May 15 Mail: Responses About the Right to Public Education
Rights Can Be Abridged
The Editor’s Note about the Oceanway Middle School case [“Is Public Education a Right?”, May 1] is seriously flawed. In our legal system, individuals who are guilty of serious misconduct can be deprived of “rights” which they would otherwise enjoy. One example: Convicted felons are deprived of their constitutional “right” to keep and bear arms. I applaud Circuit Judge Henry Davis for his courageous decision, which follows both the law and common sense. The victim in this case was left with a fractured skull, which may cause medical problems for the remainder of her life. No other public school student should be exposed to the same risk from a known bully.
Gary E. Eckstine
Is Public Education a Right?
Thank you for bringing up this question. It is one I have been pondering since the birth of my children. It may be a “right” currently, but I most certainly advocate for it being a “privilege.”
I have two normal children, a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old. They have no idea that it's OK to fistfight and hurt others. It would be a complete shock to them, and I am sure they would be fearful in an environment like that. Adults would never work in such a hostile environment. How can we expect children to? I have <<never>> been able to understand that the majority of adults seem to think the kids need to go out there and toughen up. <<What?>> Children are being killed by their peers, or killing themselves out of fear.
All of these bogus ADD diagnoses and drugging the children to help them cope with the chaotic environment of public schools. When will we listen? We don't need to drug children and keep trying to figure out what is wrong with <<them.>>
The system is not safe, it's chaotic, it's unhealthy. It needs to change. If the children are acting out, breaking the rules and, most of all, being violent — cracking another's skull? — they should be expelled for life. Oh, and we're concerned they will be incarcerated? That's where they belong. We need to begin by educating parents and protecting children from the many violent and unhealthy environments they are born into. Once they are damaged, we cannot allow them to make school unsafe for my children and those of parents who are doing a good job and raising <<peaceful>> children. That young lady and her friends should be expelled without a doubt and sent to a rehabilitation center. We have to protect the children.
I am in fear of my girls going to public school out of financial necessity this year. But I would go on welfare and homeschool before I will allow them to be bullied or hurt by anyone. Time will tell.
Teaching Distracted by Discipline
The court of appeals reversed Circuit Court Judge Henry Davis’ injunction barring a student from Duval County Public Schools, but an ongoing dialogue about student safety should continue for the sake of students and their families.
According an American Federation of Teachers survey, 17 percent of respondents lost four hours or more of instruction each week due to disruptive behavior in the classroom. This means many educators spend a minimum of 19 out of 180 days playing police officer instead of teaching.
It would be safe to say that there is no college of education graduate who wishes to go into the field of teaching to waste important time on behavior problems. This may help explain why approximately half of all new teachers quit within their first five years. They end up tempering the educational theory that they learned with the daily reality of students who disrupt the classroom.
Teachers are not the only ones heading to the exits. Families are increasingly aware of their education options. They choose private, charter, parochial or home schools because they often see a public school system that is painfully ill-equipped to protect their children from harm. They believe the public schools are willing to compromise general safety to protect the rights of a few whose behavior is reckless and harmful.
The fact that a judge stepped in and felt it necessary to ban a student from attending any public schools in the district is a serious indictment of a school system that has its challenges assuring the community that it can be trusted with their children. He intervened because there's an apparent need for justice in Duval County Public Schools to ensure the world-class education that they were elected to provide.
John Louis Meeks Jr.
Is U.S. the Greatest Country?
Is the United States truly the greatest country in the world?
First, let me say I love this country and do not have any desire to leave, but I was just reflecting recently and wanted to share some of my observations.
Do we Americans have more personal and civil rights than many other countries? Yes, no doubt. We have the right to criticize our government. The right to a fair trial. The right to get mad at something or someone and walk into a gun shop and buy a pistol or assault rifle and take justice into our own hands. We have the right to be poor and allow the government to provide food, housing, etc., for us and our families. Plus other rights.
Let's talk about our government. It is a democracy rather than a dictatorship, communist [country] or others. Democracy means that we the people elect a person or persons from our local area or city to represent our wishes and views regarding how this great country of ours is governed. Unfortunately, this is broken and the rest of the world is looking at us now and wondering why democracy is supposed to be a good thing.
I think maybe we need an overhaul of our Constitution. I mean each state gets two senators and X number of representatives based on the population. That means there are 100 members in the Senate and 435 members in the House of Representatives, and a majority of these people have to agree before any legislation or law is passed. You know how difficult it is to get a local School Board or City Council to agree on anything — and we're talking about a lot fewer people with smaller egos. I’m thinking one senator and one representative from each state, and that's still 100.
The other thing we should do is have electronic voting. Certain legislation or new bills should be decided directly by the people of the country and not by our elected officials. How can an issue like background checks for firearms have a 90 percent approval rating by citizens and yet get voted down by those representing those citizens?
What about our education system? Do we have the greatest education system in the world? No. In many major areas, like math and science, we are way down the list — behind many countries we would describe as small and less fortunate than the United States. Why is this? Could it be that we adults have become too “busy” to be parents for our children? When is the last time you spent an hour or two observing in your child’s classes? When is the last time you volunteered to be a chaperone on your child’s field trip? When is the last time you actually reviewed your child's homework? When is the last time you talked to your child about his friends and what they like to do together? Remember, sometimes it's the little things in a child’s life that make the biggest difference. It's not the number or value of gifts or presents we buy them. No, all they want to know is that you really love and care for them — and believe it or not, money cannot buy their love.
Is our future hopeless? No. Can we do something about this mess we've let our country slide into? Yes.
If this article has made you stop and think of ways you can begin to make a difference, then there is still hope.
Let’s all go make a difference!