As a teacher, I was alarmed to find that the Jan. 25 article, "How much should go directly to classrooms?," glossed over a critical point: the federal definition of "classroom funding" that "excludes 'support' funding of speech therapists, librarians, and administrators." This list should also include psychologists, buses, and cafeterias, and is possibly the most frightening thing about the 65 percent so-called "solution."
Administrators in countless small school districts have already become financial contortionists in their efforts to fund all the programs they need to serve students, usually falling short despite their efforts. If forced to divert money to meet a 65 percent "classroom funding" requirement, they will simply be redistributing a limited pie.
Cash-strapped small districts are streamlined to a nearly undesirable point; there is no waste here. The goal of improving the quality of education can't be served by short-changing support services that are imperative to so many students' readiness to learn.
Black Canyon City, Ariz.
Ms. Atwater is an 8th-grade teacher.
I read with great interest Dante Chinni's Feb. 14 Opinion column, "At last, the conservatives stand up to be counted." This was a thoughtful analysis on the birth of a new conservative assertiveness in Washington. For the past five years, many leaders in the government have equated the Bush administration's policies with traditional conservative principles. Having cut my political eyeteeth during the days of Sen. Everett Dirksen and Sen. Barry Goldwater, I often reflect on the disdain those Republicans would probably feel for many current policies implemented in the name of "conservatism."
The Washington malaise today calls for a degree of moral courage that transcends the desire for electoral success. When thinking Americans favor principled judgment over partisan ideology, the US will be able to deal more effectively with important issues. Such reliance on principle would pose new challenges for liberals and conservatives alike.
I agree with Max Boot's Feb. 13 Opinion piece, "Needed: more troops, not high-tech gadgets." It's obvious that the individual soldier is more important than ever. However, let us not forget what enables us to deploy individual soldiers half a world away and make them successful at their missions: technology. Aircraft carriers, undetectable aircraft, smart weaponry, and missiles make up the arsenal at the command of the single soldier on the battlefield today. The need for small-unit operatives will only increase. But to protect them and enable them to execute their missions, they need to be able to call down heavy ordnance anywhere at any time. Big-ticket items are the only way to do that.
Salt Lake City
Regarding the Feb. 14 article, "Mounting concern over Afghanistan": The fact that the US Air Force still needs to launch 20 air attacks per day in Afghanistan with B-52 bombers and A-10 ground attack planes ought to be more worrying than the growing drug trade. We supposedly defeated the Taliban four years ago, but current Air Force reports detail daily attacks against "enemy troop positions" as recently as Feb. 12. "Major combat" is not over in Afghanistan.
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