- The Washington Times - Friday, June 16, 2000

Teachers to grade proposed D.C. school schedule

The Executive Committee of the Washington Teachers' Union recently voted down a proposal to change the starting times for school next year. Today teachers will be asked to vote on this proposal. While the administration acknowledges the contractual implications and adjustments for parents and teachers alike, the many benefits this change will have for all of the D.C. Public Schools' children merit this paradigm shift.

In an ongoing effort to place more resources in local schools and classrooms, the revised school day proposal would accomplish educational improvements, transportation efficiencies and significant financial savings. This proposal will allow more students to arrive on time, provide later start times for secondary students and earlier start times for elementary students, and may save the school district as much as $10 million in transportation costs.

The coordination of school times with transportation services is a common practice in surrounding school districts. Further, recent research suggests that later start times are beneficial for older students. Most importantly, the possible $10 million in savings could go a long way in support of instruction. For example, $10 million translates into 8,000 computers, almost 200 teachers or math and reading textbooks for all children in grades kindergarten through 12. So it is our responsibility to find every way possible to maximize available resources.

Our students have made steady and significant academic growth because of the direct support and resources that have been provided to schools. Because the fiscal 2001 budget is established, any dollars redirected for transportation, or for any other purpose, will have an impact on the classroom in one way or another. Our teachers deserve enormous credit for the considerable progress our children have made this year, for which we thank them. We hope that they will weigh this matter carefully as another opportunity to put children first and to give them every opportunity for success.

ARLENE ACKERMAN

Superintendent

D.C. Public Schools

Washington

Our smooth-talking vice president

Is our vice president a hypocrite? The day after Al Gore wrapped up the Democratic Party nomination and the campaigning for president began, he promised on CNN to adhere to campaign-finance reform and not run any ads funded by soft money. In my mind, that means none. It seems, however, that he is following in his boss' footsteps of saying one thing but meaning another.

How can this be? Our truth-telling vice president, the man who said in January, "There has never been a time when I said something that was not true," has given the go-ahead to the Democratic National Committee to run issue ads paid for with soft money.

Do we really need four more years of the same smooth-talking style that has characterized the White House for the past eight? Maybe it's time to examine the facts on campaign finance and see who is not just talking, but playing straight with the American people.

BETSY BAJWA

Bethesda

Abortion doctor's sea knowledge is all wet

The article "Dutch doctor would launch abortion boat" (June 10) states that abortionist Rebecca Gomperts "is raising funds to purchase a 46-foot ship … that would pick up pregnant women seeking abortions in the ports of countries where abortion is illegal and perform the abortions in international waters before returning the women to port."

Dr. Gomperts may be an accomplished killer of unborn human children, but she appears to have little knowledge of the sea. The sea is particularly unforgiving of fools. Though Dr. Gomperts optimistically refers to a 46-foot vessel as a "ship," any sailor would tell her that what she is seeking is a boat, and routinely taking a vessel that small into the open ocean is problematic at best.

To think of performing surgery on such a vessel is nonsense. When I have surgery performed on me, I want my doctor to have a steady hand and be standing on a stable platform. Dr. Gomperts' selection of a tiny floating operating room will ensure that her patients have neither. It makes me wonder what her motives really are. She certainly isn't concerned about the welfare of her patients. It reminds me again why abortionists have always been the lowest rung on the medical community ladder.

CMDR. THOMAS V. COLE

U.S. Navy

Quantico, Va.

Editorial on Internet gambling rolls libertarian dice and loses

Until we saw your editorial opposing the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act ("Gambling on the Internet," June 9), we thought the rap on our bill was that it is not tough enough. Now we see the problem: We shouldn't be doing anything to restrict on-line gambling at all. To be criticized at one and the same time for doing not enough and too much, we must be doing something right.

Your criticisms of the legislation are unfounded.

First, you say that the harms of on-line gambling are unproven. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission and many experts have concluded, however, that on-line gambling endangers children, promotes pathological gambling and facilitates criminal activity.

Second, you say that "gambling on the Internet is not as dangerous as gambling at a casino." But this is not true, according to testimony before Congress. Experts noted how casinos are quick to deal with problem and addicted gamblers. No such check exists for people gambling on line in their own homes. For children this is especially dangerous. Indeed, Dr. Howard Schaffer, the director of Harvard Medical School's Division on Addiction Studies, has likened the Internet to new delivery forms for addictive narcotics and has stated, "As smoking crack cocaine changed the cocaine experience, I think electronics is going to change the way gambling is experienced."

Third, you say that gambling is "not a federal issue." But gambling has been a federal issue for most of our history. In fact, the Federal Wire Act has governed telephone gambling for the past four decades. But the act is becoming outdated in the age of wireless communications. That is why the chief law enforcement officers of the states, through the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), asked Congress to update federal law to meet the challenges of the Internet, a medium that is intrinsically interstate in its reach.

Fourth, you complain that the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act would prevent the states from selling lottery tickets over the Internet. The legislation maintains the status quo by limiting such sales to places open to the general public, such as convenience stores where lottery tickets are already sold. This limit advances the goals of avoiding participation in lotteries by children, reduces the dangers of compulsive gambling and diminishes the potential for fraud.

Fifth, you say that Americans should be allowed "to enjoy their vices on the Internet." This appeal to libertarian principles is simply another way of dismissing the serious societal harms associated with on-line gambling. In light of those serious harms, this appeal rings hollow.

The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is supported by NAAG, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the National Football League and a wide variety of pro-family and anti-gambling groups. Four years in the making, passed unanimously by the Senate last fall and approved overwhelmingly by the House Judiciary Committee in April, the legislation is ready for action by the full House.

JON KYL

U.S. Senate

Washington

ROBERT W. GOODLATTE

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington

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