- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 26, 2003

.Children first

So let me get this straight: In order to put “our children first,” as stated in “Military parents” (Op-Ed, Monday), Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Sen. Lamar Alexander are promoting more funding for child care, including “respite care” to give “busy” parents a break, as well as more support for infant care. Though these steps may be appreciated by dual-income couples, this is not putting the needs of children first.

Numerous studies and common sense dictate that child care, especially in large doses, is not good for children. Increased child care funding may help recruitment efforts, but it is not in the best interest of children. In addition, the shortage of infant child care on military bases and in the nation as a whole exists for a reason: Infants require constant, individualized care and attention; it is not financially worthwhile for a child care provider to take care of an infant for a few dollars an hour, which is what most parents are willing or able to pay.

The child care shortage is a direct result of this combination of hard work and low pay, just like in any other business. Instead of encouraging more military wives to raise other parents’ children, the senators and other lawmakers should be encouraging parents to raise their own children by providing tax cuts and other initiatives, or maybe the senators should forgo their high salaries and become child care providers themselves. After all, it takes a village.

JENNIFER WOLFF

Bowie, Md.

The ABCs of education

I read yesterday’s letter “Reading the stats” from George Springer, administrator for the Washington Teachers’ Union, in utter amazement. I have an English degree from Johns Hopkins University, and it took me several tries to realize that in four tortured and circuitous paragraphs, all he manages to say is that he suggests we view the District’s public school system’s performance “in context.” That is, ignore that it is the most corrupt and inefficient in the nation.

At a time when union officials spend taxpayers’ money on hundreds of pairs of shoes and Third World countries have higher literacy rates than the public schools in our nation’s capital, I would suggest to Mr. Springer that cheaply varnished platitudes like “D.C. public schools, like many other schools around the country, must concentrate on continually working to improve itself and the education it provides for its children” are exactly that, and if he thinks he doesn’t come off as a six-figure bureaucrat trying to protect his cushy job in a completely scandal-ridden and inept organization, he’s being awfully presumptuous and myopic.

Justice Potter Stewart once said of pornography: “I know it when I see it.” Yes sir, I know what you mean.

JON GARRICK

Oakton

Did I miss something, or is no one concerned that just 10 percent of the 12th-graders in the District can read? There are places where tar and feathers for those in charge would be considered seriously, but in this case, there wasn’t a peep out of the media or anyone else.

How did these students get to the 12th grade?

Where were the school board, management, administration, parents, PTA, local testing people, etc.? Is anyone in charge?

Where are these poor students going to find jobs?

We have many agencies insisting that corporate entities hire these people. Their money would be better spent preparing the students to be hired. Where are the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, PTA and countless other organizations that pretend to protect these students and to have their best interests at heart? What are TV programmers doing to teach reading?

It is obvious that the teaching establishment must find non-readers very early and concentrate on nothing else until those students can perform. Without reading, students can learn nothing else — it is a necessary capability.

DENNIS DADANT

Arlington, Va.

The sanctity of marriage

William McHenry’s letter yesterday defending gay marriage opened a can of worms. He took The Washington Times to task for a previous editorial (“Don’t legalize gay marriage,” Wednesday) by noting that you failed to explain how heterosexual marriage could be undermined if homosexual unions are also called “marriage.”

Apparently, he does not see that public endorsement of certain actions can be corrosive to a society as a whole. The ironic fact that Lester Maddox’s death also was featured in the same edition provides a suitable illustration of my point.

That Mr. Maddox was a racist, at least back in his restaurant days, there is no doubt. He blatantly refused to serve blacks in his establishment, claiming his “freedom” to choose whom to serve was his right. His restaurant’s policy didn’t undermine those of other diners down the street, did it? Blacks could get served elsewhere. His practices would not undermine the practices of others.

Of course, that kind of idea could not stand. Discrimination — even if practiced by one or a few — was recognized as wrong; exceptions were not allowed, whether under the guise of freedom or not. Society is not served by such notions.

In the same way, marriage is not two men or two women spending their lives together. Civilizations throughout history have been built on the foundation of marriage between a man and a woman. To try to modify that formula destroys a cornerstone that cannot be replaced with anything else.

Being free to just “do my thing” sounds oh so fine; asking for society to endorse it is something else. No can do.

JACK WEBB

Springfield

Flying the friendly skies

Readers of your June 19 story about the Transportation Security Administration’s “no-fly list” (“House Panel blocks ‘no fly’ list,” Nation) need to know they can take steps to avoid delays when checking in for their flight.

The list, based on information from federal intelligence and law enforcement agencies, contains names of individuals who pose or are suspected of posing a threat to aviation or national security. TSA inherited the list from the Federal Aviation Administration after the horrific attacks of September 11.

The list is a valuable tool in the war against terrorism, but a very small number of innocent persons with names similar to those on the list have been delayed when getting boarding passes.

To avoid that, those travelers can contact the TSA Office of the Ombudsman, describing in writing what has happened to indicate they are being mistaken for persons on the no-fly list. If warranted, the ombudsman will send out a form requesting personal information. Air carriers then will be provided with sufficient information to readily differentiate the same-name traveler from the person on the list.

The ombudsman’s address: TSA Office of the Ombudsman, Second Floor, TSA-22, 601 S. 12th St., Arlington, VA22202-4200. The e-mail address is Ombudsman@dhs.gov. The toll-free telephone number is 877/266-2837.

We have all learned that ensuring security can be inconvenient at times. Fortunately, as a recent national poll showed, air travelers solidly support TSA’s efforts to protect them. We highly prize that trust and will continue to do all we can to deserve it.

ADM. JAMES M. LOY

Administrator

Transportation Security Administration

ArlingtonNorm Brewer

TSA Public Affairs

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