Saturday, March 12, 2011

All May Park, All Should Pay

All May Park, All Should Pay
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
March 12, 2011

OK, so somebody has to be the evil heartless guy that objects to the Alexandria City Council’s decision to exempt disabled drivers from feeding the meters.

Instead, the council retreated from their “all may park, all must pay,” which was actually a fair and balanced system. I am not calling for the elimination of handicapped parking spaces – that would just be cruel. But it is not cruel to expect someone to kick in the same as anyone else who parks in Alexandria.

David Sachs neglected to indicate how the council voted, both as a whole and individually in his March 10 article “City Hall reverses stance on disabled parking,” information helpful to the community.

It was egregious when the council raised the meter rates, to all but discourage people from spending money in Old Town. This only hurts the businesses there. Only want to pay for an hour of parking? Less time to shop. Don’t want to refeed the meter? Don’t dine in Old Town.

I had suggested that the Chamber of Commerce, who has called for increased usage of the garages in Old Town, validate garage parking. More folks would use the garages, and more folks would stay longer in Old Town spending their dollars in shops and restaurants, and not on parking.

If parking is at such a premium, why should a select few be given carte blanche to park at will for a proposed 12 hours at a clip?

Asking disabled motorists to pay does not deny them accessibility or discriminate against them. If anything, non-disabled drivers being asked to pay more and pick up the slack, is discriminatory. There is no right to free parking unless you are playing Monopoly®.

Time now to cast aspersions at the bad guy; but there are plenty of you reading this who agree.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Phys Ed for Students' Minds and Bodies

Phys Ed for Students’ Minds and Bodies
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
March 10, 2011

We can either pay now or we can pay more, later.

For once I concur with a spending bill that hit Governor Bob McDonnell’s (R-VA) desk before the legislative session crosses the finish line. This is the just over $18 million price tag to more than double the amount of time Fairfax County elementary school students will spend in physical education – from 60 minutes a week to 150 minutes.

At a mere half hour per school day, I would like to see that amount raised to equal a full period a day. Quite frankly this legislation ought to be Commonwealth-wide and include all grade levels.

The $18+ million is a mere pittance in a society rapidly approaching morbid obesity on a grand scale. Compare this to the amount spent on health care and sick days later in life when losing weight and getting into better shape becomes more challenging and more costly in terms of dollars and shortened lifespans.

Critics site more time needed on art, music, English, reading, math, science and social studies. As one with a number of years teaching social studies, I strenuously concur. This is why a longer school day and even a longer school year are so vital.

Hire more teachers and enter into a public-private partnership with corporate America as I recommended in 2006 when I was a candidate for the school board in Alexandria. Corporations dump millions of dollars into naming rights of various stadia around the country. Why not do likewise with schools for a tax write-off?

This is win-win – the school benefits with a necessary infusion of dollars for textbooks, lab equipment, art and music supplies as well as teacher salaries when more teachers are hired. Hiring more teachers becomes pertinent as a longer school day and longer school year will require additional staff. Doing so will prevent teacher burnout, the number one reason retention numbers drop on an annual basis.

For the same reason children need the left brain-right brain juxtaposition in terms of a balance between academics and the creative, physical education also provides an outlet students need.

Students shuttled from classroom to classroom with nothing but academic classes exhibit restlessness and hyperactivity. This is due to not having a physical outlet. As a teacher, I can attest to the importance of students having that outlet. Without it, disruptions in class rise substantially.

Physical education should be designed to not just help children stay in shape, but instruct them in a sense of fair play, teamwork, team sports and also the importance of competition. Competition has widely been removed from American schools, and that is shameful. Children must learn about winning and losing at an early age so as to prepare themselves for the realities and rigors of life outside the school building and schoolyard.

Signing this bill into law is a win-win for all involved – teachers, parents, taxpayer and most importantly, the students. Unlike the teachers’ unions who admit they are not for the teachers or the students, just their own craven power, this legislation is for the students’ well-being today and tomorrow.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Post Not Telling the Whole Schiller Story

Post Not Telling the Whole Schiller Story
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
March 9, 2011

Apparently it is newsworthy to report NPR bashing the TEA Party, but the liberal network’s blatant anti-Semitism does not merit a mention in Paul Farhi’s March 9 article “NPR executive resigns over tea party remarks.”

Is anti-Semitism so mainstream and acceptable that it is ignored by a major newspaper, or is the Post just that ambivalent and obtuse to determine it is not important enough to include it Farhi’s article?

There’s no question former NPR executive Ron Schiller’s remarks about conservatives and members of the TEA Party were both malicious and sanctimonious, but his suggestion that the newspaper industry is under the thumb of the Jewish community as a whole is simply egregious and bore reporting by Farhi.

Schiller did, however, make one smart statement that NPR “would be better off in the long run without federal funding.” Their time has come. With a bevy of media options from which to choose, Congress should strip NPR’s funding immediately. Let NPR compete in the free marketplace and either sink or swim on their own.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria, VA.