Don’t get carried away lengthening kids’ time in school
Re Gov. Cuomo’s and Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s proposals for lengthening the school day, and school year [Jan. 12]. How would they like someone to tell them that their job will now be extended 300 hours a year?
What are they thinking? These are children we are talking about, our children. Don’t we get any say in this monumental decision that will affect our kids, as well as our families?
As a mother of four boys, with a background in education, I speak from experience when I say that children need time just to be children. They shouldn’t have every waking moment regimented. They are not miniature adults, nor are they computers to be programmed.
This proposal would be an infringement on our family time.
Also, children can only absorb so much in a day. They cannot be expected to keep pace with an adult schedule that even exhausts us! Have so many in the education system forgotten what it’s like to be a kid? How long can they expect to keep a 6-year-old’s nose in a book? Should children be coming home when it’s near dark, with little time to play before dinner, homework and bed?
Some parents may like this idea because they would not have to pay for a babysitter. But the schools were never meant to replace the home for the main job of raising kids, which belongs to the parents! I believe that schools could do more to get parents and extended families to participate in their children’s education. Studies show that the best way for a child to learn is not so much what is “taught,” but what is “caught.” That’s why parental involvement is so important.
For those unfortunate enough not to have the backing they need from home, extra help can be supplemented in after-school programs. My son stays after when he needs extra help, and that is fine; but staying extra time should not be mandatory.
As far as summer vacation goes, voluntary enrichment classes are great, but many children use the extended vacation time to go camping, visit relatives, get valuable work experience, take family vacations and find other interests. How can they be expected to concentrate in a stifling hot classroom during July and August?
In the school district I live in, most of the kids do well and have no problem on their test scores. I know that many people would agree with me when I say that too much emphasis is being put on those tests, and not enough on our children’s overall development and well-being.
I haven’t even mentioned how much this would all cost, but I shake my head at the thought.
Second Amendment be damned, ban all guns
In my opinion, there is no entity more directly responsible for the tragic shootings at the Newton, Conn., elementary school than the National Rifle Association.
The key element in this tragedy, as it was in the tragedies at Virginia Tech, Columbine, etc. was, and is, the easy access in our society to assault weapons and semiautomatic weapons of all sorts — especially handguns; access the NRA has lobbied in favor of for decades. These weapons have no purpose other than the destruction of human life, and there is no justification for any private citizen to own them.
As to the ridiculous invoking of the Second Amendment as justification for citizens owning these weapons, I view this amendment as anachronistic in our present society. Citizens should have the right to own non-semiautomatic rifles for hunting, but ownership of all other weapons, including handguns, should be prohibited by a revision of the Second Amendment.
Do gun proponents really believe that the only thing that stands between us and the takeover of our society by a despotic government is our right to own Bushmaster assault weapons? That notion is utterly and totally absurd.
So what should be done? The only effective way to dramatically reduce killings such as occurred in the Newton elementary school is to outlaw not just future sales of semiautomatic weapons, handguns, etc., but their very possession. That would require the government to initiate a mandatory buyback of these weapons and [impose] truly stiff penalties for those who did not comply.
As noted in the Jan. 6 Viewpoint by Steve Keller, Australia had the political will to do just that after a mass killing in 1996. Since then, Australia has had no mass killings and firearm homicides dropped 59 percent. It works!
Can we do that here? Sadly, I fear not. The NRA is too powerful and too pernicious. Still, we should do everything we can do regarding gun control.
Weaver’s message the right one on abortion
Daniel Weaver’s Jan. 13 opinion, “Decision for a lifetime,” was a poignant look at one life saved. He shared a personal story of how he stepped in to give his sister the support she needed to not abort her baby.
Years later, he met his niece, her husband, children and adoptive parents; an extended family that would not have existed had Mr. Weaver’s sister gone through with the abortion.
Juxtapose that with the front-page article, “Change in abortion law under scrutiny,” where Tracey Brooks, president and CEO of Family Planning Advocates, is quoted as saying she is “thrilled” with the news that women can now seek abortions past 24 weeks’ gestation, paving the way for unfettered “late-term” abortions.
Please, learn from Mr. Weaver’s personal story. If you are pregnant and don’t know where to turn, call your county Birthright. If you know of a family member or friend who is distraught over an unplanned pregnancy and is contemplating abortion, step up and offer your help and support in whatever way you can.
Give the mother hope and the baby a chance at life.
The writer is the pastoral associate for Intergenerational Faith Formation at Our Lady of Fatima.
Transfer guards from existing jobs to schools
In media coverage of the “meaningful conversation” our lawmakers have had about Newtown, Conn., I have heard the phrases, “protect our children,” and “if it would save just one life...” I have also heard the ridicule of the NRA’s suggestion that we put armed guards in every school.
May I offer the following idea, since I haven’t heard it in the conversation: Take every armed guard from every courthouse and legislative chamber in the country and move them to as many elementary schools as we can, and don’t publicize where they are.
There would be no spending of money we don’t have, and maybe the “bad guys” would reconsider where and how they will commit their mass murders. This could work unless the “just one life” really just depends on whose life it is.
Gregory P. Hovak
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