In a recent Times Free Press story one of the mayor's representatives told reporters he had talked to 28 agencies in Chattanooga. He left out the most important one: The school system. The percentage of children who do not achieve reading mastery by third or fourth grade is significant. What happens to these children? Many fall behind; remain behind and some develop behavior issues which further impact their educational experience. Statistics show many kids with criminal records have had a limited education. Many of my former students I read about in the newspaper did not achieve reading mastery. The percentage of children who do not achieve reading mastery is consistent from year to year going back to the 1970s. The same is true even in states that spend more money per pupil. Reading instruction has not changed much since Dick and Jane of my childhood. The one-size-fits-all has not and does not meet the needs of all children. So many of these children come from deprived neighborhoods and inadequate home situations. These children, mostly boys, need and would respond to another way of presenting material and we need alternatives. By first and second grades these children are already showing signs of falling behind and by the end of fourth grade could be two or more years behind and will never catch up.
ROBERT J. BROOKS
To "make a bicyclist's encounter with teens a cause for innovation" is an idea worth considering. However, the time is not appropriate for making lemonade out of lemons. I think your editorial (1-18) in response to the events of last week on Raccoon Mountain is a condescending, mean-spirited characterization of cyclists that serves only to deepen the divide between drivers and cyclists. Of immediate importance are the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of harm against a vulnerable individual. The piece diverts attention away from the crimes committed and the thugs who are responsible. Cyclists have every right to ride on public roads not otherwise designated as prohibited. Cyclists are required to obey the same laws as motorists and must use good judgment as they share the road; drivers are required to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. It is the law and it is good sense. Cyclists should be able to ride safely without fear of being victimized. Efforts to improve the cycling environment are ongoing and will serve to make this area even more wonderful. Violence, bullying, and assault have no place in civil public discourse and these boys must be held accountable for their exceedingly irresponsible and potentially fatal behavior.
JEFF NESS, Soddy-Daisy
As a parent of a teenager who has his driver's license, I was deeply saddened to hear about the Hixson car accident and subsequent death of a 15-year-old young man. I cannot imagine the grief and utter sadness his parents, friends, teachers and classmates are feeling. I wonder if the Times Free Press reporter was thinking about the family when she reported, in graphic detail, how this young man was found and later died. Was this really necessary in the story? I think not.
KATHY MARTIN, Hixson