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Letters to the Editor

God Bless America

We received numerous letters supporting Dan Kinnaman's opinion in his November column, "God Bless America." This letter is representative of that sentiment.

Just a note to let you know how much I appreciated your November column. My family and I are proud to support your excellent message about the appropriate balance between the freedom of religious expression and the separation of church and state.

Joe Burks Assistant Superintendent Jefferson County (Ky.) P.S.


We received several letters about Gary Stager's November column, "Question Your Policies." Most of them were critical of the columnist's opinion that cell phones should be allowed in school. Here's an example:

How long has it been since you taught in an elementary school or high school setting? Ever? You suggest that when students enter a classroom their teacher could politely ask them to turn off their phones. Should the teacher remind them of this everyday? Do we expect our young people to comply with such a request when so many adults do not do so in public places?

It is true that our schools should be safe places, but I cannot think of a single reason why students need to carry cell phones on campus. Most schools now have phones in every classroom and other rooms. The majority of staff members carry cell phones that they could use in case of emergency.

As for your example of your daughter wandering a dark locked campus at 10:30 p.m., I suggest two things. One, drama practice should be held at a more appropriate time. Two, you or another responsible adult should be there to see to her safety. That is your responsibility if she chooses to participate in afterschool programs. Don't try to drop everything in the lap of her school.

R.G.Stinnett Glendale, Arizona

Getting Personal

As a superintendent, principal, teacher and father, the decision to keep your child at home for another year is understandably difficult ("Getting Personal," November 2001, p. 9). However, I applaud the decision by you and your wife to give Ethan another year before kindergarten. I had the same decision a number of years ago, but under pressure, made the opposite decision. How I wish I had the decision to make again.

"He did just fine," but was less mature than some of his classmates, and it took him until his senior year in high school to come into his own. During that senior year he made a perceptive comment about his maturity level as it related to his success in school. He stated that if he had started school a year later his confidence level would have been much higher.

This came from a young man who knew nothing about the heated arguments between his mother and I over this very subject.

Thank you for sharing your decision.

Duane "Boomer" Wright Superintendent Mapleton (Ore.) School District

Cheatin' Hearts

I enjoyed the article on cheating ("Their Cheatin' Hearts," October 2001, p, 32). It is, of course, one function of a library media teacher to monitor and teach about copyright laws, plus teach kids how to footnote and create bibliographies. We should not expect completely new ideas from our students, but we can expect them to use their own words and give credit where it is due. However, these are skills that must be taught before we have any right to punish students for violations. The divide between ideas, words and plagiarism is not easy to determine for students, and is as much ignored by professionals as anyone else.

Thanks for the good work.

George Pilling Library Supervisor, Visalia (Calif.) Unified S.D.

At-Risk Support

I read your article "Beyond the Little Red School House," (October 2001, p. 50). I thought [Beth Kanter] was right on with all [she wrote] in the article. I am an administrator and teacher at ASPIRE High in Beresford, S.D. We have been in existence since 1990. We have been going strong since, but recently budget cuts have forced administrators to halt the referrals for at-risk students. Tomorrow, I am speaking to our cooperative school superintendents. I am using [this] article to make a few points about the cost effectiveness and the plain effectiveness of alternative schools. It is sad that we have to keep reminding people that there are alternatives to the "normal" way of doing things.

Keep up the good work!

Quint Pease ASPIRE High Beresford, South Dakota

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