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The Dallas Morning News dallasnews.

com VIEWPOINTS _ Saturday, October 3, 2009 21A

Immigration
reform is
a moral issue
Time to Honor the
differences
among us
My fellow Republicans, it is time
for us to embrace an adequately
moral solution, says Victor Medina move on? We’re too quick to dismiss
each other out of hand,
says Eric Van Steenburg

S I
ince we are in the middle of Hispanic know how to make half the
Heritage Month, it is the perfect time for we
who call ourselves Republicans to take a Why do we hesitate to forgive public people reading this column
immediately dismiss everything
long-overdue moral stand. Even though I’ve been that I’m about to say. All I have to do
a member of the GOP ever since I had the chance blunders? asks Richard Kyle Lester is state my political leanings.
to vote, I often disagree with those of our party In today’s American culture,

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who oppose immigration reform for our he other day I was watching a rerun of Without a doubt, public officials are placed knowing where someone stands
neighbors in Mexico and Latin America. It is high an old show called Forgive or Forget. on a higher moral pedestal than almost all politically allows those on the other
time for our party, and our nation, to rectify the The basic premise of the now-canceled other working professionals. As Powell side to ignore anything that person
situation. series is to bring on someone who has caused learned, there are serious consequences for says, has said or will say. Suddenly,
Former President George W. Bush took an some sort of conflict with a former friend or betraying the public trust. The ability to move anyone who has an opinion that is
unpopular stand while in office, proposing a relative, hear out their story and then ask the on, however, is what usually comes after different from yours is wrong.
temporary-worker status to address the illegal- person they hurt if they’re willing to bury the accepting those consequences. Forget the facts. Forget the histo-
immigration problem. He also proposed reducing hatchet. We should all be familiar with the rest of ry. Forget discussion, discourse,
the wait time for citizenship to six months. The At the end of the show, a large door to the Powell’s story by now. He resigned under dialogue or debate. Today, the opin-
opposition he faced from his own party is some- left of the stage opens. If the person who was pressure and faded into our memories. ions of one side are categorically
thing the GOP has yet to atone for. hurt is standing behind it, it signifies that they However, he’s now back in the news. Re- correct, and anyone who disagrees is
The issue has become so politicized that we forgive their offender. Sometimes it works out porters found him in the small panhandle just plain wrong. So wrong, in fact,
have lost sight of the core issue: We as Americans and they reconcile, but other times the pain is town of Stratford, Texas, trying to restart his that those on the wrong side can be
have a moral obligation to make the freedoms we just too deep. The heart can only take so career. summarily dismissed without justifi-
enjoy accessible to all. much. The residents of Stratford aren’t very cation.
As an Oak Cliff resident, I, like many others, I’ve often wondered what it would be like if understanding of his past, either. Many have An example. Recently, Gov. Rick
know that the characterization of illegal im- we took the show’s format to a new level and called him a racist or bigot, and most simply Perry made his first comments on
migrants as malevolent hoods who scoff at our placed some more widely familiar names want him out of their city. the possibility that the state of Texas
laws is incorrect. And immoral. Most only seek to against the hurt they have caused. I’m not He lost his job and, even worse, his dignity. executed an innocent man in a case
provide for their families and enjoy a life that talking about famous criminals or divisive It seems as if he can’t even move without the from nearby Corsicana. Perry, a
most of us were blessed to have at birth and now politicians, but something a little closer to media keeping track of him. Bearing that in proponent of the death penalty,
often take for granted. home. mind, is it realistic to think that he might do it dismissed a five-year study conduct-
Oak Cliff is a prime example of how Latino Officer Robert Powell presents the perfect again? I tend to think not. ed by people who know more about
culture can better a community, and yet too many example. The young public servant cemented So if this were an episode of Forgive or arson investigations than he ever
here are forced to live in shadows and fear. We his status as “most hated man in D-FW” on Forget, could I stand behind the door of for- will.
have a moral obligation to change their situation March 18 when he pulled over Houston Tex- giveness for Powell and allow him to move on, In his dismissal of the facts, Perry
for the better. ans running back Ryan Moats for running a to continue policing elsewhere? said, “I’m familiar with the latter-day
Bush once said: “Family values do not stop at red light near a Plano hospital. To be honest, I don’t know the answer. supposed experts on the arson side of
the Rio Grande. … Immigration is not a problem What followed was, by all accounts, one of Powell’s incident with Ryan Moats makes me it.” To punctuate his dismissal, Perry
to be solved; it is the sign of a successful nation. the worst judgment calls in policing history. a wary citizen. made quotation marks with his
New Americans are to be welcomed as neighbors To recap, Moats was speeding to see his But issues such as these warrant more fingers in referring to the “supposed”
and not to be feared as strangers.” dying mother-in-law when he ran a red light. thoughtfulness than I think we generally give experts.
The recession now forcing Americans to re- When Powell pulled him over in the hospital them. Who was Perry dismissing? Just
think our priorities has been a reality in Mexico parking lot, he disrespectfully detained Moats With that in mind, I’d like to ask all of you seven of the nation’s top arson ex-
for years. The situation is so dire that many have for 13 minutes, in spite of the circumstances the same question. If you were a Stratford perts who found no evidence that the
no choice but to come here by any means possible surrounding the traffic offense. Unfortunate- citizen, would you stand behind the door of fire was set intentionally. The author
to provide for families back home. ly, Moats’ mother-in-law passed away while forgiveness for Robert Powell? of the study, a renowned scientist,
Would we not disregard borders to provide for Powell continued his tirade. His defense, in a strongly accused the investigators
our own? nutshell, was that he was attempting to con- Richard Kyle Lester of Fort who handled the case of misreading
Allowing temporary work visas and reducing trol a difficult situation while enforcing the Worth is a public administra- the evidence and basing their conclu-
the wait for citizenship would decrease the num- law. tion graduate student at UNT sions on a “poor understanding of
ber of illegal immigrants, ensure that they pay It’s hard to be forgiving with a story like and a Community Voices fire science.”
taxes and follow the law, and make it easier for this. But that’s exactly what I want to chal- volunteer columnist. His But these seven arson experts
them to integrate into society. It is ironic that the lenge here. e-mail address is pennric30@hotmail.com. dared question a Perry political
concept of life, liberty and the pursuit of happi- belief, so they had to be dismissed.
ness is defined in our Declaration of Indepen- Worse, this week, just days before a
dence as unalienable, yet many today seek to deny hearing was to be held on the case,
those rights to “aliens.” Perry pre-emptively replaced three
My family has called Texas home for four members of the Texas Forensic
generations, and yet they have seen the struggles Science Commission, forcing an
Latinos new to this country have endured. open-ended delay in the airing of the
As a young girl, my mother and her family facts of the case.
moved to a small town near Flagstaff, Ariz. One That sure is a lot easier than
night, their neighbor, an illegal alien who worked having to discuss whether an in-
the nearby fields, came looking for help for his nocent man was executed.
pregnant wife, who had labor complications but My personal favorite dismissal is
had been turned away at the local hospital. The reserved for those who criticize the
wife delivered the baby, a little girl, stillborn at media. Despite scores of research
home. With no other options, my grandfather that has proven otherwise, a majority
helped them bury her at the foot of a mountain. of Americans say the media is politi-
Nearly 60 years later, the situation is better. cally biased. According to a survey
After all, it is illegal to deny emergency care to recently released by The Pew Re-
illegal immigrants. search Center, 74 percent say news
But working toward more positive changes organizations tend to favor one side
should not be a Democratic or Republican posi- or the other when it comes to politi-
tion; it is a moral one. cal and social issues.
Until we realize that freedom comes without This idea of media bias didn’t
strings attached, we do not deserve to call our- become universal until the early
selves Republicans. Or Americans. 1970s, when President Richard
Nixon created the White House
Victor Medina of Oak Cliff is a Office of Communications, devel-
freelance travel and sports writer oped his “enemies list” of anyone
and a Community Voices volun- who disagreed with him, and dis-
teer columnist. His e-mail address patched Vice President Spiro Agnew
is vic@victormedina.com. DEAN ROHRER/NewsArt.com to accuse the media of liberal bias.
The belief in a liberal media
ultimately led to the creation of the
Fox News Channel and an AM radio

