Letters to the editor from this week's Chronicle:

To the Editor
I am crossing party lines this election to cast my ballot for Jim Rehder as Idaho County Commissioner. I urge you to do the same. Jim has been a lifetime citizen of Idaho County and understands what is best for its citizens. His past experience allows him insight on how to deal with the powers to be on Federal Lands, School Funding and other vital issues.
I believe Jim will once again apply this knowledge along with a common sense approach, to the many issues facing Idaho County. Please cast your ballot for Jim Rehder, Idaho County Commissioner.
Laurine Nightingale

Dear Voters:
I would like to start out by asking you to please consider voting No on Propositions 1, 2, and 3. These propositions do not support our students or our teachers. Instead they attempt to make schools into businesses and students into products. Students should never be considered as just another number.
Proposition 1 is about teacher negotiations. If teachers cannot negotiate for their students, then who is truly looking out for them? The teacher is the one who is with the students every day and understands their needs. Someone in an office who has never been in a classroom with real students cannot possibly know what each student in each classroom needs. Students at Prairie High School will have different needs than students in larger schools. Assuming the needs of students will be the same in all Idaho schools is impractical and puts the students last.
Proposition 2 links teacher performance to standardized test scores. This is bad for both the teachers and the students. Teachers need to be held accountable, but standardized test scores are not the way to do it. First of all, standardized testing has problems of its own. It forces the teacher to “teach to the test” which stifles creativity and doesn’t leave room for teaching what the students are interested in or let the teacher spend more time on something if the students are struggling with a certain concept. Secondly, standardized test scores are unreliable. Some students test extremely well while others suffer from test anxiety and score considerably lower than their actual knowledge level. These don’t always cancel each other out either. A teacher can have a class that is full of great testers one year and then the next have a group of students who don’t test well. The scores will show this. It does not mean that he/she is a bad teacher. It means that all students are different and test scores can’t determine the value of a teacher. There are other ways to keep teachers accountable like having other teachers, administrators, and parents sit in on classes and evaluate. This would be much more personal and accurate. 
Proposition 3 will require all students to have a laptop bought for them. This idea has many downfalls besides the fact that many students will lose, break and/or misuse the expensive computers. Having students constantly on laptops creates many problems including the lack of social interaction, lack of face-to-face interaction with teachers and problems with online classes. Students need social interaction. This is where they learn to work in groups, treat each other with respect, and gain valuable social skills. Many students also need face time with teachers to thrive. For many students, the teacher is the only positive adult in their life and by putting them in front of a computer screen instead, we are taking that positivity away. Also, many students struggle with online classes. They can be difficult to manage if a student is not extremely self-motivated and some students will have difficulty retaining any of the information that is taught to them. Often the teacher of an online class is in another state, which will cause many teachers to lose jobs. One of the ideas behind the laptops is that they are preparing students for college, however this is not the case. It is true that colleges offer many online classes, but it is also true that very rarely are classes offered only online. Most students opt to take classes on campus and the online courses are usually distance learning or students who also work full-time and are unable to make it to class times. The value of teacher to student interaction cannot be replicated or replaced by a computer screen.
Thank you for considering voting no on Propositions 1, 2, and 3.
Emily Lerandeau

