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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 23, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas Page 6A — Herald-Zeitung — Saturday, June 23, 2001Forum Contact Managing Editor Margaret Edmonson at 625-9144 ext. 220. Letters Policy Nkw Braunfels Herald-Zeitung New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852; New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890. The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958. Doug Toney, Editor and Publisher Margaret Edmonson, Managing Editor Jo Lee Ferguson, News Editor (830) 625-9144 Editorial- Student participation fees another sign of school finance problems Anyone with doubts about whether Texas’ school finance system is messed up should have been at New Braunfels Independent School District’s meeting Tuesday. Trustees are being asked to assess participation fees for students who want to take part in extracurricular activities, such as athletics, band, debate and drama. The reason for the fees: Increasing costs for fuel and maintenance and repairs to band instruments. As these costs get higher, the district’s tax rate creeps closer to the state cap. The current maintenance and operation rate is $1.48 per $100 valuation; the state cap is $1.50. District administrators recommend a $50 fee for athletic participation, $20 fee for using district-owned band instruments and a $15 fee for transportation. Students who qualify for the National School Lunch program would have their fees waived. Lee Edwards, vice president on the board, proposes charging a $25 fee “across the board,” with a $75 cap per family. A separate fee of $20 still would be charged for students using district-owned band instruments. NBISI), like other school districts, is finding itself between a rock and a hard place by trying to balance students’ needs for extracurricular activities against the increasing costs of providing those programs. In the end, the ones hurt the most by the student participation fees will be the poorer students who mights#* qualify for the school lunch program, but still struggle to cover the costs for equipment, uniforms and clothing. State legislators did little to fix these very real problems facing school districts and their students during the most recent legislative session, and they won’t get the chance to make things right for another two years. We hope NBISD trustees can find other ways to cut costs so that these fees will not be assessed against students trying to enhance their education by participating in extracurricular activities. Today in History - Juneteenth: Remember those still in chains (Editor’s Note: The Black Heritage Society of Comal County is celebrating Juneteenth today at Banda Haus in Banda Park.) On June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas to announce to Texas slaves a bittersweet truth — they had been set free, but their freedom actually was granted by President Abraham Lincoln two and a half years earlier. Today, “Juneteenth” is celebrated in cities all across America with parades, picnics and play. But thousands of miles away in Sudan, the longest running civil war in the world is taking place and other Africans are being enslaved. The adversaries are the Sudanese government, dominated by Islamic Arabs in the north who are warring against and contributing to the enslavement of Sub-Saharan Black Africans in the south, a minority consisting of persons of Christian and indigenous religious faith. More than 2 million Sudanese have been killed during this conflict of tremendous religious and racial persecution. Secretary of State Colin Powell, in discussing Sudan has said, “I believe there to be no greater human tragedy on the face of the earth.” What has fueled this tragedy more than anything else is oil. More than 200,000 barrels of crude are produced in southern Sudan daily. While that represents less than 3 percent of the world daily crude consumption, the $500 million annual revenue from crude sales earned by the Sudanese government gives it an enormous advantage of resources and power. Further, the search for Michael Williams crude is driving the fighting further into southern Sudan. As new oil fields are discovered and infrastructure developed, even more Southern Sudanese are driven from their homes, killed or enslaved. American companies have been prohibited from doing business in Sudan for many years. However, this past week the U.S. House of Representatives took an even bigger step toward using American influence to end the abhorrent relationship of crude oil production and misery in Sudan with the passage of H.R. 2052: The Sudan Peace Act. The act, which was co-sponsored by such diverse Texas Congressional Members as Dick Armey (R) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D), passed on an overwhelming vote of 422-2. It provides $10 million in humanitarian aid and prohibits any foreign oil company from raising capital on U.S. stock exchanges for the purpose of extracting Sudanese oil. Currently, there are four foreign oil companies that are active in Sudan. They should not be able to access funds from American investors that will be used to prop up the Sudanese government’s assault against its own people. Much to its credit, the Texas teachers’ pension fund had already divested its interest in Canada’s Talisman Energy, one company operating in Sudan. If history has taught us anything at all, it is that for economic sanctions to really work members of the world community must join together. South African apartheid eventually collapsed under the weight of the rejection and cooperation of much of the industrialized world. The Bush Administration is well advised to use all diplomatic resources available to strongly encourage the nations with oil operations in Sudan from further activity. The history of oil production includes grand stories of boomtowns, the automobile, the education of millions of youngsters and the creation of household products like fertilizer, perfume and compact discs. It should not be sullied with the horror of modern-day slavery. As we remember on Juneteenth those Texas slaves who learned of their freedom two and a half years after they were emancipated, let’s also remember those who are currently enslaved in Sudan and pray that their deliverance won’t come too