The Opinion Shop

Bonus letters on ACT scores, Donald Trump, Pope Francis, abortion, guns, USPS, Tony Tata

Letters that got overrun by other issues before they could see print:


Scores not accurate reflection

Regarding the Aug. 31 editorial “ Wake-up call on ACT”: While North Carolina may rank at the lowest end for ACT scores, the ACT may not be a true reflection of the knowledge one holds.

I am a student who has severe test anxiety. No matter how much I study or the amount of information I hold on a subject when it comes to testing, I am an emotional wreck. While I have learned techniques to help me overcome the anxiety, I have struggled throughout my education.

Jon Whitmore, head of ACT, acknowledged that some students are not prepared for college or careers. Part of the problem may be that teachers and students must spend so much time in preparation for the standardized testing that there is not time for emphasis on course material. Also, if a student is ill or having some other type of issue, any of these factors is likely to affect test scores.

Test scores are not always accurate and should not be the sole indicator of intelligence or knowledge of any subject.

Perhaps federal and state funding would be better spent in rethinking standardized testing and finding a way to better recognize the different learning styles and strengths of the individual.

Sara El Amrani

Brown Summit


Trump’s world

I am disturbed and disappointed by the failure of the national media and the American people to speak out clearly, loudly, and with greater forcefulness against the statements, tactics and strategy of Donald Trump.

As the current leading candidate (among likely Republican voters) to gain the nomination of his Republican Party to be president, he should, instead, be the leading candidate for ridicule and even disqualification. His disparagement of President Obama as not being born here and not being a Christian is despicable. His constant statements that the United States is going to Hell in a hand basket, that our leaders are stupid, incompetent and weak, and that our economy is in distress that only he can fix, all proclaim that without him our country is doomed.

He (and his hat) say that he is the only person in the world who can “make us great again.” He is wrong!

Trump promotes a kind of xenophobia, bigotry and isolation, and he is an egotist beyond imagining. By appealing to the disaffected, uninformed, military hawks and the extreme right, Trump is bringing the Republican Party to its knees and embarrassing all of us. He and his views should be soundly rejected.

Steve Bernholz

Chapel Hill


Masking uncivil behavior

I am impatient with those who use purported religious beliefs as a smokescreen for their political and personal biases. It is human nature to look for noble justifications for our visceral and tribal reactions to events, and what’s nobler than to claim God is on our side?

My sincere religious beliefs tell me that faith begins in humility, love and acceptance. Jesus urged people to resist their impulses: to turn cheeks, to love enemies, to not judge.

When I hear self-righteous claims, especially from self-serving politicians, that to oppose gay marriage is following God’s will, I sincerely believe that God wants to smite them so hard that they stay smitten.

I’m writing this on Sept. 11, the anniversary of shattering events triggered by sincerely held religious beliefs. Unchecked religious beliefs have long sown havoc, as in the Middle East today.

It’s time we stop giving a pass to uncivil behaviors masquerading as religious beliefs.

Don Clement



USPS should focus on mail delivery

Since its inception, the U.S. Postal Service’s core mission has been letter mail delivery. Yet with its continued movement into money-losing ventures like same-day delivery of specialty gifts, groceries and potentially banking, the agency is struggling to execute its main job of letter delivery.

The high delivery prices for domestic shippers in comparison to what their foreign counterparts pay are yet another questionable practice. Charging domestic customers more to ship a package from North Carolina to a neighboring state, like Virginia, compared to a company in China shipping to North Carolina at a fraction of that cost creates an unnecessary burden to domestic postal customers.

Considering the U.S. Postal Service receives $18 billion in annual subsidies from the government, something is not right when it turns around and gives international companies an unfair pricing advantage, thus hurting American businesses.

The USPS should use its existing capabilities to fulfill its core responsibilities. Our local postal workers are among the best and brightest. They work hard and deserve better leadership from the top.

State Rep. Chris Malone

Wake Forest

The writer, a Republican, represents North Carolina District 35.


Pro-life in N.C.

How North Carolina does “pro-life”: First, enact a 72-day waiting period for abortions, actually endangering Susie North Carolina’s life by extending her pregnancy later in her term due to waiting three additional days for this legal medical procedure.

Then, increase North Carolina’s sales tax, which is regressive and requires Susie to spend a greater percentage of her income on this tax. Then make it harder for Susie to find a doctor by “reforming” Medicaid, ensuring that fewer doctors will accept Medicaid patients. And also cut out funds for regional mental health centers in case Susie has time to seek help.

Once Susie’s baby is born, make it harder for Susie to care for her baby, because Susie now has to apply for five jobs per week in order to keep receiving benefits. And then divert public education funds to charter school which have little to no accountability, ensuring that Susie’s kids will continue to go to underperforming schools with the lowest-paid teachers in the United States.

