City a pigsty
In case you haven't noticed, our city is a pigsty. Drive down Cantrell Hill, past Austin Brothers, past Junior Deputy to LaHarpe Blvd. and all one will see is litter. It's a disgrace and it was a disgrace last spring during the Little Rock Marathon.
Mayor Mark Stodola, instead of exercising his right to file for re-election, could exercise his gluteus in a maximum way by picking up this trash.
Think of the calorie burn that will ensue once our mayor just does it.
Will endure Boozman
Max Brantley wants us to vote for Sen. Blanche Lincoln to a third term as a U.S. senator, solely because she is, in his opinion, more palatable than the alternative, John Boozman. Well, that is the logic I've used in the previous two elections. Sorry, but that argument just won't work the third time.
Senator Lincoln has proven to be one of the most Republican-leaning Democrats in Washington, perhaps surpassed in that category only by Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Her voting record has consistently been anti-union, as shown by her refusal to support the Employee Free Choice Act and her vote against confirming Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board. These anti-union votes, along with her long-time advocacy for repealing the estate tax, have convinced me that she would be more comfortable at a chamber of commerce luncheon than at an AFL-CIO meeting.
There's only so much that can be asked of voters who want a real Democrat representing Arkansas in the U.S. Senate. Senator Lincoln has gotten my vote twice, but I have reached a point that I will not give it to her a third time. I will be one of those voters who, much to Mr. Brantley's chagrin, will vote for a third party candidate rather than Senator Lincoln, and I am ready to suffer the consequence of six dreadful years with John Boozman as our junior U.S. senator.
Thomas G. May
North Little Rock
Teachers and test scores
Well aytch e double hockey sticks John Brummett, let's just let any old boy off the streets come on in and try their hand at teaching school. They might could do better. This whole moronic argument makes me so angry. We (well, not me) have bought into the concept of the standardized test as God so completely that many ignoramuses automatically accept as fact that something so ephemeral as teaching/learning can be totally judged by the resulting scores. Doesn't anybody understand that there is so much more to judging the success of a teacher than standardized tests scores?
Who are the students in a class; what home environment do they come from; what is their diet; how much sleep do they get; do they have one parent or two, good parents or bad; where do they live, projects or gated community; what medical conditions do they have, what medications are they on (or need to be on); what kind of administration does the school have, great or poor; what kind of finances does the district have; rural, urban or suburban; how many English language learners; some kids are good at tests, some are not; what type teachers did the child have in the past; where did they go to school last year or last week; immigrants? migrant families? I could go on.
Standardized test scores are only one piece of the overall picture of the results of a teacher's work. A great teacher can work like a dog and get minimal results, and an average teacher, with the right situation, can get better results. Let's lay some of the blame for educational failures where it properly belongs — parents who don't care; incompetent administrators; incompetent politicians; a glut of immigrant children from other cultures with little English skills; rotten celebrity role models that teach kids music and sports are the paths to success; a consumer/advertising driven society that presses endless electronic playthings on our youth and draws them away from academic pursuits; generations of wealth and consumerism that have made us and our children lazy; no discipline at home or anywhere else; education colleges that are not worth a plugged nickel, and on and on and on again. Teachers are given a near impossible task and expected to perform miracles, then blamed when they can't. Tomorrow I am going into the classroom with 13-year-olds stoked on Mountain Dew and video games, half on Ritalin and the other half needing to be, and try to teach them something they could care less about. If we are so darn bad, you give it a shot. You wouldn't last a week. Neither would any of the other pompous idiots constantly crying for teachers' heads. If you want to make education better, go home and turn the TV off, read a book with your kid, say no to the next sugar blast, take the cell phone away. That would be much more helpful than the constant drum of criticism against teachers.
Waving the flag
I must give a shout-out to Arkansas Flag and Banner. I needed a custom carry-all bag for my wheelchair. They had me show what I needed. They said I could pick it up in two weeks. Three or four days later, they called and said it was ready. I said "wow" and picked up the flag-themed bag the next day. It blew me away. It definitely fits my new electric wheelchair from the VA. How's that for the dog days of summer in Little Rock?
Walter "Bud" Finne
The Griffer and Gridiron
I thoroughly enjoyed your artice on the Gridiron. Judge McGowan has done a great job as the main producer over the last several years.
It should not be forgotten, however, that Mildred and Griffin Smith were the powers that be behind the Gridiron production for many years before Judge McGowan was promoted to CEO.
Mildred and "the Griffer" put untold numbers of hours into each production. I think it cannot be denied that they put this show on a professional basis. Some with thin skins were irritated from time to time, but most subjects took it in good humor.
As a former Gridiron thespian with no talent for singing, dancing or acting, my hat is still off to the Smiths.
William R. Wilson Jr.
I just finished reading John Brummett's piece on Sen. Blanche Lincoln's attempt to put $1.5 billion recently into a bill, monies that would be directed toward "special disaster relief to farmers," specifically for a "percentage-loss" calculation for crops in 2009.
This was the third time over the past few weeks I've read about this, and each time, I've just wondered, "What disaster?" Arkansas hasn't had a tsunami, hurricane, or even really bad tornado season over the past year. I called Lincoln's office in both Washington and Arkansas, and no one on her staff could tell me what "disaster" this was in reference to.
Yes, it's been hot. Rainfall low. Guess what, as a farmer that's part of the gig. Food might be the most recession proof market going. People are going to have to eat. I own a business, and it's down this year. What "disaster" could I blame this on to get a pork spending bill?
No, Lincoln's push for this $1.5 billion handout — and that's all it is — is nothing more than a last ditch pandering for votes. Farmers chose their occupation, as we all did, and subsidies are nothing more than a nice, sanitary word for welfare.
What Brummett did was provide a tiny microcosm for what's wrong with our country: Everyone being told (to the point that a lot are believing) that they are entitled to something if everything doesn't turn out right. Guess what? Life is tough, get a helmet.
From the Arkansas Blog
Readers had plenty to say after the Times broke the news that the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce had gone on the attack against the Little Rock School District. It said state money spent there was a waste and announced a new lobby group, backed by some of the state's wealthiest families (Walton, Hussman, Stephens, Murphy) to oppose the school district's court fight against segregation caused by charter schools in Pulaski County.
Slice it anyway you want. There is blame on both sides. One thing is for sure, having the school system at war with the business community is a recipe for disaster. Of course, having everyone take sides instead of look for solutions only makes the problem completely impossible to solve, which I'm sure is the point.
— Full Throttle
In no other place I have lived (8 states), did the Chamber not fully support the local school system. This union hatred of the Waltons and Hussman is far out of line with trying to improve the state. With their type of leadership, we would still have serfs (Walmart still does in some regards).
— Couldn't Be Better
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