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Sister Cities: Whitless

To the editor:
I could care a whit less about sister cities.  If people want to play in this arena, fine.  Fine as long as my tax dollars are not spent.  Fine as long as city employees arent on the clock.

As for benefits to the city?  A few dozen Scots partying for a few days every other year would maybe generate a couple thousand dollars in sales tax revenue.  How much will that lower my tax bill?

Ironical, isnt it.  Scots have a reputation for being frugal.  We are the total, complete opposite we spend, tax, spend, tax, spend.

Joe Schramm
Alexandria, VA

Tax credit vital

To the editor:
Clean energy is a vastly important issue which the U.S. Senate needs to vote on. The current energy crisis is causing the United States economy to slide into a depression. We need to shake off the chains of our oil dependence and stop relying on Saudi Arabia and other foreign powers to power our society. Clean energy will be 100 percent locally produced and thus make the United States self-sufficient when it comes to our energy production. It will also create new jobs and help mitigate costs for gasoline and oil in general. The fact that dependence on clean energy will reduce greenhouse gases and thereby slow climate change is also a nice benefit.

As such, we need to lobby our senators to vote on the clean energy tax credit this Thursday. Virginians cannot afford to have Senator John Warner sit on the fence any longer; he needs to vote for this tax credit, for a clean, self-sufficient America.

Barbara J Toperzer
Olney, MD

The Straight Facts About Open Enrollment Honors

To the editor:
We have worked closely with Marc and Nancy Williams for nearly three years to bring more opportunities to all students who want to work hard and undertake a more challenging course of study.

There is an effort underway to mischaracterize the events leading up to the school boards recent expansion of the open enrollment honors program for language arts and social studies at ACPS middle schools and Marc Williams leadership role in this process. We are writing to set the record straight. 

For a decade or more, ACPS has offered open enrollment honors and AP classes in grades 912.  In 2003, the administration and the previous school board implemented the first open enrollment honors course in middle schools. This offering, in science, was well-received.  Nevertheless, no progress was made in implementing other open-enrollment honors classes for core offerings in language arts, math, and social studies.

Following the election of eight (of nine) new school board members in 2006, in September, the school boards curriculum committee directed the administration to flesh out how honors could be expanded in the middle school. In December 2006, the administration delivered a proposal to phase in language arts and social studies honors classes over a two-year period, and which completely ignored mathematics. This proposal lacked a sense of urgency and would have delayed implementation of core honors offerings to the detriment of significant numbers of Alexandrias middle schoolers who would have lost the opportunity to better challenge themselves. But the board listened carefully to the issues raised by a large group of concerned parents led by Marc Williams, the undersigned and many others and chose a less timid approach.

When the school board authorized implementation of additional open-enrollment honors classes, it did not do so pursuant to the recommendation of the ACPS Administration or the Talented and Gifted Advisory Committee (TAGAC). Any assertion to the contrary is false and purposefully misleading. In fact, the TAGAC recommended even less, asking that the transition be made on a pilot basis and beginning in a single grade for fall 2007. The plan did not include any option for open enrollment honors classes in math, something still sought by the group of parents Marc had helped organize.

Curiously, those calling into doubt Marcs leadership have not presented any evidence that expansion of the middle school honors program was inevitable. Many people played a role in getting the Board to approve this expansion, but the facts demonstrate that Marc Williams has worked hard. Specifically, Marc was instrumental in convincing the TAGAC, even though he was not a member of that committee, to hold a board level public forum at which nearly every speaker asked the board for more opportunities for hard-working, high-achieving students.  Likewise, Marc helped lead the effort to build community support and express that support through two public letters signed by numerous concerned parents exhorting the board to expand academic offerings in the middle school.

All elections matter. If you live in School Board District B, we urge you to vote for Marc Williams on August 12, to continue the direction of providing opportunities to all students for academic excellence. Your vote will make a difference. 

