Letters 3/17/2011

March 15, 2011
Some of our readers believe it’s more a lack of motivated students and interested parents, not a lack of good teachers, that is hampering America’s educational system.

Rx for America: Education and manufacturing jobs
Some of our readers believe it’s more a lack of motivated students and interested parents, not a lack of good teachers, that is hampering America’s educational system. And a couple of letter writers seem to believe manufacturing is vital to America’s economy and defense but hold little hope of it ever coming back.

Teach your children well
I have a few comments in regards to your editorial about quality teaching (“Do We Really Need High-Quality Teaching?” Jan. 13). I am an engineer by profession, but I do have teachers in the family. Several of these teachers are beyond excellent. They don’t just teach the kids the subject matter, they actually instill excitement into many of them.

However, while I believe teacher performance is important, I do not believe it plays as critical a role in our students’ underperformance as you seem to think. The biggest complaint from these good teachers is that too many kids and their parents simply don’t care about their education. They are constantly chasing kids down to get them to do assignments, participate in class, take notes, and take their education seriously. Until that societal factor is remedied, no kind of superhuman teacher is going to solve the problem.

Case in point, when these teachers tell their students the value of doing a good job, taking pride in your work and having a work ethic, the kids describe this way of thinking as backward, out of touch, and old school. When they are hearing that message at home, how can we excel as a nation?

So to me, discussions about teacher performance ring hollow. They sound like just another way to shift responsibility for failure onto another party. This tactic has become far too common in this country. We’re willing to reap the rewards, but not take ownership for our shortcomings.

By the way, I see you frequently quoting economists in your editorials. I have a hard time believing what many of these economists say. I studied economics in college. While it was an easy “A” for me, many economics majors were either failing or pulling down a solid “C” in their course of study. I’m not convinced they know what they are talking about or want to give serious consideration to an idea that falls either outside their core ideology or outside of their original hypothesis.

Shane Martin

I disagree with your assertion that there are thousands of teachers in larger school districts looking for a job — especially in science and math. It is my experience that the number of qualified individuals available for these positions is almost nonexistent.

A further thought is that home and family have as much to do with young students’ success as the quality of their teachers. We need to strengthen and educate America’s families, which are in a state of disarray. This is vital if we want to improve national security. A well-educated citizenry is the most important aspect of national security.

Ed Wilson

Getting American manufacturing back
I started disagreeing half-way through the first sentence of the editorial (“A Mandate to Revitalize U. S. Manufacturing,” Jan. 13). What America really needs is for the government to stop deciding what America needs and let capitalism do its job. The government’s job is to level the playing field. For example, if a country has lower (or no) minimum wage, a tariff should be added to “level” the field. If a country’s environmental laws are lax, a tariff should be added to bring the costs up to our own.

I fail to see how a bunch of bureaucrats are going to direct our economy in any meaningful, positive way. Isn’t that what the Soviets tried in 1917? How did that work out?

Joseph Jettig

This editorial is just blowing smoke and the writer needs to get honest with its readers. Wall Street and big business will not let manufacturing back in this country unless we eliminate health insurance, EPA, unions, workman’s comp, minimum wage, and any form of employer taxes. Even then, they will want taxpayers to pay for and maintain any associated infrastructure. In other words, you are wasting our time.

Gene Terpsi

Send people, not robots
I read the interesting article about the Curiosity, the new Martian rover (“NASA Prepares a Mobile Lab for a Trip to Mars,” Dec. 9). But when it comes to exploring space and other planets, I say forget sending robots. It is time to send humans. We are still the best and most-versatile explorers ever developed. And the human brain is still the best computer. I only wish I was young enough to go myself.

Harold L. Grecco

Helmets lead to injuries?
I wanted to make a few quick comments about your editorial on football-helmet design (A Hardheaded Look at Football-Helmet Design,” Dec. 9). I recently watched a TV show that talked about how the face mask has actually increased head injuries over the years. It showed how adding larger, stronger face masks has made players unafraid of giving head shots. It would be interesting to see similar data detailing head injuries in football over the years of helmet development. With the tacklers’ heads and faces more protected than they were 40 years ago, head-to-head contact has become more detrimental to players being tackled. Instead of making helmets better, why don’t they just get rid of the face mask? Of course there will be more broken noses and facial injuries, but these wounds heal, brains do not.

In another instance of the law of unintended consequences, it seems that accidents due to drivers who text message have actually increased since some states made it illegal. Drivers don’t want people, especially police, to see them looking at their phones while driving down the road. So they hide their phones down below the window level, taking their eyes completely off the road. I would have never thought something like this would create worse problems.

Sean Bevis

The article, “Comparing Cycloidal and Planetary Gearboxes,” (Feb. 3) contained an error. The equation for the ratio of a planetary gearbox should have read:

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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