Why is our government meeting in a church? dial that is crowded with conserva-
tive communiqués, thus giving
liberals something to dismiss as well.
The ultimate loser in all this
Commissioners Court is especially troubling. place of service in God’s kingdom. too close. dismissing is our country. Instead of
Since 2002, the Rev. Trey Gra- My desire is to persuade followers I would be equally concerned if solving problems collectively by
too cozy with right-wing ham has been the pastor of First of Jesus Christ to live for the Savior the commissioners scheduled one looking at differing viewpoints,
pastor, says Bill Baumbach Baptist. Graham, a social conserva- outside the walls of the church, of their meetings at the headquar- listening to differing opinions and
tive, broadcasts a talk show on a letting their faith guide their poli- ters of any other political group — examining facts from differing sourc-

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s Thomas Jefferson’s famous Christian talk radio station that tics. I believe our county, state and be it the NRA or ACORN. es, we dismiss anyone or anything
“wall of separation between commingles political and spiritual nation would be well served by Graham is welcome to his politi- that doesn’t automatically agree with
Church and State” still relevant themes. having faithful Christian believers cal views; he has a right to them. our pre-determined position.
in modern-day Collin County? For example, a recent program in positions of political influence.” But the county government repre- Perhaps we could learn from
I wonder. featured a discussion of President Last year, the Commissioners sents all Collin County citizens, in President Abraham Lincoln. He
Earlier this month, the Collin Barack Obama’s health care plan Court appointed Graham their all their diversity. filled his Cabinet with people who
County Commissioners Court met and the upcoming race for Texas county “chaplain.” It also paid him It must keep its affairs separate were opposed to him, and America
in special session to hold a budget governor. to moderate workshops designed to from any church. survived its most precarious moment
hearing and conduct other busi- Graham’s blog, Faith Talk, often formulate new mission statements. in its history. Great minds may think
ness. They did not meet in their new includes interviews with govern- You don’t have to be a knee-jerk Bill Baumbach is a
alike — but opposing minds make it
Jack Hatchell Administration ment officials and questionnaires ACLU’er to be concerned that the Wylie resident and
right.
Building. Instead, they went to filled out by candidates for local Commissioners Court is meeting at has previously run
church. office. It also takes a stand in local- First Baptist. It’s led by a political for a seat on the
Eric Van Steenburg
The meeting was held at First option elections. During the last activist who advocates the election Collin County
of Dallas is the
Baptist Church in Melissa. presidential race, Graham wrote of “faithful Christian believers” and Commissioners Court as a Democrat.
former executive
I find the choice of a church several articles praising Sarah Palin who has worked hard to influence His e-mail address is bill@baum
director of the
bach.org. A version of this column
troubling, when there are many and criticizing Obama. policy on local, state and national Friends of the Katy
appeared on Baumbach’s blog, The
other suitable government build- In 2006, Graham wrote on his issues. Trail. He is also a Community Voices
Collin County Observer, www.baum
ings in northern Collin County. And blog: “As a pastor, my calling is to The relationship between this volunteer columnist. His e-mail ad-
bach.org.
I find the choice of First Baptist help others find God and find a church and the county is becoming dress is eric@katytraildallas.org.

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The Dallas Morning News dallasnews.com VIEWPOINTS _ Saturday, October 10, 2009 23A

Gifted kids
In God’s Country
Is Monday’s U2 concert in Arlington a religious revival?
don’t need
more hours
asks Michael Landauer Quality of education matters
more, says Lisa Virgoe

