To the Editor:
Congratulations to your newspaper. I am a daily reader through the Internet. And, thank you, on behalf of the people of Mantenópolis, for the visit Oak Bluffs School's principal Laury Binney and his wife, Marcy. Every city loved the visit of two people of their importance to the Brazilians who live on Martha's Vineyard. Thanks.
Wilson Campos Jr.
Mantenopolis - ES - Brazil
Illegal immigrants take Islanders' jobs
To the Editor:
Why has no one really addressed the problem of how many illegal immigrants are on this Island taking everyone's jobs? There must be 5,000 you can see. They work two jobs and spend their money in their own little stores. It is sad when your kids can't get summer jobs when on school break because of this problem.
What everyone is missing on this point is that it is illegal to hire them. And you wonder why the economy is going down the tubes. Why is the court system not dealing with the problem? Companies are hiring them and are not being fined. Where is immigration services at? Too busy eating doughnuts and drinking coffee. Get busy.
To the Editor:
I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the kind man, Ned Rice, who both rescued my kayak and returned it to me Thanksgiving weekend. It seems the kayak had floated out on a full moon high tide. Each time I venture out, I will be thanking him for restoring my faith in people on the Vineyard.
No wind turbines at the cliffs
To the Editor:
This letter is to express my displeasure and disagreement with the current position of the Aquinnah selectmen in regard to a wind turbine located at the Gay Head Cliffs.
Virtually all Martha's Vineyard advertisements, brochures, web sites, and other tourism materials show a picture of the Gay Head Cliffs and/or Gay Head Light. This area is the most photographed spot on all of Martha's Vineyard. This area looks very much as it did 30, 40 or even 100 years ago. It presents an appealing vista that entices tourists to visit. Imagine how a 300-foot-plus wind turbine would affect all the tourist advertisements from now on. Folks come to this area to enjoy unspoiled views of nature's majesty, not a power plant.
This wind turbine would be one of the most visible structures on the Vineyard. Peaked Hill, the highest spot on the Vineyard, is 308 feet. This tower will be taller than that. It will dominate the entire area. The Gay Head Lighthouse is 51 feet high. This wind turbine would be more than six times higher than the lighthouse. All photos will now be dominated by a wind turbine instead of a 300-year-old historical structure. It will change the character and appeal of the area forever. The cliffs are a National Landmark, not something to be turned into a power generation station.
The town of Aquinnah has some of the strictest building height restrictions on the Vineyard, 18 feet in the cliff area. These regulations are in place to prevent the town vista from being marred by houses popping out of the landscape, but a wind tower, that will be visible from much of the town, is acceptable? Can you imagine the outrage of a homeowner, and taxpayer, who is told that they can't put a second floor on because of height restrictions but a 300-foot tower can go up next door? The town should be prepared to defend itself on this one. Tricky language to differentiate a tower of more than 32 feet from other structures violates the spirit of the height restrictions.
Some folks have attempted to make an economic case for the tower. If it is pure economics, why not just line up a row of towers along the Moshup Trail? Surely that would generate even more revenue for the town. The economics of the Vineyard are tied to the tourist trade. Many folks who call the Vineyard home would not be able to do so were it not for the dollars that tourists pour into the local economy. The shops at the cliffs are already dealing with the effects of a decrease in the number of tourist busses stopping by. Changing the character of one of the most scenic places on the Island will only have a negative effect on the tourist trade. Tourists come to Aquinnah to see the cliffs and the lighthouse, not a wind turbine six times higher than the lighthouse. Wind turbines are not tourist drawing cards. I believe that a wind turbine located in that area will have a negative impact on the economic earning power of the residents of Aquinnah, specifically the Wampanoags, many of whom rely on tourist dollars.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission and the residents of the town of Aquinnah have made great efforts to ensure that the character of that area will not be spoiled by tall buildings. Please do not let the recent zeal for wind power undo all the good that has been done over the past few decades.
Choosing the Charter School
To the Editor,
I write to comment on your reference to the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School student body in your Nov. 29, 2007 Editorial, "Expensive Education."
