Letters to the Editor

Low-income students’ exclusion from gifted classes ‘should be causing outrage’

Gifted program ‘outrage’

Regarding the May 21 news article “Smart, low-income students excluded from gifted classes”: This series of articles about the exclusion of low-income children from appropriately challenging classes should be causing outrage — from parents, from taxpayers, from political leaders and from the Wake County School Board.

Low-income children are being withheld and excluded from a better education. Unfortunately, I’m convinced there will be no outrage. After all, it is now known who really matters in the school system – and it’s not the poor.

Allison Backhouse


Eliminate low-income labels

Regarding the May 21 news article “Smart, low-income students excluded from gifted classes”: The very idea that money can buy better opportunities in early education was very disturbing. A factor in this was the practice of separating students by economic status through the free lunch program. Either give all students free lunch or none. That would create a system that is blind to economic status.

How can people build an inclusive society when children are classified by income from the start of their education? Give them their dignity and remove the stigma of being low-income. They know they are low-income; they don’t need to be reminded every day at such a young age while getting a meal at school. This must stop to give all students the same chance.

Ron Driver


Diversity training claims challenged

Regarding the May 21 features commentary “Passing thoughts on baseball and diversity”: This column about diversity was offensive and potentially harmful. It appeared to misunderstand the purpose of diversity training.

Yes, daily association with people from different backgrounds is an important part of learning about others and embracing diversity, but this provides no guarantee of any self-examination or change of attitude. I encourage everyone to consider, in light of the nation’s increasing racial tension, finding out for themselves how much more there is to diversity training than learning to get along with others.

James Collins


Keep UNC law school funds

Regarding the May 21 commentary column “UNC cuts send clumsy message”: Cutting a third of state funding for the UNC law school would suppress healthy discourse and differing opinions.

The training of future lawyers and lawmakers benefits from an exposure to different ideas at an early stage . North Carolina residents pay taxes into state coffers, which contribute to the support of educational institutions. The state must always allow the educational process and free flow of ideas that comes with it to continue. It can improve lives.

George Garcia


Keep SNAP accessible

Regarding the May 18 news article “133,000 people would lose food stamps in Senate plan”: Shame on Sen. Ralph Hise of Mitchell County for his cruel and unnecessary provision to the state budget that would literally take food out of the mouths of poor North Carolinians.

Changes to eligibility requirements would deny many access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This would hurts 133,000 of the state’s neediest residents who rely on food stamps to feed their families. It wouldn’t save not one cent for the state since this is a federally funded program.

It was appalling thatHise and the GOP would put forward this mean-spirited and useless provision. Once again, N.C. GOP legislators are walking away from federal funds that would greatly benefit North Carolinians.

Patricia Lang


GOP ‘lost focus’

Regarding the May 16 new article “Senators seek deal over House’s Medicaid changes”: The GOP said it was focused on creating jobs, reducing unemployment and improving the economy for the American worker. One of the ways they may try to prove this would be to repeal Obamacare.

There is a lot of news about how the GOP’s American Health Care Act will take health care coverage away from millions of Americans. A less-noticed impact is its potential effect on employment.

It is easy to see why the AHCA could be a job-killer. Cutting $800 billion over 10 years from Medicaid will likely reduce health care employment. It looks like the GOP has lost its focus.

John Muehl


Give treasurer time

Regarding the May 19 news article “2 hired with no health care insight”: North Carolina residents elected State Treasurer Dale Folwell on his campaign promises to improve finances and reduce costs of the State Health Plan, and he is seeking to do just that. Part of the solution will require hiring the best and brightest staff, regardless of their professional background.

The state should allow Folwell to select staff as he sees fit and judge their merits in due time. Managers with strong leadership qualities are successful because of their diverse skill sets, not in spite of them.

Dean Riddick


Focus should be on patients

This sentence in the May 20 news article “Hospitals fight bills aiming to open health care market” brought me up short: “The N.C. Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons has not endorsed any of the bills, because it would not benefit all the society’s members.”

Call me naive, but here I thought that professional medical societies determined which legislation to support or oppose on the basis of how it would affect public health and the provision of health care to the public, not on how it may or may not benefit its members.

Howard L Ritter Jr.

Fuquay Varina

Sunday graduations defended

Regarding the May 18 news article “Pastors urge public schools not to hold graduations on Sundays”: I understand the desire of religious leaders to exclude Sunday mornings from graduation services and business hours. But would resurrecting “blue laws” go far enough?

If this is supported, then can graduation events no longer be held on the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday in deference other religions? Businesses, then, should also cease operations during the Sabbath to show respect for other faiths.

To recognize the needs of one faith and not those of another would be exclusionary and must be avoided, as the state should not show preference for one religion over another.

Robert Schiffman


Here’s to better listening

While Raleigh has been the calm eye at the center of most political storms, the city experienced a bruising debate in 2007 over the lack of citizen involvement in park planning. The city listened and hired nationally recognized experts in citizen engagement from N.C. State University to train staff and redesign park planning to improve citizen involvement. Today, the Raleigh Parks Department is the model for engaging residents.

The Raleigh City Council is now working to improve engagement by residents citywide. Fortunately, the city’s success with parks offers a reliable path for reaching across the polarized divide. Let’s hire experts of the caliber that guided the Parks Department transformation, to step back, listen to residents and focus on shared values. Let’s build trust in a new citywide vision that improves engagement and empowerment and gives voice to many new participants as well as those who have been the most engaged.

Russ Stephenson

Raleigh City councilor at-large