Teacher evaluation

The S.C. Department of Education is hosting a community meeting for the Charleston area to discuss Mick Zais’ proposal to change our teacher evaluation system from one that focuses on actual teacher performance in the classroom to one that is largely based on student standardized test scores.

The proposal revolves around a value added model (VAM), a type of mathematical formula that uses test scores to determine how much “value” each teacher adds to the classroom.

Recent studies have shown that VAMs are seriously flawed and little to no improvement in student achievement is attributed to using them.

We have learned from the failure of certain provisions of No Child Left Behind that over-reliance on standardized test scores has resulted in narrowing of the curriculum, a culture of test prep and cheating scandals, but no benefit to actual student learning.

As a parent of two children in Charleston County schools, I want our teachers to be respected and given support to teach students to solve problems and think for themselves. Enough with PASS pep rallies and daily PASS countdowns.

Parents, educators, and everyone interested in public education should come to the meeting to support our students, teachers and schools on Monday, Nov. 26, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., at Stall High School, 3625 Ashley Phosphate Road in North Charleston.

Let our educational leaders hear your voice.

Sarah Shad Johnson

Flannery Place

Mount Pleasant

Thanks take two

This letter is not to denounce or judge, but to voice regret and hope.

In your compelling article of Nov. 15, College of Charleston professor Sandra Slater observes that gratitude has lost its meaning in Thanksgiving. Consumerism has defiled the holiday and left many Americans wondering what the day even means.

I suggest that consumerism is the effect, not the cause, of Thanksgiving’s meaning being lost.

First, one cannot say thank you when no one is there to thank. Gratitude is relational, a lovely and intimate interaction between those who are significant to each other.

Second, consumerism is a response to a pervasive loneliness within our culture and within many human hearts. The near-obsessive rush to buy things may be all many have left in a culture that ignores people’s spiritual significance and the meaning of relatedness and gratitude.

It is of utmost importance to be able to say “thank you” and to trust that those two blessed words are heard in someone else’s heart.

No amount of “consuming” can match that hunger/need.

William Decker

Sanderson Lane

Summerville

Victory’s high cost

Your Nov. 15 editorial implied that Republicans need to make citizens of the 12 million illegal immigrants in this country or never win another election.

Rich Lowry, in his op-ed, wrote that if we Republicans couldn’t win in the economic climate, with the failure of this president, we have to change our message.

Evidently moderates, Hispanics, blacks and young single women hate us; thus, we have to change our beliefs to rope these people in.

So what do we change? Opposing illegal entry into our country? Everybody wants to come here, so we just let them?

And opposing the killing of unborn babies is costing us votes; they don’t vote anyway, so we need to toss out that ridiculous pro-life stuff.

A small government doesn’t get you anything, except maybe more in your paycheck. When people depend on government for their housing, health care, birth control and even food, they’re not going to vote those things away.

What the heck were we thinking?

That people would be happy making their own money, buying or renting their own house and choosing a doctor or birth control that they can afford?

That people would like freedom rather than comfort?

And all that ridiculousness about upholding the Constitution:

Where are we getting this stuff? The Constitution gets in the way of all the good government could do for us, such as health care.

We Republicans have a dilemma. I propose we drop our opposition to illegal immigration, drop our pro-life stance, forget about the Constitution and vote to make the government provide every need for everybody.

Of course, we will have to take almost all of your money to do a barely adequate job.

Once we do that, we’ll be winning elections again because we’ll be Democrats.

Gloria B. Jenkins

Stonewood Drive

Charleston

Hero among us

E. Frank Aydlett has lived in Charleston for almost 70 years. He is one of the war heroes you never hear about.

Frank does not tell this story to many people. During the Korean War, he and his company were told to take a hill. His platoon advanced up the hill and were driven back by enemy fire.

When at the bottom of the hill, Frank saw one of his comrades wounded on the ground.

Frank on his own started back up the hill in the snow, grabbed his comrade by the leg and pulled him down the hill to safety.

He saved this man’s life. For this act of bravery, Frank received the Bronze Star. He also received the Purple Heart for being wounded in action.

I say thank you, Frank Aydlett, for your service to the United States of America.

