- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 7, 2006

Spotting the bad guys

Why is everyone so shocked at the recent school shootings (“Colorado gunman sexually assaulted hostages,” Nation, Sept. 28)?

With Drug Abuse Resistance Education’s army of 60,000 within 80 percent of our schools reduced to only 10,000 active D.A.R.E. officers, we will continue to see homegrown terrorism and violence in our schools in the news.

If our uniformed D.A.R.E. officers were on campus, these strangers would have been spotted beforehand. Also, our children would be trained to act and/or react in these high-stakes events, as well as in high-stress peer pressure group situations with drugs and gangs.

America doesn’t need money thrown at this issue or another agency within an agency formed at the taxpayers’ expense. America needs D.A.R.E.’s fully funded workforce reinstated. Like our freedoms, one doesn’t understand and appreciate D.A.R.E.’s prevention until its presence is gone.

President Bush’s Anti-Drug Control Policy Update: Because there is no prevention attached to this policy, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat and co-chair of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, probably inserted us into an obscure bill — perhaps a restored grant program at the very last moment — and since the amount will be so small, no one will notice or raise concern. And Karen Tandy, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, has only pledged $900,000 to D.A.R.E. in fiscal year 2007.

Please stand by us, America.

TANYA HAZELTON

D.A.R.E.-America

Yorba Linda, Calif.

School modernization

The Sept. 25 editorial concerning McKinley Technology High School lacked a few things: the facts. One important fact you do point out is that this project was initiated by Mayor Tony Williams (and Council member Vincent Orange), not by DCPS. Thereby hangs the tale.

FACT: McKinley was bumped to the front of the line ahead of approved, pre-planned, fully budgeted DCPS facilities projects that were ready to go. It’s hard to conduct adequate advance planning without advance notice.

FACT: The $25 million that Office of the D.C. Auditor and the Washington Times cite as the full project budget for McKinley was never intended to be a cost projection based on a scope of work. It was what the Mayor indicated he would put towards a new technology high school, presumably to be matched by private matching funds (that never materialized).

FACT: Although more money overall was spent on construction, the planning and design phases drove the cost overruns. Your own September 22 article by Jim McElhatton rightly characterizes these as mostly occurring under the supervision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In fact, the construction firm caught and corrected many design errors and omissions caused by the architectural firm and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and DCPS cut millions of dollars from the plans early in construction to contain costs. Delays by the USACE greatly reduced that cost savings. These omissions and delays were characteristic of a bizarre hybrid management arrangement that arose in the Control Board era and that would only be tolerated in Washington — and need be tolerated no longer.

FACT: The Mayor and the City’s Chief Technology Officer abandoned their commitment to deliver important components to the McKinley Technology Campus Project in August 2002. This left DCPS to carry the community expectations alone. The 66,000 undeveloped square feet are a testament to that abandonment.

The real wonder is not that this flawed project was over budget but that it became “worth bragging about” (your words) despite these impediments. And the real modernization goes on inside its walls every day, with a state-of-the-art curriculum that the principal and PTA fought for during the arduous three-year construction process.

The moral of the McKinley story: We need pragmatic, comprehensive, publicly accountable planning and management in the modernization of our schools.

The School Modernization Financing Act, passed in March 2006, helps to assure that we will never build another school in the manner McKinley was built. The Act requires a School Modernization Advisory committee of individuals appointed by the Mayor, City Council, and the School Board to oversee its implementation. DCPS has already shown it can successfully build new schools when political intervention is not an issue and the Army Corps of Engineers is not involved. One need only look to Bell-Lincoln, a 1,400-student combination middle school and high school, built at a cost of $65 million and unveiled last spring.

Now is the time to begin identifying specific needed improvements in the contracting and design process at DCPS. DCPS must develop the capacity to design and manage its capital program by developing realistic facility plans and education specifications to be used in implementing the modernization program. The Master Facilities Plan, and individual architectural plans for each school, should be developed through an inclusive public participation process that fully involves parents, principals and others from the community.

Do the mayor and council have a role in improving our schools? You bet they do. They have already demonstrated it, by responding to community outrage over the condition of its schools and passing the Schools Modernization Act. DCPS is now moving forward to responsibly implement this act.

DANIEL GOHL

Principal

McKinley Technology High School

Washington

CHERITA WHITING

PTA President

McKinley Technology High School

Chair of 4B ANC Commission

Chairperson Ward 4 Education Council

DCPS Education Compact Committee

DCPTA Board of Directors

Washington

LAVENSUS JONES

Executive Board

School Modernization Campaign

Parent, Dunbar H.S. graduate

Washington

ANDREA ROSEN

Executive Board

School Modernization Campaign

Parent, Wilson H.S. graduate

Washington

LISA SCHAMESS

Executive Board

School Modernization Campaign

Parent, Hearst E.S. student

Washington

Abortions and breast cancer

Dr. William F. Colliton’s letter “How surgical abortion increases preterm births” (Thursday) pointed out the connection between abortion and premature births. The connection has another disturbing consequence, that of premature birth and breast cancer.

Premature births before 32 weeks gestation increase breast cancer risk for the same reasons that abortions do.

Scientists agree that a full term pregnancy reduces breast cancer risk. What are the biological reasons?

At puberty, the hormone estrogen (a known carcinogen) causes breast tissue to develop into a system of immature, cancer-vulnerable Type 1 and 2 lobules. Approximately 90 percent of all breast cancers form in these lobules.

During a normal pregnancy (not most first-trimester miscarriages), estrogen increases dramatically. Estrogen stimulates the lobules to multiply and the breasts to grow.

Starting at 32 weeks gestation, the lobules mature into cancer-resistant Type 3 lobules. At the end of the woman’s pregnancy, the lobules fill with milk and become cancer-resistant Type 4 lobules.

She has more cancer-resistant lobules than she had before she became pregnant. The longer she breastfeeds, the longer she keeps her breast tissue matured into Type 4 lobules, and the fewer menstrual cycles (and less estrogen exposure) she has.

The woman who aborts or has a premature birth before 32 weeks gestation has more cancer-vulnerable lobules (more places for cancer to start) than she had before she became pregnant.

Abortion, to the detriment of women, has become a sacred cow to breast cancer organizations and many in the medical community. They discuss detection and treatment but very little about prevention. At least they could warn women of the possible loss of the protective effect of childbearing and the possibility of an increased risk.

KAREN MALEC

Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer

Hoffman Estates, Ill.


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