News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Oppose shortening school year

The Decatur City Board of Education needs help in combating two bills pending in the Alabama Legislature that would strip local school boards and communities of their authority when it comes to a school calendar. House bill 507 and Senate bill 308's primary purpose is to prohibit schools from starting before Aug. 21. This is a local issue.

In the past we've allowed input from many directly or indirectly affected. We put together three calendars that can be modified and chosen from before voting on them. If these two bills pass, this will no longer happen and every school system in the state will be affected.

The driving forces behind this are restaurant owners, summer-camp operators and tourism officials. We're now trying to find ways to finance more instructional time in compliance with No Child Left Behind's performance standards. We should not have to lose this valuable time, especially at the expense of stripping two weeks or more out of the time teachers have to prepare students for the accountability tests mandated by NCLB.

In Alabama we already experience one of the shortest instructional years in the country and we don't need to cut our children's days in the classroom, knowing that NCLB requires all students to perform at proficiency level or above. There are 65 fewer days from K-12 under these conditions. Some may think that two weeks are not really worth a complaint, but consider the fact that a coach at Alabama or Auburn would have quite a reaction if they had two weeks less to prepare for football season. Questions to ask are: Could they be as competitive, win as many games, or win a championship with fewer days to practice than their opponents? Should teachers have to be deprived of having those days?

Tommy Sykes

Decatur City Board of Education


Police cars not for personal use

I do not mind police officers taking home the patrol cars, but what I do not like is when they use their patrol cars for personal gain. What I have seen in the past is police officers taking their children to school in the patrol cars and I believe that is a liability risk to the city.

Just say (and God forbid this would happen) but just say that an officer, while taking his or her child to school, should have an accident and the child gets hurt. Are we to accept the liability for these children because their parent chose to take them to school?

I would think not, because the fact is, they put their child in danger of getting hurt or killed in a city patrol car. This needs to be changed! They can take their children to school in their own car or get them a ride with someone else.

I have seen them going into the food stores and go shopping when they are not on duty in the patrol car. Does the insurance company know this is going on and are they willing to pay out the high liability claims for children who should not have been in the car to begin with?

Will the insurance rates on the police cars be raised if this should happen? What do you think? Should they keep on driving the cars with their families in them while off duty, or even on duty? You be the judge.

As for me I, think not.

Roger Payne


Commissioner deserves penalty

In my opinion, it was Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell who should have been given a "10-day leave, and other disciplinary steps", not Warden Stephen Bullard.

According to your editorial, there are 1,625 inmates in a prison built for 1,000. I hear (fallen) CEOs of large corporations denying that they knew what "others" were doing. I am sure that Warden Bullard's real crime was to take away that deniability. When the lawsuits come and/or the courts force prisoners to be released because of deplorable conditions, all Commissioner Campbell will be able to say is: "I punished the person who told me about that."

Tom Van Natta


How Democrats can regain party

There are three main points for Southern Democrats to know what has happened to their party. Sub-groups now rule the Democrats, which changed the platform. Secondly, the working-class families have left the Democratic Party because of social issues. Lastly, socialism has taken the place of democracy.

The platform changed when sub-groups of ethnic, anti-moral and gender preference called themselves liberals. The real meaning of "liberal" is one who wants government to control the people's public and private lives, whereas a conservative wants government only in the public life. In 1968, George McGovern changed the Democratic Party's platform into social issues rather than economic ones.

Nevertheless, today's liberals have gone from liberalism to extreme socialism. The middle working class lost control of the Democratic Party in 1968. Today, these Neo-Social Democrats control by elitist rule and will continue to do so, even at the party's expense. The Republican Party in 1975 saw this flaw in the Democratic Party. The Reagan Republicans worked off the human emotion of family moral values to rebuild their party.

The Republicans have two groups: big money and the church. Although the base group of big money is smaller, it still carries all the weight. Consequently, moral issues use the human factor of emotion over economics. The liberals thereby forfeited the working-class families by choosing socialism over democracy and dependence over independence.

What can Southern Democrats do to regain control of the party of their mothers and fathers? Organized labor and the working middle class must take control of the platform. This will force the socialists to break away and form their own Neo-Social Democratic Party. Now is the time for Southerners to start using economics with moral values and stop selling their votes to build someone else's American Dream.

Phillip M. Chenault


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