U H
2’s music has great meaning, not just Ten spiritual ey, kids, stay in school!
lessons from U2 That oft-used refrain soon
to me, but to the world. When you
may have new meaning.
say something like that out loud, it 1. “But I still haven’t found what Earlier this month, President Barack
I’m looking for” (from “I Still Obama and Education Secretary Arne
seems like cheesy fanboy gushing, I know. Haven’t Found What I’m Looking
Duncan proposed extending the
For,” The Joshua Tree): Life is a
But a new book by Baylor professor and lay Epis- journey, not a destination; faith is
school day, lengthening the school
copal preacher Greg Garrett has validated my — dare a means, not an end. year and adding Saturday classes.
I say it? — religious view of the band. Their laudable goal is to prepare the
2. “Hello, hello (¡Hola!)/I’m at a
Released in July, We Get to Carry Each Other: The place called vertigo” (From
next generation for adulthood in an
Gospel According to U2, discusses the pressure U2 “Vertigo,” How to Dismantle an increasingly complex world.
endured in the early 1980s. Three members of the Atomic Bomb): Contemporary Is this the way to do it? For at least
band were part of a devout religious group that more life is disconcerting, one group of students, the answer is
or less gave them an ultimatum: You can be in a destabilizing; that is its no. Based on studies I have read, the
world-famous rock band, or you can be true Chris- nature. Don’t expect it to be dropout rate for gifted students is
tians. They believed they could be both, so they left otherwise. between 5 and 20 percent.
that religious community and set out on their own 3. “We get to carry each other” What scourge is stealing so many of
journey. (from “One,” Achtung Baby): our smartest kids? Extreme
Garrett, not a Christian at the time, scored an Our lives are for and with each debilitating boredom coupled with
interview with them in 1982 but says he wouldn’t other. We need each other to be agile minds that can’t let them
who we are called to be.
have asked them about that decision even if he had patiently wait for the end of class. If
been aware of it. “I didn’t want to think about that 4. “The goal is elevation” (from we lengthen their classroom hours,
dimension of their lives,” he told me. “Elevation,” All That You Can’t how many gifted kids are likely to
Leave Behind): We are seeking
A lot of U2 fans feel that way even now. They stay?
transcendence for ourselves, our
appreciate the music. Maybe they even like the social spirits, our world.
To understand how boredom feels
justice themes in the lyrics. But they refuse to think of to these kids, imagine making a
5. “I can’t believe the news today/I
the band as Christian, and they certainly don’t relate school’s fastest runner sit in a chair
can’t close my eyes and make it
concerts or listening to the music to a spiritual experi- go away” (from “Sunday Bloody
next to the track all day, every day,
ence. Sunday,” War): Ignoring the while her teammates are racing past
Some evangelical Christians feel much the same brokenness we see is not an her. Imagine her frustration. Imagine
way, but for different reasons. When Bono embarked BUBBA FLINT/Special Contributor how she’s going to feel about running
option; we are called to bring
on an Africa-themed speaking tour in 2007, Garrett healing and hope, to help after a few days of that. Most likely,
unit had lost. And so on, for 10 or 15 minutes. By the
notes in his book, some evangelicals took him to task. transform the world. she’ll walk off the field and never turn
time the house lights came on, no one had even no-
Who is Bono to tell Christians how they should serve 6. “It’s a beautiful day/Don’t let it back. By dropping out, that’s what
ticed that the biggest rock band in the world had
God? If he were as Christian as he professes, he would slip away” (from “Beautiful Day,” these lost gifted children do. Many of
quietly left the stage.
attend a church. All That You Can’t Leave Behind): the boys leave to get a job. Many of the
Churches comfort the injured and the sick. They We live in a marvelous creation.
But, Garrett contends, maybe U2 is a church. To girls leave pregnant.
feed the hungry. They push us to act on our faith out Pay attention to it.
members of North Texas’ evangelical megachurches But why drop out? Why not just
in the world. And they give us strength when our faith 7. “What more in the name of
— institutions that dominate lives from Sunday tough it out?
is weak. In his book, Garrett shows examples of U2 love?” (from “Pride in the Name of
worship to Friday bowling leagues — that may be Forget stereotypes about gifted
doing all these things. Love,” The Unforgettable Fire):
hard to swallow. And to those who accuse Bono of students. While some brilliant kids
As a Catholic, I’m not going to stop attending Risk everything for love; there is
having a messiah complex, it may seem arrogant. But may read chapters ahead and sit up
Mass, but the U2’s music has gotten me through no higher value. Love changes
what is the mission of a church, anyway? It’s roughly front, many don’t. Some hide at the
some of my darkest times. When nothing else would everything, including us.
the same as what U2 sets out to do at a revival, um, I back or sit with the rowdy kids.
help, the band lifted me. 8. “We need love and peace”
mean concert: “It’s to give you the tools, the energy Keeping one ear on the lesson, they
For the first 10 days that my wife was hospitalized (from “Love and Peace or Else,”
and the inspiration to go out and change the world,” How to Dismantle an Atomic
doodle or goof off, trying to stay
with Guillain-Barre syndrome in 2003, every day was
Garrett says. Bomb): War and cruelty destroy somewhat engaged. Chapters remain
worse than the one before. As I prayed, my thoughts
Maybe that’s why there was reportedly some effort lives and demean the human unread and homework sits at the
kept returning to lyrics from “Beautiful Day” —
to have U2 open the new Cowboys Stadium. A Billy spirit. bottom of backpacks, scrunched up
“What you don’t have you don’t need it now / What
Graham crusade opened Texas Stadium, after all. U2 9. “Sometimes you can’t make it and poorly completed.
you don’t know you can feel it somehow.”
was not touring at the time, but the band will be in on your own” (from “Sometimes Many gifted kids have weak time
My wife recovered, and through it all, we found
Arlington on Monday, and it’ll be my second time to You Can’t Make It on Your Own,” management and organizational
ourselves focused on the mysterious beauty of life.
see them. How to Dismantle an Atomic skills. They often plan projects with
And when things seemed most uncertain, those lyrics
My wife took me to see U2 for my birthday in Bomb): It’s no shame to rely on such breadth that they have no hope of
reminded me that we’re not meant to know all the others. We are made for
2001. They were playing an extended set of concerts finishing.
answers. companionship — especially in
in New York City just weeks after 9/11. During the Bored, disorganized, dinged for too
There’s no doubt that priests, rabbis and all clerics tough times.
encore, as the band played “One,” the names of the much detail and penalized for
— and cathedrals, temples and mosques — all pro- 10. “Walk on” (from “Walk On,” All
victims were projected into every corner of Madison learning too quickly, some gifted kids
vide light for the journey of faith. But music like U2’s That You Can’t Leave Behind): You
Square Garden. Then, as the band played “Walk On,” start believing that their schools don’t
can put the spring in our step. can lose everything but what
firefighters and police officers solemnly marched want them. Add the social challenges
matters most. Don’t despair.
single-file from the back of the arena and took the Don’t stop believing. Don’t stop
of being smarter than peers — and
Michael Landauer is The Dallas Morn-
stage. working for the healing of the some teachers — and too many gifted
ing News’ assistant editorial page
Bono said a few words then handed the micro- editor for Community Opinions. This world. You are never alone. students simply give up.
phone to a firefighter who told the crowd about the column reflects his personal opinion. A University of Connecticut study
SOURCE Greg Garrett, in his book, We
loss of his brother. And that firefighter handed the His e-mail address is mlandauer@ get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel found that 48percent of gifted kids
microphone to a police officer who told of cops his dallasnews.com.
According to U2. who drop out are from homes with
low socioeconomic status. Imagine
how high that number will go if these
kids are forced to spend an extra
couple of hours a day doodling or,
worse, being disruptive.

Social studies is no place for politics The same UConn study found that
many of the gifted students who
dropped out spent less time in
extracurricular activities than peers. If
we lengthen the school day, kids will
Keep partisan agendas laughing stock. READ Blanchette’s is hard to see a personal historical
have even less time for these
The current draft standards in critique that she sent to favorite seemingly disappear from
out of public schools, U.S. history, available for review on the TEA on details of the the textbooks, but that doesn’t mean
programs, meaning more gifted
standards. students will be at risk. For many of
says Sue Blanchette the TEA Web site, establish a firm educationfrontblog
that the ideals for which that person
these kids, their after-school activities
foundation for the education of stood are gone. By giving examples
.dallasnews.com are their lifelines, their sliver of
Texas students. By and large, they that encompass a broader base the
Those who control the past normal life. Increased class time will
provide teachers with clear standards provide students with a
control the future. do more harm than good.
guidelines upon which to build Independence and the Constitution wider view of the world in which they
Those who control the present The idea of lengthening the school
classroom lessons that prepare find their foundations in many live. The favorites are still there, just
control the past. day isn’t novel but a perennial favorite
students to be actively involved sources — the Magna Carta, the waiting for independent research.
— George Orwell, 1984 in education circles. The latest push
participants in American society. Mayflower Compact, the The study of social studies isn’t comes from a venture capitalist who

