Letters to the editor: Jan. 14, 2018

Re: Jan. 11 article, “Austin district hunts for partner to turn around Mendez Middle School.”

I took exception to a comment by a disgruntled Mendez Middle School parent: “They’re not teaching my children anything.” That’s something I’ve also heard expressed by unmotivated, undisciplined students. But there are three equal elements in classroom education: teacher, parent and student. Could it be that some Mendez students are unwilling to apply themselves to learn, and that their parents, rather than disciplining and guiding them, choose instead to blame the teachers?

In my eight years of teaching, I have met very few poor teachers and have seen thousands of dedicated, self-sacrificing parents. But those parents who won’t place expectations on their children and are unconcerned about notifications of failing grades or poor behavior must accept responsibility. Before blaming anyone, they should be sure that: they are conferencing regularly with teachers; that their child is completing all work; is respectful in school; and attending tutorials as needed.


Everybody out!

Salvadorans, Haitians, Dreamers, Muslims, H-B1 visa holders! Walls are clanging down around our immigrant nation, and not just on the Mexican border. America’s historic welcoming spirit is dimming. No room for seekers of safety or the American Dream — although there was certainly room for the administration’s ancestors.

I figure Trump has his eye on bringing down the Statue of Liberty next, or at least putting her to work to earn her keep. There’s clearly no place in Trump’s America for this powerful symbol, revered around the world, bearing Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” on its base, including those famous words: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, …. I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Note to the world: That light has been snuffed out.


As I am venturing to take part in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march to pay tribute to the life and achievements of the man whose profound dedication brought racial equality in the U.S., I can’t help pondering what a struggle it was to remove racism from our nation. Even today, we see this behavior slinking about from time to time.

As a Muslim American, I reflect on the words of Prophet Muhammad that “God doesn’t look upon your bodies and your outward appearance but He looks at your hearts.” So, we shouldn’t judge others based on their skin color or physical appearance. We should look into their hearts and find the good that is within everyone — a conviction that no religion refutes. This firm belief in treating others with fairness and parity will do justice to King’s legacy.


Re: Jan. 1 commentary, “Time is right for Texas GOP to fix property tax system.”

In his zeal to promote a libertarian utopia that’s free of property taxes, James Quintero fails to fully acknowledge the “whack-a-mole” consequences of GOP tax policies.

When state taxes are frozen or cut, “taxes” pop up elsewhere to make up the difference. For public schools, that means higher property taxes; for state universities, that means skyrocketing tuition; and for transportation, that means burdensome tolls.

Similarly, any elimination of property taxes will automatically result in extremely higher sales taxes that Quintero has euphemistically referred to as sales tax “reform.” Obviously, “reform” is in the eye of the beholder.

Moving on, as much as taxes are disliked, they are essential to a functioning society. As such, tax policy should be formulated for the real world not a theoretical one where property is essentially given “divine” status.


Re: Jan. 10 article, “TxDOT official billed taxpayers for trips.”

Texas Department of Transportation Commissioner Victor Vandergriff’s ethics seem highly questionable. As a representative on the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board, he was on the auto industry payroll.

At TxDOT, he submitted inappropriate travel expenses for representing private business interests. Vandergriff acknowledges that he did not properly disclose his financial interests in required disclosure forms to the Texas Ethics Commission. His excuse: “I can’t imagine why I would have done that.”

The people of Texas can easily imagine why. Money. Power.

Time for an ethics investigation or a resignation.


Re: Jan. 10 article, “Where to find pie socials for this year’s 10th annual Peace though P.I.E.

I noticed a very nice article by Addie Broyles on Peace Through Pie in the Statesman a few days ago. I would like to send kudos to Luanne Stovall who brought this idea to life. I remember hearing about the start of this in Austin about 10 years ago, when Stovall began the process of convincing the congregation of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church to become the spiritual home of Peace Through Pie. Knowing some of the principal players in this movement convinced me that this effort comes straight from the heart.


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