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Diverse views welcome at UCCS

To the Editor:

I am responding to Malcolm Howard's recent article in the Independent regarding my decision to discontinue the appointment of Ed Sbarbaro at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (Public Eye, June 29).

While university regulations prevent me from going into the details of my decision, I wish to assure the readers of the Independent that academic freedom is alive and well at the university. My decision to not renew Sbarbaro's appointment was based on several factors, including student complaints about his teaching.

Sbarbaro was not fired from the university. He was hired on an at-will appointment, which allowed either party to terminate the relationship without notice. I simply chose not to continue his appointment at the end of the spring 2000 academic year. This decision was based on my commitment to the high teaching standards of the University of Colorado.

The Graduate School of Public Affairs is a nationally respected professional school where students prepare for careers in public service. Our students are often working professionals who hold full-time jobs in addition to their studies. They are serious students who are accustomed to discussing controversial issues. The faculty who teach our programs hold diverse views and engage their students in spirited discussions.

As dean, I expect students and faculty to bring varying points of view to the classroom and for the university to offer a forum for all ideas. Those expectations are the principles upon which the university is built. They have not changed.

-- Kathleen Beatty, Dean Graduate School of Public Affairs

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

Please see Backtracks, page 47, for more on the Sbarbaro/UCCS story and an Independent production error which excluded comments by Beatty and associate dean Fred Rainguet. We regret the error, and offer this follow-up as a clarification. -- Ed.

Governor's office turns deaf ear to educators' concerns

To the Editor:

Our organization recently sent this open letter to Governor Owens:

We appreciate your taking time to answer letters and faxes of CSRSEA, Colorado Springs Retired School Employees Association, regarding your "Putting Children First" education agenda. However, we found your answers to our questions regarding the getting and maintaining of quality educators less than adequate. Nor did we ever learn the source of the additional funding incentives of SB 186. Our concerns for adequate provision of Special Education funding was not dealt with by the Legislature until Feeley's HB 49 resurged before recession; we are grateful you signed HB 49, although it was not a part of your legislation. Capital improvement relief fortunately came about with the judicial decision and enforcement -- small credit to the Legislature and the Governor's office.

We were very disappointed in the hasty passage of SB 186 and your reticence, not listening to the thousands of Colorado educators, retirees, parents and children highlighting their protests in the "Ask A Teacher" rally at the Capitol. We find the grading, testing, and labeling of rural, inner-city, and minority school communities degrading, humiliating, and demoralizing to the education profession and the students. Daily we learn of the loss of good teachers and principals who are leaving the field of education because they can't make it with the inadequate salaries paid them and they are deserting the inner-city schools to work in the more affluent suburban areas.

We also take note in the news the conflicts and instability of the city charter schools which are non-inclusive and non-accountable for usage of public tax money and are short-lived, on average, three years in duration. We concur with the low grades or incompletes accorded to the governor and the Legislature by the Denver Post and our local papers. "Putting Children First" has not in actuality been the reigning philosophy or accomplishment of the past Legislature or executive offices.

The vetoing of a recent health bill designed to make immunizations of children and the tracking of health records more available appear to add injury and insult to "Putting Children First."

We must conclude, in retrospect, that your offices and those of the legislators were sold a bill of goods by corporations, such as Vulcan, Inc. and other corporations whose intent is to weaken public education. As schools break for the summer, there is small, temporary relief or postponement of the inevitable consequences and outcomes of short-changing our children, now and in the future. We expect these to emerge as the summer progresses and schools resume and take into account their small gains.

Please remember that groups like CSRSEA and AARP have much individual and collective experiences to assist you and the legislature in implementing change and improvement of our public and private education systems. Please include us in your planning as we are significant as voters!

Respectfully submitted,

-- Legislative Committee, CSRSEA

Flora M. Holmes, Chair

Members: Bill Brandenburg, Margery Pugh, Rose Trigg, Joan Stokes, Beverly Disch, Wayne Bricker

Preserve peace and quiet in national parks

To the Editor:

In April 2000, the National Park Service announced a ban on snowmobiling in most national parks in the continental United States. A month earlier, the NPS proposed to ban snowmobiles in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks because of the adverse impacts that snowmobiles have on park air and water quality, non-motorized park users, and park wildlife such as bison, wolves, and grizzly bears. Now, the NPS's efforts to rid many of our national parks of these dirty, smelly, and noisy machines is under attack in Congress.

As early as Monday, June 26, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) will offer an amendment to the Senate Interior Appropriations Bill to place a moratorium on all NPS snowmobile restrictions until the EPA publishes final rules on snowmobile emissions and provides time for the snowmobile industry to mass market new machines. Such an amendment would allow snowmobiles to run roughshod throughout our national parks for more than a decade and, perhaps, indefinitely.

Senator Craig and like-minded legislators are only interested in protecting the recreational interests of snowmobilers and the financial interests of the snowmobile industry -- not in protecting our national parks, park wildlife, air quality, and natural quiet for all Americans. Your help is needed to ensure that Congress does not prevent the NPS from enforcing existing law and banning snowmobiles from most parks.

Please call your two Senators immediately (202/224-3121) and ask them to oppose any amendment offered by Senator Craig or anyone else intended to undermine the ban on snowmobiles in national parks, including Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. You can also call The Fund for Animals at 301/585-2591.

Remind your Senators that numerous studies have documented that snowmobiles harass and disturb park wildlife, substantially degrade park air quality, and destroy the serenity and natural quiet in our parks; that a ban on snowmobiles is consistent with NPS statutes and regulations, which are intended to protect and preserve national parks in an unimpaired condition for the benefit of current and future generations; and that according to a poll by the National Parks and Conservation Association, 59 percent of Americans support a ban on snowmobiles in national parks.

-- Michael Markarian

Silver Springs, MD

Buyers beware

To the Editor:

I read with interest Bob Campbell's article about our community's system that treats the buyer of homes like babes in the woods that are there for the fleecing ("Slip Slidin' Away," June 29).

The article points out that our local developers are not really much different from those around the other parts of the USA. Look at the homes that slide into the Pacific ocean, those that are washed away by hurricanes on the east and gulf coasts, those that are burned by naturally occurring forest fires and on and on.

Caveat emptor is your armament; first by getting foreknowledge of the product prior to laying your money on it. But we do expect oversight of things where we do not or cannot be expected to have this expertise. You put your sights down the gunbarrel on a very sorry situation. Buyers who come here from places that do not have landslide dangers, caused by Mr. Newton's law of gravity, are unsuspecting. I would think that the businesses that provide mortgage monies for the buyers would like to protect their capital by requiring independent analyses of the soils upon which these half-millon dollar houses are being built. In most cases these mortgages are probably abandoned from by the stunned owner who cannot go back into his house after it has been condemmed by local authorities.

Keep up your good work of ferreting out issues that need our attention.

-- R. Hurliman

Colorado Springs

Share the wealth

To the Editor:

It is an interesting story ("Manitou residents fight off expansion," June 15). We lived in Manitou for seven years and loved the community. We were just sad when we had to move because we could not afford to live there anymore.

I can see people not wanting the addition but you have to remember that they already have a piece of the pie. It would give more families a chance to live in that beautiful community. Once people have it they don't want others to have a chance at the same -- we saw that all the time when we lived in Colorado.

-- Jim and Ann Reed

Baxter, MN

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