Overspending on the military

As expressed in his recent letter in the Times, Jerry Collins holds the mistaken belief, as do too many people, that the United States is spending too much on foreign aid.

Data from the New Priorities Campaign indicates the federal discretionary budget proposed for 2013 (not including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt) provides 1 percent for foreign aid and 57 percent for the military.

Pentagon spending has been growing for more than a decade, while other programs have faced cuts. And the United States now accounts for 42 percent of the world's military spending -- as much as the next 14 countries combined.

New priorities resolutions were passed unanimously by the city councils of El Cerrito, Richmond and San Pablo in 2012. Residents who testified pointed out that investing in nonmilitary sectors creates more jobs than Pentagon spending.

Putting people back to work is one of the best ways to reduce the deficit. Readers can send this message to Congress and President Barack Obama by signing a petition at www.Jobs-Not-Wars.org.

Betty Brown

Kensington Brown is co-chairwoman of East Bay Peace Action.

Teacher's abuse was atrocious

Revelations of child abuse in the Brentwood school district are atrocious.

Dina Holder, a 52-year-old teacher, knocked a 5-year-old autistic child out of a chair, kicking him several times. The principal, district superintendent and assistant superintendent failed to notify Child Protective Services and the police; they consider the incident an internal matter for discipline.

When the parents found out a week later, they notified the police. Holder was later charged with a misdemeanor, moved to a different school and allowed to teach special needs children again -- despite having a history of such incidents, including duct-taping a child to a chair.

When asked why Holder wasn't fired, the superintendent said it's a complex issue. Really? If a child or parent did that to a teacher, the police would be notified instantly.

The principal and superintendents must be terminated and Holder must be stripped of her credential and fired.

Laws must change, making such behavior a felony rather than a misdemeanor and should include stiff penalties for administrators failing to protect children from predatory teachers such as Holder.

Schools are here for children's benefit, not a source of employment for abusive adults.

Paul H. Radliff

Brentwood

Stop publishing sports section

Since I'm not a sports fan, I'm requesting the Times stop publishing the sports section. I'm sure you could find something else more relevant to print in its place. Why should I have to look at all the pictures and stories glorifying these overpaid, professional athletes?

Sound preposterous? My request is really no different from other requests I've read on your opinion page lately, where writers are complaining about Mallard Fillmore and Thomas Sowell, and demanding you stop publishing them.

When the left-leaning populace doesn't agree with something, they always find it necessary to impose their will on everybody else (whether we want it or not). If somebody criticizes something the left favors, they generally respond with: "If you don't like it, don't do it."

I've been setting aside the sports section for more than 30 years, and I've managed to skip over Doonesbury, Maureen Dowd and Leonard Pitts without crying out for their removal from the paper because I understand there are people who actually like them.

So, to those folks who feel it necessary to censor anything that doesn't agree with their point of view, I'd like to say: "If you don't like it, don't read it."

Glen W. Jones

Antioch

Children are now less valued

I enjoyed your recent front-page article about declining birthrates in California. The causes cited for declining birthrates are all true.

However, another cause of people putting off having a family, which was not mentioned, is that children are not valued by society as they once were. Many people of childbearing age would rather spend their time and money on themselves.

There have always been pressures about finances and fear of the unknown. This generation does not seem to have the grit to put off personal gratification and enjoy the pleasure of having a family.

My wife and I have modest means, but have raised a family through sheer determination. It is too bad many people of this generation don't seem to feel likewise.

Bill Parnelli

Pinole