T
here is a fine line between Are they perfect? No. Democracy Fundamental Orders of always pretty. There are warts in our financed a pair of documentaries, Two
education and is a messy process of compromise, Connecticut, the writing of the nation’s past that should not be Million Minutes. Each film follows a
indoctrination. Social studies and not everyone will be pleased Enlightenment. These should not be glossed over. This country’s few students from the U.S., India and
teachers walk that fine line daily, with all the standards. pushed aside. greatness lies not only in its China through their “two million
determined to open their students’ There are some “fine line” areas sprawling land and dynamic people, minutes” between the end of eighth
eyes to a myriad of ideas while not where personal and political Terminology but in its recognition of the wrongs grade and high school graduation.
allowing their own political or viewpoints can move the standards in the past and the desire of the Both movies emphasize how much
personal opinions to influence the from education to indoctrination. If our students are to compete
nation to right those wrongs. more time Asian kids spend studying
intellectual development of their The State Board of Education needs nationally and internationally, they
Social studies standards that compared to their American
students. It is a formidable task. to tread lightly in these areas. must be cognizant of how the rest of
allow our students to examine all counterparts. But gifted kids don’t
The foundation for this task lies the world thinks. Using terminology
sides of an issue and explore the need to study more; they need to be
in the Texas Essential Knowledge that is considered outdated only
and Skills, the standards provided
Religious influence hurts the students of Texas.
solutions will produce an educated challenged. They need difficult
populace with the skills to lead our classes, not more class time.
by the Texas Education Agency. There is no question that Politically charged terms like
country in the future. Strangle those Can’t we encourage all students to
These standards are currently under Christianity influenced the “conservative” and “liberal” have no
standards with political make the most of their potential
revision for the first time in a development of the United States place in state standards. A standard
partisanship, and education without sentencing our most brilliant
decade, and they have become the during the colonial period. Since the should be neutral. For example,
becomes indoctrination. to detention? To paraphrase another
newest political football for the State majority of the colonists were of teach students to identify significant
president, don’t leave our gifted kids
Board of Education. European origin and since advocacy groups, and allow students
Sue Blanchette behind.
It would be an intellectual crime Christianity was the dominant to see how differences are handled in teaches U.S. history
to allow the personal beliefs of a few religion in Europe at the time, it a free society. at Hillcrest High Lisa M. Virgoe is a
individuals to drive the standards by would be strange if Christianity did School in Dallas and resident of Lucas and
which our students will be taught not play a role in colonization. It was Quantity is vice president of a former Voices
social studies for the next decade. not, however, the only major the National columnist. Her e-mail
Texas should be the national influence. We cannot teach everything. Council for the Social Studies. Her address is
example for sound intellectual The writing of such documents Social studies knowledge increases e-mail address is lmv@purely online.com.
development in social studies, not a such as the Declaration of daily, and choices have to be made. It eagle91048@ix.netcom.com.

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The Dallas Morning News dallasnews.com VIEWPOINTS + Saturday, October 17, 2009 19A

Surprised Slow down
by what and savor
you can get senior year
Students can’t let college
for a dollar admissions consume them,
says Chase Wofford
Maybe kids today know its value
A
ttention all high school
after all, says David L. McClure seniors. I have two words of
advice for you: Slow down.

F
our score and a thousand or so years ago, No, I am not talking about how
I recall scooping up every glass cola you drive, although the advice
bottle in the house and putting them all applies there, too. I want to
in a brown paper bag to return to the store for encourage 17- and 18-year-olds to
some spending money. slow down and enjoy this exciting
I recall that the lady at the counter one time time in your life.
gave me an entire dollar. Really. An actual Sure, I encourage you to study
dollar. My mind raced as I made a list of what I hard and make good grades even if
could buy. Would it be three boxes of Cracker you’ve already been accepted into
Jacks with their special enclosed prizes? A Mad the college of your choice. I am a
magazine? A Duncan Yo-Yo? The possibilities high school teacher, and I expect
were endless. nothing less from my students.
That was so long ago. My, how times have DEAN ROHRER/NewsArt.com But some things I’ve seen and
changed. I walked into a Whataburger the heard have me concerned. I’ve seen

Show
other day. I was meeting a friend and we were some of your fellow students lose
going to sit down and have a Coke and solve the sleep over college applications,
problems of the world. The guy behind the worrying if they will get into this
counter said to me, “That’s $1.72,” when I college or that. And I’m not talking
ordered a small drink. about students who are going to
“Seriously?” I asked in disbelief. It wasn’t need a miracle to be accepted into
even served in a cold glass bottle! To order the their dream school. These are some
big cup —“the urinator” — I would have had to of the very best in the classroom,
apply for financial aid. and if, for whatever reason, they do

your math
A dollar doesn’t buy much anymore. That is, not get into College A, they surely
it didn’t, until one recent day. will get into College B.
I am a teacher, and I keep a small I know, it’s easy for me to say. I
refrigerator in my classroom. I stock it with cold am not in their position, but I was
burpsicola in nice metal cans. A student asked if just 16 years ago. I loved my senior
she could buy one from me. I told her it would year. I enjoyed the process of
cost a dollar. She smiled and told me she’d be by looking for a college, but it didn’t
at the end of the day on the way to her bus. push me to the verge of a mental
Some days go on forever when you teach in breakdown.
the public schools. Too often, you see the ills of Something seems different
society reflected in the behavior of students and
even some parents and co-workers. I remember ‘Innumeracy’ is not something to flaunt today. Too many times I have seen
students totally consumed by the
that on this day I had made the mistake of fear of not getting into a specific
reading the headlines on the computer and or to be proud of, says Julie Lewis university.
learned of a tragic murder-suicide that involved I realize how fortunate I am to