In paragraph three you write, "In fact, when contrasted with larger mainland school systems, Vineyard public education is a bit unusual, in a couple of respects. For one thing, with the exception of the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School, whose services are directed at a self-selected, small - about five percent of the total Is/and school enrollment - part of the school age demographic, the school system's job is to deal with the needs of the widest possible range of children."
If by "self-selected" you mean to say that the students and their families select the Charter School, you are correct. We provide a public education option to the children on the Vineyard. In fact, our enrollment is at an all-time high and there are more than 100 students on our waiting list.
If, however, by "self-selected" you mean that the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School selects the students it enrolls, you need to be corrected.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Charter School Law states in Section 89 (I) "Charter schools shall be open to all students, on a space available basis, and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, sex, ethnicity, Special need ...." The Charter School Law states in Section 89 (n) "If the number of students who are eligible (Island residents in the case of the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School) to attend and apply to a charter school is greater than the number of spaces available, then an admissions lottery, including all eligible students applying, shall be held to fill all spaces in that school from among said students."
Since the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School opened in September 1996, it has been necessary for the school to hold an admissions lottery each year as the school has had more applicants than spaces.
The school is proud of the achievements of its students, pleased with the tremendous support it receives from its families, and humbled that such a diverse group of Islanders, representing a wide range of Island culture, tradition, and achievement, have enrolled their children and grandchildren in the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School during the school's first 12 years. The school is looking forward to the next 12 years In continuing to serve the Island community as a viable public school option for Island families.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond to your Nov. 29, 2007 editorial.
Robert M. Moore
Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School
Students need music
To the Editor:
If it were proven in study after study that students who enroll in a certain type of class consistently score higher on math exams, earn higher grades across the curriculum, and have lower dropout rates, you would think that our schools would be doing everything in their power to make the study of that subject more accessible. Well, the subject that can boast these statistics is music, yet at the high school we are, for some reason, making it increasingly difficult for students to study music.
As an elementary school music teacher, a parent, and a taxpaying citizen I am deeply concerned and very unhappy about the cuts to the music program at the high school, including the possibility of laying off a music teacher. I appreciate that there is only so much money to go around, and I recognize that there are mandated expenses that make the high school budget especially tight this year, but last week's front page article on the subject left me very unsatisfied as to the justifications being used to further cut the already minimal music program.
I do not want to get in a debate over music versus sports here, because clearly both are absolutely crucial to creating well-rounded successful human beings, and I am a big supporter of both, but the observation that more students are involved in sports than music and so that is why the cuts should be made to the music department is deliberately misleading and logically flawed in the extreme. If there were sixty some-odd "music coaches" brought in after school all year long to engage students in advanced musical training in every possible style using state of the art instruments, there'd be a lot more students taking part in music, too! But as it stands now, the kids can't even get into the music classes that are available. Like I said, I am an elementary music teacher and I cannot even begin to estimate the number of times over the past few years when I have had former students get up to the high school wildly excited about the music program they have heard so much about, but then come back - sometimes in tears - and tell me that they were either unable to get into the music class they wanted because there wasn't enough room, or that the high school schedule was designed in such a way that there is simply no mathematical way they could take a music course even if they could have gotten in. Of course music numbers are down if kids are being turned away. It sounds to me like the high school needs more music teachers, not fewer.
One final point: It is my belief that music is an integral part of the human experience, and so the study of music should not need to be justified via its association with any other academic discipline, yet it is relevant to point out here that the study of music has been repeatedly and inarguably proven to promote higher-level thinking and increased learning across the curriculum, at every grade level. That is why the No Child Left Behind Act specifically defines the study of music as part of the "core curriculum," right alongside math and science and English. That may surprise some people, but it is a fact. Clearly the requirement that we test students in English and math has caused some to think that the study of music (and, one assumes, every other subject taught in our schools beyond Math and English) is some kind of frill, but it is not. The study of music is an absolutely essential pathway to learning for many many students, and given its status as a legally defined core academic subject, we have the right as citizens and taxpayers to demand that high-quality music education remain available to every child that asks for it. While I am not seriously expecting that the high school actually hire more music teachers during this time of fiscal belt-tightening, it is absolutely unconscionable to use this as an excuse to further gut a program which has already been stripped down to the point where it is unable to serve the interest that exists.
