Craig. 2. A high school English teacher is now a middle school teacher. 3. A Switzrland County Elementary second grade teacher is now a sixth grade teacher at Jefferson-Craig. 4. A regular class teacher at SCES was reassigned to teach music at Jefferson-Craig and has now resigned. In my opinion, these transfers are not in the best interest of any of the children involved.

Wasn’t the middle school originally built for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders? Hasn’t the middle school always had room for all the sixth graders? It makes no sense for the students to go to one school for grades kindergarten-grade five and then to another school for grade six (if the children attend SCES) and then go to yet another school for grades seven and eight. Supposedly studies have been conducted by the school officials about where parents want their sixth graders to go to school, but where is the data from these studies? If these studies were done, did the parents have any idea as to all of the changes that would occur in the programs, buildings, teacher assignments, etc., if the students were transferred back to Jefferson-Craig? Were the problems that would result from such a transfer hidden from the general public and was this transfer of the sixth graders rammed down the throats of the citizens by the school officials just like the county officials tried to change the zoning laws without widespread kowledge of the changes made known to the general public?

I have tried talking to some teachers, but most will not express opinions one way or another about the transfer of the sixth graders and the other changes that are taking place at Jefferson-Craig and at Switzerland Couty Middle School. They are afraid of poor evaluations, demotions, and of losing their jobs. I can’t really blame them, but at the same time, is it a healthy working environment for these teachers to be scared of voicing their concerns or opinions about what they thik is best for our kids? If it’s not a healthy environment for the adults in these schools, how can it be a healthy environment for our children?

When my children and I drove pat Jefferson-Craig on Dupraz Lane last week my soon to be third grader saw the playground torn up and the play equipment gone. She was very upset and with tears in her eyes, she started asking me questions. She asked, “Am I still going to get to play with my friends at recess? Are we going to have recess? What are we going to play on? If there are no swings, how’s my brother going to swing? Is there still going to be field day?” The only answer I could give her was, “I don’t know.”

Unfortunately, there are so many things I don’t know about my children’s education, their school facilities, their programs, and who their teachers will be. Hopefully, I’m not the only parent who has concerns about the school boards’, the superintendent’s, and the principals’ decisions about what is in the best interest of our children. I am so hopeful that more people will write letters to the editor voicing their concerns and their opinions about their schools. Calls must be made to school board members, the superintendent, and to the principals so that questions can be asked and answered by them. Concerned parents must start attending school board meetings and asking questions and waiting for well-thought out answers.

Am I afraid that my children will feel the repercussions of this letter? Yes I am! But I am much more fearful of the long term repercussions for my children’s education if I say nothing. Parents, remember there are laws against bullying from others including school board members, superintendents, principals, teachers, and coaches as well as from our children’s peers. If you want to make a ferocious mama and papa lion appear, just pick on their cubs.

My husband is always telling me “people will always complain but will do little or nothing to try to change the things they’re complaining about.” Come school board election time, the same school board members will probably be voted into office who have allowed for my special needs child to suffer the consequences of their decisions. My husband is probably correct, but I for one will know that at least I tried my best to share my feelings about those things that are just not right for our Switzerland County children.

Connie Voris

Vevay