Your letters, Nov. 3

November 1, 2013 

Front-page folly

On the front page of the Oct. 20 issue of the Chapel Hill News ( bit.ly/19VzVcx) I read that a proposed suggestion for combating the problem of affordable housing in Chapel Hill is to have a “property tax-rate increase.”

Astounding logic.

Max Lloyd

Chapel Hill

Become a tutor for an at-risk student

Surely the quizzical signs posted around town in recent weeks have caught your eye. First there was gibberish, now there are paper doll cutouts and the words “Passed/Failed.” This clever visual campaign was orchestrated by Bootstraps ( bootstrapspac.org) to draw attention to a pressing and distressing problem afflicting our community, state and nation: childhood illiteracy.

Did you know that according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2011, 66 percent of North Carolina’s fourth graders scored “below proficient” in reading? For African-American fourth graders, the “below proficient” number was 84 percent; for Latino fourth graders, 80 percent. Feeling frustrated and humiliated in the classroom, struggling readers drop out of school in droves. Perhaps it is not surprising that 85 percent of all juvenile offenders have a reading difficulty and prisons are filled with nonreaders.

For nearly 20 years, a Chapel Hill faith-based nonprofit, the Augustine Literacy Project, has taken aim at this problem with laserlike focus, overcoming it one child and one tutor at a time. The project, founded at Holy Family Episcopal Church in 1994, trains and supports volunteer tutors who provide free, long-term, one-on-one instruction in reading, writing and spelling to low-income children and teens who struggle with literacy skills. The combination of research-based methodology (the multisensory, structured, phonetic Orton-Gillingham approach) a committed and caring relationship, and the intensive training and ongoing support of the ALP is a powerful and effective antidote to this debilitating problem.

Augustine tutors undergo rigorous training (70 hours, including a supervised practicum), then commit to teach at least 60 pro bono lessons to an Augustine student (defined as being low-income and below grade level in literacy skills) in the school or after-school program of their choice. Augustine lessons last 45 minutes and are taught twice a week at the child’s school. The ALP currently serves disadvantaged students in grades K-12 in 124 locations across the Triangle; replication chapters of the Project are training tutors in 11 other cities in 3 states.

There is no doubt that an Augustine tutor can mean the difference between prison and productivity for an at-risk student. If you would like to know the joy of teaching a child to read, I hope you will consider taking an ALP tutor training course. 2014 trainings will be offered July 7-18 in Chapel Hill and Oct. 6-17 in Durham. To register or to learn more, contact me at 919-408-0798 or email augustine@chfnc.net. Come and experience for yourself the truth of our slogan: “Tutor one child. Change two lives.”

Debbie McCarthy

Executive director, Augustine Literacy Project

Come learn about law enforcement

Law enforcement is a necessary resource in every North Carolina community, providing for the safety and welfare of its citizens. Even so, not all citizens fully understand or appreciate the risk or sacrifice officers make in keeping their community safe.

One of the opportunities the town of Chapel Hill provides residents is the chance to see, hear and learn firsthand about the inner workings of its police department. It provides this unique experience through the acclaimed Chapel Hill Police Department Citizens Police Academy.

The Citizens Police Academy is a visual, hands-on experience, inside and outside of the classroom setting. It provides participants with greater understanding about our police department; its resources and capabilities; its responsibilities; and community policing expectations.

A highly regarded law enforcement agency, well-trained and long recognized for its high degree of professionalism, the Chapel Hill Police Department is an agency that also enjoys a very unique and personal relationship with town residents.

As chair of the Town of Chapel Hill Community Policing Advisory Committee, I want to invite you to attend your upcoming police Citizens Academy. The academy will include one evening session (Nov. 13 or 14) and one afternoon session (November 16).

To learn more about the academy and how you can apply, go to bit.ly/Hxh6jn.

We want you to be part of this informative and interesting learning experience. Another example of what makes our community so unique, it’s enriched by your participation.

Ron Bogle

Community Policing Advisory Committee, Chapel Hill

Wise, warm Palmer

Over many years I have admired and appreciated the real commitment and demonstrated work that Maria Palmer has shown for working folk and minorities, as well as her understanding of current challenges for growth, housing and the future of our town.

Palmer has put her life experiences, Spanish language, UNC-Chapel Hill doctorate and ministerial skills to excellent use. This commitment has been recognized by no less then Gov. Jim Hunt by appointing her to the State Board of Education. Locally I’ve admired her work in forming and participating in a variety of community bilingual activities. Some years ago Maria was a main speaker at the Orange County Peace Coalition’s Commemoration of the Victims of War on Memorial Day in Carrboro.

With Maria’s work with minorities, skills and rich life experiences as a mother, wife and long-term resident of Chapel Hill, she presents and expresses a very unique perspective on a reality of life in Chapel Hill which I believe is mostly unknown and likely not understood by traditional members of the Chapel Hill Council, as skilled as they may be.

For example, on Oct. 25 when I, as one of 120 of “Moral Monday” alleged miscreants were at the Wake County Justice Center awaiting trial, there was Maria Palmer, as one of the over 900, and we shared a hug. Our cases remain in limbo.

I definitely will cast a vote for Maria as a wise, warm woman and needed member of this Chapel Hill Town Council.

Wes Hare

Chapel Hill

Inspiring Ryan

Amy Ryan is an inspiring candidate for the Chapel Hill Town Council.

Over the past year she has helped organize two citizen steering committees at Central West and at Obey Creek to help get informed and sensible input to the town planning process. Her belief is that the best planning involves citizens up front in making the decisions that shape the town.

She has more than 10 years of experience on town boards and commissions that focused on these issues. Her beneficial influence toward achieving careful, moderate, sensible growth in scale with our community is much needed, and I urge you to support and vote for Amy Ryan for Chapel Hill Town Council.

You couldn’t find a better candidate.

John Schmidt

Chapel Hill

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