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Votes

'F' in Education

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I am an educator with 30 years experience, a registered Republican, and a middle-aged white male who voted for and supported Jim Dillard.

A month ago, I sent you and your campaign manager an e-mail with some information and two questions. The information was that one of your campaign workers was knocking over and throwing signs of your opponent, Mr. Marsden, into bushes along Burke Lake Road. That practice is, of course, illegal, and very stupid. Second, as a Dillard supporter, I asked you two questions. My questions were whether you supported Mr. Dillard in his leadership on the 2004 state budget, and what changes in the state education funding formula you believe necessary to give Fairfax "a fair share" of state funding which you claim in your brochure you "will work for." Mr. Golden, neither you nor anyone from your campaign bothered to reply to my note!

What sort of "representative" does not bother to respond to a direct, individual question from a potential constituent? If you won't answer a question when you want my vote, how can I expect to be treated if you are in office? So, I began checking your claims about education.

Mr. Golden, it turns out there was a very good reson you did not respond to my questions. It it you who are not being truthful with us about your own positions, and Mr. Marsden who is telling the truth! In fact, like a schoolyard bully, you victimize your opponent, all the while claiming it is he who is at fault. Your slick brochures mislead, misinform, and sometimes just plain lie about what you would really do. The facts, I found, are these:

* You would cut the badly needed education budget that Mr. Dillard worked so hard to achieve. You really would cut education funding to Fairfax by more than $50 million! You said so in our local paper, in June.

* You would make teachers re-take the "competency" tests they already have to pass to get licensure. You say so, in carefully misleading phrasing, in your own circular, but rather explicitly in your "Virginia Votes" response. Mr. Golden, you may never have understood the difference between teaching and testing, but actual educators do. It is very, very interesting that you would subject public school teachers to such testing repeatedly, but support using public funds for private schools, and would not ask private school teachers to meet a single such qualification.

* Your alleged "reward" for good teachers is actually nothing but a "pay for test scores' plan. These plans have been proven unworkable all over the country, including here in Fairfax! The only real purpose of such a plan is to appear to provide competitive salaries, while in actuality artificially keeping most salaries low. Worse, you would harm educational quality with such a plan, by penalizing skilled teachers who work with students that are just learning English, or come from educationally and economically disadvantaged families. To claim otherwise, after the experiences we have had with such plans, is to be either a liar or a fool.

* Most appalling for someone who claims to support education, you really have stated that you would vote to abandon the Virginia law making it a crime to possess a gun at school! You explicitly say so in your replies to the "Virginia Citizens Defense League 2005 House Candidate Survey."

No wonder, then, that Mr. Dillard, a solid, responsible Republican, has endorsed Mr. Marsden rather than you! And no wonder you run a campaign of lies and bullying attacks — if you told the truth about your extremist positions, you would not get 25 percent of the vote!

By the way, I asked Mr. Marsden the same questions I asked you. In contrast to you, Mr. Marsden made a personal visit, providing detailed responses and discussion about our points of view. I don't agree with all of Mr. Marsden's positions, but he is willing to respond to and have honest conversations with his potential constituents. Further, he provides details of the real impact of his positions, and his statements to his supporters are consistent with his campaign literature.

Here are your lessons from an actual educator, Mr. Golden:

* If you want to "represent and serve" constituents, do not ignore them, and do not mislead them.

* Do not claim the mantle of educator while advocating plans that would gut educational quality, in Fairfax and the entire Commonwealth.

* Tell the truth.

* Until you learn these lessons, Mr. Golden, this is one real educator who will support Mr. Marsden.

Thomas Bentson

Burke

This letter was sent to the Golden campaign