I
some younglings. I picked up the paper instead cringe every time I hear someone say, “I’m on exit signs. Have your child calculate gas teach at a school where students
and read about a local politician that had been not good at math” or “I just can’t do math.” mileage when you fill up the car, or compare value education so dearly. It is
found guilty of padding his pockets with our tax Honestly, how many people would joke price per ounce when grocery shopping to deter- certainly not the case on every high
dollars on his way to Emerald City. They about not being able to read? So why do people mine the best value. Discuss sales tax and how to school campus.
sentenced him to prison, so he’s not in Kansas joke about their math abilities? calculate it. How much are you really saving by My challenge for you, the
anymore. I watched the primetime version of Who shopping on tax-free weekend? overachievers who are visibly
On this night, after football practice was Wants to Be a Millionaire recently and could not By proclaiming you are innumerate, are you overstressed, is to cherish this time
over, parents would be coming in for an open believe the number of people who made jokes sending the message that you cannot add or and simply enjoy the process. No
house. I dragged myself into my room and about their weak math skills. Granted, I would subtract? Are you really saying you have trouble doubt, selecting a college is one of
plopped into a chair to catch my breath before be shaking in my boots if I setting up an equation from a the biggest decisions of your life,
the kids and adults arrived. I was beaten down, were in the hot seat, but can word problem? but it’s a choice involving more than
and I had little or no faith in the world as it was. anyone seriously imagine Society rallies to Everyone can do math to a SAT scores, class rankings and
Then I saw something that lifted my spirits and telling Regis, “I can’t read the certain degree, so why pro- GPAs. Too often, quality schools get
healed my heart. question, so I’ll take my $100 fight illiteracy. Yet no claim that we can’t? pushed aside because they are
Sitting on my desk, folded neatly on a and go home.” one seems to have a Should this trend continue, labeled as not as academically
handwritten note, was a single dollar bill. My Society rallies to fight where will we hear those words respected as others. But you need to
student had come by on the way to the bus and, illiteracy; those who cannot problem announcing next? From our bank teller know that the minute you set foot
finding me absent, she had helped herself to a read have many programs to to the world that cashing our paycheck, insur- on campus, your SAT score and
cold can of soda and then placed her dollar on help them learn. Most illiter- ance agent issuing our claim high school rankings become
my desk. The only one in the room at the ate adults I have come across they are math check, the nurse giving us irrelevant.
moment was this girl and her integrity. hide their illiteracy, going so medication or the mechanic Not every school is Harvard or
There it sat in all its glory. A single dollar bill, far as to lie about their abil-
illiterate. fixing our brakes? Oh, well, I Yale, but all universities provide
lying on the desktop. She had no idea what she ities or to rely on their chil- can’t do math. Ha ha. rigorous, challenging academics.
had purchased for a dollar. She bought a dren to read for them. Yet no one seems to have a It’s a scary thought, but I have heard people in All provide an education that will
truckload of faith from her teacher. She bought problem announcing to the world that they are each of these professions make the innumeracy serve you for the rest of your life.
a boatload of integrity. She purchased all of my math illiterate — or innumerate, as some have claim. I have been quick to question their ability Looking back at my senior year, I
bitterness and then transformed it into hope, started saying. before allowing them to continue with services had a few colleges in mind, but if
and all for the price of $1. I have been a big advocate of parents being a for me. one didn’t work out, I was ready for
It was sweeter than tipping up an ice-cold child’s first teacher. I am privileged to have a We need to hold each other accountable for a backup plan. I considered a few
bottle of Coca-Cola on a hot summer’s day. student for one or two years, but a parent is the messages we are putting out about educa- Texas universities and two
Maybe the world isn’t as bad off as we think blessed with the child for a lifetime. I like to tion. It’s time to start admitting that we are out-of-state schools — Arizona
it is. Turns out, you can still get a lot for a dollar. remind parents that just because students today competent people and that we can do math. State and Alabama. I visited both of
are being introduced in middle school to sub- those campuses and couldn’t say a
David McClure teaches science jects we learned in high school doesn’t mean we Julie Lewis is a /Math Interven- bad thing about either. I weighed
and coaches at Faubion Middle close the door to our influence at home. tionist at Lamar Middle School some options: Palm trees or pine
School in McKinney. He is also Teach your child every day. Have them cook in Irving and a Teacher Voices trees? Road trips to California or
a Teacher Voices volunteer with you and show them how to double the volunteer columnist. Her e-mail Florida? Big city or small college
columnist. His e-mail address recipe, make half a recipe, set a budget, count address is 2txteach- town? Dry heat or humidity? Sun
is dmcclure9066@yahoo.com. back change and understand fractions of miles ers@gmail.com. Devils or Crimson Tide?
OK, there are more important
factors than those, but don’t
overlook these sorts of things. Visit

Americans are handcuffed to their health care a campus and see if it feels right.
You’ll know the second you set foot
whether it is a place for you.
I ended up at Alabama and have
Getting sick derails life accompanied my diagnosis was enough research has been done to through my husband’s company. For never regretted it. I wouldn’t
profound, physically and emotional- establish a clear link between radia- me, it has been a 20-year journey to exchange the degree I received for
longer than some realize, ly. And it had a huge impact on my tion and the acid reflux and esopha- return to an entrepreneurial work one from any other school.
says Susan Dodia career. I became an indentured geal problems I have, or the sinus life. I hope you’ll feel the same way
servant to health insurance. I went infections I started getting about five Of course, I am following the someday. In the meantime, though,

T
wenty years ago, I was back to college to get benefits under years ago, but I suspect they are raging debate on health care reform enjoy your senior year. Go to
diagnosed with Hodgkin’s my father’s policy. I took any medio- related. with keen interest. I don’t know football games on Friday nights. Be
disease, so I can now reflect cre job that had an HMO that would My spleen was removed, so my what I think about all the talk com- loud at the next pep rally, even if you
on two decades as a cancer survivor. I be required to cover me. immune system is compromised. I ing out of Washington. But I do have spent three years thinking they
am happy to be alive. I know I am After five years, I could no longer don’t eat raw oysters or sashimi, know that the American dream, the are a waste of time. Join a club or
lucky. My disease responded well to be excluded for having a pre-existing because a good dose of food poison- ideals of opportunity traditionally group on campus this year, so you
the treatments available at the time, condition, so my job prospects in- ing could kill me. I get the flu shot held to be available to every Amer- can make a difference before you
which is, quite simply, the difference creased somewhat. But I had lost every year and stay current on vac- ican, is out of reach for many people graduate.
between life and death. But I must critical time in my field, and I had to cines for pneumonia and hepatitis. I — not because they lack the talent or Just don’t let the demands of
also acknowledge that surviving stay covered. stay home when I am sick, and I drive, but because they have con- college applications consume your
comes with a price. You see, the bills and the fear resent people who don’t. cerns about their health care. life. You have your entire adult life
I was 24 when I was diagnosed, don’t end with the treatment. As I get a physical each year and stay ahead of you but only one senior
fresh out of college, certain that the time has passed, the frequency of on top of all of my medications, tests, Susan Dodia of year. Tap the brakes, and enjoy the
world was mine to conquer. I was tests and follow-up appointments procedures and routine appoint- Plano is president
ride.
living my dream: working as an has declined. My worries about ments. I go to the dentist twice a year of The Project
entertainment agent, booking bands recurrence have dissipated. But — I had radiation to my jaw, and I Coach, a project
Chase Wofford of
around the Southwest. I was hungry, because of the radiation therapy I want to avoid any problems that management
Keller is the
and I found the entrepreneurial received, I am in a high-risk group might arise. consulting practice, a graduate stu-
journalism teacher
challenge of commission sales to be for breast cancer, so I have mam- After being laid off in January, I dent at SMU, and a Community Voices
and newspaper
volunteer columnist. Her e-mail ad-
thrilling. I was going for the brass mograms and breast MRIs annually. started my own business this year, adviser at Coppell
dress is Susan@theproject-
ring. I take thyroid medication for life, as which I could not have done had I High School. His e-mail address is
coach.com.
The blow to my confidence that the radiation “fried” my thyroid. Not not had access to a good policy bchasew@yahoo.com.

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Sent by: mapuan Opinion BLACK
The Dallas Morning News dallasnews.com VIEWPOINTS _ Saturday, October 24, 2009 21A

The right question to ask is: Where is Spruce High headed?
again. I’m baffled that the people I senior students who thought missing I still hear about negative episodes though. Unbelievably, we inherited
Lori Welch is tired of encounter — many whose only con- 15 days of school wasn’t that big a deal. on the blogs, and I recognize that we the dropout rate from years ago,
people focusing only on nection to education is that they have This will not be the case in Spruce’s aren’t perfect. But I challenge readers ranking us “Unacceptable.” Being the
a student enrolled in a campus far, far future. to name one high school where every family we are, though, we are not
problems in her school’s past away from Pleasant Grove — are The reorganization had to be done. student is on grade-level, rested, fed giving up.

