What’s wrong with the education system

Dear Readers: Today’s SOUND OFF is about declining educational standards. — Heloise

“Dear Heloise: This will be my last year of teaching because I’m entering another profession. In the 12 years I taught school, I noticed that education begins in the home with parents demanding good grades and not settling for poor performance. In fact, our whole educational system needs an overhaul.

“They have taken away a teacher’s authority and respect, and lowered our educational standards, which is why students in this country rank so low in math, science, geography and world history. Let dedicated teachers design a new curriculum and set educational standards, and you’ll see a very positive change in our schools.” — B.H. in Oregon


Dear Readers: Got an old, chipped coffee mug? Here are some uses for it:

* Place it on a desk and fill with pencils and pens.

* Use to scoop out laundry soap.

* Use to put dirt into a pot when planting.

* Plant herbs in it and place on a kitchen windowsill.

— Heloise


Dear Heloise: The phone scam artists are back. People get a phone call from someone claiming to be from their internet server, informing them that they have spyware on their computer or that they have detected malware, none of which is true. I verified this with three different carriers, and they all claimed they do NOT call people and tell them they have found a problem with their computer. It’s just another way scammers take your money and do nothing for you. — Nessa C., Elk City, Okla.


Dear Heloise: So many women destroy their jewelry because they don’t remove it before doing their housework. Silver jewelry will tarnish if it’s exposed to rubber gloves, vinegar or eggs. Gold is damaged by mercury and some cleaning chemicals. Alloys in gold and soldered areas are weakened by chlorine. — Brooke L., Syracuse, N.Y.


Dear Heloise: There’s no genteel way to put this except to say that I have four tomcats (all neutered) who have been spraying inside my house! The smell is getting to me, even though I scrub my floors and walls constantly. Any hints? — Bridget S., Rumson, N.J.

Bridget, a temporary solution is to use equal parts of vinegar and water to clean the affected area. But you need to start with why the cats are peeing or marking territory in your home. Are there health issues with your cats? Dirty kitty litter? Too few potty pans? Are the cats upset over changes or perhaps prevented access to the kitty litter box?

Also, use a black light (available in hardware stores or online) to find the urine spots. Cat urine glows under black light.

You’ll have to find a good enzyme cleaner to kill bacteria and rid your home of the urine scent. Above all, patience is the key. — Heloise


Hints from Heloise run occasionally in Lifestyles. Readers may send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000, fax it to 210-HELOISE, or email: Heloise@Heloise.com. Letters won’t be answered personally.