Beth Ladd
John Ladd
Aileen LaGanza
Dennis LaGanza
David Rainey
Meghan Rainey 
David S. Rainey
Alexandria

Teachers and past PTA presidents support Williams

To the editor:
As current and former ACPS teachers and former PTA presidents who live and/or work in District B, we would like to share why we believe Marc Williams is the best choice for the District B vacancy on the Alexandria School Board.  His collaborative approach to solving problems empowers all stakeholders including teachers, parents and students.   He has successfully advocated for the children of Alexandria before the current board, where he has focused on curriculum development. This experience will allow him to hit the ground running. Additionally, as an ACPS parent of three with a child in elementary, middle and high school, Marc is acutely aware of what is going on in our classrooms. Marc strongly believes that with all the right factors in place a challenging curriculum, excellent teachers, focused resources and community involvement every child can succeed.

Marc Williams integrity, sense of fair play and common sense will make him an asset to the board.  In this time of change for our public schools, with a new board chairman and a new superintendent, we need talented and dedicated individuals such as Marc Williams on the school board.  He will ensure that your tax dollars are spent wisely and that the Alexandria City Public Schools educate every child to their highest potential. We encourage all Alexandria citizens, whether or not you have children in the schools, to vote for Marc Williams on August 12.  The future of Alexandrias children affects us all. 

Sincerely,

Cindy Anderson
Lisa Bryan
Marilyn Cagnoli
Vickie Cattaneo
Patti Chamberlain
Lois DAgostino
Marci El-Baba
John Embrey
Karen Epperson
Judy Fulghum
Mary Giordano
Priscilla Goodwin
Aileen LaGanza
Jennifer Larsen
Andrea Leidolf
Pam Mayall
Jan Olmstead
Jennifer Roda
Becky Sullivan
Pat Tylander
Annie Vroom
Pam Walkup

Williams is top choice for Miller and Ring

To the editor:
We, as former school board chairs, enthusiastically encourage voters in Alexandria to select Marc Williams for the open seat on the Alexandria School Board in the special election to be held on Tuesday August 12.

We believe Marc Williams is the right choice to bring unity and consensus building during a very challenging time for the school system and to provide the support for the new superintendant who has an excellent reputation for innovation and
problem solving.

Marc has been deeply engaged in the school system with three children enrolled; one in George Mason Elementary School, one at George Washington Middle School and one at Minnie Howard School. More  importantly, he has actively participated and contributed to curriculum reform responsive to the needs of every child in the school system, providing programs to provide challenge and to advance the individual whether he or she is a special needs student, in the middle, or a gifted student. Much more about Marc is on available at www.marcwilliamsforschoolboard.com/.

We know the qualities that make a good School Board member and our choice is Marc Williams.

Melvin Miller
Carlyle C (Connie) Ring
Alexandria

Obamas Solution Shows Leadership

To the editor:
Gas prices recently reached an all-time high. Families feel these prices every day, forced to make tough choices and looking for relief.

Sen. John McCain says he has a plan a gas tax holiday. This isnt a plan with Virginia families in mind. The truth is Sen. McCains plan would save Virginians no more than $30 over the entire summer only half a tank of gas! But it would cost our Commonwealth over $188 million that we need for our roads and highways and over 6,000 jobs.

Sen. McCains plan is exactly why we need real change and why I am supporting Sen. Barack Obama this November. Sen. Obama will move aggressively to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Hes proposed investing $150 billion over 10 years in renewable fuels, a plan that would create 5 million new, good-paying jobs.

To help Virginia families immediately, Sen. Obama has called for a second stimulus package. He would also enact a tax cut for the middle class that would mean up to an additional $1,000 annually in the pockets of Virginia families.

He also believes we need to force the energy companies to use or lose 68 million acres of federal oil and gas leases theyre stockpiling, and hes offered a plan to curb speculation thats driving up the cost of oil.

We need leaders who are willing to tell us not only what we want to hear, but what we need to know.  It is time for real solutions, not gimmicks. And thats why I hope you will join me in supporting Barack Obama.

George E. Ross
Alexandria

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