I
was one of the new hires last year confident that they know how the Say what you will about Dallas ISD’s and ready to learn. When you hear that it can’t be done
at H. Grady Spruce High School, school declined. problems over the years, but putting Let me assure you of one thing in the Grove — or any low-performing
where test scores had been plum- I’ve heard from former teachers Spruce into the capable hands of about our Spruce family: It takes a campus — the same way it is done
meting for years and attendance and that it was a mysterious conspiracy to principal Lucy Hakemack and her special dedication to come here every elsewhere, don’t listen. We’re doing it,
completion rates were an embarrass- close Spruce down all along, that it hand-picked staff was a smart move. day to work or to study. If there’s one and we’re done looking backward.
ment. When people I meet find out I was the rapid population shift in the In one year, test scores rose from some thing I do know, it is that Spruce Personally, I am far too over-
work at Spruce, they always ask how Grove, or that somehow the “good” of the worst in the state to some of the teachers come to work here because whelmed with this important work to
that happened. Frankly, Dallas, I don’t students had been sent to other cam- best in Dallas. Even attendance im- they truly love these kids. Otherwise, worry about how it got this way or
know. puses and only the “bad” ones re- proved, now that we’ve stated the they couldn’t take the beating that it is why.
When I tell them so, some people mained. I’m not at all sure about these obvious to the Pleasant Grove com- and just earn a salary and go home,
offer their opinions: It was “adminis- theories, given the resources that went munity: Students who are in class without ever reaching our goal of Lori Welch teaches
tration,” “lack of funding,” “low teach- into keeping Spruce alive last year. every day know more. producing students who solve their French and AP Eng-
er quality” or “a lack of discipline.” I What I do know is that when I first Hopefully, now that test scores own problems and who can make lish literature at H.
don’t know how it happened, or be- encountered Spruce’s few Advanced have come up dramatically, we can their lives better if they choose. This is Grady Spruce High
lieve me, I’d be willing to share that Placement English literature seniors, debunk the myth that Spruce cannot as valuable in the Grove as it is in the School in Dallas. Her
with you to prevent the tragedy of a the “Spruce way” was not working. be run the same way as Blue Ribbon rest of Dallas. e-mail address is loriewelch@gmail
reorganization from ever occurring What I found were some advanced schools. Spruce is not out of the red yet, .com.

All children can be
Dogs in need seen as Balloon Boy
People can make a difference in pets’ lives — We watch them fly, horrified, and there’s nothing we
can do but hope for a soft landing, says Ruth Marcus
for good and bad, says Carey Carpenter
I
n the matter of Falcon Which gets us to Balloon Boy
Heene, the 6-year-old boy as metaphor. The silvery balloon

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he first thing I noticed upon my who stashed himself — or hurtles through the air. It bobs,
arrival was the Kaufman County was stashed by his parents — in sickeningly. A child, or so we
sheriff’s car parked at the en- the attic while a frantic world think, is inside, unseen. There is
trance, screening those entering the thought he was adrift in a home- nothing to do but watch, horri-
complex. I’m not sure who they were made balloon, let us stipulate a fied, and hope for a soft landing.
trying to keep out: the media, the few things: This is the essence of par-
curious community, the owners or That there is something enting. You must send your child
perhaps all of the above. presumptively wrong with peo- out into the world, even though
The second thing I noticed was the ple who name their children you know she is going to get
sound. The cacophony arose with the after birds of prey; that the bruised. There will inevitably be
simultaneous barking of hundreds and Heenes, if this was indeed a the party invitation that doesn’t
hundreds of dogs. The noise began hoax, make Jon and Kate look come, the team that isn’t made,
somewhat quietly, building as cage like Ward and June; that Andy the once-close friend who snubs.
after cage of young puppies excitedly Warhol was right, except his 15 You can’t stop this; in truth, you
joined in the symphony. minutes have stretched to 30 in shouldn’t if you could. In The
Then I saw the vast number of cages the age of cable; that a constitu- Blessing of a Skinned Knee,
in the holding area of a county fair- tional amendment to prohibit psychologist Wendy Mogel
grounds normally reserved for live- parents from exploiting their describes the phenomenon of
stock; they were stacked two high, laid kids on reality TV shows might parents foolishly “trying to
out in row after row with dozens of be in order. inoculate their children against
volunteers focused on puppy care. But all that isn’t what really the pain of life.”
A section off to the side held the interests me. What interests me By treating children “like
maternity ward, where mothers had is Balloon Boy’s flight as meta- we’re cruise ship directors who
just delivered new puppies, or were phor for the process of par- must get them to their destina-
patiently awaiting delivery — some enting. tion — adulthood — smoothly,
with teats that were a mass of mastitis, You might say it doesn’t take without their feeling even the
infections speckling their chests. much to command wall-to-wall slightest bump or wave, we’re
There was an ICU and a quarantine KATHY MILANI/U.S. Humane Society cable coverage, and that would depriving them,” she writes.
section made up of dogs that had More than 500 dogs were rescued from a Kaufman County puppy mill in be a fair point. Any random “Those bumps are part of God’s
bitten the handlers, labeled “fear ag- August. Many were severely matted and suffered from infected wounds. freeway chase will fill up the plan.”
gressive.” time nicely if there is helicopter OK, but did God have to deal
This was my first time to volunteer pered with dark dots. side. I carried her out, but the moment footage available in real time. with a high school freshman?
in an animal rescue. I had offered to fill There was a small, apricot-colored her paws touched the grass, she pan- Yet it is the threatened child, Accepting the plan does not
in for a friend at the rescue of more poodle with hair matted so tightly that icked, dug in her heels and tried to for obvious reasons, who truly answer the harder question of
than 500 dogs and puppies nabbed she whimpered when her fur was retreat back to her cage. She had never grabs our attention: the toddler what freedom to allow when. I
from a puppy mill. Although these touched, as the hair pulled on her skin before experienced the feel of grass trapped in the well, the third- have been experiencing this
animals weren’t starving, neglect was caused excruciating discomfort. underneath her feet. grader snatched from her bed- recently with our newly in-
evident in their matted fur, dried feces, I suspect every volunteer focused in I later learned that a judge gave room, the teen gone missing — dependent daughter. I welcome
body sores, fleas, eye and ear infections on a pup or two who tugged at their custody of the dogs to animal rescue and, as my colleague Eugene this independence, yet I fear it.
and obvious lack of interaction with heart strings. I fell in love with “B-63,” a organizations. The first day the animals Robinson tartly pointed out a Can she get a ride to the restau-
humans. They had been born, raised sweet little female Yorkie whose mats were put up for adoption, a line of few years back, the blonder the rant with the older girls on the
and then abandoned, never let out of on her coat weren’t serious enough to people wrapped twice around an ani- better. soccer team? No. Can she go to
their cages. require an entire body shaving. In- mal rescue building. Families patiently If you are a parent, you know the party at the house of a kid
Veterinarians had already triaged stead, I lovingly bathed her and then awaited the opportunity to offer these — in one of those ways that you she doesn’t know and he doesn’t
the animals, examining and vaccinat- laid her on a table to clip the knots out scared and timid little guys their first try to shove out of your con- go to her school but he’s a friend
ing every dog. They had written metic- of the tips of her fur. chance of real freedom, in homes where sciousness, because there is no of a friend? Not unless she is
ulous notes about each. On almost While working on her, I witnessed they would be loved endlessly, taught to point thinking about it — that willing to submit to the in-
every animal’s papers, the disposition her amazing transformation. She trust the human race and have a “hap- this sort of thing could happen to dignity of having me call the
noted was “depressed.” The hope was visibly relaxed as my hands clipped her pily ever after” ending to a life that you. That no amount of vigi- parents.
that grooming and a bath would put hair and gently and rhythmically ran began so pathetically. lance, really, can shield our The balloon strains against
the pups on their way to recovery. my hands over her soft fur. When I I pray my little “B-63” learns a new children completely from ran- its mooring. You give the ropes
It was impossible to bathe the dogs returned her to her cage, she wagged meaning for normal. dom acts of violence or fate. The some slack. Someday, too soon,
until their matted fur was shaved off, her tail, jumped up a bit and started to ancient branch that falls at you will have to let it float free.
so the groomer had to put up with the play with her cellmate. Carey Carpenter precisely the wrong time. The flu
unrelenting stench. At times, the I made it a point the rest of the day teaches fourth grade that should merely have side- Washington Post
shearing had to be discontinued to to stop by her cage between tasks, and I at Alba-Golden Ele- lined but ends up killing. The columnist Ruth
photograph more neglect when the was always greeted with a lick on my mentary School in tractor-trailer, out of control. To Marcus may be
removal of hair showed a previously hand and a friendly tail wag. Proof of Alba and is a Teacher contacted at
have a child is to know the cer-
hidden skin ailment, infection or flea how scarred these dogs were came Voices volunteer columnist. Her e-mail marcusr@wash
tainty of joy tempered by the
debris so thick the skin looked pep- when I leashed her up to take her out- address is careylynn779@yahoo.com. post.com.
omnipresent possibility of loss.

