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Keep teachers accountable

In his opinion piece, teacher Neil Dempsey lays out his argument that he and his fellow teachers should not be held accountable, going on to claim that accountability itself is "dangerous" (Re: Teaching to tests fails to give students real education, July 3).

Imagine a job where workers receive a salary and benefits from the public purse with no accountability required.

The problem with our education system is reckless teachers like Dempsey who teach our children that they don't have to answer to anything or anyone -- that there are no consequences for our choices and actions.

His argument posits that there are no meaningful metrics that can accurately measure teaching performance, and summons the evil American boogeyman, citing their mistakes, to scare taxpayers into his line of thinking.

Anything worth doing has outcomes that can be measured; conversely, anything that has no measurable outcomes is neither worth doing nor of any value to society.

Teaching efficacy can and should be measured, and teachers held accountable. The good ones should be retained at a premium the market demands and the bad ones fired with haste.




Guaranteeing minimum income

The guaranteed minimum income idea is long overdue -- capitalism has not brought about the level of wealth or high standard of living for everyone in society (Confab touts guaranteed minimum income, June 30).

A guaranteed income for all would level the playing field and properly provide financial resources for those who don't have enough, or aren't capable of participating in the labour force.

Governments should love it -- a guaranteed minimum income ensures more taxpayers are spending money, which in turn feeds the economy and benefits us all.

Mark Quigley



PUB report insightful

While it will take time to consider all the conclusions of the sweeping, 300-page Public Utilities Board report, one point is worth highlighting right away -- that we should not use natural gas to generate base-load electricity in Manitoba (Hydro gets green light for Keeyask dam, July 3).

Some commentators have suggested natural-gas generators are a better idea for Manitoba than hydro dams, and that we should take advantage of the natural gas in the southwest corner of our province.

The best use for our natural gas is to replace coal in electricity generators, particularly in the U.S. Replacing coal with natural gas cuts greenhouse-gas emissions, and developing our gas for export will create just as many jobs and just as much economic benefit as consuming it domestically.

We need to move toward a fossil-free future, not away from it. Adding natural gas to our electricity-generation mix would be a big step backward.




Finally, some common sense regarding the conservation of energy in our province (PUB urges Hydro out of efficiency business, July 4).

Manitobans have long thought that the fox should have vacated the henhouse years ago.

The Public Utilities Board's statement should have read that an inherent conflict of interest "does exist" rather than "may exist."

What is needed, sooner rather than later, is a concrete plan to change Hydro's mandate permanently. Then, we should support real changes in our everyday efforts to conserve electricity and reap the benefits on our hydro bills. Hopefully, as a positive side-effect, we will contribute to a healthier environment for us all.

Manitoba Hydro should welcome this separation of responsibilities. While they're at it, they should remove the wind turbines from their promotions -- we all know there was never a commitment there.




In Bruce Owen's article Hydro gets green light for Keeyask dam (July 3), it was encouraging to read the PUB is insisting Manitoba Hydro go back to the drawing board and develop a stronger business case before proceeding with the Conawapa dam project. Equally encouraging is Hydro's apparent willingness to take the required time to do so.

It's paramount that Manitoba Hydro adopt strategies that will ensure careful and controlled growth of its infrastructure. Only in this way will it be able to move forward as the successful Crown corporation that it needs to be in order to benefit Manitobans in the years to come.


Business manager, IBEW Local 2034


Manitoba's shameful roads

Having just returned from an extended long weekend in Minneapolis/St. Paul, I couldn't help but marvel at the design, construction and maintenance of their transportation network.

High-speed freeways and traffic corridors with overpasses at every intersection all but eliminate the constant interruption in traffic that comes with traffic lights and "controlled" intersections. My fuel consumption was almost 30 to 40 per cent lower on average versus driving in Winnipeg, where "stop and go slow" is the main theme.

The main corridors are given speed limits that encourage a rapid and safe level of travel. Not once during my stay did I feel that the limits were too low which, sadly, is a daily occurrence in our hometown.

The Twin Cities have embraced the effective, efficient flow of traffic as a priority. The infrastructure budget is not optional as it is in Winnipeg; rather, it's an investment.

Our civic and provincial politicians/planners could learn something from our neighbours to the south. Perhaps we should stop conducting more studies and send them to witness what a successful transportation network actually looks like.




The roads in Manitoba, and Winnipeg in particular, are a disgrace. Due to the atrocious condition of the roads, I have damaged a wheel rim on my car from hitting a pothole and have had to replace two axles on my travel trailer at a cost of $1,800.

My wife and I just returned from a trip to northern North Dakota and Minnesota. The soil conditions and temperatures in these two states are the same as in Manitoba. Why, then, are the roads in these two states in way better condition than the roads in Manitoba?

There are virtually no potholes in any area that we travelled -- except in very rare cases, the roads are smooth.

Something needs to be done to improve the roadways in Manitoba or else we won't have tourists returning to our province or our city if their vehicles are damaged.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 7, 2014 A8

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