Letters to the editor published in the January 12, 2010, edition of The Explorer.

Appalled at officials’ partisan opinions

As an American, as an Arizonan and as a resident of the greater Tucson area, I’m appalled at the rhetoric being offered by our locally elected political officials regarding the tragic shootings that took place at the Safeway center. It does not serve the public good when those in office inject their own partisan opinions as the to cause and effect of this senseless tragedy.

It appears we have fools in office when the Sheriff states we are the capital of bigotry and intolerance, and an elected congressman calls for an economic boycott of his own district.

If we are the capital of anything, it is that of having genuine horse’s rear ends in office.

Norman Schwartz, Oro Valley

Huppenthal agrees TUSD violated state statutes

Given the evidence that I have reviewed as of today (Jan. 4), I support former state Superintendent Tom Horne’s decision that a violation of one or more provisions of A.R.S. § 15-112 (the statute created by passage of HB 2281) has occurred by the Tucson Unified School District.

While I have read Superintendent Horne’s finding of violations by TUSD, I have not had the opportunity to review all the facts and evidence he has compiled in this matter and, therefore, will not prematurely comment on specifics.

It should be noted that A.R.S. § 15-112 and its provisions went into effect as of midnight on Dec. 31. The day before, on Dec. 30, the TUSD Governing Board held a meeting and issued a resolution, the third of its kind, in support of the Mexican American Studies Program as it is currently structured.

Despite clear evidence to the contrary, the Board insisted that the program in question was already in compliance. Subsequently, in an interview with the Arizona Daily Star, TUSD Governing Board Member Adelita Grijalva indicated that no changes to the Mexican American Studies Program had been made since the passage of HB 2281.

A.R.S. § 15-112 A (3) states that, “A school district or charter school in this state shall not include in its program of instruction any courses that include any of the following:

“3. Are designed primarily for the pupils of a particular ethnic group.”

As of today, sections of TUSD’s Web site on its Mexican American Studies Program clearly indicate that the program is designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group: Latino students. This is in clear violation of A.R.S. § 15-112 A (3).

Here is an excerpt from the Frequently Asked Questions Web page:

“Question: What students does the Mexican American Studies Department serve?”

Answer: “…the Mexican American Studies Department was formed specifically to enhance the academic success of Latino students…”

I find the TUSD Governing Board’s insistence on not changing the Mexican American Studies Program as it is currently structured particularly troubling given my own personal experience with TUSD’s recently renamed Mexican American Studies Department. My firsthand classroom encounter clearly revealed an unbalanced, politicized and historically inaccurate view of American History being taught. If still present today, elements of this classroom’s instruction would violate sections of A.R.S. § 15-112, particularly subsection (4) which prohibits a course that (4) advocates ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

TUSD’s administration and Governing Board have the responsibility to ensure their programs come into full compliance with A.R.S. § 15-112 within 60 days of Superintendent Horne’s official finding. I extend to TUSD’s administration my full resources and commitment, and those of the Arizona Department of Education, to help them accomplish this task.

At the same time we work to bring the district into compliance in this regard, I will also strongly encourage TUSD officials to take this opportunity to review all of their schools’ programs and curricula, particularly in their schools that primarily serve minority students. Schools serving these students are among the worst performing schools in Arizona. Their minority students’ academic growth, year after year, substantially lags behind other TUSD schools and Arizona peers. This is unacceptable. Every child needs access to a quality public education, and these children are being underserved.

In a world in which quality education holds the keys to opportunity and success, these minority students are being consigned to a lesser future. They deserve better.

As superintendent of public instruction, I won’t rest until every child, regardless of race, ethnic background or socio-economic status, receives the excellent education he or she deserves.

John Huppenthal, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction

Northwest FD thanks local businesses for support

On behalf of the Fire Board and employees of the Northwest Fire District, I wish to extend our deepest heartfelt blessings to the families and friends of the victims involved in the tragic shooting at the La Toscana Village Plaza at Ina and Oracle roads on Saturday, Jan. 8.

I would also like to sincerely thank the businesses near the incident for their support of the hundreds of first responders and law enforcement personnel with generous outpouring of resources and support they have provided since the tragic shooting.

From shelter, facilities, refreshments and food, to open-ended offers of assistance, to expressions of concern in person and via mail, e-mail, phone, and Internet, we are deeply humbled by your concern, compassion, and support. Your generous assistance enabled our personnel to work efficiently and to provide medical, physical, and emotional care for a large number of patients over the extended time frame of the incident.

Your sense of community and spirit of involvement are appreciated by all connected with the Northwest Fire District.

Special thanks to Westward Look Resort and to La Toscana Village businesses: Beyond Bread, China Phoenix, Einstein Bagels, La Salsa, Safeway and Walgreens.

S. Jeff Piechura, Northwest Fire District Fire Chief

We cannot be divided as a country

I am heartbroken today along with everyone in Tucson. We are in mourning because six human beings — five adults and one child — are dead and numerous others injured while doing nothing more than participating in the democratic process. It’s one of those, “it can’t happen to me moments,” a “things like this don’t happen in Tucson” moment.

I will remember the sadness I feel today as I remember the sadness of Sept. 11, 2001. I feel the same shock, the same, “this should not happen.” I feel for a moment that all is lost and we have slipped into a dark time, where justice and morality have left us and darkness has taken over our hearts our minds and our eyes.

