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An important challenge

Re: Springfield embroiled in charter challenge (Sept. 6). Hurrah for the charter challenge by New Directions Inc. on behalf of Manitobans with disabilities.

As a retired town and rural planner, I know how exclusionary zoning can be and how random some of the definitions are. But my point is simply this: residents of the rural municipality of Springfield who have disabled children of any type would be up in arms if schools or parents of mainstream children objected to the inclusion of disabled children in our education system.

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Over the last 30 years, these same parents have fought and advocated for inclusion, yet when the child is through school, they become deviants, criminals or a threat to similar children following behind. It's absolutely unacceptable.

It's time that all neighbourhoods accept and realize that these are real people with real problems but they contribute in so many ways to making our society whole.




Grade inflation

In his Sept. 4 column, The folly of 'no-zero' policies in schools, Michael Zwaagstra could have also mentioned that this is just another variation of the multitude of grade-inflation procedures that abound in both public and private school systems.

They usually originate in education faculties or departments and are embraced enthusiastically by school trustees to promote high graduation rates.

Grade inflation is utilized in numerous ways. Among them: awarding bonus marks for good behaviour or attendance; excessive use of retests and group work; toleration and even encouragement of plagiarism; dilution of course content; and the adoption of curriculums that downplay the learning of skills in order to facilitate soft marking procedures.

The no-zero policy fits the pattern perfectly because it's justified by the claim that achievement should be measured only by what the student actually does, not what doesn't get done. This is like saying a person's credit rating should be based strictly on the bills he pays, not those he misses.

Like open-area classrooms, new math, whole language, mainstreaming, and social promotion, to name a few, the no-zero policy was instituted without being adequately tested to prove it led to improved learning. As a result, it's a safe bet it will join its predecessors on the scrap heap of education reform.




Food for thought

I wonder what Blue Bomber security is going to do when Rider fans show up for Sunday's football game with watermelons on their heads. Will this be considered bringing in outside food? Something tells me security will let this go, though I hope not.




Preventing abuses

Does Chris Buors (Too much regulation, Letters, Aug. 31) seriously believe that the market crash of 2008 would have been averted if only there had been fewer regulations in place?

The U.S. Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 was enacted to prevent the very abuses that were responsible for the 1929 crash as well as the 2008 meltdown. Aside from establishing the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, it forced a separation between commercial and investment banking.

It allowed the Federal Reserve Board to oversee bank lending and investment to prevent undue use of speculation. However, starting in the 1960s, the provisions were slowly eroded until they were finally repealed in 1999 via the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. By the early years of the new millennium, the banks were pretty much left to their own devices.

Buors would, it seems, also like to end all labour laws. Presumably this also includes those preventing child labour and those regulating workplace safety.




Regulating radiation

Re: Schools should be wired (Letters, Aug. 28). The reader who wrote that Israel, Russia and even the U.S. are taking a second look at radiation levels from WiFi and other devices speaks the truth.

You should also know that as of Sept. 1, the safe background levels of microwave radiation in India were reset to 1/10th of Canada's safe levels. In France, an entire city has removed its WiFi from every school due to the health effects on children.

In my school district, Simcoe County in Ontario, we have seen an increase in heart abnormalities among children since the installation of WiFi in schools. An unusual number are wearing 24-hour "halter" monitors because their cardiologists can't figure out why their little hearts beat so fast in school.

A Canadian scientist has published independent research that shows the 2.4 GHz signal from WiFi causes this exact symptom. We have also had four kids in the district suffer cardiac arrest while at school since WiFi was installed.


Collingwood, Ont.


Appraisers are unbiased

Mike Holmes's Sept. 1 article, Appraising the appraiser, criticizes the appraiser without having seen the house and goes on to say that the "appraiser the bank hired couldn't support the loan."

In truth, the appraiser's professional and ethical responsibility is to provide an independent and unbiased assessment of the value of the subject property. While the homeowners in the article may be disappointed in the outcome, it does not mean the appraiser was wrong.

The valuation process takes into account a number of elements, including the physical characteristics of the dwelling, interior/exterior finishes and systems, the quality of the improvements, as well as any deficiencies or impairments. Market conditions and comparable sales are two of a number of key factors inherent to the process.

Contrary to Holmes' assertions, construction skills and knowledge are fundamental to the training AIC members receive and our continuing professional development programs regularly focus on new and emerging construction practices.


Appraisal Institute of Canada


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 8, 2012 A14


Updated on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 2:40 PM CDT: adds links

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