Your letters, Sept. 18

September 17, 2013 

Are schools hiring the best teachers?

I am growing extremely concerned regarding employment practices within the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

Routine checks of system openings throughout 2012-13 reflected an average of 33 vacancies, ( ). As of this writing, the website posts 52 openings (22 licensed), compared to 93 in the opening week of school.

The reason is certainly not due to a shortage of applicants, as I have a neighbor possessing a master’s degree in Exceptional Children (certified by N.C. as “Highly Qualified”), a solid resume documenting experience, leadership, and merit awards, and has yet to receive a job offer, not even as a teacher assistant. Who are filling these current vacancies, while highly-qualified applicants are ignored? Are first-year teachers and substitutes the budget-friendly choices?

Our children deserve fully-certified teachers with professional training, experience, and curricular knowledge, along with instructional consistency for the entire school year. Will all substitutes possess the trained eye and expertise to analyze and address a child’s academic difficulties?

Parents deserve to be accurately informed of yearly progress and provided honest evaluations of the whole child, yet with assorted individuals guiding the class, a first hand, nine-month perspective becomes impossible to provide. Without such, conferences reflect little beyond generalized comments culled from intermittent visits and hearsay of various untrained stand-ins over the course of weeks, months or year. For parents losing valuable time from work to attend these meetings, this is unacceptable.

Is our supplemental school tax truly being applied to the hiring/retaining of first-class teachers in the CHCCS system?

Angie Williams

Chapel Hill

Raspberries undeserved

The Chapel Hill News is wrong to give raspberries to Chapel Hill town leaders for the ballooning public meetings resulting in much greater cost for the consultants to the Central West Committee (CHN, Sept. 11). The Raspberry note does end correctly by recommending town leaders “make sure the public understands the cost of public participation.”

I have attended three of the Central West Committee meetings, which run three hours, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Many committee members and public observers make constructive suggestions, but the customary Delay and Destroy critics have suggested extra meetings and redo of “the process” during the meetings I have attended.

Most town officials and staff understand that a lack of seeing Chapel Hill holistically drives up time and costs to implement Small Area Plans that will fulfill the Chapel Hill 2020 goals and hopefully provide a lower median home price here by expanding our business tax base.

Knowledge of marketability is missing or ignored by too many of the most vocal longtime activists.

Residents with experience paying for construction or a building lease, insurance, employees, etc. are often reluctant to speak out, but the increasing presence of new businesses in Chatham and Durham counties should inform all of how much Chapel Hill residents hostile to density and mixed use have to learn if Chapel Hill is not to deteriorate into just a decaying high-price bedroom community.

Lynne Kane

Chapel Hill

Bombing no answer

Bombing is not the answer in Syria. The president, instead of seeking support for bombing, should be as vigorous in engaging the world and Congress in ending the atrocious and continuing deaths through a sustained ceasefire and an inclusive political transition. Bombing makes us less credible as an honest diplomatic broker.

Bombing would give Assad a propaganda victory, a claim of victory over the U.S. and would rally domestic and regional opinion against the West, further degrading the hope of a future political/diplomatic solution.

He would likely exact revenge on rebels and his allies might retaliate elsewhere in the region, notably against Israel.

A strategy to end the conflict requires developing a realistic political compromise offer to all stakeholders, including reaching out to both Russia and Iran in a manner capable of eliciting their interest, whether or not we like them.

Our president would show courage if he listened to Americans, the Congress, as well as leaders and the public around the world, including people in the Muslim world. He should explain his decision not to bomb and vow to work for a just and humane peace while committing to humanitarian relief for displaced Syrians in that country and the region.

Our Senators Hagan and Burr, and Rep. Price should think about the day after bombing and support the president by seeking alternatives.

Nancy Milio

Chapel Hill

Cianciolo quietly competent

The day I met George Cianciolo he changed my tire.

Driving home from work, tired, eight months pregnant, I heard that dreaded thunk-thunk-thunk just as I passed my husband’s workplace. I pulled in, in hopes my husband would still be there. He wasn’t, but a coworker I had never met cheerfully changed my tire for me.

I didn’t realize then how much that simple act of quiet competence and cheerful giving typifies George. His tagline on his emails sums up his personal philosophy: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” (Winston Churchill)

For over 13 years George has been actively involved in the Chapel Hill community, as a member and chair of the Chapel Hill Planning Board, Community Design Commission, Transportation Board, Streetscape Master Plan and the Public Library Foundation.

If you didn’t hear about him from any of that public service, you probably heard his name in conjunction with the Chapel Hill 2020 project, which he co-chaired. George has given countless unpaid hours to our community, but more than this, he has exemplified what a public servant should be. He listens and is open to all points of view. His vision for the future of Chapel Hill strikes a needed balance between maintaining the unique character of our town and finding a way to grow our tax base in a way which is acceptable to Chapel Hill residents while allowing for the commercial growth needed to support a town in which teachers and firefighters can afford to live.

I’ll be voting for George Cianciolo for Town Council and I hope you will join me in doing so, too.

Ginny Janzen

Chapel Hill

Farm camp openings

On behalf of the Board of Directors for the N.C. Women of the Land Agricultural Network, I want to thank Alexis Nelson, journalist, and Henry Lynch, photographer, for the generous article about our new agricultural education program for adolescent girls: GoFARM! Girls on the Farm!

Our fall session begins Tuesday, Oct. 1, and there are spaces available. As described in the article, our goal is to create the opportunity for girls to participate in and get a taste of small farm life – to learn life skills that they can take with them into adulthood.

One objective and highlight of the program is reaching out to the community to tap into the rich pool of talent in this area who have the time, knowledge and experience to share with the girls. We particularly encourage active retirees who come with their own special life skills to be part of the program (art, building, homesteading skills and of course, gardening).

We welcome volunteers and interns of all ages and look forward to a fun and rewarding session. We follow the philosophy of Calvin and Hobbes who in one comic strip are in the bathtub where Calvin declares: “if your knees aren’t dirty by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life.”

We promise you won’t leave the farm without getting your knees dirty!

Trudy Matheny

Founder and director

N.C. Women of the Land Agricultural Network

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