Elections Point the Finger Back to Us
I believe that the best inventions, best music, best literature, best building construction is forthcoming…. And, they will be constructed, composed, penned, and built, by self-reliant, free men and women.   More importantly, the family unit will grow again with more hope and  happiness. However, this won’t be accomplished if freedom and liberty in this country continues to be eroded by 1) election of corrupt civic leaders who take and spend money from the “pockets” of decent men and women who earned/produced money to bring home to their families.  And, by 2) fellow citizens who covet and believe they have a right to the fruit of the labor of their neighbors….and elect corrupt civic leaders so they can get their hands into the “pockets” of their countrymen/neighbors through these leaders.  (We sure need a restoration of people believing in themselves again instead of believing they are inept).
Since when, as a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values, does stealing or honing in on the fruit of the labor of our fellow countrymen and giving it to someone else equate to Christian charity?  True Christian charity, if we are honest, is “one’s time or goods” kindly and most often anonymously given by the person who earned or has accumulated fruits of their labor…. True Christianity recognizes one’s fruit, big or small….as illustrated by the widow’s mite.  The road ahead, however, with immoral, lazy civic leaders will deprive even the “widow” and others like her from even participating in true service.  True Christian service or charity is not some self-appointed, lazy, “do gooder” civic leader who feels it their duty to take the fruit of the labor of fellow countrymen and give it to someone else.   
This election season I am looking for men and women locally, statewide, and nationally, regardless of party affiliation, who hold sacred the great moral culture of this land: Judeo-Christian values, Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution.  I hope to cast my vote for individuals who will preserve liberty so I and others around me, through effort and steadiness, can receive and keep the fruit of their labor. I want to elect men and women who respect the tax dollars that that we send to them,  who believe in what we sow is what we reap, who encourage their countrymen to believe in themselves again, and who aren’t afraid to recognize the Hand of the All Mighty, the Creator.
Scott Perrin

To the editor
I LOVE the teachers we have at Prairie Elementary. In fact, every year I help put on teacher appreciation week at our school. Yes, I love teachers that much. My kids have been blessed to have the absolute best teachers. When one of my kids struggled in reading, Cindy Schumacher was right there to help her every step of the way. When another child excelled in math, it was Andrea Brannan who challenged him and came up with different assignments so he wouldn't become bored and complacent in what everyone else was doing. It was another teacher that took time to listen to a concerned mom. Who also came up with some of the most fun science experiments that made a life-time scientist out of our daughter. I have another child who loves to go to kindergarten because he loves his teacher. I have observed teaching and interactions between these teachers and their students. I love sitting in the classroom watching them teach. I will say again, my kids have had the BEST teachers I can imagine. They go above and beyond the job of being a teacher. I think that they should be given incentives to continue doing such a fabulous job. I think they should be paid based on these great things and not on how long they have taught at this school. 
That is why this mom is speaking out in favor of propositions one and two. I just can't hold my voice any longer. It seems that certain groups are trying to make those of us in favor of change look like we hate teachers. That is definitely not the case here. If you are a fabulous teacher (like the ones my kids have been privileged to have) then you have nothing to fear. Why would you not want the school board and parents to also have a say in what goes on in schools? I especially take issue with the teacher who wrote in a letter to the editor last week, "Who knows better the issues that your children deal with than the teachers who see them daily." You know what, I know best. My husband knows best. Believe it or not we also see them everyday and every weekend and every summer. That is the problem. Some teachers think they know better than us parents. I thought we were a team. I thought parents and teachers work together (which is what my children's teachers have always done). That is why I want a say in what goes on with my kids. 
Also, what other job do you get to set your own schedule?  When I worked outside the home I didn't have a say in when that business opened and closed. I didn't even get a say in when I had a lunch or dinner break. Why is it such an issue that the teachers get to establish bell schedules? If anything, I would say ask the parents what works best. Or come together and work it out, not put all the control in the teacher's hands. And why collective bargaining? Why not let us as parents have a say in what their children's teacher's get paid? I would give all those teacher's that my kids have a raise.  Why is that scary? Why does it have to be done in secret without any input from us? If anything, I would say a vote against propositions one and two is a vote against parent's rights. 
So I'm voting yes for teachers and parents working together. I'm voting yes on propositions one and two.
Megan Rambo

To The Editor,
Where does Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik stand on the issue of county funding?  In 2007, he said that receiving $11.8 million of Secure Rural Schools (SRS) funds was, "demeaning and demoralizing." Five years later, he said we'd be "dead in the water" without it.  A month after that, he praised the Idaho Congressional Delegation for voting against SRS!  Last week he seems to have said he supports SRS by taxing the Federal Government for the land it owns in the county.  So... he was for SRS...before he was against it...before he was for it...before he was against it.  It appears Chemlik just says what people want to hear. 
Idaho County desperately needs a commissioner with conviction. Jim Rehder is such a man. We need to vote Jim Rehder for Idaho County Commissioner. 
Debbie Bader
Riggins, Idaho

