I have been visiting the Akron Zoo since 1980, and over the years it has become one of the finest zoos in the country. Each time I visit, I am astonished by how it has grown. I remember being there in 2009 to help kick-off the campaign for its Conservation Carousel and being blown away then by the improvements. The hard work has continued to bring a world class zoo to this community.
I was honored to meet so many zoo supporters at my recent appearance at the Akron Civic Theatre in support of the zoo’s most recent expansion, the Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge exhibit. Grizzly bears are one of America’s most iconic animals, and the plans for your new residents look incredible. I can’t wait to see the grizzly bears, red wolves, otters and bald eagles on my next trip to Akron.
At the heart of every zoo’s mission is education, and the Akron Zoo is no exception. It is not good enough for zoos to just provide state-of-the-art exhibits and conserve these wonderful species without educating people about them. It was evident that your zoo’s staff, leadership and supporters share my enthusiasm and passion for education.
The Akron Zoo has flourished under my dear friend Pat Simmons’ vision and leadership. Like Columbus, in the early years, Pat and I both struggled to keep our respective zoo’s doors open. But we shared a philosophy — the zoo has to be a source of pride for the community and a great place for animals and the visitors — and it paid off.
I have admired her work and value her insight and dedication to your zoo. Last year Pat’s leadership and passion were recognized across the country when she was elected to be the chairwoman of the professional organization for zoos, Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Akron Zoo has been accredited by the AZA since 1989 because it adheres to the highest standards set for every aspect of a zoo — including animal care, education and conservation.
Folks, zoos are only as good as the people who visit them and love them. Thank you for supporting such a valued resource for some of the world’s most endangered species. I am so proud of the Ohio zoos and our leadership among zoos worldwide.
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Mistaken about the gun vote
In response to the April 29 letter headlined “Representatives of the NRA”: The writer said, “I would like to require that those who voted against registration and think everyone is entitled to an assault weapon are forced to view an autopsy of a victim who died due to their pressured vote.”
There are so many things wrong in this short sentence. First, the vote in the Senate had nothing to do with registration. It would have required all firearms sales to go through a federally licensed firearms dealer, so a background check of the buyer could be completed. Nowhere in the bill did it mention firearms registration.
Second, a bullet fired from a so-called assault rifle does not do any more or less damage than that same round fired from a hunting rifle chambered for the same round. So an autopsy of an “assault-rifle” and hunting-rifle wound would be identical.
As to people thinking they are “entitled” to an assault rifle, most law-abiding gun owners do not feel entitled to anything.
My suggestion to the writer would be to do some research on a topic he wants to spout off and sound concerned about. With all due respect, ignorance of firearms does not qualify him to be involved in a decision that only affects law-abiding citizens. Criminals do not participate in background checks when they buy a gun on the street.
New definition of the basics
An April 26 letter suggesting education return to the basics (“Back to basics in Coventry schools”) is shortsighted.
Our world is no longer simple or basic. Once upon a time, not so very long ago, our public education system was focused on preparing our workforce. A child was encouraged to learn the “three Rs” as background to enter the world as a factory worker or some other uncomplicated job.
Those jobs are evaporating. Our new world requires tech-savvy citizens who can compete in a worldwide market. My grandchildren are light years ahead of where my generation was at their stage. Nor do I believe Coventry schools has a significant dropout rate. I do believe the nonresident students can add diversity and broaden horizons for the entire student body.
I do not live in the Coventry district, but I fought this same battle for the Chippewa school district. Sadly, I failed to convince a sufficient number of voters that it was a great opportunity for our community, and our levy went down in defeat. Our two buildings that would have been combined in one location continue to house classes. And continue to be antiquated and energy inefficient. We owe it to our children to prepare them for the new world. It’s the American future.
Barberton schools deserve support
I have had the honor to work in Barberton High School for the past three years as part of a collaboration team from the University of Akron. I teach my Methods of Teaching of English class at Barberton where my university students, training to become high school English teachers, work in partnerships with Barberton English teachers.
My university students are mentoring high school students on the basics of reading and writing. My students are in the high school every day. Also, I am on site to supervise and help with the curriculum along with the Barberton teachers. This year we expanded to the social studies content area, and we hope to continue to expand at Barberton as we envision more collaboration with Barberton schools.
Our ultimate goal is to showcase Barberton as a model collaboration site so that other schools and universities can replicate the project. This collaboration, which provides daily one-on-one tutoring for Barberton students, has no cost for Barberton or the University of Akron. It is free.
I so admire the Barberton school district. It is extremely well run with beautiful facilities. The teachers we work with are willing to help us for the benefit of their high school students. The teachers get no additional pay. They do it because they believe the collaboration provides strong educational support for their students.
However, the collaboration is facing challenges. As a result of the reduction of teaching staff, it is almost impossible to meet. Even lunches are now rushed. I cannot envision what more reduction in force would mean to the quality of instruction we are attempting to deliver.
The collaboration almost came to an end this year because my cooperating teacher was laid off because of cutbacks, even though she had five years of experience. Fortunately, my teacher returned in September because of a resignation, but it was very close. This teacher has been recognized as an outstanding teacher, and she is dedicated to Barberton.
Barberton residents have a wonderful school system, and no matter what happens as a result of the election on Tuesday, the professional staff will continue to do its best to educate the children and teenagers of this community. I will continue to provide the collaboration if possible.
But decline in education is slow and may eventually be irreversible even with the best efforts of professionals working as hard as possible. I so believe that one of the best features of the city of Barberton is its schools, and I have witnessed the daily excellence on behalf of the community. Barberton has wonderful children and they deserve the best possible educational experiences available.
However, I fear for the day when the Barberton schools no longer have the resources or staff to provide the quality education so necessary to survive in our complex world.
I know that the community will support its school system as it has in the past. The results of the support are obvious in the state rankings, and for me, obvious every day I am in the schools with the outstanding efforts I witness. I am honored and feel fortunate to be a part of the Barberton educational community.
Distinguished professor emeritus
University of Akron
Perception of crime
I enjoyed shopping trips to Rolling Acres Mall. The mall closed down when it was abandoned by a public that perceived Rolling Acres to be unsafe — this during a period when, as I recall, there had been two murders in the Chapel Hill Mall area and none at Rolling Acres.
On Sunday, the Beacon Journal reported: “Summit poll finds crime is rising concern.” The same article reported total crimes are down 12 percent from the first three months of 2012 and all of 2011.
I wonder: Will Summit County in general and Akron in particular resemble Rolling Acres after being abandoned because of perceptions that are not supported by official law enforcement crime statistics?