April 22, 2001
Teacher pay a matter of priority
To the Editor:
The teacher shortage in our state is crippling our children and placing the future at risk.
It is almost criminal that unqualified teachers are permitted to teach someone's child, somewhere in Mississippi, but if it is your child, then it is a tragedy!
There are currently 2,386 classrooms in Mississippi without appropriately certified teachers, according to data from the State Department of Education. They tell us that the other 28,000 teachers in our state are qualified to teach what they are teaching.
The 2,386 uncertified include those with emergency certificates, teachers assigned outside their area of certification and almost three hundred who are just long-term substitutes. Some of those uncertified are adequate, but there are some serious problems.
A not-so-obvious problem is teachers who are properly certified, but are not effective teachers. The reason is this: in many districts, the administrators know that there are no certified and qualified replacements available. Ineffective teachers continue to fail to educate children and somebody, hopefully, will teach them later.
As professionals, we consider it a tragedy that any child in Mississippi is being taught by an unqualified teacher. All children deserve to be taught by good teachers.
The solution is not better buses, better buildings, better textbooks, more testing, or even more staff in the state department. Rather, the solution is competitive salaries for teachers.
If salaries are raised to the Southeastern average, then more and better high school and college students will choose education as a career. Teachers who have left education may return to the classroom. Some teachers may even come to Mississippi from other states.
Do not think that the shortage doesn't affect your community. There are a few districts with plenty of applicants at this time, but very few.
The Legislature has promised us the Southeastern average, but it will not automatically happen. Mississippi has the money. The question is one of priorities.
Mississippi Professional Educators
Gas: Why so high a price?
To the Editor:
Gasoline prices have gone up this week, as we were told they would. People who have traveled to surrounding areas quickly realize that the prices are higher in Meridian.
While supply and market conditions do impact pricing to an extent, our local petroleum suppliers have the burden of responsibility for the price difference. These suppliers have no outside competition in Meridian at this time, so they have the advantage of continuing to build more stations and charging more to pay for the new construction and increase their profit margin.
Other Mississippi locations, such as Quitman, Laurel, Hattiesburg, Philadelphia, Collins, and even the truck stops at Meehan Junction have prices 3 to 35 cents less per gallon than we have in Meridian. If it were not for Dixie, Inland, and Pump and Save consistently having a lower price than the other stations here, we can wonder how much higher the other local suppliers would go.
We are trying to attract businesses and people to Meridian, but higher gas prices than they encountered just down the road do give the appearance that Meridian has a high cost of living. Many do not find that attractive.
Gasoline is a necessity. I implore the local suppliers to please be more considerate of their faithful consumers who must buy locally.
U.S. pilot showed great skill, training
To the Editor:
In reviewing the info published about the collision of the Chinese fighter and the U.S. plane, no mention has been made of the turbulence created by the larger plane. Prior to the introduction of the large
jet transports the turbulence created by a smaller prop transport required only modest separation between the leading and following aircraft.
However, that separation by radar was increased to three miles and the leading aircraft would advise the radar controller that "he was heavy (300,000 lbs or more)" to alert the controller to establish the appropriate separation.
A generation ago, the Air Force was proposing a new and very large intercontinental four-engine jet bomber. North American won the contract and two aircraft dubbed the B70 were built for testing. One of the aircraft was in flight with a high performance fighter flown by an experienced pilot flying along-side for observation.
He inadvertently got too close to the B70 and his plane was sucked into the B70 and both crashed, killing all personnel. A DC-9 was on a training flight near Ft. Worth. At the conclusion of the flight the DC-9 was advised to land South on the north/south runway. As the DC-9 set up on base leg a routine
passenger DC-10 approached from the west and was cleared for approach to and landing on the SE runway. The DC-9 was cleared to fall in behind the DC-10 for also landing on the SE runway. The DC-9 then turned in too close to the larger aircraft, got into its wake turbulence and crashed killing all aboard.
After retiring from the Navy, I went to work for the FAA. I was then sent to school to qualify as captain on the CV-880 and DC-8, both being four-engine transports. My first recurrent training was scheduled to the TWA school on the CV-880. We worked in an area northwest of Kansas City, and on the first flight the instructor pilot advised us to notify him if a 747 was seen in the area.
He explained that a short time before he got in the wake of one and almost lost the CV-880. Should we sight one we would immediately leave the area to be on the safe side.
Those incidents and others of like nature prompted the airline industry to advise the radar controller on the ground to establish the proper separation of landing an aircraft. This was done by the approaching aircraft giving his call sign followed by the word
In the collision of the two aircraft near China, the Chinese pilot made a gross error in judgment by pulling up in front of the U.S. plane. This was compounded when he got in the turbulence around the U.S. plane. Reportedly he struck the left outboard
propeller of the U.S. plane and was then thrown inward knocking off the radome nose cone. This threw the U.S. plane into an uncontrollable dive. The U.S. crew was able to regain control with unbelievable skill, and saved the crew now resting at home.
Charles H. Birdsong
CDR USNR (Ret.)