Your letters, May 25

May 23, 2014 

Council decision undermines public

I don’t believe I’ve ever, in my entire time as a voter and a participator in the political process, felt quite the manner of disappointment and disenfranchisement that I do now.

The Chapel Hill Town Council's recent decision to close public comment and proceed with a vote on the Ephesus-Fordham rezoning was disastrous for my confidence that the Town Council and the mayor would be receptive to well-researched and intelligent criticism, patience, or further public input.

This is one of the most important issues our town has recently faced, as much because of the impact of this decision on flooding, affordable housing, taxes, small businesses, and traffic as because of the fact that it was an indicative example of the leadership's shamelessly discompassionate and elitist approach to constructive, common-sense improvements offered by the public.

Through the whole process, the mayor and town manager's hostility toward taking up input from citizens – and even from thoughtful members of the council – has been painfully evident.

For the few on the council that voted against this fast-track we are all thankful. But meanwhile I am ashamed of the majority from my Chapel Hill government that I once thought was open and accountable. Undermining confidence is NEVER how government should function and those who voted for the project knew that’s exactly what would happen. Shame on you for shutting out the public when they were becoming most productive and involved. Shame on you for crushing voices of dissent with an unnecessarily hasty vote when there were so many other options offered to the table.

Now I feel our voices don't matter; that time spent voicing questions or improvements based in reason and patience – by scores of citizens MOST affected – did not make a difference and seemingly never will. Shame on you most of all for that.

Bridget Patterson

Chapel Hill

Support the Core

Re Terry McCann’s commentary “I will not teach the Common Core” (CHN, May 18 )

There are many points of disagreement between me and Mr McCann, but I will limit my response to three.

1) K-2 students learning to read by writing. This is not a new strategy but has been used for a long time as one of the ways to show students that writing, reading and speaking are related. Having students write their own stories and read them to each other clearly makes the link between oral and written language. It is never the only way reading is taught but one of many strategies.

2) Mr. McCann attacks the use of higher-order thinking skills rather than teaching the basics. Thinking skills cannot be taught in a vacuum; rather these skills are taught relative to basic knowledge. Comprehension and regurgitation of basic facts without analyzing and evaluating information is rote learning that does not lead students to think and challenge ideas. I'm sure that Steve Jobs was encouraged to use and think about facts, resulting in a man who was clearly creative. I hope that Mr. McCann does not have his students merely memorizing information, confusing that with education. Without thinking skills where students use, debate, write about both sides of an issue, the information taught is soon forgotten and no growth on the part of the students takes place.

3) Mr. McCann is upset about the Gates Foundation supporting Common Core. Some of the best curriculum materials have been developed and supported by organizations that have expertise and resources. The ESS materials, an excellent science curriculum that simulated a scientists exploration and thinking in the laboratory, were developed by The Lawrence Hall of Science and the National Science Foundation.

Diana Caplow

Chapel Hill

Will miss Crisco

I was so saddened to hear of Keith Crisco’s passing. Crisco’s extensive community involvement included serving as an advisory council member for UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health from 1999 to 2011; he was also serving a term that began in July. He was an early supporter of our executive Doctor of Public Health online program. He also helped us connect with potential partners for several areas of the school.

Crisco was funny, astute, kind, wise, willing to help faculty members, participate on panels and serve as a sounding board for several of us. He helped us connect with other organizations whose goals were complementary to ours.

I will never forget our visit to Asheboro Elastics. Crisco’s enthusiasm enthralled us as we learned about the production process, and then he proudly pointed out the sights in Asheboro. That visit and my other interactions with him showed Crisco as a remarkably down-to-earth man who could talk with anyone, speak knowledgeably about a huge range of topics and never forgot his roots. We’re going to miss him!

Barbara K. Rimer

Dean, Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC

Chapel Hill

Where is the outrage?

As the parent of a disabled veteran who honorably served his country in Iraq, I know firsthand how the Department of Veterans Affairs treats our returning war heroes. I could write a book, but would anyone in our government truly read it?

Why does this government treat welfare recipients better than it does people who served honorably for this country? Why does a disabled veteran have to drive long distances to a veterans hospital to get treatment, only to be told to come back in a few months for treatment? Think that doesn’t happen? It does.

Why aren’t our disabled veterans given a card similar to a normal health insurance card, which would allow them to get treatment anywhere at any time? Why is it that a disabled vet has to receive treatment at a veterans hospital?

Veterans are treated like sheep. They are waiting in lines, and I mean long lines. There are not enough doctors, counselors or other personnel available to adequately treat their needs.

Will the recent uproar about the VA really change anything? I want all returning vets, with or without disabilities, to be able to get the appropriate care they do desperately need. Where is the public outrage?

Wayne Muller

Angier

Dueling headlines

The paradoxical juxtaposition of two articles in the May 4 N&O screams out for more thought, more comment, more action.

In the news article “ UNC-CH reviews health fee,” we learned that the trustees of our flagship university are questioning programs at the university that include sexuality counseling, sexual topics and social advocacy.

In the news article “ Colleges focus on fighting sex crimes,” which was also on the front page of the New York Times, we learned about the problem of sexual harassment and assault on college campuses. We learned that many college administrators and experts across the country say that “while the world has been changing, higher education has done a poor job of understanding the shifts and responding to them.”

So our esteemed trustees think that UNC college students, many whose hormones are raging due to their psychobiological stage of life, do not need any programs that address these issues. I wonder what the students think. Have the trustees thought about asking them?

Susan Cohen

Durham

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