Letters to the Editor for Monday, March 16, 2009

By STARS AND STRIPES | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 16, 2009

European and Mideast editions

(EDITOR’S NOTE: These are the letters that appeared in each edition of Stripes on this publication date. Click here to jump ahead to the Pacific edition letters)

Reading Recovery helps kids

I am writing after reading “Don’t drop reading program,” a parent’s letter (March 10) written in support of Reading Recovery, the first-grade reading program referred to in “DODEA to cut first-grade reading program” (article, March 8, Europe edition).

I am a Reading Recovery teacher in Bitburg, Germany, and I appreciate the letter writer’s support. Reading Recovery is an effective program, the only one deemed by the What Works Clearinghouse (an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Educational Services) as highly effective in the four elements of instruction evaluated. As Marc Mossburg, chief of curriculum for the Department of Defense Education Activity, points out, the program is also cost-effective.

In explaining why the program is being cut, Mossburg discussed the ratio of 1 teacher to 9 students. He neglected to point out that this ratio refers to half of a Reading Recovery teacher’s workload. The other half of a Reading Recovery teacher’s caseload varies by school but, during the other half of my workload, which provides support for most second-graders and some third-graders, I work with 56 students in cooperation with the classroom teacher. Reading Recovery students perform at the average or above-average level in these classrooms. The readers in these classrooms who are struggling the most with literacy are students who came to the school from outside the DODEA system and students without the advantage of Reading Recovery instruction in first grade. Reading Recovery tutoring is tailored to individual student needs and strengths. This provides a firm foundation for later success.

As the letter writer pointed out, why wait to intervene? Once Reading Recovery is cut, the program will be difficult to reinstate. The teachers will lose their certification and materials will scatter. Students needing help in the subsequent grades can receive aid during the other half of a Reading Recovery teacher’s assigned workload.

Lynne Dillingham
Bitburg, Germany

Heterosexuals needn’t worry

It is desperate times when some heterosexuals are claiming a violation of their rights to privacy with the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and it is an out-loud cry to protect homophobia in the military (“Respect heterosexual rights,” letter, March 10). It is absurd to think that once the ban is lifted, there will be homosexual harassment toward heterosexuals in shower rooms.

Just like heterosexual males, homosexual males have been showering all their lives with men. Homosexuals are men, and they shower with men just like any other man. They are just men showering.

However, in the case of a heterosexual who is so uncomfortable with a known homosexual, it is easy to schedule showers at different times. I have deployed to Al Udeid [Air Base, Qatar]; Ali Al Salem [Air Base, Kuwait]; Balad [Air Base, Iraq] and now Bagram [Afghanistan]. In all deployed locations thus far, there have been multiple shower rooms for someone to choose. I know we cannot expect everyone to be comfortable with gays and lesbians, just as there are still people in the military with racial tensions and sexist opinions.

Heterosexuals have all the privacy they want. When the day comes that a heterosexual gets discharged from the military because a civilian employee saw him kiss his partner in public, or when a nurse of 19 years is discharged after an anonymous tip that she is a heterosexual, or when another military member is discharged for simply saying three words — “I am heterosexual” — when these things happen because the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy was repealed, then heterosexuals will have some merit to their rights being violated.

Fortunately for everyone, we will never get to that point when heterosexuals will have rights to privacy as a concern.

Anthony Loverde
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

‘It’s just the comics’

OK people, I get the point. C’mon, be real, it’s just the comics. It’s supposed to make us laugh and forget about life and the real world for a while!

I read Stars and Stripes and after I read what’s going on in the world, I look at the comics. There are some comics I don’t read, but I try to read all of them when I get a chance. I even read my local newspaper and comics (Sunday, too) when I’m home. OK, Boyd [from “The Meaning of Lila”] is gay. Big deal! So what? It’s just comics!

I think [some letter writers] need to realize that no matter how old you are, you’re never too old to read the funny pages.

Spc. Mark Reed
Taji, Iraq

Pacific edition

Letting gays serve openly

The writer of “Respect heterosexuals’ rights” (March 11) checkered his letter with sexual undertones, referring to straight men serving as “eye candy” to gay men in the showers.

His larger point, we infer, is that the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly should remain intact — because of some sexual nonsense driven by fear.

The writer, a chaplain, already knows that any misconduct from anyone — gay or straight — is dealt with through conduct regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. As it should be.

Inappropriate behavior today will still be inappropriate behavior after repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

I would also ask the chaplain to give our servicemembers a little more credit. The U.S. military is a professional organization.

Twenty-six countries, including Great Britain and Israel, do not have a ban on gays and lesbians in their militaries. Somehow these countries have managed the transition to openly gay service seamlessly.

We can do that, too. Our military recruitment, retention and readiness would be better for it.

Aubrey Sarvis
Executive Director, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

‘Ethical inconsistencies’

In response to “Obama to reverse Bush-era limit on stem cell research” (article, March 8): When President George W. Bush eliminated funding for embryonic stem cell research in 2001, citing his belief that it was immoral to destroy embryos in the name of science, he failed to acknowledge the enormous number of embryos created, then destroyed, by fertility clinics.

In 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 134,260 artificial reproductive cycles were attempted in America, resulting in 38,910 live births. This means that 95,350 attempts were unsuccessful. On average, three embryos are utilized during each implantation attempt. Therefore, about 286,050 embryos perished as a result of these procedures. According to the CDC, that number represents only those clinics that chose to report their findings, usually clinics with higher success rates than average.

In the U.S., there are no federal regulations that limit the number of embryos that can be created — or destroyed — by fertility clinics. Tens of thousands of embryos are also cryopreserved each year. According to the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine, the survival rate for embryos following cryopreservation is less than 50 percent.

I am not advocating the elimination of fertility assistance. However, we need to recognize the ethical inconsistencies that exist during our discussion of embryonic stem cell research. For eight years, American scientists were unable to receive the funding to study the remarkable potential of these omnipotent cells. Now that these restrictions have been lifted by President Barack Obama, those claiming the research is immoral due to the living status of these clusters of cells have taken to the airwaves. Before we respond to the arguments of this vocal minority, let us first ask them why they choose to ignore the fate of more than a quarter of a million embryos that are silently discarded each year as medical waste.

Kate Brilakis
Stuttgart, Germany

‘Ridiculous’ gun assertions

This is in response to “Keep concealed-weapons ban” (What newspapers are saying at home, Opinion, March 8), about concealed weapons in parks. To say that it encouraged poaching is ridiculous. It is the same as saying having pockets in a store encourages stealing.

I have been a responsible gun owner for more than 20 years and a hunter just as long and never in my wildest dreams would I consider throwing all that away to poach on federal land. It is insulting for the Los Angeles Times to insinuate that I would.

The criminal element of our society is going to have guns and I should be afforded the chance to defend myself wherever I am. I don’t think park rangers are at any greater risk than they were before, and carrying weapons in parks doesn’t mean the parks suddenly become shooting ranges. Discharging a firearm will carry the same penalty as before, so I think all the archaeological treasures will be just fine.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Mikel S. Navarre
Aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt
in the Arabian Sea

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