late. (Former Gov. George W. Bush appointed Michael Williams to the Railroad Commission in December 1998. In September 1999, he was chosen by his colleagues to chair the Commission. Williams was elected statewide in November 2000 for a term expiring in 2002. He is the first African-American in Texas history to hold a non-judicial statewide post and the highest-ranking African American in Texas government.) Write 'Em By The Associated Press Today is Friday, June 22, the 173rd day of 2001. There are 192 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On June 22, 1940, during World War ii, Adolf Hitler gained a stunning victory as France was forced to sign an armistice eight days after German forces overran Paris. On this date: In 1868, Arkansas was readmitted to the Union. In 1870, Congress created the Department of Justice. In 1911, Britain’s King George V was crowned at Westminster Abbey. In 1938, heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis knocked out Max Schmel-ing in the first round of their rematch at Yankee Stadium. In 1944, President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill of Rights. In 1945, the World War II battle for Okinawa officially ended; 12,520 Americans and 110,000 Japanese were killed in the 81-day campaign. GOVERNOR Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 P.O. Box 12428 Austin, TX 78711 (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE SENATORS Judith Zaffirini PO. Box 627 Laredo, TX 78042-0627 12702 Toepperwein Road No. 214 San Antonio, TX 78233 (210) 657-0095 Fax: (210) 657-0262 Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Ste.720 San Antonio, TX 78209 (210) 826-7800 Fax: (210) 826-0571 STATE REPRESENTATIVE Edmund Kuempel PO. Box 911 Seguin, TX 78155 (830) 379-8732 Fax: (830) 463-5896 COMAL COUNTY JUDGE The New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung encourages letters on any public issue. Tile editor reserves the right to correct spelling, style, punctuation and known factual errors. Letters should be kept to 250 words. Also, an address and a telephone number, which are not for publication, must be included for confirmation purposes. Preference is given to writers who have not been published in the previous 30 days. Mail letters to: Letters to the Editor clo Herald-Zeitung P.O. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax: (830) 606-3413 e-mail: [email protected] Danny Scheel 150 N. Seguin Ave. New Braunfels, TX 78130 620-5501 Fax: 608-2026 MAYOR Stoney Williams 424 S. Casten Ave. New Braunfels, TX 78130 608-2100 Build our future by modernizing schools, hiring more teachers This past week in Congress, accountability emerged as the predominant theme as the House of Representatives debated and passed HR I, the No Child Left Behind Act — a comprehensive measure that would provide necessary federal funds for important elementary and secondary education programs. While I support greater accountability and voted for this bi-partisan bill, quality education requires more than programming dollars. We continue to need key investments in school infrastructure to ensure that our students are learning in safe facilities with the most modern resources and technology- Unfortunately, the Republican leadership, despite the lip service it gives to improving education, has failed, yet again, to provide funds for vital school renovation and construction pro-CIRO D. Rodriguez jects. Once more, we have missed the opportunity to bring our older, dilapidated schools into the new century. There is no doubt that our public schools urgently need help in obtaining funds to repair and construct classrooms. According to the American Institute of Architects, one in three American schools is in serious disrepair or suffering from extreme overcrowding. A recent study by the National Center for Education Statistics (NOES) reported that approximately three-quarters of schools needed $127 billion for repairs, renova tions and modernizations to put the schools’ current buildings into good overall condition. The congressional General Accounting Office found similar need in its most recent reports. For these reasons, I have joined several of my colleagues in signing a discharge petition, a legislative maneuver which forces the House of Representatives to immediately consider HR 1076, the America’s Better Classrooms Act. This bipartisan measure, which has the support of nearly 200 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors, would provide $25.2 billion in zero-interest school modernization bonds to local school districts around the country. Under this legislation, Texas would be eligible to receive nearly $2 million for local school construction projects. HR 1076 was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, where it was blocked from further consideration by the committee’s leadership. As our student population continues to rise dramatically in South Texas, we must work to improve our education infrastructure to avoid a school construction crisis. When asked how they could possibly oppose a measure to put a safe roof over our children at school, the House Leadership tells us that the $6.8 billion cost is just too much. Yet, they had plenty of money to provide nearly $2 trillion in tax cuts favoring the most wealthy, but now, none for our kids. How is that we have $357.6 billion in tax “relief’ for the top I percent of filers, whose average annual income is in the $700,000 range, but none for school renovation and modernization at one-fiftieth of the cost? Despite what President Bush promised us, tax cuts have again been placed ahead of important national priorities. Clearly, children in dilapidated schools are being left behind. We should all be troubled about the priorities of the current Republican leadership. Despite some of the achievements made during consideration of the No Child Left Behind Act, the failure to address class. size reduction and school modernization remains a serious shortcoming which I hope is addressed during the House-Senate conference session. As we re-examine our commitment to education, we must focus on the issues of modernizing our schools and reducing the high teacher-student ratios. Until we do this, we fail to be truly accountable to our children and their teachers. (Ciro D. Rodriguez represents District 28 in the U.S. House of Representatives.) ;