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Many people attend the Howard County school board meeting at which the board voted about redistricting.

Redistricting should have included educators

The Howard County redistricting dust has settled into clumps of varied perspectives: redistricted students would suffer educationally and socially, property values would decrease, diversity should be encouraged, equity of educational opportunity should be addressed through redistricting, etc. There is one perspective that was not sufficiently considered though; that of our students’ educators.

For example, how much more challenging is it to teach effectively if 50% of your class is living in poverty than if 3% were? Would “improvement” in the form of one extra paraeducator per grade compensate for this discrepancy? Do Title 1 funds sufficiently compensate? Is having 50% of your students living in poverty twice as challenging as having 25%, or less challenging, or more, or much more? Do the effects of poverty affect Gifted and Talented classes in different ways than “regular” classes?

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Granted, the answers would be generalizations, but they would be vitally important to consider. The ability of teachers to teach effectively impacts many thousands of our students, yet this was scarcely a consideration during the redistricting fiasco.

When educators’ voices are not heard and considered, a tremendous opportunity is missed to do right by many of our students. Often, educators are not in a comfortable position to express their views regarding redistricting, but their views are so valuable that they should be sought out and actively invited. Then, in addition to the impact on their individual classrooms and schools, those views should be considered globally; information will be gleaned that can be generalized to our schools overall and provide a crucial perspective.

Our residents needed better information in order to best participate in the redistricting process. For example, they needed to know that the quality of a student’s education cannot be determined by a school’s rating; that judging schools is not like judging refrigerators. They, as well as the Board of Education, also needed to know how various redistricting scenarios would affect the effectiveness of educators. Though no redistricting solution would have made everyone happy, better information dissemination could have helped the process be less adversarial and more positively productive. Instead, decisions were made that impacted thousands of families with a hand tied behind our backs.

Educating our residents, and paying attention to the needs of our educators, should have been front and center during the redistricting process. If anyone should have known this, it should have been our school system. Maybe next time.

Robert W. Miller

Columbia

Humans are not causing global warming

Sabrina S. Fu (“We should work together to combat climate change,” Dec. 26) wrote, “The issue of climate change … is often difficult to grasp.” Actually, the science is not. The facts I am outlining are not only supported by scientific tests (ice core tests, tree ring samples, etc.), but also by voluminous historic documentation:

Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant of any kind. When we exhale, the gas we expel is CO2. Plants absorb CO2 and use it in photosynthesis, the process by which they create food and oxygen. We are being told that human and animal breath are deadly poisons, and that plants need poison to live!

What about “97% of all climate scientists say mankind is contributing to global warming”? In 2009, Columbia University sent an online survey to 10,287 climate scientists. Of those, 3,148 responded to the survey. Of those, 77 said the world was warming dangerously. Of the 77, 75 said mankind was contributing.

Worldwide temperatures were far hotter than today during the Minoan (1500-1200 B.C.), Roman (250 B.C.-450 A.D.) and Medieval (950-1250 A.D.) warm periods. Mankind flourished during all of them and made significant advancements. Global temperatures dropped drastically during the Vandal Minimum (1200-250 B.C.), Dark Ages (450-950 A.D.) and Little Ice Age (1250-1850 A.D.). These were characterized by crop failures, disease and famine. Human progress slowed significantly as mankind went into a survival mode.

Our atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 0.93% argon. The remaining fraction is the atmospheric greenhouse gases, which retain heat in the atmosphere. Without them, scientists say worldwide temperatures would be 59 degrees Fahrenheit colder, and Earth would be uninhabitable. The moon is the same distance from the sun as Earth, but has no atmosphere and no greenhouse gases. Temperatures on the moon range from about 210 degrees F by day to about 125 degrees F below zero at night.

The most plentiful and potent greenhouse gas is water vapor, which comprises 95% of all atmospheric greenhouse gases. CO2 comprises 4.97%. The remaining 3/100 of 1% is made up of methane, nitrous oxide and trace gases such as chlorofluorocarbons.

Only 2% to 5% of CO2 comes from human activity (breathing, burning fossil fuels, making cement, rearing animals, using wood, etc.). Do the arithmetic: Man’s “contribution” to total atmospheric greenhouse gases is between one tenth and one quarter of 1%.

The warming we are experiencing is part of the normal, natural cycle of heat and cold that Earth has experienced since it began. Mankind is not causing it, and it is nothing to get alarmed about.

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Thomas M. Crawford

Laurel

Caring for environment can be a family affair

Growing up, my parents instilled certain values in me and my brother that influenced our interests, actions and personalities. Out of all these values, concern for the environment wasn’t always at the top of the list. But it became important to me and my brother in college, and we both studied environmental fields.

Now that I have moved back to Howard County, I notice certain actions and interests of my parents that are more environmentally friendly, such as wanting to eat less red meat and using reusable products. My parents have even joined me at a monthly meeting of a nonpartisan climate advocacy group, Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

It makes me think my brother and I played a part in reinvigorating these values in my parents. It has brought us closer as a family to advocate for a livable world.

Olivia Kuykendall

Laurel

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