It’s because of people like you and veterans of all wars that we are a free nation today.

Frank is in his 80s and lives in Charleston.

Sid Gordon

Lawrence Street.

Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Flawed process

We in South Carolina have just completed a tragic election cycle. Our electorate has been torn apart by bizarre redistricting, which leaves parts of communities voting with communities miles away.

Bad laws and worse enforcement led to many legitimate candidates being thrown off the ballot.

Candidates who were funded by big money, much of it coming from interest groups outside of South Carolina, were the hands-down winners in races at all levels.

Taking their lead from elected officials, individuals made robocalls to people of the opposing party with misinformation, and left pamphlets giving the wrong election date in public places.

Meanwhile, state government has wasted time and tax dollars making sure that each voter will have a photo ID, despite the fact that in-person voter fraud is not the problem.

Will we continue to let this kind of deceit tear apart our communities and make an honest election impossible? We need to demand more of our lawmakers.

Agnes F. Pomata, Ph.D.

Foxfire Road

Wadmalaw Island

‘Race baiting’

I am writing in response to Leonard Pitts’ column where he makes a crack about “angry white men.”

I would like to be Mr. Pitts’ editor for one day.

I would summon him to my office, pop a metal wastebasket over his head and drum on the sides for his use of that dumb phrase.

The “angry white man” is a media bogeyman. He first surfaced after Republicans swept the House in 1994. The liberal tone at the time was petulant, not triumphant as it is today.

It was as good a piece of race baiting as anyone could desire. The politically correct were reluctant to stand up and condemn race baiting.

Focusing on “white” marginalizes people of other races who don’t fall into President Obama’s camp.

The word “angry” is misleading. “Disappointed” would be closer to the truth. We can add “determined” because I will not cast away my right to vote and speak out just because Mr. Obama is on a roll.

Craig S. Faust

Church Creek Drive

Charleston

Clinic saint

There is a free medical clinic on Johns Island. It’s for low-income or no-income patients. Most of the doctors are retired, and all volunteer along with the nurses.

I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. My doctors have gone out of their way to see that I get the best care and medicine available, and believe me, some can be very expensive.

Wanda is a nurse who is there 24/7, or so it seems.

She returns phone calls ASAP and goes out of her way to find which pharmacy has the cheapest medicine and which company will provide if for free.

She does the paperwork. All you have to do is sign your name.

No question is stupid, and if Wanda doesn’t know the answer, she will find out.

She should be cloned.

Thank you, Wanda, and the doctors, at the Barrier Island Medical Cliniic.

Susan A. Riedel

Rainbow Road

James Island

Get a dew clue

On very rare occasions I run across someone dumber than I am — a candidate who briefly replaces me as the dullest knife in the drawer.

You’re telling me after months of planning and untold expense, they were to stage a basketball game on an open aircraft carrier, surrounded by a gazillion gallons of water, at night, and nobody asked, “What about the dew?”

Unwilling to accept defeat, I read they are planning the same event for next November — at night.

I may feel smarter for the next 12 months.

C.B. Jones

Highlander Lane

Hollywood

Right man for job

As a resident of the city of Charleston, I do not have a dog in the fight. However, as a board member of the Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy for nearly three years, I have come to know Eddie Driggers, the newly appointed North Charleston chief of police.

He is the most God-fearing, committed, honest and discerning person I have ever met. A North Charleston native, he truly loves his community. He understands both the good and the bad and has the respect of both.

As he goes through his daily routine, his compassion for others and their true admiration for him are evident.

He is disciplined, level-headed and diplomatic. When Eddie Driggers walks into a room, his presence is immediately felt by his warm smile, not to mention his large stature. He comes across as a gentle giant with his soft-spokeness but quickly exhibits his dedication, determination and commitment to duty.

Not only will he be taking on the position of chief of police for North Charleston, he will also be ordained as an Episcopal deacon on Dec. 1.

This is a man committed to his God, committed to his country and committed to his community.

He is not only qualified to serve as the next chief of police of North Charleston, but also committed to the North Charleston community.

Anne C. Burris

Headquarters Plantation Road

Johns Island