Letters: Readers weigh in on issues of the day
Police should reevaluate use of force
Law Enforcement’s motto is “To Serve and Protect”. Cop shootings are unjustified where the victim is much weaker as in Loreal Tsingine’s case or of a near incapacitated (drunk) as in the 2006 case of Clint John in Farmington. In these situations where the officers felt threatened, the end result was 5 shots and a dead human being. The motto shifts to “protect the Officer at all costs.”
Police officers are taught discipline, fitness (to be physically strong), self-defense, take down procedures and negotiations skills to defuse confrontational situations. Then they are equipped with body armor, a baton, Taser, pepper spray/mace and their firearm.
With all these abilities and defenses, it is not reasonable that an officer would shoot to kill at the slightest provocation. There is no doubt that the vast majority of officers have a greater and proper regard for human life and we sincerely appreciate their service and compassion.
This commentary is a plea to all law enforcement agencies to evaluate their “Use of Lethal Force” policies to assure that the protection and preservation of human life is of utmost importance and always the top priority.
Use of lethal force must and should always be the final and absolute last resort. Government leadership must prevail upon the law enforcement community to make this evaluation.
Common Core lacks common sense
As grandfather of four grandchildren in San Juan County public schools, I must speak out regarding the ill-conceived nature of Common Core State standards. It takes away actual classroom teaching and learning time, in favor of excessive testing, measurement and data collection.
The top-down standardization of math and language grew out of the Achieve and the "Standards & Accountability Movement" in the 1990's. Wikipedia says, “states began writing standards (a) outlining what students were expected to know and to be able to do at each grade level, and (b) implementing assessments designed to measure whether students were meeting the standards. As part of this education reform movement, the nation's governors and corporate leaders founded Achieve, Inc. in 1996 as a bipartisan organization to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability in all 50 states. The initial motivation for the development of the Common Core State Standards was part of the American Diploma Project (ADP).”
So, this tells us that this initiative emanated from governors/politicians and corporate leaders, not teachers and educators. That's probably why it doesn't work! It's not based on the best interests of those most affected--- the children and teachers. Learning is fun and occurs naturally in an environment where each individual is honored, not compared and measured.
Common Core is a highly scripted and methodical system. It's robotic approach is crippling for dedicated teachers who understand that students often require unique, creative methods to achieve understanding. It's learning how to think, how to use logic and reason and imagine. These lifelong skills will best serve our children.
Teaching should impart the basic skill of self-discipline, accumulating knowledge and how to use it.
“Three basic goals should determine education and define its goals: First, the control of life, through health, character, intelligence and technology; second, the enjoyment of life, through friendship, nature, literature, and art; and third, the understanding of life, through history, science, religion, and philosophy” wrote Pulitzer Prize winning historian/philosopher Will Durant.
We should bring curriculum decision-making back to the local level. Thomas Jefferson said education should teach us “how to stand up for our rights,” “how to defend freedom” and “how to say yes and no”.
Nine states have rejected Common Core state standards and rejection legislation is pending in 33 other states, including New Mexico. I say, let's say "NO" to Common Core.
David Edward Albright
Proposed Arizona law would hurt Navajo voters
The Arizona Legislature is considering legislation that will make it more difficult for rural Arizona voters – like our Navajo people – to participate in state elections. The Republican-led Legislature has created barriers to limit and discourage Arizona voters from performing their civic responsibility of voting.
Therefore, the Navajo Voters Coalition, or NVC, stands firmly on appealing HB 2023. It is difficult to understand the rationale for the bill. The idea of a democratic government is to encourage all to participate in government by voting – make it easier to vote.
The bill addresses the issue of early voting and voting by mail. It’s the mailing part that concerns NVC. HB 2023 in part states: “The early ballot, together with the signed affidavit, must be enclosed in the self-addressed envelope and delivered or mailed to the county recorder or deposited by the voter or the voter’s agent at any polling place.”
This means that the voter must pick up voting materials from the post office, fill out the voting forms, and return them to be mailed. The legislation mentions that the “voter’s agent” could handle the mail for the voter. The agent can be a family member, a household member, and/or a legal caregiver. The penalty for anyone else handling the mail for a voter is 1½ years in jail and/or $150,000 fine.
For Navajo voters, especially our elders living in rural areas, the bill makes voting more difficult – perhaps impossible. While this legislation claims to protect voters from instances of fraud, for which there is no evidence, it works to discourage Navajo voters from participating in elections.
For our people living on the Navajo Nation, contact Sen. Carlyle Begay,and Reps. Jennifer Benally and Albert Hale. You can also, contact the Navajo Nation President and your Council Delegate and express your concerns.
Ernie Yazzie, board member and administrator
Navajo Voters Coalition, St. Michael, Arizona