UTC should do background checks
I'm not surprised another Chattanoogan has been arrested with 14 felony charges. Likewise, it's not surprising that this same individual has been convicted of harassing and stalking girls, as well as burglary (and been deemed dangerous to the community by authorities in 2007).
What is surprising, however, is that UTC allowed this person to matriculate at its fine school. Are they so strapped for cash they accept anyone who walks in the door? A suggestion could be made that a new position be formed - one that most colleges have - an Admissions Officer, whose job would be to check backgrounds of prospective students.
By allowing this felon into school - and even giving him the lofty status of resident assistant - UTC will no doubt lose several future Mocs, scared away by this incident.
Don't subsidize big business
The Republican (or tea party) call for free market capitalism is supreme hypocrisy. Would the current nuclear power, ethanol, pharmaceutical, banking, mortgage, aerospace, weapons, oil, fertilizer, transportation, insurance, ship building, or textile industry exist without government support? Republicans believe that the objective of government is to distort the free market. Why will they not let the free market determine the values of these industries?
The U.S. is a republic of the people and for the people. Corporations are not people! Removing federal subsidies to big business is the moral way to balance the budget. Keep the programs that are for the people.
Scale down school luncheons
If the Hamilton County school system is in dire financial problems, why are they having luncheons at the Chattanoogan?
Have it at Bea's, or better in one of the school cafeterias.
Hamilton keeps UT under suspicion
I am writing in regard to the continued illegal activities of the university's sports team. The atmosphere at Tennessee that has allowed such things to happen can all be tied to one person, Athletic Director Mike Hamilton. With such a man at the head of our sports teams, it is not surprising that his coaches would believe that cheating was OK as long as you weren't caught. Until someone with ethics is hired to replace him, the situation will not get any better.
Fire Mike Hamilton and find someone with character (preferably with ties to the university) to run our athletic department. We need someone like Bob Woodruff who the fans, players and alumni can all respect. As long as Hamilton remains athletic director, Tennessee will continue to be under a cloud of suspicion.
Teacher unions protect profession
One does not have to look further than "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" to understand why educators need unions.
This British book lampoons America's mania for good test scores over academic achievement. The antagonist, Dolores Umbridge, represents a political ideology. She has been given the power to root out professors who are not in line with her political or personal views. Hogwarts School of Magic has no union. Instead, they must wait for Umbridge to self destruct.
That is fiction. In real life, career protection is necessary for teachers who have found their school managed by jocks with online degrees, whose management styles are suitable for despots, not educational leaders who rely on collaboration.
Career protection is necessary when administrations ignore or punish rather than promote collaboration. Students lose when school systems lose valuable educators who quit the schools they love to find employment in other school systems that recognize the value of experience as a resource. Some quit. Others wait for the Umbridges in the system to self destruct.
We need strong unions to protect the profession as well as the educators and their students.
SUSAN C. HEARD
Is this prison really needed?
Our new governor says that he must lay off hundreds of state employees and release thousands of prisoners to make the budget balance.
However, he found $40 million to give to a private company to operate a prison. Our last governor was planning to close this privately operated prison.
My question is, do we have a shortage of funds requiring the release of prisoners or do we need this prison?
Or more importantly, is it all a question of politics and who you know?
Value added tax is the way to go
Who do we think we're kidding? The bill for George Bush's foolish wars, his lopsided tax cuts for the wealthy and his unfunded Medicare prescription drug program is past due. Taxes are going up. It's only a question of when, how much and what kind. So far we have chosen to ignore this reality.
Until recently the only developed nation without national health care, we are still one of the few without some form of VAT, value added tax. VAT is assessed on the increase in value of a product or service at each point of production and distribution. Essentially a consumption or sales tax, VAT is the most important source of revenue in most European countries.
Opponents call VAT regressive because the poor are taxed at a higher rate of their incomes than the wealthy, and they are right to a point. But because it is simpler to collect and harder to avoid or cheat on than property or income taxes, a fact that gives tax evaders and their lawyers and accountants apoplexy, nations using VAT have been able to eliminate or substantially reduce other taxes on those least able to pay.
When are we going to face the inevitable?
GEORGE B. REED JR.
Tenure provides for due process
There's a misconception that tenure only protects ineffective teachers. However, tenure exists to protect teachers from politics, nepotism and retaliation.
Throughout a teacher's career, administrators and school board members can exert their own agendas and have the power to punish teachers unfairly, as can disgruntled parents or students.
Tenure simply provides teachers their right to due process. Tenured teachers can be fired. If responsible administrators document a teacher's ineptitude or misconduct, dismissal can result, despite tenure. However, tenure is necessary for educators to focus on the rewarding, yet public task of teaching our children by providing protection from personal vendettas.
Gaining tenure is a high-pressure and arduous three-year (soon to be five-year) process involving numerous yearly evaluations, standard-aligned lesson plans, continuing education, letters of recommendation, and consistently high test scores. New teachers who don't have the commitment or skill to teach - and some who do - are weeded out by the process during those already challenging first years.
Will our best and brightest choose not to teach in this current climate, one which seems determined to erode teachers' rights, and thus the respect most teachers deserve to fulfill their vital role in our democracy?
RACHEL S. REAVIS