Then I think of those who are brave; those who tackled the armed assailant; those who drove up minutes later in glowing red-and-blue lights to resuscitate the injured. I think of the people who honorably laid to rest the deceased, and the (law enforcement) officers who delivered the shooter to justice. And I think of Mrs. Giffords and those who were there at the “Congress on The Corner” event, and realize how they, too, are heroes, fighting and serving for our great democracy. And I realize that, in despite of what happens, we cannot and should not be divided as a country or city.

Tonight and today and for many days to come, my thoughts and prayers will be sent to the victims and their families. I pray that all survivors heal to the best of their ability. I pray that we as a city and we as a nation can learn from this.

I pray that one of our elected leaders will never be harmed in this way again.

John Bellamy

Giffords can fight through this

This has been a devastating day for Southern Arizona and our entire nation. We saw an act of terrorism in our community today (Jan. 8) that left many victims.

I have known Gabby since our days back at Emily Gray Junior High, and if anyone can fight through this, I know she can.

I’m equally heartbroken over the fact that Pam Simon, a longtime friend of mine, was also a victim of today’s tragedy. Pam is one of the kindest people I’ve had the pleasure to know.

I don’t know all the victims, but I’m completely distraught about what’s happened and can only imagine how those who have been personally affected feel this evening.

My deepest prayers are with all of them.

Jonathan Paton

Agrees with sheriff’s comment about vitriol

We now know that Jared Loughner, the person who committed the violence at the Safeway store this past weekend, was a far left Progressive. I agree with Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik about the comments coming from Progressive TV and radio hosts. They should be more restrained in their vitriol.

When Conservatives don’t like their leadership, they vote them out of office. When Progressives don’t like their leadership, they sometimes turn to physical violence.

Andrew W. Woodward, Tucson

We need to wake up and speak up

A recent poll found a majority of Americans say they don’t agree with the Supreme Court’s decision granting citizenship rights to corporations.

“Citizens United,” as the decision is called, makes it harder than ever to fairly assess political candidates. Our U.S. Constitution has been officially interpreted to say that it’s fine for corporations to bombard media with unlimited campaign funding. Our one-man or woman/one-vote tradition has been effectively nullified.

Further, while our broken economy protects the top 2 percent of wage earners receiving undreamed of windfalls, the rest of us work harder, awaiting the death knell for our jobs or pensions. Trickle down, if it ever worked, is gone. Nonetheless, remarks about wealth flowing upwards are widely dismissed as “class warfare” and /or “socialism.” Actually, our electoral playing field radically pitches towards oligarchy.

Young people struggle to bear the burden of increased tuition as opportunities shrink. A decent education is still seen as a pathway to a decent job, but our legislature rarely lifts a finger to support education. With our safety net in shreds, they continue to cut.

Not long ago, people recoiled in shocked distaste when the term “death panels” was coined, but a majority of Arizonans voted for legislators dedicated to slashing physical and mental healthcare, cruelly punishing the sick, needy and elderly. Death panels have arrived, Arizonans.

If you see any unfairness in all of this, you can help stem the tide by supporting a Constitutional Convention to overturn the repugnant Citizens United decision. That first step will be followed by a Constitutional amendment.

It can happen if — to paraphrase the CoffeeParty — we wake up, speak up and take a stand. Readers can Google “CoffeePartyUSA” or visit www.FixCongressFirst.org to find out where you fit in. Nationally, the action is scheduled to begin Jan. 20-22.

Locally, you can attend the CoffeeParty’s next evening discussion at 6:30 on Jan. 12 at the Oro Valley Public Library, or a CoffeeParty meeting from 1 to 3 p.m. on any Tuesday at the library.

Kathleen Pastryk, Oro Valley

Prayer is wake-up call we ignore

John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, the space shuttle catastrophes, the Oklahoma City bombings, the 9/11 catastrophe and the Tucson tragedy are all wake up-calls. Are we listening or have we forgotten?

During those times, our cities, states and nation were called upon to pray. Prayer vigils seem to be established in moments of need. These vigils are openly accepted but are openly challenged when a group of individuals wants to gather around a flagpole to simply pray for our nation. Why?

The acknowledgement of a higher being and authority is acceptable in moments of crisis but is openly questioned or challenged in our daily lives. For me, prayer is the wake-up call we are consistently ignoring.

For decades I have wondered why prayer is leaned on so heavily during catastrophes and yet rejected on other occasions? Inconsistencies exist regarding prayer in our cities, state and nation. Why is prayer condemned at high school football games and other activities? Is the wake-up call for all of us to pray more openly as a city, state and nation? Are our politicians and elected officials incorrectly assigning the term “wake-up” call for political leverage?

Arizona is not the breeding ground of the behaviors that some have claimed but rather one of the 50 (states) that strayed from its recognition of God and forgotten the significance of prayer.

We have outlawed the use of the term “God” in our school system, debated the acknowledgement of God on our coinage, forbidden prayer in schools, and protested and removed the Ten Commandments from key locations in some our cities. Could all of the events of the catastrophe in Tucson be warnings for each of us to seek God and pray? I think so.

We each need to focus on the wake-up call of revival. A revival — more commonly referred to as a change in heart — is rooted in our acknowledgement and faith, trust and acceptance of God in our daily life. This is what our cities, states and nation needs to annihilate the vindictive behaviors of all political parties.

Bob Black, Oro Valley

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