Sunday, December 9, 2007

In Response to: State Program to Replace Old Vehicles Delayed...

I agree with my classmate's view in that low-income families probably don't want to, or can't, take on payments for a brand new car. The state is in the process of putting in place a new program that will give low-income families $3500 to put towards a new car. They must meet certain requirements like not making above a certain amount of money a year, and drive a car that is older than 10 years old. The purpose of the program is to try to take some of the older vehicles off of the roads that may produce more emissions.

I work for a car dealership, and when we received this letter from the state, I first thought it was an okay idea, until I thought about it a little more. We, of course, service the new vehicles with the new computers and parts that are supposed to cut down on emissions. And they work great. Except, when these parts start to go bad, and they are out of warranty, wow are they expensive to replace! That is not what a low-income family needs. Plus, newer cars are generally more expensive to maintain. So not only are we forcing these families to take on a new car payment, pay full coverage insurance until the vehicle is payed off, but then we are giving them more expensive maintenance on the new vehicles. If a person is struggling to barely live right now, they can't afford that. If a person does decide to apply for the program and buy a new car, what happens when they can't make the payments on it and it gets repossessed? Then they are left without transportation. Or what happens when a part brakes on it and it costs an outrageous amount to replace? They are then stuck without a vehicle.

With the annual income caps that they are putting on this program, I think they are creating more problems then they are solving. If their purpose is to get older vehicles of the road, then they need to offer a little more assistance than just $3500. Or they need to raise the caps, or maybe allow a person to buy a newer model car, but allow it to be used.

I, of course, agree that something needs to be done about the emissions because our environment is spiraling downward, fast. But I don't think this program will do much to help it. I think the state is just creating more problems for itself in other areas.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Teacher's Salaries Increase, But Still Pitiful

Texas teachers' salaries saw the largest increase in 6 years for the 2006-2007 school year. But it's still not enough. Texas is still ranked in the bottom half of the 50 States, at number 33. Yet, Texas comes in second in the number of students that it serves. We are responsible for the education of the thousands of young people in Texas. Yet we pay the teachers who teach them barely enough to live comfortably, if that. It's no wonder that, even though all of these "No Child Left Behind" programs are being put into place, students are still performing below standard level, and dropping out at a scary rate. We need to pay our teachers more for several reasons.

First, they are teaching our future leaders. One day these students will be running Texas and the United States. Either by actually taking office or by voting. We want our country to prosper and grow. We must teach the young people how to make that happen. They need to learn the history of their country, how we came to be. They need to be able to do math, from basic math all the way to "rocket science." They need to be able to communicate efficiently and professionally. Students should also be appreciative of non-academic subjects such as art or music. Our students need to have the best education possible. They will need to be equipped with the most powerful thing we have: education. The more a person knows, they more likely they are to be able to succeed through any struggles. Teachers who are not motivated or have given up because of the lack of pay, will not go beyond to teach students. They will just give them book work and send them on their way. In turn, letting down students by just letting them pass by, without learning much of anything.

Second, these underpaid teachers are teaching our future doctors, scientists, whatever. In order to continue to advance in science and technology, we must have students who are able to understand advanced concepts, and who want to understand and learn about those subjects. They also need motivation and inspiration to encourage them to enter into those types of fields. Teachers who are not paid highly may just decide that it's not worth the trouble to continuously come up with interesting projects and assignments that would encourage students to want to learn more. If teachers decide to teach the minimum requirements, they will be letting down these students, and our future. If students are not motivated enough to go into those types of fields, there will soon be an even greater shortage there.

Also, the small pay may discourage people from becoming a teacher. Being a teacher is a lot of work, regardless of the grade level being taught. From teaching first graders how to read their first words, to teaching seniors how to write a college level paper; or from teaching a student to add 2 apples plus 3 apples, to teaching trig. Every level is difficult, and if a person is all ready struggling for money, they don't want to get into a career that will always leave them just short of comfortable. Currently, most teacher teach because they truly love the job. Soon those teachers may start to retire or leave for better paying jobs. What if there are no more people who desire to teach? There is already a huge shortage of teachers. If a person has a choice of teaching at an okay pay, or doing something else at a good or great pay, they will probably choose the second job.

Less teachers, doing more work, becoming frustrated and leaving. Endless cycle. This is the future I see in Texas education unless something is done to compensate teachers.