Then ban “sanctuary cities” in case any of Susie’s relatives, or Susie herself, is “a criminal” undocumented immigrant.

Finally, cut funding to family planning centers – don’t let those uppity women get their birth control! So the whole cycle can start again. Does this sound “pro-life”?

Laurie McDowell



Gun profit trumps lives

After this latest shooting of newspeople in Virginia, and other events – there are always others – I continue to wonder how gun proponents can claim guns should be available to “law-abiding” citizens. Yes, people are law-abiding – until they’re not.

Having a gun, or guns, in hand makes possible all sorts of non-law-abiding options that they may not have had before. Let the anger build up for days, months, years – then get a gun. Wreak havoc.

Some say we should just prevent sales to the mentally ill. People may not be obviously ill until they act out. With the accessibility of guns, it makes the acting out even easier.

Australia had a horrific gun massacre and did the right thing. It got rid of the guns in its society, and it worked. People did turn in their guns.

The U.S. firearms industry just keeps pouring more and more guns into our society for its own benefit. Americans are dying while it gets rich.

Diminish the flow of guns, and the stash owned by criminals will go down. Of course, that might take years, given the unholy amount of lethal weapons provided to the American public, all in the name of profit.

Gretchen Niver



Light snow shouldn’t close schools

Regarding the Aug. 31 news article “ Wake still wrestling with school calendar”: I see that Wake County schools are feeling the pressure to get the required number of days into the calendar. I remember all the angst last spring over how to balance state requirements, holidays, weekends.

A modest proposal: Decide now that Wake County needs to do whatever it takes to ensure that schools are not closed for an inch of snow – not the day of the snowfall and absolutely not for two to three days following. There is no excuse in the 21st century for 1 to 2 inches of snow to force schools to close.

I say this not as a transplanted Yankee, but as a Tar Heel native.

I remember once in Greenville when schools closed for a snowfall that had totally melted by 10 a.m. Subsequent years in the North showed me that while they can’t make a good biscuit, the folks up there know how to handle the white stuff and in terrain more hilly than the Piedmont.

Send someone up there to learn what’s needed, and we’ll be thrilled to avoid travesties like last year.

Joe Swain



Pope’s real message

I have loved reading the texts of Pope Francis’ words to America this week.

When Pope Francis spoke to Congress his words were profound and prophetic. He began by saying that he was a child of immigrants, as are most of us here in America. His discourse on the Golden Rule was heartfelt when he challenged all Americans to “seek for others the same possibilities that we seek for ourselves.”

Something awakened in me when he said, “If we want security, let us give security. If we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.”

I have never felt so aware that the hopes and dreams of today’s immigrants are just as our own. What they want for their children is what we want for our own.

Pope Francis further said that “The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick that time will use for us.” This week I heard this message from the Holy Father as if for the first time, and I have changed. Viva El Papa!

Edie Szyperski



Why attack Tata?

Regarding the news article “ In Tata’s Army career, a dark side”: Your Sept. 20 edition devoted over two full pages to a seemingly pointless story on Tony Tata, who is no longer in public office. The story went on about some actual court order and a “phony” court order.

Not knowing much about Tata, I did some online research to try and find the reason for The News & Observer’s attack. My best guess is that being a Republican and thinking of running for elected office is all the reason The N&O needs for this type of article.

One fact I found in my research that is somehow missing from the newspaper article is that 100 percent of the proceeds from Tata’s Threat series of books have been donated to the Wounded Warriors Fund at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I guess that fact didn’t fit into your agenda.

Robert A. Tickle



Change hearts, not symbols

History is what it is, it cannot be changed or modified by removal of memorials or rewriting history to suit a certain segment of society or culture.

What really needs to occur is a change of heart, and that cannot be achieved through legislative action or more rules and regulations.

This nation is already way off base on the things that really matter. These things are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. We need to change hearts, not history.

Stephen Trexler



Say something about guns

In airports, train stations, bus stops, we see signs that say, “If you see something, say something.” The signs are aimed at encouraging people to report something that looks suspicious, ostensibly to prevent a terrorist attack. But in those airports, train stations and bus stops, there are no signs that say, “If you see someone carrying a gun, say something.” But to whom? We are encouraged not to speak up when we’re uncomfortable around people carrying guns.

When I took my grandchildren shopping, my autistic grandson was frantic about a man with a pistol strapped to his hip. “Nana,” he said. “What’s he going to do? Is he going to rob us?”

I didn’t know what that man was intending to do. He carried nothing to indicate intent, nothing to demonstrate emergency-response abilities. Just a guy with a firearm in a busy department store.

We saw something. We said something to the security guard. But the guard was prohibited from asking questions to the armed man.

With 88 gun-related deaths every day in our country, we can stop assuming that people carrying weapons of war are all “good guys.” If you see something, call 911 and say something.

Kimberly Yaman