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Letters to the editor — Wednesday (2-26-2014)

A historic event took place recently at Ragsdale High School in Guilford County when the state’s political leadership appeared together to endorse the largest raise for beginning public school teachers in memory. Fourteen percent over the next two years is especially impressive since teachers have received only a miniscule raise in the past five years, also granted by the Republican legislature.
Yes, it’s true this announcement did not commit to raises for other teachers and state employees in the short session. Both groups have suffered long enough, with increasing workloads and no raises. However, for those of us who were privileged to be at the announcement, we heard the governor and other leaders say at least 10 times that this is only a first step. Money is available now to commit the $200 million necessary to fund the big increase for beginning teachers because of a growing economy which produces more state revenue and because of budget reductions by the McCrory administration.
When the revenue picture becomes clearer in coming months and additional spending reductions are identified, then the issue of additional pay for other teachers and state employees will be addressed. The governor’s commitment should not be questioned.
The Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee and other educators were adamant that increasing starting pay was the top priority for the recruitment and retention of new teachers. So the public officials have listened and have taken an important first step toward strengthening teacher compensation. Future raises will at least partially be tied to student achievement, which has been an unrealized goal for at least 30 years.
Some of the criticism of this historic action is strictly political. In fact, had the governor proposed a $100,000 salary for all educators, his critics would have complained it should have been $105,000! The difference between the Republicans’ announcement is that they can deliver on their commitment. The opposition can only talk about what they haven’t been able to do for teachers in the past two Democratic administrations.
— Phil Kirk
Raleigh
Kirk is chairman emeritus of the State Board of Education

Your Moderately Confused cartoon of Feb. 22 appears to be another attack on the Christian Church and I found it very offensive. Does anyone even review what you print in your paper or is it another case of you just don’t care because it’s not offending a particular non-Christian religion or the gay community? The media seems to be very intent on viewing Christianity as a joke.
— Michael Hicks
Salisbury
The Feb. 21 commentary by Leonard Pitts (“We’ve seen this movie before”) disturbed me — and not only because Mr. Pitts is a far-left liberal with whom I respectfully disagree, both politically and in the reasons for the racial divide that plagues our country.
This social chasm has been fought against since Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and Johnson’s Civil Rights Act. Yet, in spite of all this, racism still rears its ugly head in writings intentionally designed to proliferate the lie that most, if not all, whites are racists.
Pitts’ biased rhetoric is fodder for the race hustlers. I will not give them the dignity of naming them here.
To the crux of my thoughts: Pitts referenced one of the most despicable, heinous acts ever committed by American citizens. The mob actions against two teenagers left a stain on the American justice system that can never be erased. However, he omitted some crucial history. The 73rd Congress under Franklin D. Roosevelt, which included 322 Democrats and 103 Republicans, was up in arms to pass extreme measures against lynching. Their efforts — led by Democratic Speaker Joseph W. Byrnes Sr., Senate leader Joseph T. Robinson, and most powerful of all, Vice President John Nance (Cactus Jack) Garner — were crushed by none other than F.D.R. He said “no” to any anti-lynching legislation, because, and I quote, “Passing anti-lynching legislation would anger the Southern Democrats and most assuredly would cost me the 1936 election.” Nonetheless, the mere thought that F.D.R. was a racist is ludicrous, at best.
Now to the Michael Dunn case. Let’s put the blame for this miscarriage were it belongs. The Florida Attorney General grossly overcharged the case, hoping to exonerate itself for the George Zimmerman debacle. The jury was not given the option of voluntary manslaughter. This would have alleviated the chaos that ensued in the deliberation room and likely resulted in a guilty verdict on all charges.
Will there ever be an end to racial bias in America? Not so long as millions of dollars are made keeping it alive.
— Philip DeBenedictis
Salisbury

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