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Results, not activity
I beg to differ on your endorsement for Wake County Board of Education, District 2 [Independent Endorsements, Sept. 26]. You selected J.C. O'Neal over Amy White. The entire basis of your argument was flawed.

You stated that J.C. O'Neal, a two-time incumbent, offered experience that "is what's needed." The decline of the Garner schools has increased during Mr. O'Neal's two terms. If that is what you call experience, we don't need it. We need a new voice.

You contend that because he has been a consistent advocate for improving teacher pay and working conditions that he deserves to remain on the board. While both of these issues are important, they aren't the only aspects of a quality school system.

What about the underutilization of our present schools? What about the grotesque school assignment policy in Wake County? What about teacher assignments? What about principal assignments? If you think shifting children around the country to get them to a good school rather than shifting resources to even out school performance is advocacy, then we don't need his brand of advocacy. We need an advocate for the children.

Citing the 95 percent goal (emphasis on the goal aspect) of the school board to improve test scores, you state the problem of horrendous test results of the Garner schools will solve itself. To add insult to injury, you dare state that the school board "is doing what it can to meet the goal." Hogwash. Did the board not have a plan to increase school performance during Mr. O'Neal's first term? If so, it didn't work. If not, why not? In either case, Mr. O'Neal and the remainder of the school board have been ineffective. We don't need another goal, we need results.

That's the key. Mr. O'Neal has had two terms to create a school system that is performing system-wide, a system that is adequately staffed, a system that is equitable, no matter where you live, and a system that doesn't move children but rather moves resources. In each and every case he has failed. We need results, not activity. We need Amy White.
--George E. Millsaps Jr., Garner

Critical analysis
Godfrey Cheshire's foray into political commentary is less than inspiring. In the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Mr. Cheshire ["Fearful Symmetries," Oct. 3] criticizes the media for failing to examine "how the Bush administration's stupid, lazy nonpolicy toward the Middle East may have contributed to the disasters."

Unfortunately, Mr. Cheshire conveniently leaves out of his script that all evidence to date indicates that not only were the attacks planned before the Bush administration came to office, but that they were set in motion at a time when the Clinton administration was actively engaged in the Middle East and there was significant progress in negotiations be-tween Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Mr. Cheshire's "analysis" is typical of those who now seek to blame the United States for the Sept. 11 attacks--even when facts clearly say otherwise. Studying Iranian film, I am afraid, does not qualify one to write about Middle Eastern politics; Mr. Cheshire would be well advised to stick to being a movie critic.
--Jon Oberlander, Carrboro

Infinite social justice
I hope the Indy provides us with the viewpoints of our political leaders--local, state and national--on the current crisis and the administration's solutions. And that it will query the rationale for their positions as well as what budgetary changes will mean for state and local programs and people.

In my view, the president's new top priority for us, a war against terrorism, is misguided and misplaced. Our priority should be to invest in peacemaking methods and change the conditions that breed terrorism, the desperation that impels thousands to cheer on the unspeakable criminal acts of extremists. Terrorists should be brought to justice under the rule of law on which the true strength of our country rests. When aggrieved people are not allowed a voice in governance, many will shriek with violence.

If we are to fight terrorism "root and branch," as called for by Secretary of State Colin Powell, then let us go to the root causes: the poverty and hopelessness of vast numbers in the Middle East, Afghanistan and elsewhere, including those in our own land. Rather than shift our resources into fighting terror with terror, death with more death--which will only confirm the extremists' claim that we are the Great Satan--let us show them the marvelous commitment to goodness, the profound caring we have seen rendered day and night by Americans of all faiths since the disaster.

Our leaders should uphold a vision of peace, opposition to provocations on all sides, and social justice, directing our resources accordingly. Let us use our vast influence and wealth to impress upon governments the necessity of ending impoverished living.

Who can doubt that safe and secure environments, decent housing, food security, education and health care would dissolve mass support for violence? This task is just as challenging, as costly and far more worthy of the goodwill, talents and devotion of the American people as any war, and would make democracy a goal to strive toward.

In the most practical terms, a shift in U.S. priorities, i.e. budget funds, toward war will mean further reductions in already meager funds for social concerns both at home and abroad (because the new money is not likely to be drawn from a repeal of the tax cuts). This shift to war will then add to the already threadbare hopes of the 37 million Americans living in poverty (including one in five children), the one in three families facing housing hardship, and the 44 million without health insurance.

There can be no peace without social justice, the fair sharing of the goods and goodness that we have. Let this be the message that we send to our leaders. Let us give them the political courage to dissent from a war regime and support investment in a peaceful resolution of grievances, criminal justice under law, and a rapid down payment on social equity for desperate people. Every move we can make, here and everywhere, toward a just society nourishes hope, calms rage, and helps ensure a peaceable future for us all.
--Nancy Milio, Chapel Hill

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