Despite raises, MontCo's achievement gap persists

Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr recently said he wants to focus on the achievement gap and community engagement.Last spring, he said his record budget request was "bare bones" and then gave all teachers two pay raises. Before that, our teachers were paid 15 to 20 percent more than Howard and Fairfax County teachers, but this hasn't bought us superior academic performance.

The money for raises went disproportionately to teachers in wealthier (green zone) schools, where our school-by-school analysis showed there is no correlation between pay and performance.Teachers in our higher-poverty (red zone) schools are paid on average 4 percent less.

Since the red zone is where the achievement gap lives, why don't we pay red zone teachers more for taking career risks to tackle the achievement gap?Wouldn't this attract the best principals and teachers to schools that need the most help?Why doesn't the strategic plan detail intervention strategies and link to the budget?

Now what? Can we expect innovative academic strategies? As for community engagement, the superintendent has declined to meet with us.

Gordie Brenne

Board member,

Montgomery County Taxpayers League

Silver Spring

Obama did not do enough to support Arab Spring

Re: "Obama fiddles while his Middle East policy burns," Sept. 25

I strongly disagree that U.S. support for the Arab Spring "has done practically nothing." In Libya, where the U.S. intervened on behalf of pro-democracy rebels, Gallup polls record majority support (54 percent) for American leadership. This ranks among the all-time highs for approval of the U.S. in an Arab country.

True, militants from the Islamic extremist group Ansar al-Sharia managed to attack our consulate in Benghazi and kill our ambassador. But this was a terror attack by a fringe group. It was deeply resented by the local population, which destroyed Ansar al-Sharia barracks in mass protests one week later.

President Obama's main mistake in the Arab Spring is that he did not go far enough. Today, in Syria, pro-democracy rebels are again looking to the U.S. for leadership. Yet instead of intervening to stop President Assad's brutal crackdown, Obama dithers and watches the slaughter.

Shlomo Bolts

Silver Spring

Reid's malicious attack on Romney was unjustified

Re: "Harry Reid: Mitt Romney is a bad Mormon," Sept. 25

My first wife was a Mormon, and I accepted her religion during the 23 years we were married.I attended the University of Utah and lived among thousands of Mormons.I determined that by their devotion to Jesus Christ, their families and caring for others, they were closest to those practicing the Catholic faith.

However, until today I did not know that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who maliciously attacked Mitt Romney as underserving, is also a Mormon.Who best exemplifies a "good Mormon"? Look at Romney's life and record, including his generous charitable donations.

As governor of Massachusetts, Romney created a betterrecord ina few months then Reid has during his many years in the Senate.Romney formulated a positive budget for that state, whereas Reid is solely responsible for blocking a federal budget, required by law, for more than 100 months!

Reid wouldn't be considered qualified for dog catcher in Utah.

John Paul

Warren, Ind.