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I have some questions for those who are reading this letter to consider now that the New Year has begun.:
1. In light of the tragic shooting of the elementary school children and their teachers in Newtown, Conn., last December, why in the world do we allow guns to be carried into the halls of our state Capitol building in Frankfort? Thousands of school children walk those halls on a regular basis. Last April Kentucky State Police reported that more than 50 guns were brought into the building over a 3-month period. It makes absolutely no sense to me, and I think our local legislators should immediately address and correct this dangerous error.
2. If a small (pop. 334) coalfield town in eastern Kentucky (Vicco) can recognize that passing the Fairness Alliance’s suggested ordinances is “not about endorsing a lifestyle” but rather “protecting [the civil rights of] human beings,” why can’t the Shelbyville City Council recognize this? I would be willing to bet that Vicco is just as “conservative” as Shelbyville/Shelby County. It is time to move past the old prejudices and support those who have been left out of the civil rights circle.
3. Why do so many women in the state of Kentucky say nothing/do nothing about the male legislators who continue to work hard to reverse/restrict/redefine hard-fought-for and solidly won civil/reproductive rights and choices? If women think that the election of President Obama has given these men a message that they will heed, think again. These legislators are still determined and maybe even more determined to continue to erode the laws and protections that women have taken for granted over the last 40 years. It is time for women to once again organize and reassert their voices before these precious rights disappear all together.
4. Last, but not least, why does Rep. Brad Montell insist on dragging us all through another charter school debate when the studies on these systems increasingly demonstrate these schools do not produce better outcome for students than are produced in the public schools? All one has to do is research online to find these major studies (one particularly in Milwaukee) and also see that many of these schools have been subjected to financial fraud, low-quality of teachers, violations of church/state rules and other problems. Plus, in Kentucky, any funds diverted from the public schools’ tax-dollar-supported accounts would hit the existing public schools very hard.
Actually I have a simple answer for that last question and one I raised before on this newspaper’s opinion page. Rep. Montell continues to sit on the Education Task Force committee of ALEC. I will let the readers do their own research this time on ALEC or check out my “MY WORD” from Feb. 15, 2012. ALEC continues to push bills into state legislatures that have the specific goal of privatizing our public schools and making profits from our tax dollars.
It becomes increasingly clear the more one looks into this push for charter schools that it has little to do with what is best for our public school systems or the children who attend public schools. It is time for reasonable people to let our legislators know that these charter schools and voucher/tax credit plans are unacceptable, and that there are many other solutions for making improvements in our public schools that will not destroy them in the process.
These points are some of the issues that I am hoping the public will consider and take action on. Most of our government leaders and legislators are people with good intentions.
However, there is a powerful and growing block of those who are counting on the public’s lack of attention and inaction to insert their radical right wing political/religious agendas into our government and laws.
We literally can’t afford to be complacent anymore.
Linda Allewalt lives in Shelbyville.