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No religion can dictate public school curriculum



Published: Tue, February 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



No religion can dictate public school curriculum

EDITOR:

I am in complete agreement with the recent letter "Religious right trying to scuttle science standards," which appeared in the Feb. 11 Vindicator. As a free society, we should consider those views carefully, especially in light of recent events.

Last September, we were attacked by religious zealots who believe they have the right to dictate one view of the world to everyone. They have gained control of some governments through sheer force of will. How are these things similar? They are not, yet.

It seems to me, in our system of government, a person gets an idea, slavery is wrong, let's say. Slowly he or she gets others to see their viewpoint. After many years, still more folks being convinced, we finally abolish slavery. Public schools are government institutions. If a religious sect could find a way to have "intelligent design" become part of the curriculum in Ohio, though it is based on belief rather that science, in time, what other governmental agencies or policies could be changed?

I am not equating the religious right with the Taliban. However, I worry about their acquiring too much political power. This could be the crack in the door a power-hungry person may just be able, with sheer force of will, to find their way through. Let's keep the door shut by being careful of any statewide curriculum changes we make for our schools. Shouldn't we leave religious teaching to the churches that are far more qualified to teach it than the schools?

I truly believe we must keep our politics and religion separate so we don't create our own Taliban.

CHARLES T. FARRELL

Boardman

Suspending problem kids only makes things worse

EDITOR:

As a mental health clinician, educator and parent, I am striving to understand the utility of using out-of-school suspensions as a routine disciplinary tactic for minor infractions in our local school systems.

Given the positive correlation between school absenteeism and failing grades, aren't the schools, in fact, doing an injustice to our children? Why not sequester the children at school and inundate them with more work and socialization skills, rather than prohibiting them from even being credited with their current work? This inability to make up any work, that occurs while the child is suspended, only results in the child being even further behind his or her peers upon return to school.

It is ironic that the children who end up suspended are more often than not the children who are already having academic difficulties. Thus, children are essentially learning that discipline is equivalent to ostracism and that minor problems can just be sent away. Is this necessary preparation for either the workplace or adulthood?

Children who are having social or behavioral difficulties at school should be afforded the same education and helped to succeed, rather than be set up for failure.

Of course, egregious offenses must be dealt with in a manner that keeps the entire school population safe and teaches the offender that severe conduct violations will not be tolerated and due punishment will be enforced. However, one wonders if the schools couldn't educate minor offenders, rather than aiding in the plummeting of their GPAs and self-esteem by forced school removal?

What lesson is really being learned? In the same way that children learn violence or empathy from their surroundings, so too will children learn to handle difficulty or nonconformity by example. It would be more beneficial to have the school help children get along, than to teach them to deal with problems with an "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy. Only the school administration benefits from this "disciplinary" technique.

DENISE MELE-PERRY

Boardman




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