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Stand Up for Teachers

By Readers · September 23rd, 2008 · Letters
Stand Up for Teachers

What a difference to read a newspaper column about public schools that’s favorable to the staff, the core of the schools (“School Funding Fight in the Burbs,” issue of Sept. 10). Joe Wessels’ column was well written and informative.

I’m the chairperson of the Fairfield Classroom Teachers Association negotiations team. We’re carefully watching the Lakota situation. If a growing school district in a relatively “wealthy” suburb that’s highly rated by the state can’t settle a contract, what hope do the surrounding districts have? Although I don’t know for sure, we assume the impasse is about salary and insurance premium sharing. Why would these education professionals settle for a net loss if the raise doesn’t trump the insurance premium share? As long as we rely on direct taxes to fund public schools, the general public will be seeing more and more of these job actions. Five years ago, 60 percent or more of school levies passed.

Today it’s around 20 percent. As you continue to watch the Lakota situation, look for the anti-tax groups such as CARE and COAST to gear up with their normal rhetoric. If you don’t know the rhetoric, it’s that teachers are greedy, the school systems waste money and the staff gets double raises on their salary schedule.

Public school teachers are fighting more than preparing students for a 21st century competitive world — we’re fighting a public who forgot about the common good and a state legislature that ignores the Supreme Court funding decision and sides with anti-tax groups against a professional unionized staff.

The biggest idea about public education to come from the legislature lately is to mandate fingerprinting all of us and criminal back ground checks on all of us. How humiliating to have to go through that — and at our own expense! And don’t even get me started about the education funding shell game of the Ohio Lottery. — Alexis Vafides, Fairfield

Learn About and Appreciate Local Cyclists

I have lived in both Cincinnati and Portland, Ore. Danny Cross’ cover story “No One Rides for Free” (issue of Sept. 3) posits that bike infrastructure in and of itself will solve the problem of hostility towards cyclists and argues that it’s the narrow Cincinnati streets alone which account for the antagonism between drivers and cyclists.

This is oversimplifying the problem. Residents here seem to hate cyclists regard less of what they’re doing. Just our presence on the road is enough to flame some drivers. Most Cincinnati drivers don’t even believe it’s legal for cyclists to be on the road. “Get on the sidewalk” is yelled as frequently to cyclists here as “Who dey” at a Bengals game.

The difference as to why some areas are bike friendly and others aren’t has more to do with ignorance rather than anything else. Trust me, I’ve had drivers play “chicken” with me and do all kinds of other negative stunts when I’m doing absolutely nothing to impede them. Having stuff thrown at me is sometimes the least of my problems.

In Oregon, the drivers license test involves reading about how to interact with cyclists on the road. In Ohio, I don’t know if they mention cyclists at all in drivers education.

In Cincinnati, in particular, the average person is also largely ignorant of bike technology. Bikes now can be made with lightweight materials that translate directly into speed. Most people think I’m superhuman or a masochist for riding, when actually I’m having fun. Being able to keep up with traffic is not a problem for me even when I haven’t ridden or been physically active for months. I owe it to the aluminum/carbon construction of my bike and 120 psi tires.

Others are aware of the technology but think that you have to spend at least $2,000 to obtain such a bike. This is an erroneous assumption. A fixed gear/single speed bike will sell for around $700 and be as light as the $2,000 kind. There are cultural differences that also come in to play. Drivers in Oregon are courteous, even when cyclists aren’t involved. If you cross as a pedestrian at a crosswalk with no light, traffic will stop from going even 40 mph to let you cross. In Cincinnati, you wait helplessly to cross, sometimes for a long time. I saw one pedestrian get hit hard when one lane of traffic on a one way street let him cross but the driver in the other lane was speeding and not paying attention.

When I drove in Portland, excessive speeding, passing on the right and other dangerous driving behavior that’s commonplace here didn’t occur, except rarely. When I’d drive down I-5, finding some one going 10 miles over the speed limit was rare. The question really lies in how much time Cincinnatians are willing to spend learning about new things and making the community better. While it’s easy to do things the same way, you have to live with the results of doing them the same old way. If gas prices increase again, what will the city do then? — Annikki Hird, bikeadvoc@gmail.com

Share the Road

In regards to the recent article by Danny Cross, “No One Rides for Free” (issue of Sept. 3), I would like to point out that while he did an excellent job and was accurate in many areas there were several items that should be addressed.

First and foremost, we have a very active cycling community here in Greater Cincinnati. I stress “Greater

Cincinnati” because the article talks about neighbor hoods stretching 30 miles and about what Cincinnati is doing. It’s not just Cincinnati but Northern Kentucky, and trying to coordinate all of the many localities is quite an undertaking.

Cross refers to the five E’s of becoming a bike friendly community (BFC). If he had checked further he would have found that we’re presently starting Phase 2 of that project in an unprecedented cooperation among Cincinnati, Hamilton County and the First Suburbs Consortium of Southwest Ohio. We’re striving to become the first BFC in Ohio. It’s important that we stress education and safety for both riders and motorists.

When a bicycle is on the road, it has the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle, so share the road! — Kevin Armstrong, President Cincinnati Cycle Club

Use Common Sense

In response to Danny Cross’ “No One Rides for Free” (issue of Sept. 3), I’d just like to say that I predict the Bengals will win three consecutive Super Bowls before any reasonable person would label Cincinnati as “bicycle friendly.” Chalk it up to geography and culture.

That being said, I’d like to nudge anyone thinking of riding the streets to forget about other people’s perceptions of danger, difficulty and unfriendliness and get out there. Start small and work your way up. Your skill and confidence will grow. Make mistakes and learn from them. Ask questions of bicycle shops and imitate the techniques of a savvy cycling friend. Google “bicycle safety” and see what you get. Obey the laws governing bicycles in your area and use some common sense. Believe me, if Stephen Carter-Novotni can do it, so can you. And never let a rude driver make it your Worst Week Ever! — Jim Allen, Bridgetown

We Knew About Fernald

Joe Wessels must have been a Colerain Township newbee to not know what they were doing at Fernald (“Fernald Checks Out, and So Do I,” issue of Sept. 3). As a teenager growing up in Groesbeck in the early 1960s, we always referred to National Lead of Ohio — as it was named then — as the “atomic bomb factory.”

It was no secret that they were working with uranium there. We also thought they were assembling bombs there. Not true. As we would cower under our desks during civil defense drills, we joked that we would be one of the first to go as the Russians would surely take out the “atomic bomb factory” in Fernald as one of their first targets.

Dog food? I think not. Everyone knew what they did there. We just didn’t know how bad they were doing it. — John Drees, Harrison



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