To the Editor,
Time to reclaim our schools
I can remember when schools were actually run by the local school board.  We were taught what those local boards felt was best for the students in the schools.  Then I remember watching as teachers unions began to take over the running of local schools.  I then watched as State and Federal government entities started telling the local schools what they had to teach and how they had to teach.  It seems now that both these entities believe they know more about what our students should be learning than we do.  It seems they believe that we don’t want to properly educate our children, that we really don’t know what’s best for them and that we really don’t care about their education.  In short, they know more about our kids and care about them more than we do.  Hogwash!  
Our children are our future.  It’s time we took control of our schools back from these out-of-control beaurocrats.  As parents, we are all very concerned with the education of our children and grandchildren.  We should have control over who is teaching our children, not some inflated beaurocracy in Boise or Washington.  We should be able to reward those who truly teach our children and provide a true incentive for those who have the passion for this task.  And we need to ensure that all our children are given the proper tools for learning.  And let’s reward our teacher’s for doing a good job when they are doing it, not 30 or 40 years later when they are ready to retire.  Let’s do something new that will excite and support both our children and those who teach them.  Please join me in voting ‘YES’ on Propositions 1, 2 and 3.
Jon Menough, Ph.D. P.E.
Elk City

To the Editor
This summer, Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik thanked the Idaho Congressional Delegation for voting against $7 million of Secure Rural Schools payments to this county. But just last week he said the county should force the Federal government to pay taxes for the land it owns in Idaho County. 
Aside from childish bravado, what’s the difference between accepting SRS payments and demanding the Federal government pay property taxes? The difference is one works and the other doesn’t. SRS has provided money for schools and roads for more than a decade while Mr. Chmelik’s chest thumping has brought embarrassment to the county for almost two years. 
I’m voting for the candidate who is more interested in getting things done than making a mockery of himself. 
I’m voting for Jim Rehder. 
Kay Payton

Dear Editor
Idaho County voters please re-elect Republican Jim Chmelik for County Commissioner. He loves this county and its people and has done a great job of promoting our interests. He spent many hours on the land exchange issue to protect our tax base. He believes jobs are better than a handout and works hard to protect and expand out natural resource industries. He also pushed hard for the SRS or Craig-Wyden money as a stop-gap until we can get back in the woods and create more timber jobs. Family values, individual freedom, and limited government are priorities for Jim.
His Democrat opponent says to ignore the party and vote for him. Can we support a man who ties himself to the party of Obama, extreme environmentalism, higher taxes, limitless welfare, and more government control of our lives? I think not!
Please support Commissioner Chmelik and all other conservative Republican candidates.
Lucky Brandt

To the Editor,
Are you considering voting for Mr. Rehder? Could I offer you some insights as to why you should vote for Jim Chmelik instead?
This race is a unique race, in that it isn't a choice between the lesser of two evils. It is a choice between two good men, who are both dedicated to this community.
Mr. Chmelik is dedicated to getting Idaho County back into the forests – not only for logging, but also for recreation, and for rational environmental conservation and management. Idaho County is dependent on its natural resources. Proper utilization and management of those resources is vital for the continued existence of the county, and its future growth.
Mr. Chmelik is committed to fiscal responsibility. As County Commissioner, he has fought hard to not raise property taxes, by keeping county employee salaries flat, so the county hasn't had to have layoffs during these challenging economic times.
Mr. Chmelik is a conservative who bases his policy decisions on principles, and won't compromise his principles.
Mr. Rehder, is a good guy, and I like him personally. However he is in fact dedicated to many principles that are fundamentally about increasing dependence on the federal government.
We need people in our local government who are willing to hold the line against further encroachments of the federal government on our lands, our rights, and our liberties. The choice is clear. For Jim Chmelik, Idaho County is first, for Idaho County, the first choice is Jim Chmelik.
Don Fletcher
To the editor
What would you think of an organization that gave away more than $65 million dollars to Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow push coalition, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, Amnesty International, Aids walk Washington and other such advocacy groups? You would probably assume we were describing a liberal advocacy group.
In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal editorial, “those expenditures all turned up on the finance disclosure report for the National Education Association.” (NEA)
Under federal laws passed during the Bush administration large unions must now disclose in much more detail how they spend members’ dues money. Needless to say Big Labor fought hard against the new accountability standards.
Now Big Labor, The NEA, is muscling in on Idaho to stop meaningful reform; not because they think it is harmful to students, On the contrary, reform will be most beneficial to put school boards and parents back in control of their schools and bring our children into the 21st century.
Propositions 1,2,& 3 strip the unions of their funding source, your tax payer dollars, and puts those dollars back where they belong, in the classrooms with students and teachers. Do we really need to spend your hard earned dollars on such organizations as mentioned above? What does support for such organization have to do with educating our children?
Go to idahofreedomfoundation.org and get the facts. Do not be fooled by the NEA and their scare tactics.
The Idaho County Republican Central Committee
Rebecca Crea- Secretary 

