Letters to the Editor 10-6
Oct 06, 2013 | 765 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Obama taken

to task over

health care

To The Editor:

The election process and the participation in it are very important to our democracy.

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it. Everybody should register to vote and everybody should vote!

So yesterday (last week), while everybody (media) is focused on the federal government shutdown, and the beginning of ObamaCare, the federal government decided to file a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over their voting laws.

If I understand their complaint, the federal government is basically saying that it is unfair to require a voter to present a valid ID in order to cast a ballot.

This is unfair because, according to the federal government, the burden of obtaining a valid ID is too cumbersome or too difficult for some citizens.

By the way, that is factually incorrect [because] on election day voters without a valid ID can still cast a provisional ballot.

However, starting today (Oct. 1), you are required to purchase health insurance on an “exchange” via the Internet. Don’t do it, and you pay a higher tax. Remember, the courts ruled this was a tax!

So, it seems to me that President Obama clearly wants it both ways. He wants the courts to rule that requiring a valid ID is burdensome and thus illegal; however, on ObamaCare, someway, somehow, you had better have or buy a computer, learn how to use it, and you better have a credit card to pay for your premiums ... or get ready to pay a higher tax! No burden there?

President Obama is at best inconsistent and conflicting. Our young people in school would recognize this behavior as being a “bully.”

— Milan Blake


Nillie Bipper

bowing out

with dignity

To The Editor:

After a 45-year run, the Ocoee region’s most widely recognized and respected outdoor arts and crafts festival is bowing out of the fray.

It was a tough meeting of the Cleveland Creative Arts Guild board of directors with hard decisions to make. Across the board, there were wistful degrees of regret.

After much debating and studying show statistics, the decision was made: “We should bow out while we are still a success, leaving behind wonderful memories of all the great festivals that we produced.”

We hear that there will be many people that will miss very much attending the Nillie Bipper again. Of course, the nostalgic years at beautiful and historic Red Clay State Park could never be forgotten. Our move to the covered arena at Tri-State Exhibition Center enabled us to become a “rain or shine” festival.

Hopefully, the CCAG will go on to bigger and better things! But one can only wonder, what could be bigger or better than the Nillie Bipper?

There are so many “thank yous” that should be made to so many.

Thanks to the thousands that faithfully attended our festival over the years!

Thanks to the talented artisans, exhibitors and vendors whose efforts gave our festival its shine, flavor and appeal!

Thanks to the Cleveland Daily Banner for giving the Nillie Bipper such complete and excellent coverage!

Thanks to our past presidents and officers for their thoughtful and wise direction!

Thanks to John Simmons for his hard work and expertise at directing the show!

Thanks to Gaye Bradley Ogle for her endless and expert attention to detail and organization!

Thanks to Bob Cruden for orchestrating the fun and entertainment!

Thanks to Ruth Boring for the years she provided fall flowers for the stage decoration!

And most important of all, thank you Miss Billie ... for everything! Thank you for your vision, your devotion to the Guild, your talent, your many years of planning and hard work, and your tireless dedication to perfecting a beloved festival!

We love you, Billie!

Yes, the Nillie Bipper Creative Arts Festival has had a good, long and successful run.

With many thanks to its creator ... Billie Nipper!

— Dale Dotson


Cleveland Creative Arts Guild

Writer asks

for equality

by leaders

To The Editor:

The House of Representatives has already sent four government funding bills to the Senate.

A majority of Americans don't want ObamaCare. Even unions don't want the law.

The Obama administration awarded big business with a delay. Congress was given a special exemption.

It's time for equality under the law.

— Jack D. Fox


Common Core

is defended

by Ringstaff

(Editor’s Note: Although submitted to the Cleveland Daily Banner as a “Letter to the Editor,” the following message by Cleveland City Schools Director Dr. Martin Ringstaff is addressed to members of the Bradley County Commission.)

Dear Bradley County Commissioners:

In the Oct. 1, 2013, edition of the Cleveland Daily Banner, there was a front page article titled “Commission panel studies Common Core standards.” Inside the article were concerns expressed by the Bradley County Commission Education Committee. It is my understanding that over the next couple of weeks you will be reviewing the Common Core State Standards. I would like to address a few of your concerns.

