Freedom freeloaders

Most non-voters will tell you they do not vote because their votes do not count. By not voting, they are allowing strangers to elect officials who will pass laws controlling their lives and those of their family members. By  not voting, almost 70 percent of registered voters are doing exactly that.

Consider yourself a patriot? All citizens are charged by the Declaration of Independence to hold elected officials accountable and to pass on good government to future generations. Your vote is your voice. Non-voters are betraying that sacred trust and minimizing the sacrifices of our veterans who fought to preserve freedom.

Voting affects every aspect of your life, including minimum wage, which is vital to the local economy; public education funding and regulations; the amount of taxes you pay and the amount the wealthy do NOT pay (such as a recent state income tax cut benefiting only the wealthy); and government protections on food, medicines, working conditions; and environmental issues.

If your vote does not count, why are there so many efforts to block it? These efforts are in direct violation of the Constitution. Amendments 15, 19, 24 and 26 state that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged” by the United States or by any state. Those behind this unscrupulous action definitely feel your vote counts. Since most of this is focused on the working class (discrimination based on income), this insult includes all political preferences.

Be a patriot. Vote responsibly for those who will honorably represent all the people, not just special interests. You can look up your representatives at www.lobbyingmissouri.org. A change is going to come.

Jan Lancaster

Springfield

Are you worried yet?

What in the world is stuck in St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield’s craw? What happened to him to make him so antagonistic toward public education in general and teachers specifically? Obviously, the system did fine for him. Now he has spent tens of millions to starve and ultimately destroy public education and teachers. Apparently, he wants everything turned private (for profit).

Have you read the ballot language for Amendment 3? It reads more like a criminal indictment than a plan to improve education — it is at best vague and ill-advised, at worst threatening and prohibitive. Worse yet, the amendment is filled with unexplained terms and phrases. How is a voter to know what he or she is voting for or against when the details are never made clear?

1. “Teachers evaluated by a standards-based performance system” (who writes and decides that?) for which local districts must receive state approval (from whom — the same state legislators who put this on the ballot?) to receive state and local funding” (read: public schools). Are private schools forced to these standards?

2. Teachers are to be “dismissed, retained, demoted (what does that mean?), promoted and paid using ‘quantifiable student performance data’ (what is that?) as evaluation.” So if some kids can’t carry a tune in music or some have physical limitations in P.E. class, does the teacher get fired? How are coaches’ student-athletes evaluated? Win-loss records? What about vocational agriculture students? Blue ribbons at the county fair? How are student performances to be used to judge librarians, counselors or, most importantly, special-needs teachers?

3. No teacher contracts are to be longer than three years, preferably one. If local community members like and appreciate a teacher’s efforts, it’s out of their hands.

4. Teachers may still organize and bargain except concerning the quantifiable performance evaluation system by which they will be judged. They are allowed no input on that. The very professionals who have degrees and certificates showing they have been educated about education and what is required to be effective are forbidden any input in developing the system. Who will decide? It’s another detail unexplained.

At the end of the ballot (which, I suspect, many voters don’t read), we are told that “significant costs may be incurred” in the development of the instruments needed “to satisfy the proposal’s performance evaluation requirements.” Are you worried yet?

Think twice, Missouri voters, before you change our constitution and enshrine a set of arbitrary rules that will remove the “public” from public education — all to stoke the egos and plans of a billionaire and his paid minions. Local school boards will no longer be needed or allowed.

Just remember this: There are thousands more teachers who vote than billionaires, and they are not stupid.

Kaye Smith

Pierce City

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