I've been disappointed not to see articles about the threatened closures of Longfellow and Washington elementary schools in the Boise Weekly. This is a very grim neighborhood and City of Boise issue.
City Councilwoman Elaine Clegg's unexpected actions to get Washington Elementary shut down instead of the school facilities consultant's choice of closing Longfellow Elementary, (where her children had gone to school), was a shock to hundreds of residents who were working to save both schools. Washington had never been listed for closure, nor were those stakeholders invited to the meeting where the switch occurred. School Superintendent Stan Olsen's decision to stand by that unfair process and decision has increased the distrust of the entire school facilities process. I personally felt so betrayed by what and how this happened that my bones ached for days. We and many others had been attending school meetings for months and had never heard a whisper at any point that this could even happen.
Washington Elementary is ideally located in the center of the North End, according to past and present urban planning standards, has a long record of educational excellence and desirability, is in excellent physical condition, updated with fiber optics, and has a waiting list of students every year. What kind of "planning" rewards the teachers, principal, parents and students of such a school with a forced closure?
Cities can protect and nuture social capital and everyone benefits, or they can destroy it and become mean-spirited communities with less to offer. In this case, Washington Elementary has been a neighborhood focal point for much beyond the education of children this is where the neighborhood comes together for meetings and rallies, and where young families can safely take little ones for sports or picnics in the evenings or on weekends. Countless children have learned to ride their bicycles behind the school, and generations of Idahoans have a century of good memories at this local and national landmarked school.
It has been a sad day for Boise to have one historic school politically pitted against the survival of another. It has been a terrible thing for families and neighborhood cohesion. If the giant new warehouse schools that the superintendent favors over walkable neighborhood schools will be so very efficient, then surely the school district can afford to save these few rare surviving and very desirable century-old neighborhood schools.
Nationally the Smartgrowth movement ranks the protection of these functioning historic neighborhood schools as a high priority. The Boise City Comprehensive Plan also has a policy to support smaller neighborhood schools. If Boise were more child-, school- and family-friendly, I believe there would be fewer people disinvesting to move to other cities in the valley. The voices of those politicians who stated that they would "strengthen neighborhoods" when they ran for office have been too silent on this subject of eliminating neighborhood schools and all the social capital they provide to the greater community.
Editor's Note: School closures anywhere are an emotionally charged issue. While we can never predict what the future holds for BW coverage, we have been following the developments and attending the meetings. I would look in one of the next few issues for a news article about the school plan.
There seem to be many who think the Idaho Department of Transportation should stick with the "pay-as-you-go plan" they currently operate under in regards to new highway building. Although I don't endorse the governor's plan in it's entirety, I do think it's time to move past the "pay-as-you-go" method of funding highways.
Think about it. If Idahoans had to pay as they go in regards to their personal habitat, they would all be renting their house rather than financing it.
If the developers that build rental property had to pay as they go, rather than getting financing for their projects, there would be no property to rent. I guess we would all be back to building sod huts on the prairie.
If the school districts weren't able to get building bonds passed, the Meridian school district wouldn't even be able to afford a dirt field to assemble all the new students in. And don't even get me started on how the State Legislature attempted to push bonding and increased property taxes on some of the poorest school districts to avoided their fiduciary responsibility under the constitution.
Without bonding for highway construction, we remain in the situation we find ourselves in. New development adding demands up front, including development, construction traffic and later new residents, to our shoddy roads and highways. Undersized lanes, the goat trails we endure on the way to our favorite haunts, traffic jams and their excessive waste of time and increase in pollutants, and the bad first impression for our growing tourist industry are all good reasons to find a way of financing our future.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating naming a highway or byway after the gov. But maybe we could name one for his Harley, put a picture of him riding his bike on a sign, and see which gets the most bullet holes.
-Eric Nielsen, Meridian
atheism is a religion
The Declaration of Independence credits "the Creator" and "nature's God" as the source of the inalienable rights which L. Howard and the Idaho Atheists claim to seek equal access to for those "who stand together for civil rights...and their full recognition as American citizens" (BW, Mail, March 30, 2005). In light of this, "godless Americans" is an oxymoron.
Howard's claim that atheists "do not embrace religious creeds" is either disingenuous, delusional or both. It's time we got past this notion that atheism and it's adopted child, Secular Humanism, are not religions. Any belief system that cannot be proved takes faith to embrace. Atheism is just such a belief. It takes faith to be an atheist. Last time I checked, we seemed very far away from any kind of complete understanding of the universe. How far away? We have no idea. Scientists are being surprised by new discoveries all the time. Besides, the scientific method does not lend itself one way or the other to a discussion of spiritual realities. It supports neither those who believe in a creator nor those who do not. But the evidence is still there to be found for any true seeker, as long as they don't limit the discussion ahead of time. It's interesting that atheist Antony Flew has re-examined his own position because the evidence for the existence of God is so compelling.
Atheists don't see it, but to limit the political voice of those who believe in God by crying separation of church and state, while at the same time using our founding documents to advance their own religious agenda, will result in political oppression, a "brave new world" enforced by a totalitarianism (Stalin was an atheist) that grants rights to citizens as it sees fit.
I see by their coverage that the peace mongers are at it again. Twenty-five years ago, the were successful in getting our troops pulled out of Southeast Asia as well as the material support needed by those left to defend themselves. As a result, millions died and Laos and Cambodia are only now pulling themselves out of the darkness. If the Peaceniks are triumphant again, the death toll in the Middle East will be in the tens of millions and will probably spread worldwide. I have never understood the bloodlust of those who believe in "peace at any cost." I just can't seem to get a grasp on whatever it is that they are feeding on.