- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 27, 2001

Children yes, unions no

Following on the heels of "Hypocrisy on school vouchers," the May 8 Commentary column by the Heritage Foundations Jennifer Garrett, and the May 17 story "Unions defend bad teachers, poll says," Deborah Simmons May 18 Op-Ed column, "Money down the school drain," surely will raise howls of protest from American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association officials, who are always quick to take offense when exposed by those who see them and their agenda so clearly.

Yet the fundamental issue that must be addressed is not where union officials stand on the education questions so important to parents who are hungry for the return of excellence to our schools, but why the nation´s thousands of "good teachers" are not prevailing with their views views that mirror the concerns and agree with the solutions of the majority of Americans.

The answer: The government sanctions the political domination of union officials from the schoolhouse to the statehouse to the courthouse political domination that has granted them control of our schools through monopoly bargaining and forced-union-dues contracts. As long as teachers´ union officials have the extraordinary privilege of speaking for every teacher in a school system even for those who are not members, did not vote for them and do not agree with their positions the education of our children will be dominated by union officials who opt for mediocrity and one-size-fits-all solutions for the sake of their own self-interest.

In my home state of Pennsylvania, locally elected school board directors in 69 percent of our districts have signed coercive union-dues contracts for more than 70 percent of our teachers. In only three of 67 counties do all teachers have the choice of whether to join or support a union, while in 14 counties, none of them can exercise that basic American freedom.

The truth is that AFT spokeswoman Celia Lose is dead wrong in stating, "It´s a mistake to separate teachers from the organizations that represent them." That is precisely what we must do if we can save public education remove the failed system of monopoly-union control of our public schools found in the majority of states and return the education of our children to parents, citizen-taxpayers and dedicated professional educators.

We should applaud educators who are dedicated to "children first," so different from union officials, whose battle cry is, "Union yes." Regardless of the political dollars they throw at elected officials, union officials should be ignored.


SUSAN STAUB

President

Pennsylvanians for Right to Work Inc.

Harrisburg, Pa.

Is paternity trumping our posterity?

Your May 22 story "Population rises halt in developed nations" reported that the "developing worlds population is projected to increase by 2.9 billion by 2050, compared with only 49 million in the more developed countries." The story also pointed out that there are fewer births than deaths in Europe and that of the industrialized countries, the United States is the only one with a fertility rate at or above the "replacement level" of 2.1 children per woman.

The Washington-based Population Reference Bureau said the result will be "a very different world in terms of population." The demographic changes in Europe are dramatic. In the United States, fertility rates are marginally enough to maintain population, but immigration is changing the country almost as dramatically.

In the May 1999 issue of the New Oxford Review, Allan C. Carlson provided some insight into what can be expected in the not-too-distant future:

"Everywhere in Europe and America attention focuses on consumption of food, frequent sex and raucous fun. The cafes and cabarets are full and 'dark people´ from the south and east are brought in to bus the tables and clean up the morning mess. Americans grumble about the bad English and big families of their busboys and nurse´s assistants, but in the memorable words of Garth from Wayne´s World they 'party on.´ We live in the aftermath of the sexual revolution, celebrated in song, film and bad poetry. Sexual experimentation starts early, but few children are born. But this great party will not last much longer. There´s an iron law in history: The future belongs to the fertile. The fate of Europe is already written: Its heir will be the 'dark people´ who´ve been brought in to clean up after the partying. With fertility levels three or four times that of their neighbors, they will take over the splendor and wealth of Europe by mid-21st century."

The U.S. Constitution states that our government was established to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity." It appears, however, that the sexual revolution and the U.S. Supreme Court´s Roe vs. Wade decision have trumped our posterity.


NORMAN G. PEIL

Marshall, Va.

Marijuana laws have gone to pot

Regarding the May 18 article on conservative Republican support in the Maryland legislature for medical use of marijuana, the issue is one politicians from both parties can get behind safely ("GOP lawmaker backs pot at rally for medicinal use," Metro). A Pew research poll found that 70 percent of Americans support medical marijuana. Marijuana prohibition itself should be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis. The health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared to the life-shattering effects of the punitive nanny state. Unfortunately, a complete review of marijuana legislation would open up a Pandoras box most politicians would just as soon avoid.

America´s marijuana laws are based on culture and xenophobia, not science. The first marijuana laws were enacted in response to Mexican migration during the early 1900s. Essentially a disenfranchisement tool, they were passed during an ugly time in American history when racial profiling was expected. White Americans did not even begin to smoke marijuana until a soon-to-be entrenched government bureaucracy began funding reefer-madness propaganda.

Dire warnings that marijuana inspires homicidal rages and insanity have been counterproductive at best. Roughly 38 percent of Americans have smoked pot. The reefer-madness myths have long been discredited, forcing the drug-war gravy train to spend millions of tax dollars on politicized research, trying to find harm in a relatively harmless plant. Meanwhile, research that might demonstrate the medical efficacy of marijuana is blocked.

The direct experience of millions of Americans contradicts the sensationalistic myths used to justify marijuana prohibition. Illegal drug use is the only public health problem wherein key stakeholders are not only ignored, but actively persecuted and incarcerated. In terms of the recent Supreme Court ruling, those stakeholders happen to be cancer and AIDS patients.


ROBERT SHARPE

Program officer

The Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation

Washington


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