Letters to the Editor: June 30 – July 6, 2011

Berlin Tribute Perpetuates ‘Myth About Our Schools’


Your words about Lois Berlin perpetuate what many call “the myth about our schools.”

Lois Berlin has created the most hostile and dysfunctional special education environment for teachers and parents of bright students who learn differently. Until I did a FERPA request in 2009 and read the emails of the “professionals” that work at our schools, I thought we were a community and I was part of an educational team.

Not so. Lois has created a twisted and destructive “us vs. them” mentality in our upper schools. When I sat in meetings discussing ideas about how to help my child, I thought these ideas were actually being considered. Instead, the emails revealed, it was more on the order of “what school board policy can we find to turn her down and who can we get to tell her? ” What a waste of time. And time is money.

Lois Berlin is responsible for the environment that enables staff members to feel so comfortable and safe maligning children in emails, (written while we pay them to work.) Emails look like inappropriate banter between middle school students not a conversation between the adults entrusted to care for our children. This is Lois Berlin’s character. This is her impact.

Ms. Berlin herself stated in an email about one of my requests and I quote: “I’m torn between not wanting to give them their way and not wanting to torture someone new.” So there it was from the top – the attitude that having to be in a room teaching my child or working with me as an advocate was going to be torture. This attitude was conveyed to staff that I had never even met – staff that had never met my child rising from the middle school. This attitude filtered all the way down to my children and has impacted their experience; access to the delivery of their accommodations; programs they needed, the support they required and the education they deserved and my access to teachers and the school buildings I fund.

This is the legacy of Lois Berlin.

Alison Kutchma

Falls Church


Urges Continued Use of Center By Easter Seals


Monday night, I attended and spoke at the Falls Church City Council meeting regarding the debate over the future of the Easter Seals Child Development Center. My daughter Maria is five years old, and represents a small section of the CDC, as a child with special needs. She was originally my foster daughter, and we finalized our adoption just last year. In her short life, she has battled high risk cancer, lung disease, immunosuppression, hearing loss, gastroparesis, and numerous social and developmental delays. She has spent over 350 days in the hospital, had more than 10 surgeries, and over 30 emergency room visits. She uses a feeding tube for eating, is on oxygen at night, and has 10 daily medications. She is just as bright as any child, and uses words like “physiologically incapable.” She loves to dance and sing, knows her numbers and letters and can spell 50 words.

Maria’s diagnosis of cancer at four months old was shocking. The fact that 15 daycares would not even consider her because she was medical special needs was outrageous. The fact that she was “too advanced” for the public school system but “too high risk” for private daycare was disheartening. The fact that other families may potentially go through what we’ve been through and have no options is appalling. If Easter Seals Child Development Center is closed or forced to relocate, the probability that other children like Maria, who have excellent potential but just “don’t fit in” anywhere, will not receive any early childhood education is tremendous. The day that Easter Seals said yes to Maria was the day that I knew my child would make strides unlike any that she could have made at home. It was the day that I knew my child would receive loving care, would work through her fear of other children, and would find a place where she belonged.

I urge the city of Falls Church to please consider all of the children, especially those children served by Easter Seals who cannot be served elsewhere, when making a decision about the long-term future of the CDC.

Lora Jackle

Falls Church

Butch Goff Hailed for Work with City Youth


Every organization seems to have a “jack of all trades” and our little city has had Butch Goff. Once you got to know Butch, he became a friend, a big smile and a moment to talk. For the City, whether it was mulch, green areas, signs, Butch got it done. But in the accolades last week, one big item was missing. The courts gave Butch the job of supervising “community service” sentences from the juvenile court system. Those of us who got to know Butch under those difficult circumstances — for parents — got to know another Butch. The boys were given in to his care — never saw any girls in his care from the court — and he worked them hard.  Butch showed them the dignity of hard physical labor, and he never berated them for being in community service. He treated them with dignity. Butch seemed to love this part of his job. Anyone who went into his office saw his bulletin board, on which he proudly displayed news articles of the accomplishments of some of the boys he had had in his care. He was rightly proud of the part that he played in their successes. I will never forget the many days my son came back from spreading mulch in 100 degree temperatures — covered with mulch dust and smelling of mulch and sweat, but proud that he had done the job. I occasionally have run into Butch over the years and always from him there is a a hearty “hello” and “how is your son?” Butch cared. What more could a parent want — or a city or a court for that matter? Enjoy your retirement — which you have been threatening for many years — you have earned it.

Name Withheld By Request

Falls Church


Goff Praise in FCNP Is Well Deserved


In last week’s paper there was an excellent tribute to Butch Goff which was well-deserved.

I want to add that his father was also deserving of our praise for all he gave to the City.

Dorothy Eide

Falls Church


F.C.’s Goff Deserves to ‘Relax & Enjoy Life’


I enjoyed your article regarding Butch Goff and his retirement and yes, he deserves his chance to relax and enjoy life.

As a resident of Falls Church, I never got to know him personally but in my many encounters seeing him on the road, at various events and just in general, I can say he was 100% gentleman and always seemed willing to lend a helping hand.

Also, as a long-time retiree (16 years), I can also say: “Butch, may God bless your retirement.”

Len Rinaldi, Sr.

Falls Church


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