To the Editor,
The Idaho County Republican Central Committee paid for the “Vote Yes Yes Yes for Education Reform,” billboard placed on the opposite side of LCSC's ad spotlighting a great teacher's son.  They want us to vote to limit teachers’ rights to negotiate, to reward teachers based in large part on students’ test scores, and to spend money on technology regardless of what is actually needed.  How can the Republican central committee support Luna’s attack on our teachers? This isn’t “Education Reform;” this is “Education Regress.”
In Idaho County, we are blessed with dedicated teachers focused on providing outstanding, one-on-one, caring, individualized instruction for our students who refuse to fit one-size-fits-all molds, students who most often go on to succeed in colleges and careers.  These propositions passed in 2011 have already created larger class sizes, making it difficult to individualize instruction, and they have reduced funding for struggling school districts. Teachers, before 2011, negotiated on behalf of our students for safe working environments and smaller class sizes, but now they are not allowed to do that. Teachers have students’ best interests at heart, and teachers are the best judges of what the students in their classrooms need.   
Luna is a Republican businessman, which makes him automatically credible to those who vote for only Republicans, but he is so obviously not an educator that he deserves no credibility with either party’s informed voters.  I am voting NO NO NO on Proposition 1, 2, and 3 and encourage you to do the same.  
Dawn Kennedy-Haeder

COMMISSIONER "My Bad" Chmelik.
I hope everyone saw Sharon Cox's exceptional letter to the editor last week.  Sharon Cox is well respected throughout Idaho County and has conducted her service to the people with high character and proficiency.    I thought she had some great comments about what's truly going on in this county. We were so proud of her for telling it like it is - such as her words: "I cannot forget that the commissioners have chosen -- again -- to put politics in front of the people of Idaho County. ".   
Which brings me to a true story that happened to Mary and I when Jim Chmelik came out to our home last November.  Chmelik came out to talk about our opposition to the Lochsa Land Exchange, Alt F.   Chmelik sat right in my living room and admitted to Mary and I that he & Rockwell signed off on the proposed 45,000 acre for acre swap idea, and didn't realize the proposed land was so close to our local communities.    He smirked, raised his hands and said "Ok, I admit it, I didn't know, My Bad". For an elected official to conduct himself with such wrecklessness,  was very disturbing to us.
Isn't it the Commissions responsibility to understand the facts and the implications of their decisions on a controversial issue like the land swap BEFORE they sign off on it?
Do we want to make the same mistake by electing Jim Chmelik to a second term?  
I'm a Republican and I'm voting for Jim Rehder who listens to the people of Idaho County.
Bob Mangold

