2008-09-17 / Opinions

Hotel president says story distorted views


Dear Editor,

Thank you very much for an excellent article [by contributing writer Julia Torres Barden] on minority living in Chesterfield and the Richmond metro area. Though your paper gave a very flattering review of my success in Chesterfield County, it distorted my opinion of the county board and [county] officials.

I never said that the county has not done anything for the minority [community]. In fact, my success and acceptance by county officials and residents indicate otherwise. The county has done a lot for my success and others by creating a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Chesterfield has done a lot for the Indian Cultural Center, for [which] I am chairman. The Iron Bridge subdivision residents have done a lot by allowing the center to be built among them.

I love Chesterfield, and the county has given me the comfort and security that many other places would not have made available to me or minority members. I have means and ways to live anywhere I like, but I chose to live in the county for the last 34 years, as it has embraced me and others like me with open arms. Furthermore, I do not believe that a minority's future depends upon help from the county. I consider myself just an American and not a minority American, and my son was born in Richmond and has been brought up as an American. It is my humble belief that one can be whatever he or she wants to be in this county and this country. P.C. Amin President, Shamin Hotels  

More on vaccines


Dear Editor,

With all the current controversy regarding vaccine safety, the National Vaccine Information Center ( has a wealth of information on this subject, and following is a list of questions they recommend asking before vaccinating that's geared toward parents for their children (but could apply to anyone contemplating any vaccine).

Before you vaccinate, ask [these] eight [questions]:

1. Is my child sick right now?

2. Has my child had a bad reaction to a vaccination before?

3. Does my child have a personal or family history of: vaccine reactions, convulsions/neurological disorders, severe allergies, immune system disorders?

4. Do I know if my child is at high risk of reacting?

5. Do I have full information on the vaccine's side effects?

6. Do I know how to identify a vaccine reaction?

7. Do I know how to report a vaccine reaction?

8. Do I know the vaccine manufacturer's name & lot number?

(Ask your doctor for thimerosal (mercury) free vaccinations.)

Vaccines have been linked to a host of health and neurological issues: ADD, ADHD, arthritis, asthma, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, Crohn's, diabetes, fibromyalgia, SIDS, Tourette's, just to name a few. (As an example, diabetes is one of the possible side effects listed on some vaccine inserts, a fact of which some doctors are not even aware. So, does anyone wonder why we are having an "epidemic" of early onset juvenile diabetes in our children?)

Although we continue to hear the mantra [that there is] "no proven link" between vaccines and these disorders/diseases, conversely, there's no conclusive evidence there is not a link. A partial list of the toxic additives/adjuvants vaccines contain: lab-altered viruses and bacteria, aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol, gluteraldehyde, sodium chloride, MSG, gelatin, lactose, hydrochloric acid, sorbitol, antibiotics, aluminum sulfate, sodium borate, sodium acetate, hydrogen peroxide, yeast protein, egg albumin, bovine and human serum albumin.

Remember to insist on your right to informed consent prior to all vaccinations. And, as the list of mandated and "recommended" vaccines continues to grow, be sure to check out the NVIC Web site (as well as other independent sources) for vaccine safety and exemption information. When citizens are armed with knowledge, they aren't so easily intimidated by fear-mongers. Ruth J. Mills Chesterfield  

Readers want measurable school results


Dear Editor,

I want to thank Tim Bullis, CCPS' [Chesterfield County Public School's] director of community relations, for responding to my recent letter.

Two important distinctions must be made. The first pertains to goals and the second to standards. A goal is a measurable result that can be compared against a predetermined data set. None of the county's five goals in "Design for Excellence" met this standard, although the sub-goals mentioned, i.e., "percentage of increase in graduation rates," meet the criteria of a goal. These measureable goals, not the lofty and I would argue irrelevant pronouncements, should be on the masthead as the school board's goals.

This brings us to the second point: standards. A standard is the lowest level of accepted performance, and CCPS' lowest level of accepted performance is 64. The students may exceed this standard, and the average grade may be above that standard, but that does not change the fact that 64 is the county's standard, which I find hard to comprehend as "rigorous." Should the county want to raise the standard, it will be necessary to set as a goal above 64, and my recommendation would be at least 70.

There is, however, a broader issue that goes beyond Chesterfield, and that is the overall poor performance of the whole U.S. education system. Regardless of what measurement is used, i.e., SAT productivity to dollars expended, which has decreased over 70 percent, or as the Washington Post described it last December, "The disappointing performance of U.S. teenagers in math and science on an international exam."

According to the Post article, test scores "from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment showed that U.S. 15 year olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries." Of the 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, America's "students lagged behind" 16 of them, and were "further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries."

American parents and children are simply not getting their money's worth, and Virginia's families are no exception. Parents should be outraged. Comparing Virginia to the "national average" is meaningless, not unlike saying we are above the average of the bottom quarter. Until we quit playing word games and instead get serious about education, the results we are achieving will stay dismal, if not get worse. Courtney Ryan Midlothian  

Dear Editor,

Parent Courtney Ryan's [Aug. 27] letter to the editor once again represents the continuous efforts of parents, teachers, children and all citizens of this nation to address an overwhelming need to receive a "measurable" comprehensible answer to a major concern. I have talked with many parents over the years and never fail to hear one request, "Tell me what my child is learning." Many ask if the core subjects are being taught. "Are there time and opportunity for creativity, the arts and physical education? How much? How do I really know? Why is my child so bored, stressed or labeled with one disorder or another? Is yet another series of tests going to supply any meaningful answer? I do not think so." Well?

The response given by the district's community relations representative, who is simply doing his job, added another layer of obfuscation and in my view did not address the parent's concern. This type of response has become predictable over the years. We the people continue to accept such models of education to our peril. William Holmes McGuffey, educator and writer of the McGuffey Readers, the series that successfully taught more children in the 19th century than any other and helped lay a foundation for the democracy that many intended for us to maintain, said that the primary purpose of educating our children is so that they will learn to think.

Our children, families and educators themselves desire and require a better blueprint than the current fare. Providing such is the moral, necessary and right thing to do. Schools could actually be places of engagement, learning, thinking, challenge and also provide joy to many who come together to experience it. This is the most prudent choice that a nation must make. It can be cost effective and for those who care about our "economic footprint," to deny our students the ability to think and grow and flourish creatively is perilous and a detriment to our children today and hazardous for our country for our foreseeable future. These supposedly are our public's schools. Are they? Georgianne Ginder Old Gun Road  

P.S. I am a teacher, tutor, counselor and educational activist. Before moving to Virginia, I created and hosted a television program in the Twin Cities, St. Paul/Minneapolis, about our educational delivery system.

Letters to the editor can be e-mailed to, mailed to P.O. Box 1616, Midlothian, VA 23113, or faxed to 744-3269. Letters should include the writer's phone number and home address, but neither will be printed. All letters may be edited for clarity or space. For complete guidelines, visit www.chesterfieldobserver. com and click on "letters policy."

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