Alternative teaching programs work

Regarding your editorial "Hiring nonteachers to teach" (July 16): After 10 years as director of the first and largest alternative certification program in America, I can personally testify to the value of bringing mature, degreed adults into teaching. Unfortunately, the young grads from traditional teacher education programs are not always willing to teach in hard-to-staff schools in urban areas.

Alternative-certification candidates who live in urban neighborhoods, on the other hand, will teach and stay in these schools. Alternative-certification programs are generally very rigorous pursuits for the individual wanting to give back to society after a successful career in another field of work.
Delia Stafford
Haberman Educational Foundation

Pilots can be trained to use guns

Regarding "No guns in the cockpit," (Opinion, July 15): As a former Special Forces team member who has trained and served on several tactical teams, I can say that while building-entry, room-clearing, and hostage- rescue techniques require intense training and continuous sustained training and muscle memory, simple close-quarters linear combat techniques do not. Furthermore, the type of ammunition used would make an explosion or catastrophic damage to the aircraft highly unlikely.

While I am not in favor of pilots leaving the cockpit to engage terrorists in the middle or rear of the aircraft, I do believe that they can be competently trained to defend the cockpit – an area about the size of an average home's bathroom – with a high degree of safety.
Dale Simpson
Lawrenceville, Ga.

Don't blame environmentalists

In response to Jack Ridley ("Big cost for wildfires," Reader's Write, July 15), I am amazed that the same old story about environmental groups holding up the Department of Interior with lawsuits is being spread by the better-educated readers of your paper. Living in the middle of a forest, even I know that there have been few lawsuits and that the problem has been where the money is being spent when it comes to forest management. We have cleared around our house and breathe a sigh of relief when the heavy rains of winter arrive.
Linda Marschall
Grass Valley, Calif.

The downside of 'progress'

Concerning the article, "In Mexico hostage crisis, seeds of unrest" (July 15), the clash between rural landholders and developers worldwide is one of the most serious problems the world faces, terrorism notwithstanding.

So-called progress, with all its problems, has turned out to be less than desirable in too many instances. In some cases, it has been downright destructive to the quality of life.

Developers invariably quote how much money their project will bring into the area as though it will enrich us all. Money to whom? Local businesses where I live all jumped on the progress bandwagon thinking that it would mean more business and profits for them. Instead, the big chains moved in, forcing the locals out of business, and now former business owners find themselves working for those chains, sometimes at minimum wage. Difficult-to-quantify factors such as environmental quality, sense of community, and social impacts are usually ignored by proponents of development.

Many communities have found the rewards of development to be elusive or even nonexistent. May the protesting farmers of Mexico be successful in blocking the expropriation of their land.
Richard Whitehead
Merritt Island, Fla.

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