This country is suffering from the lost art of persuasion
mind. The former is what we get later found spelled out in greater conceivable obstacle to the sale. Being persuasive is hard, because
We’re all choir-preachers from partisan mouthpieces and the detail in the disciplines of classical “It was very rare for a customer to it demands you consider, even if
and opposition-screamers, latter is something of a lost art. The rhetoric. Persuasion is an art. It offer a reason not to buy that I could only momentarily, for purposes of
says Mark Bowden former is easy; the latter is hard. draws on an understanding of not answer,” he said. “If they already argument, you might be wrong. It
Hard, but not hopeless. human nature and a facility for had a vacuum cleaner, this one was requires broadening your mind. To

W
e are living in a time when My first encounter with the empathy, for seeing and better. If they couldn’t afford it, we refute opposing points of view
honest discussion is often basics of this lost art was a man of understanding how the other guy had easy payment plans. You name capably (and winningly) means you
drowned out by the noise my father’s generation who had feels. it, whatever objection they raised, I must first be willing to listen to
of partisan cheerleading. But if your begun his working life as a In political argument this means was ready.” them. To really hear opposing points
aim is to do something more than to door-to-door vacuum cleaner acknowledging upfront whatever This is the hardest lesson for of view, you must make yourself
draw attention to yourself and salesman. I told him that sounded truth or strength there is in an advocates to learn. To persuade, you open to them.
increase your ratings, if your goal is like a very difficult and unpleasant opposing point of view. It’s there. must anticipate and refute There’s a catch here. Sometimes
to actually move the world in your job, knocking on doors and trying to Smart people disagree with you for a objections. It means exposing your you might find that after really
desired direction, I have a new word sell something most people already host of reasons, some of them good. convictions in advance to thorough, “hearing” an opposing viewpoint,
for you: persuasion. had. The worst thing you can do is begin skeptical scrutiny. This is a lot you can’t refute it. Then you must do
It is one thing to give a speech “Not at all,” he told me, as I recall with an insult, as do so many of the harder than making emphatic the unthinkable: Change our own
before a cheering crowd of the conversation. “It was a great job. e-mails I receive after stating an statements of belief designed, mind. Grow.
supporters, to blog or broadcast to … The challenge was turning ‘no’ unpopular opinion. consciously or not, to draw cheers
an eager audience of the into ‘yes.’ I was good at it, and I The salesman next would make from those already in your camp, Mark Bowden most recently authored
like-minded — but it’s quite another learned lessons that have helped me his pitch. My old friend’s company which is what passes for political “The Best Game Ever.” His e-mail
to address someone who disagrees throughout my life.” had done an amazingly good job, he argument for the loudest voices in address is mbowden @phillynews.com.
with you and actually change his The quick lessons he offered I said, of preparing him for every public debate.

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Sent by: jrush News BLACK
The Dallas Morning News dallasnews.com VIEWPOINTS Saturday, October 31, 2009 19A

Just forget the
fancy formulas Big D’s Confessions
of a curious
They do nothing to help administrators
TAG kid
big turnoff
predict teachers’ success in the
classroom, says Mark Harrington
These teaching methods

I
’ve been exposed to educational debate and could be effective for more
discussion since I was a boy. In the 1990s my
father retired after a 40-year career, and my students, says Hailey Sowden
family now has third-generation teachers enjoying the

A
challenges and rewards of the classroom. t my school, TAG (talented and
This is my 11th year in DISD. It is my good fortune gifted) testing started in the
to teach at Seagoville High School, where for the past first grade. The first grade —
three years, my colleagues have elected me as their before most kids know multiplication,
representative to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa’s how to prepare a bowl of cereal
Inside Track Committee. without spilling the milk, or even how
This May, 100 percent of my students passed the to spell the word cereal.
exit-level TAKS, and I was chosen by the National Yet after scoring high enough on an
Endowment for the Humanities to be one of 15 assessment involving an amorphous
teachers from the United States to spend five weeks squiggle and instructions to draw
this past summer studying at the University of London something from it, I found myself
and The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies. whisked away with the rest of the
Yet I recently learned that DISD doesn’t believe newly minted TAG kids to a pull-out
that I am a good teacher. class called “Explorations.”
Unlike some of my colleagues, I won’t be the Now, 10 years later, these kids are
recipient of money that is intended to attract quality BRAD LOPER/Staff Photographer the high-achievers. Every one of the
teachers to low-performing campuses. Why? Because National Merit Semi-Finalists at my
DISD has a remarkable ability.
Yes, DISD has devised a formula that rates teachers City won the parking-ticket battle but lost school is a TAG kid. These are stu-
dents who spend most of their time in
on what students “should” have achieved. The end the company of other TAG kids, under
result of this formula is a rating called CEI — the war, says E. Kyle Steinhauser the instruction of trained TAG teach-
Classroom Effectiveness Indices. While this sounds ers.