To the Editor,
Are we Stupid?
Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik said 85 percent of the people he spoke with disagreed with him about the Lochsa Land Exchange. Yet he supported the land swap anyway. I guess the majority of us are stupid. The Idaho County Republican Party Chair said that we need closed primaries because of “deceitful actions by disingenuous folks…” who weren’t voting the strict party line. Somewhere in those two mindsets, the average citizen has been forgotten. On one hand, you have a politician who dismisses 85 percent of his constituents, while on the other; you have a party chair who is forcing everybody into one narrow ideology. I just don’t know what that ideology is? Is it ignoring your constituents? Refusing diversity of thought? Selling our public lands? 
Chmelik said, “It is sad to me people are more concerned about where they can ride their four-wheelers than they are about putting their neighbors to work.” So now we’re sad and stupid. And we can’t be trusted to vote on anything but the strict party line. Are we expected to walk around like mindless drones, voting for people who pity us, look down on us and don’t listen to us anyway? I want something better. I’m supporting Jim Rehder. I’ve known him for 30 years and I know he listens to people and makes decisions that benefit Idaho County. I hope you join me. We deserve honest representation. 
Phil Foster
Kamiah, Idaho

YES on H.J.R. 2
Animal rights activists have achieved bans on regulated trapping in several locales within the United States. Consequences of a ban on trapping have included significant and unnecessary property damage, suffered by both private individuals and the public, and substantial misery inflicted on wildlife by communicable diseases. Both phenomena are caused by uncontrolled population growth, especially where urban sprawl encroaches on wilderness. 
Ironically, bans on trapping generally accomplish nothing more than converting furbearers from a public asset into a public liability. Trapping has to be reinstated as an Animal Damage Control (ADC) program at public expense or, the public demands reinstatement of regulated private trapping as the true consequences of a trapping ban become apparent.
 One of the local out-spoken critics of trapping and hunting actually hired an ADC trapper to remove (kill) twenty-two squirrels from his property several years ago. This not only illustrates the hypocrisy of this individual but also illustrates what will happen if trapping is taken away from the individual and relegated to the Federal, State and ADC trappers. Individuals and taxpayers will pay for the removal of nuisance wildlife.
The wolves that were reintroduced to the West were initially captured with foothold traps. The foot captured in the trap was NOT broken or damaged. Trapping is not a free-for-all, but rather a highly regulated profession that plays a major role in wildlife management while contributing to the economy, instead of piling more bills upon the public.
Vote YES on H.J.R.2
    Hanceford E. Clayton

Dear Editor: 
Recently we traveled to Europe. While there we were struck by the visual signs of poverty that Socialism has had in the countries of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Hungary. Each of these countries have been working for twenty years to shed the awful results of the years of communist socialism, and they have a long way to go. 
Could socialism take over America? I pray not. I feel our election on November 7 is very important for the future of our country. By my vote, I choose principled conservative candidates at the national, state and local levels. 
As an example, very close to home, Jim Chmelik has been a serious conservative and thoughtful Idaho County Commissioner. I will include him in my list of principled, conservative candidates. 
Betty Alm

To the Editor:
Propositions 1, 2, and 3 have already passed. We The IDAHO voters had our say, we want this for our students.  
I would like to know why out of state unions are so interested on getting proposition’s 1, 2, and 3 voted down. What do they have to gain?  Why is it worth millions of dollars to them that is what they are spending in Idaho?
Proposition #1
Parent input on teacher evaluations (You as  parents get to give your opinion)
Tenure phased out (teachers with tenure will keep it) new teachers will start at a higher pay rate.
Contract negotiations’ done in OPEN, PUBLIC meetings (No hidden agenda’s)
Proposition #2
Implements a Teacher pay for performance plan. (No more teachers goofing off during class time at the expense of students.)( I have several examples from the Pierce/Weippe area)
Teachers can earn up to $8,000 for student academic growth. (Better grades for students)
Proposition #3
High school juniors and seniors can earn up to 1 year of college credit—paid by the state.
Students will have access to quality teachers across the state and the technology will be in their own classrooms and their local teachers will be able to concentrate on other students who need her help in the classroom.
Personally I wish we would have had this when my children were in school. I am sure we have all had to put up with teachers who were not doing their jobs for one reason or another.  I am so glad that my grandchildren have this opportunity and do not want them to lose it.
Thank you Idaho for caring for ALL the students in Idaho.
I am voting YES-YES- YES.
Joy Hall

