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Please, buckle your kids' seat belts

To the Editor:

Early in the morning last week, I was driving my personal vehicle dropping my son off at preschool. As I drove by an elementary school, I observed multiple kids roughly 5 to 10 years old without seat belts on.

The kids I observed without seat belts on were very obvious. One of the kids was leaning in between the front seats of a passenger car, and another was riding in the front seat of a truck standing on the seat next to the driver. The drivers of both of these vehicles obviously knew their kids were not buckled up, and they obviously didn't seem to think it was a big deal.

As the driver of a vehicle, you are responsible for everyone under the age of 18 to be buckled, little kids included. Kids don't realize that accidents can happen at any time, but as adults, we do know that accidents can happen anytime, anywhere. There is no excuse for your kids to not be buckled up at all times. Even an accident while driving in town can cause serious injury or even death to a small child that is unbuckled.

So, please, buckle your kids up. Their safety and life could depend on it.

Caleb Walters, State trooper, Mitchell

Teachers should be happy with their jobs

To the Editor:

On Jan. 14, The Daily Republic's editorial said education has been "faring well." On Jan. 21, David Steele called that assertion "laughable," "disheartening," "audacious" and "skewed."

He cited an Education Week study that gave South Dakota's education system a D+ grade and ranked it 49th overall. No state got an A or F, 12 states got a B and 36 states got a C. The D+ was not too far from average, considering it is a trade magazine and teacher salaries were probably figured in.

"You get what you pay for," he wrote. The National Center for Education found that South Dakota's contribution to education was $10,602. That was more than 25 other states contributed to schools. Mercatus Center research fellow Veronique de Rugy calculated that the cost of educating a 5- to 16-year-old child in the United States is almost $92,000 -- more than the other 20 top countries except Switzerland and a third more than Finland. Our students get whipped academically by all those countries. Maybe it is the teaching.

Test scores were "decreasing" also because of no money, Steele claimed. The 2010 NCLB Report Card had 76 percent of our students Advanced or Proficient (A&P) in math and reading, up 1 percent from 2009. The ACT State of College Readiness Report found 28 percent of students tested were ready, while nationwide that figure was 24 percent, an 11.7 percent improvement for our students. Over the past five years, our students have maintained a steady, one-point ACT score advantage.

If more money meant better scores, then the $25,595 per pupil spent at Eagle Butte should get better scores than 41 percent A&P in math and 44 percent A&P in reading. Chester Area, at the low end of $6,018 per pupil, has scores of 74 percent A&P in math and 77 percent A&P in reading. Maybe you don't get what you pay for.

David called teacher salaries "abysmal," with some teachers not getting regular raises. I know a state employee with a degree, advanced training and 10 years of experience who has not had a raise in three years and makes less than a first-year teacher who will have a couple of months off. We are all poor alike here.

Steele was embarrassed. So am I when I see buses with a handful of kids, classes of old-country-school size and a nearly new school that can't field athletic teams.

Maybe teachers should be happy to have a job and be faring well.

Jim Johannsen, Artesian

HB 1237 is frivolous and a waste of time

To the Editor:

I find it extremely alarming that there is time in the 2011 South Dakota legislative session to introduce House Bill 1237 (a bill created by Rep. Hal Wick, which would require every South Dakotan 21 and older own a firearm) during a time of such great need in South Dakota.

I simply cannot put my head around that. Our budget is about to crumble and yet tax-paid time is used for such frivolous bill introduction. Not only is tax-paid time being used to introduce admittedly unconstitutional legislation, but also the tax-paid time of other legislators who have to review the bill when glaring in front of all of them is balancing the budget, finding money to assist education, servicing agencies, fixing roads and highways and so much more that is important in our beautiful state.

Regardless of your views on the federal health-care bill, the use of sarcasm has no place in our democratic process. I hope and pray that this bill will be pulled so that the sponsors can save face in South Dakota.

Jan Quenzer, Mitchell

Wick: Bill intended to make a statement

To the Editor:

I introduced HB 1237, a bill to create an individual mandate to require every citizen residing in South Dakota who is over the age of 21 to purchase a firearm for self-defense.

The idea behind this bill is based on the individual mandate in the federal health-care law. If the federal government can order everyone in the United States to buy health insurance because everybody needs medical care, it makes just as much sense for South Dakota to make this requirement to provide for everyone's protection.

A lot of people do not understand why the so-called "individual mandate" is a bad idea. Attorney General Marty Jackley is already challenging the federal health-care law because of the individual mandate provisions.

My hope is this bill will serve as a vehicle to clearly illustrate to all South Dakota's voters why such individual mandates are unconstitutional. Do I or the other co-sponsors believe that the state of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance.

So this bill is an effort to make a point, to educate and hopefully help defeat the unconstitutional health-care bill known by some as "Obamacare."

The act would be effective Jan. 1, 2012.

The bill's title is "An act to provide for an individual mandate to adult citizens to provide for the self-defense of themselves and others."

Hal Wick, Republican state representative, Sioux Falls

Church fills writer with spirit of love

To the Editor:

As of the writing of this letter, I'm out of my mother's will. Money won't sway me like people think.

I told one or two of my friends if I had a million dollars, I'd give it away.

Store up treasures in heaven, not here on earth. I want to save souls, not money.

I was at one time so full of hate at others that I wanted to join the Army and kill people. The church filled me with love. If I invite that spirit back, it will come back twice as bad.

Go ahead. Test me.

Jeff Stork, Mitchell

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