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Letters

My wife and I absolutely love living in the Carson City/Carson Valley paradise. For some reason, however, the Ormsby House remains an “unsolved mystery.” We simply cannot comprehend a bunch of “whys” … i.e. why do the owners Al Fiegehen and Don Lehr either develop the property or dump it. It seems to me that, if you purchase a business, you want to get it open in order to derive a profit from it. Why does Carson City allow that huge piece of property to simply “sit” year after year while “life goes on” in other areas of Carson City (i.e. a beautiful Marriott Courtyard adjacent to the Fandango? It took basically a year to construct the Marriott while the Ormsby House continues to basically rot across from our legislature buildings. There must be a reason why such a huge piece of prime property and such a visible tomb that was once the Ormsby House is just sitting there gathering dust! I have a feeling that there is indeed several subplots that underlie the Ormsby situation and only a handful of politicians have the answers. It is long past time for the truth to be “outed” regarding the Ormsby joke. I can assure you its present owners, Al Fiegehen and Don Lehr, don’t run their Reno-based business, Cubix Computer Corporation in the same manner as their “investment” of the Ormsby House.

GARY BROWN

Minden

Problems with language arts standards are real

Let’s examine some facts about the new and improved English Language Arts Standards.

In the Nevada Appeal (2/20) a retired Carson City kindergarten teacher writes a letter defending the efforts of the ELA Standards Revision Team. Three of us attended the State Board of Education meeting where these (indeed) “improved” standards were approved. Sharon Kientz was one of them; Lorie Schaefer was not. The following points are my impressions and the results of a short interview I conducted with Ms. Kientz after reading this letter:

Ms. Kientz does object to the disclaimer phrase, “with teacher assistance.” The introduction to the standards document explains “with assistance” includes teachers and peers. Therefore, the word “teacher” in that phrase could mean peer, volunteer, aide, etc. Ms. Schaefer claims “that phrase applies to the few standards …” that number is over 300. Did Schaefer read them?

Schaefer charges Ms. Kientz with “a lack of understanding of the revision process, what the standards mean and what is going on in Nevada’s classrooms.” This is an unfounded assertion. Ms. Kientz believes standards should be “rigorous and stringent”; those guideline words address expectations. Kientz did serve on a standards panel in California. Her visits to several of our Carson City schools to observe the teaching of reading in primary grades enhanced her interest in the revision of the standards. She also taught kindergarten for 21 years.

After these visits she was asked to come to a school that uses a potpourri of reading programs to assist them with streamlining the programs. It remains preposterous that the person who is teaching a proven phonetically-based program loves it, succeeds at it as do the students, and impresses those who observe it and, is an aide. The program is offered only in a remedial capacity. Parents should be asking why this is. This is a wonderful example of the dumb-down techniques employed at our schools. And, voila, that is why so many of our students, the list continues to grow, are labeled as learning disabled and in need of special education. The number would decrease dramatically if reading was a priority in primary grades.

Both of these retired kindergarten teachers agree that “Learning develops over time.” However, Ms. Kientz is staunch in her position that learning to read begins in kindergarten. Like Ms. Schaefer, Ms. Kientz had a kindergarten program rich in literature, music, and poetry. Ms. Kientz’ tenure was a very successful (waiting list to get into her class) teaching experience.

My comment after the State Board meeting that approved the new standards was that the entire meeting had nothing at all to do with the quality we offer to students. I was aghast that Dr. Rheault offered if the vote was postponed, the board was not required to do anything. We learned the handout given to the public was not the one they approved. Where is transparency? What a charade and yet another spoof on the trusting public. Where is the integrity and motivation to provide the best to our kids? Why did they not choose to fine tune these new standards? Does our education empire ever consider “best interests” or is “best practices” the one that most satisfies the union?

To my query, “What are you selling?” Ms. Kientz answered, “Nothing but literacy.”

Amen.

Ann Bednarski

Carson City