I serve on the Common Core Leadership Council for the Tennessee Department of Education. I asked to be a part of this council because I want to be “in the know” with Common Core. My wife and I are blessed to have three children in Cleveland City Schools. Obviously, any decision made within our school system directly affects my family as well.

I, as a director of schools and as a parent, support the Common Core State Standards. We, as a school system, are making great strides in education because of the classroom changes we are implementing due to these standards. The Common Core State Standards are structured to give students an in-depth mindset. We have implemented these standards over the past three years and will complete the implementation this year. The old standards created a world of the teacher providing information and the student simply giving it back on a test, mostly based on rote memory.

In the Common Core State Standards, there is collaboration and teamwork between students. Teachers lecture but far more infrequently. Students work through issues and ask more in-depth questions. “Accountable talk” is encouraged by teachers to help students think rationally and figure out answers.

Concerns from the article:

1. One commissioner spoke of his elementary grandchild being asked to complete a 12-page test.

a. Any decision to issue a test is made at the school level or teacher level. The amount of assessing for any set of standards is set locally. Tying this issue to the Common Core State Standards is incorrect. Common Core does not determine local assessments.

b. Common Core in Tennessee will be assessed by the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) Assessment during the 2014-15 school year. This will replace the current TCAP/EOC tests in mathematics and English/Language Arts. We will still give the TCAP/EOC tests for social studies and science.

2. One commissioner was concerned that “Race to the Top” funds would not cover full implementation of the online assessment.

a. “Race to the Top” funds were never meant to cover the full implementation of online assessment. It is a travesty that the state of Tennessee is not fully capable of this process already. Gov. [Bill] Haslam provided $51 million in his 2013 budget for technology infrastructure in public schools. Cleveland City Schools feels very confident with our technology. We could always use more, but we could give the test online today if needed.

b. Online testing provides quicker data so we can determine students who are in need. Online assessments should be a top priority for all school systems. After graduation, online assessments await our students at every level: college, military and workforce.

3. One commissioner said that the amount of testing required was limiting teacher creativity.

We are actually cutting out many standards by transitioning to the Common Core State Standards. We move from over 100 standards per subject to 30 to 40 standards over the course of one school year. This allows for more discussion, more creativity and a more thorough review of each standard.

4. One commissioner stated that he believes you cannot teach everybody the same way.

a. We in are total agreement with this statement. However, Common Core State Standards do not dictate that you teach everyone the same. Once again, I stress that the differentiation of instruction per student happens at the teacher level.

To summarize, curricular decisions (tests, reading lists, articles, etc.) are local decisions made by local school boards, administrators and teachers. I ask that everyone read the standards when they have a question about them. The standards are very easy to find at http://www.corestandards.org/.

Curriculum and standards are two different items. In the Common Core State Standards discussion, these terms get lumped into one and quick assumptions are made. I ask individuals with an issue on a lesson to show me where the Common Core State Standards require that lesson to be taught? You will not find a chapter test, reading list or any other item that stresses controversial topics. The federal government will not receive any additional student information.

The bottom line is that we switched from the old Tennessee State Performance Indicators to the new Common Core State Standards. This was a state level decision made by Gov. [Phil] Bredesen’s administration and carried forward by Gov. Haslam’s administration. The new standards come with their own assessment test called PARCC.

One confusing issue is that the Tennessee State Board of Education recently passed education reform policies for differentiated teacher pay and teacher licensure. These policies are not related to Common Core State Standards. They are two totally different discussions.

We are preparing students better now than ever. We have trained every single teacher in our school system in Common Core teaching methods and we will continue to strengthen this approach with staff development trainings. We are dedicated to being the very best school system in the state, and we will not slow down on this endeavor.

I am a believer in high standards and the Common Core State Standards are more challenging than the SPIs we replaced. I am proud of our educators in Cleveland City Schools and you should be as well. We are dedicated to excellence within our walls and you can rest assured we will strive every single day to make Cleveland proud!

— Martin Ringstaff, Ed.D.

Director of Schools

Cleveland City Schools