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SUNDAY, JANUARY 29, 2006
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Decatur must take steps for commerce, safety
THE DECATUR DAILY:

Jerrell Oaks should be saluted for trying to bravely do business in this area. Some areas of Decatur have been taken over by illegal Mexican aliens and dope dealers. As a former resident of West Decatur, I'm afraid to drive down Moulton Street when I visit my hometown.

Clean out the illegals, dopeheads and general criminals so folks like Mr. Oaks can revive business and feel safe again.

City officials could use some common sense before sending out letters automatically. Remember, a computer is only as smart as the person using it.

Beverly Ross Turner

Elkton, Tenn.

Test scores shouldn't determine teacher pay
THE DECATUR DAILY:

This letter regards the upcoming consideration in the Alabama Legislature of teachers being paid according to their students' performance on standardized tests.

If teachers are to be paid in accordance to their students' test scores, then the following should be considered.

As it stands, non-native English speakers must take the same tests as their monolingual English-speaking peers. Considering there are classrooms in several Decatur schools in which half or more of students are not native English speakers, and considering it takes five to seven years to fully master all levels of a language, should the teacher in a classroom where a majority of the students are not native English speakers be paid less than the teacher who teaches only monolingual English speakers? Anyone can see whose students will fare better, regardless of the teacher's proficiency.

Education is a demanding field. Teachers are assigned after-hours duties and are not paid for them. Summers are spent attending graduate school (personally funded), or mandatory workshops than can be weeks long. Many teachers work 10-hour days with a 20-minute lunch break, accompanied by the class, of course. They often purchase supplies with their personal funds, as well as clothing for neglected children.

Perhaps stricter teacher education programs would be a start to weed out incompetent teachers, rather than hinging salaries on test scores. Better yet, maybe the people in the carpeted offices in Montgomery should spend a day in a classroom — and I don't mean one in an affluent residential section. It should be spent in a classroom of a teacher who will be unjustly punished if this legislation sticks. That ought to put things in perspective.

Carmen Callahan

Decatur

Historical facts refute Holocaust denial
THE DECATUR DAILY:

Larry Darby's comments, reported in THE DAILY on Jan. 19, demonstrate that he denies the historic truth of the Holocaust, despite the overwhelming proof of its scope and atrocity. There are many documentaries about this period of history, and there is a museum in Israel, called Yad Vashem, that is filled with Holocaust photographs, which I am certain Mr. Darby has never visited.

He calls the Holocaust an "industry." The only kind of industry associated with the Holocaust is the work done to preserve the memories of the victims, and to seek justice wherever possible by bringing the perpetrators to trial and restoring property stolen from Jewish victims. The law in Austria, which makes it a criminal offense to deny the Holocaust in the media (not in private), is a response to the Neo-Nazi resurgence in that country, which frightened lawmakers into taking action.

Mr. Darby bills himself as an atheist, but he is anti-Semitic as well. I hope that the other atheist members of his group are not similarly prejudiced.

Bonnie Kidd

Ocean Springs, Miss.

Councilmen promise much, deliver little
THE DECATUR DAILY:

I would like to respond to the Jan. 18 article, "Hartselle's agenda totals $17 million."

First, the $1.3 million the councilmen claimed they got from their trip to Washington last year was already in play long before they went there. Of that $1.3 million, Hartselle hasn't seen one penny of it yet and, speculation around here is there is a good chance we never will. The city was promised money for the Hammit Street bridge replacement and, to date, has not received any funds.

I see absolutely no need for the citizens of Hartselle to foot the bill for the entire council to attend this fiasco of an event. The mayor and council president should be the only two from the elected aspect of Hartselle. Anyone else wanting a feather in their caps should pay their own way. As for certain member(s) of the Chamber of Commerce going, thank God there is not a need for money to rent "port-a-johns" involved!

It's ridiculous that this council has no qualms about blowing money and taking credit for things it didn't do. It's disheartening to think that councilmen expect people to believe them. From my viewpoint, along with many others in Hartselle, our council has taken a play from the playbooks of the Washington, D.C., people by offering the people much and giving little.