Please let your voice be heard on this topic, lest the voices of even more students be silenced.
To the Editor:
I am writing to express my thanks to Mona Rosenthal and everyone at Outerland for providing a much needed outlet for young children on the Vineyard. Each month through the summer and fall, Outerland created Family Dance-o-Rama which was a place for children to dance, move and listen to music, not to mention eat an affordable and delicious dinner. There are not many establishments that realize families need a place where kids are welcome and celebrated. Looking forward to a new series of Dance-o-Ramas in the spring.
To the Editor:
Heartfelt thanks to all who helped with my fundraiser on Nov. 17. I can't properly convey my appreciation for your support. Particular thanks to Eleanor and Harry and the Agricultural Society, Kevin Ryan and Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank, Money Shot, Richie and Jim's Package Store, the dozen or so friends who helped set it all up and break it all down, and, of course master of ceremonies and primary encourager Trip Barnes - "Vanna" - too. Wish me good fortune in Florida this year, and maybe we'll do it again in the spring.
Hope and good cheer
To the Editor:
On Nov. 28, Oak Bluffs celebrated its Annual Tree Lighting. And, once again it seemed to be bigger, brighter, and warmer than ever.
From start to finish, which at best is 45 minutes, the message was hope, good cheer, and an abundance of grins from ear to ear. The tree, donated by Jardin Mahoney, was spectacular and the Vineyard Haven Brass Ensemble created a caroling mood that was perfect. Selectmen chairman Kerry Scott, with the able assistance of Ms. Combra, and at the playing of "Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree", threw the switch to a hefty chorus of oohs an aahs.
The celebration continued at the Arcade Game Room, with an upbeat musical rendition of popular holiday songs by the StingRays, plenty of hot chocolate served by several cheery volunteers and enough red felt reindeer antlers atop little ones' heads to provide Santa with a cheery welcome.
His arrival aboard an Oak Bluffs fire truck caused quite a stir. Youngsters of all ages were eager to catch a glimpse of the jolly guy as he greeted the crowd, wishing all a merry Christmas. He thanked the gathering for their gifts of food for the Island Food Pantry, which his helpers loaded onto the truck, and off into the starry night he flew.
And so, another traditional tree lighting is history and, thanks to the many participants, a good time was had by all.
A special thanks to the Oak Bluffs Highway Department for all their good work in lighting our town, to the PTO parents who baked cookies and brought the children and food donations, to the Friends of Oak Bluffs for red velvet bows all over town, to the Vineyard Brass Ensemble and the StingRays for giving us such great music, to the Oak Bluffs Fire Department for bringing Santa, to Jardin Mahoney for the tree, to Mark Crossland for our tree-lined harbor, to the Arcade Elves (led by Robin) for their gracious hospitality and hot chocolate and to all the folks who came to celebrate the holiday and special feeling of community that an event like this brings to us all.
Oak Bluffs Association
No compassion for turkeys
To the Editor:
I was so upset about Janet Hefler's article concerning the killing of the turkeys. What can be done about this merciless torture toward animals? Don't they suffer enough in factory farms, roads, circuses, etc., without killing the ones that are lucky enough to be free? What makes people like Ms. Hefler and Nelson Sigelman have such a lack of compassion for life?
Mr. Sigelman, don't shoot the turkeys
To the Editor:
I am 13 years old and visiting the Island. I love animals, including the turkeys. They are beautiful animals and are only trying to survive in the world. Some are severely injured or have broken legs or deformed claws, which makes it difficult to search for food. Some have difficult walking. Nelson Sigelman says there are too many turkeys, so you think you need to shoot them. There are too many people, also. Will you shoot them, too? Can't you find something better to do with your time?
Stop the killing
To the Editor:
It was so upsetting to read your article regarding the killing of the turkeys. I am 10 years old and a vegan. There is plenty of food to feed the whole world, if people like you would stop killing animals.