To the Editor
A USGS study discussing the effects of habitat and predator compositions on waterfowl nesting sites says “Intensive predator management is a warranted and important alternative when habitat management alone is inadequate.”
The study describes waterfowl as an “economic, recreational, and aesthetic resource” appreciated by 22 million (2006) hunters and non-consumptive users. Dwindling habitat and highly-adaptable predator populations are cited as the main threats to this resource.
“Intensive predator management” can be aerial gunning, agency trapping. Even poisoning is listed by the study as “effective over large areas of the landscape, but effects on non-target species are of great concern”. These are all taxpayer-funded options. But predator control can also be provided by regulated private trapping, a pursuit that is economically positive, at no cost to the taxpayer.
My husband traps every year and he spends a lot of money doing it. His trapping enhances the economy and puts a natural resource to use, to the benefit of countless other wildlife species. We don’t want to see aerial gunners and poison managing predators in Idaho.
Please vote yes on HJR002aa, even if you don’t understand private trapping, or haven’t thought much about the alternatives.
Tina Carney
Treasurer – Pass HJR2aa PAC
Mountain Home

Luna Laws: High Cost, No Results
There were good reasons why some 75,000 Idahoans signed petitions last year ­to overturn three education-related laws enacted by the Legislature: the Luna Laws are bad education policy and bad fiscal policy. They impose top-down, one-size-fits-all mandates that tie the hands of local school boards, divert money from our already scarce classroom resources, and use that money for expensive laptop and online class schemes that will do nothing to improve student achievement.   
These laws require the state to buy laptops for all high school students, whether or not they need or want them. They require high school students to take online classes—the completion rates for which are very low compared to traditional classes—in order to graduate. The business model for large, for-profit corporations offering these online classes is based on high student/teacher ratios, often packing 100 to 200 students in a single class. Not surprisingly, these out-of-state corporations have made generous campaign contributions to the people who are pushing these laws. 
Second, these laws limit local control. State leaders have long criticized the federal government for dictating one-size-fits-all policies that do not fit the needs of Idaho. So why should we accept what Idaho’s politicians have imposed on our local school districts? Local school boards must be allowed to continue to make the decisions that are best for their communities, their teachers, and most of all, their students. 
Beyond the flawed provisions contained in the laws, we must understand how these misguided laws originated. They were proposed at a time when the Legislature was looking to further reduce expenses for our public schools. In other words, it was a plan to do education on the cheap, further starving a system of public schools that was already on life support.
Based on U.S. Census data, Idaho ranked 50th in the nation in per pupil spending in 2010. Then, according to the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, Idaho reduced funding for our schools by 19% during the recession—the fourth deepest cuts in the nation. 
We are told these laws will be fully funded, but proponents haven’t identified a single source of revenue to pay for them. The laptops alone will cost $180 million over the coming years—three times the original projection. With so much money being diverted to new spending programs mandated by the Luna Laws, more and more communities are asking local taxpayers to make up for the Legislature’s funding cuts in order to avoid cutting teachers. 
More than 80 districts around the state have supplemental levies this year, amounting to a record high of $140 million. Projections for next year are a stunning $170 million. Smaller, rural districts often have a harder time passing levies, thus widening the funding gap between larger and smaller districts. 
There is much that we can do to improve the way our public schools educate our children. But there is nothing in these laws that actually “reforms” how Idaho students are taught. These three laws were rammed through the Idaho Legislature last year without the input of parents, teachers, school board members, and administrators.  
There’s a better way to improve our schools. To make that possible, we need to begin by voting NO on Propositions 1, 2, and 3 in November. 
Mike Lanza
Mike Lanza, a parent of two public school students, is Chairman of the Vote No on Props 1, 2, and 3 campaign and co-founder of Idaho Parents and Teachers Together.

Cottonwood, Idaho 83522


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