The only way we will ever achieve any substantial economic growth is for people to be offered incentives to come here. For that to happen, we first need a business- and industrial-friendly council. That won't happen until these one-issue councilmen are voted out of office.

Mike Dowdy

Hartselle

Differences between old and new generations
THE DECATUR DAILY:

This letter is in response to the Jan. 18 letter, "Older workers should make way for young."

If Angela Hill believes that all the "older generation" has had easy, good paying jobs with great benefits, this shows just how out of touch she is with reality.

The American society was established by hard-working people who came from poverty with a willingness to work for lower pay and put in long hours, without vacation or benefits; many times working when they were sick.

There is a big difference between Angela's "new generation" and the "older generation" she speaks about. Members of the "older generation" were willing to start at the bottom and work hard to achieve higher-paying jobs while taking pride in their sacrifices. Her "new generation" doesn't want to work at a lower paying job and work to achieve higher standards; it would rather boot some older person out and start at the top without sacrificing to get there.

The "new generation" members who are on drugs, committing crimes, becoming involved in prostitution and "starving" have chosen that lifestyle — it hasn't been forced upon them.

And don't classify our military with this class of person.

There are many in the "new generation" who are very responsible, hard-working young adults who are always striving to improve their lifestyle. I'm sure they don't agree with Angela's point of view, either.

Celila Wright

Decatur Senior citizens have to make a living, too
THE DECATUR DAILY:

I am responding to Angela Hill's letter about older workers making way for younger people.

I have been working with older workers in Cullman, Lawrence and Morgan counties. This program is called the Senior Employment Program, whereby seniors are placed with agencies in the counties to get training to be placed either part time or full time back into the job sector.

Older workers find it hard to live off just Social Security and no retirement after working many years. Some don't have Social Security, but are living from retirement income of $200 or less per month. Some are on welfare but want to better themselves and 80 percent of these people don't have health insurance or they make a dollar too much to get on Medicaid. These seniors sometimes have to choose between buying medications or buying food.

Seniors are citizens trying to make an honest living at $5.15 an hour. According to the seniors, this helps them pay their bills and they are appreciative and prompt workers. They don't give all kinds of excuses about why they don't show up for work. Actually, you have to make some leave work, and they aren't paid overtime.

Regardless of a person's age, we are all humans and have to live in this society the best way we can. This program is for persons age 55 and over who qualify, income-wise. I always thought that it was better for a man or woman to work for a living, regardless of age or gender.

People usually live longer when they feel they are making a contribution.

Bertha Berry

Hartselle

Older individuals have reasons to stay at work
THE DECATUR DAILY:

This letter is in response to the article "Older worker should make way for young."

There are a number of reasons many senior citizens (60-plus) continue to work at paying jobs, many of which are at the higher income levels:

1) Perhaps the most common reason for many is the pure enjoyments of working at something they are good at doing. It is good to know one is still needed and is capable of performing at a competent level.

2) There may be a financial need to do work because of a spouse in ill health or an aging parent they must care for. Providing care for an ill and aging person can be very costly.

3) Many seniors have developed unique skills that are not easily replaced by younger workers. Their employers encourage them to continue at the job for as long as they wish.

4) Younger workers may lack the skills to hold down highly technical positions. Nor do some seem to have the desire to learn the skills or the academic standards necessary to be a doctor, an engineer, a scientist or a lawyer. One cannot leave high school and expect to step into a job or position that will pay you $50,000-plus per year. Take the time to ask some of the top-level individuals around the community and it will be obvious their success did not happen overnight.

5) Employers are looking for disciplined workers who are punctual, knowledgeable and confident. People also must dress according to some standards of acceptability for the job or position they hope to hold.

In closing, the writer made the military sound as if it were a last resort to earning a living. The military teaches discipline, excellent skills and dress codes.

Gene Aittala

Hartselle

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