Felons, Not Their Schools, Need to Research Potential Difficulties

I take strong exception to Tim Vanderpool's tale of woe for felons ("Jobbed by the System," Currents, March 27). The author demonstrates sloppy journalism at its worst.

It is not the responsibility of the educational institution to investigate the legal histories of their students. Vanderpool does not mention when these persons revealed their history of prior convictions. I suspect that they knew, in advance, that their prior convictions might pose difficulties for careers which require security clearances, certification or licensure.

As a registered nurse since 1974 and a retired nurse educator, I once encountered a prospective student who was smart enough to ask me if a prior conviction would disqualify her for certification as a certified nursing assistant. I referred her to the State Board of Nursing, who confirmed that. The prospective student knew that the prior conviction might be a problem, and I suspect that Michele Convie knew that also. That she waited until she had completed her course work and then blamed Pima Community College for her difficulties is hardly appropriate. She evaded her own responsibility to explore the potential problems in advance.

There are already two to three qualified applicants for each student position in every nursing program in this state and across the nation. The academic requirements for admission to nursing programs are stringent. Adding convicted felons to the pool of student applicants to nursing programs would make no difference in the number of new nurses. To increase the number of new nurses, it is necessary to increase the number of student positions.

As for denying commercial driving licenses to "anyone convicted of using a commercial vehicle to distribute drugs," that is a wise precaution as well. The recidivism rate among drug dealers is high, and there are already too many drunks and chemically impaired drivers on the roads causing lethal accidents and often driving without a license.

Patricia McKnight

CPS Bills Would Further Drain the Resources of an Overwhelmed Agency

The brutal deaths of Ariana Payne and Brandon Williams are unmistakable tragedies, but what is perhaps an even greater tragedy is our community's vilifying of Child Protective Services as the primary guilty party in these deaths ("Lifting the Veil of Secrecy," March 20).

Community members and legislators are quick to point the finger of blame at CPS and its workers for negligence, but where is the real root of the problem? Are CPS workers really negligent, or are they so overburdened by humongous caseloads, endless paperwork and limited resources that effective casework is virtually impossible?

The state budget is facing major cuts in the next few years, and I find it extremely hypocritical of Rep. Jonathan Paton to put forth a slew of bills that would require such drastic increases in resources while his fellow representatives are looking at human services as the primary victim of drastic budget cuts. All of Paton's bills, if passed, would drain the slim funding and resources that CPS has, leaving CPS workers scrambling to make ends meet. HB2454 might even compromise millions in federal funding if passed without Rep. Linda Lopez's proposed amendment.

As members of this community, it is our responsibility to let our legislators know that we will not stand for budget cuts to human services that might endanger more children relying on these services for protection.

Sascha Navarro

TUSD Officials Need to Take the Blame for the Mess, and Not Take It Out on Schools, Teachers

I would like to commend the Weekly's reporting on the situation with the Tucson Unified School District, most notably "Misplaced Priorities" by Dave Devine (March 27).

Contrary to what Tucson Education Association president Steve Courter said, I do not believe that Arizonans (or at least the people who have children in TUSD schools) are satisfied with being last in the nation--at least I do not think the people on the receiving end of education are satisfied.

It is appalling enough that the district's administrators suggest cutting teachers, librarians and counselors, but now they are taking away the schools themselves. Poor budgeting has resulted in cutting the people who serve on the front lines of educating America, people who had nothing to do with mismanaging the system. These people are essential in carrying out the mission of schools--to educate--and dealing with the fallout of overcrowded classes and burned-out teachers.

I am not inspired by the future superintendent admitting to not knowing a lot about TUSD's specific situation, but feeling certain that a neighborhood school system which has worked for more than a century is "less efficient economically."

I fully support Tucson Unified School Supporters' idea for an independent group of people to review TUSD's budget in order to get an unbiased picture of the flow of money. I would also like to encourage the district to consider their priorities. The last I checked, our public schools were supposed to be serving our children, our families and our community. Perhaps we might give them some consideration.

Kirsten Milkovich

Americans Refuse to Rise up Against Bush's War, Acting Like Germans in the 1930s

"Following the Invasion" (Currents, March 20) shows how this deceitfully conceived war (which would be considered a war crime if committed by other leaders) has split our country in twain as nothing since our Civil War has done. Yet we don't rise up, even as we continue to wonder why the German people were so passive that they marched off to Hitler's war like robotic dolls. There, too, they had turned power over to one man.

Spineless members of Congress and ravenous profiteers--arms merchants, including Raytheon, our neighbors--somehow see progress in only a few less horrors each day as the underclass (recruited in high school corridors and on reservations) are sent off to kill and be killed. The legacy includes generations of grief and rehabilitation. And has anyone noticed that our nation is bankrupt?

"We've spent our blood, so we might as well get their oil" is at least an accurate appraisal. But how many more barrels of blood must we swap for barrels of oil? Why not just say, "We've slit his throat, so we might as well knock the gold out of his teeth?"

David Ray

A Fan of Poetry Thinks Poetry Reviews Are a Good Thing

It's great to see a review of Morgan Schuldt's book ("On the 'Verge,'" Books, March 27), and wonderful that Jarret Keene quotes two poems. I would respectfully disagree, however, with Keene's statement that "Eros" "doesn't make a whole lot of sense." I would replace "doesn't" with "does."

My experience of both poems that Keene generously quotes is that they are rich and intense with meaningful sense and evocative power. Of course, the great thing about quoting poems in such a review is that the reader is able to experience the poem and compare his/her reading of it with the reviewer's. I admire Keene's comment that Schuldt achieves a "rich, hearty language brew," which makes Schuldt's poetry sound memorably nourishing and delicious, which is an accurate description of the delights that Schuldt offers readers.

Themes that Schuldt also focuses upon, in his book, aside from sexuality (which Keene aptly identifies as an important topic in the book) are mortality and art. In my opinion, this book of Schuldt's poetry would be an incredibly impressive book for a poet of any age, and it is especially remarkable that a poet as young as Schuldt is writing such daring and innovative poetry.

I am very happy to see Keene's review of Schuldt's book in the Tucson Weekly. Thanks for publishing it!

John Levy

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