I
very scientific, these ratings do not reflect what t’s over. I quit. I persisted as long as I Meanwhile, Dallas insists on scarce and How could a test that most of these
actually occurred. CEIs are no more than numbers for could, but I finally had enough. expansive parking and then wonders why students took in first grade so accu-
those who put their faith in mathematical formulas. I used to roll my eyes at legends of downtown is dead. rately predict future achievement?
Nowhere in the formula are adjustments made for the eternally provincial Amon Carter, the Zina Fernino, a spokeswoman for the Was this fate of high achievement a
human foibles that are beyond the control of the patron saint of Cowtown puffery, who city, said a study done a few years ago in- pre-existing condition within these
teacher. You won’t find a place for hunger and neglect. would only come to Dallas as a last resort dicated that parking demand in Deep kids that was luckily discovered by a
There isn’t a place for the youngster who found out the and who allegedly brought a sack lunch so Ellum was light during the day and heavy test and an attentive teacher, or did
day before a test that she was pregnant and that the he would not have to patronize any Dallas during the evenings, hence the meters and the TAG teaching method instill it in
father was now involved with someone else. The CEI restaurants. But the Cardinal of Cowtown enforcement. She also stated that the en- them? Which came first, TAG classes
tells you nothing about the boy in row three who came may have had a point. forcement was a public service because it or the TAG kid?
home from school to find his dad had taken his own A few weeks ago, the wife and I headed kept the restaurant and bar employees from TAG means more than just “tal-
life. No place for that. out for a rare date night sans rugrats. We monopolizing on-street spaces. This is a ented and gifted.” It is, at least in my
I guess we are to conclude that these life-changing skipped the great restaurants in Frisco, and problem that seems to have escaped other school, a social structure, a learning
events don’t affect student performance. we drove past the Shops at Legacy in Plano, cities. style, a type of person. Whenever
DISD isn’t alone in the drive for such ratings. which offers virtually any cuisine and qual- Rather than writing parking tickets, the someone in a TAG class does some-
Across the nation, those who administer our public ity one might desire. Instead, we trekked to city should have uniformed officers patrol- thing exceedingly creative or eccen-
schools are working hard to find answers about why Big D. The 30-mile drive was worth it for ling Deep Ellum to give people a sense of tric, someone will inevitably deem this
urban school districts are failing to produce young our favorite restaurant, Monica’s Aca y Alla security and encourage visitors. Again, look action “TAG.” Interjecting opinions
men and women who are literate and able to compete in Deep Ellum. west, where Richardson’s oil money also into class discussion is TAG. Writing a
in the global marketplace. Unfortunately, these Once there, I passed several neon-flag- supplies private security to help keep down- research paper as a narrative is TAG.
administrators aren’t willing to tell us the waving men selling parking spaces for one town Fort Worth safe. Dallas should copy its Teachers shaving problems off assign-
uncomfortable truth: Answering that question would of the ample lots along the street — so neighbor: Provide free parking and better ments to keep the students from
require us to do some soul searching that might lead us urban! security near entertainment zones, and getting bored is TAG.
to conclude that all of us are responsible for the failure, A fantastic dinner, great margaritas and people will visit — and spend! How could a child not become
and all of us must be part of the solution. wonderful music ended with a $35 premi- The success of Dallas’ new Arts District creative and passionate about learn-
Many times I’ve shaken my head at measures such um for my troubles. Not to tip the hard- projects will depend on people coming, ing when they are put in classes where
as CEIs. Why do teachers allow those with little or no working waiters. This check was made out staying and patronizing local businesses the opening activity every day is a
understanding of the profession to continue to review to the ungrateful, clueless city of Dallas for before and after seeing a performance. brainteaser and where activities range
them in such punitive ways? a parking ticket. Many people will visit once, but the hassle of from trying to fish out some trinket
Imagine doctors being told that every patient must I have no issue with the justice of the finding parking and avoiding street people from a glass bottle using only a tooth-
be cured. How about requiring lawyers to win every violation. I failed to see the meter or to may ensure that it is a singular experience. brush or a vegetable, to writing a book
case? consider the possibility that a major city With the people-friendly suburbs build- report using geometric shapes?
Such expectations wouldn’t make sense, and the would have active meters on weekends. ing better restaurants and nicer amenities, Now, in high school, my TAG clas-
men and women in those fields wouldn’t tolerate such Every major city I have visited suspends there will be no reason to go south of In- ses involve fewer toothbrushes and
idiocy. parking meters after 6 p.m. and on week- terstate 635. Until Dallas makes visiting more discussion. A teacher once men-
Teachers don’t have the time or the energy to fight ends. easier, I’ll be one of those folks staying away. tioned how TAG kids tend to be more
that battle. They’re too busy doing all they can to help But why is the city of Dallas charging for I no longer will suggest downtown involved in their discussions than
our young people make it through the difficult and on-street parking on Saturday night in a Dallas when other friends want to go to Fort regular kids. That makes sense. We
important formative years. deserted part of town? Why target people Worth. I will not pass wonderful restau- should know how to have a discussion
This can’t go on indefinitely. Good teachers, trying to give CPR to a struggling entertain- rants in Collin County to patronize old by now; we’ve had lots of practice
dedicated people who want to give their lives to assist ment district? favorites in Big D. If I can help it, like Amon discussing things — literature, why
the young, will continue to leave the profession in I have lived in cities smaller and larger Carter, I will avoid spending a dime in the seasons change, politics, why we
search of careers where they are valued and treated than Dallas, and I have visited hundreds Dallas. She won the battle for my $35, but must discuss things at all — for ages.
with professional respect. Our children will be the more. No major city makes it more difficult she lost my heart. I went back this year to discuss the
lesser for it, and so will we. to visit than Dallas. The Texas-OU game TAG system with this same teacher,
makes this clear annually, whether it is E. Kyle Steinhauser of and he told me something surprising
Mark R. Harrington teaches history at parking scams or the disaster that is DART. Frisco is a technology and perhaps encouraging. This year,
Seagoville High School and is a Conversely, Austin provides ample, free marketing manager at a he gave the same assignment to one of
Teacher Voices volunteer columnist. street parking, and Sid Richardson’s for- publishing company. His his standard classes, and although
His e-mail address is tune continues to provide free parking to e-mail address is ekyles@ many didn’t know what to do with the
margravemark@yahoo.com. anyone who will visit downtown Cowtown. gmail.com. freedom of the project, a few of the
students liked it, succeeded and,
better yet, asked for more. Also, when
the next TAG-ish project was as-

He’s my son, but these are his battles to fight signed, more of the kids took it and
ran with it with newfound gusto and
motivation, into new TAG-ier territo-
ries.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay And then 17 years of bottled up that he could hang on to, when the The band played, and off we If this limited exposure to TAG
parental competition reared its ugly inevitable day arrives and he is no marched. They called each candi- teaching methods and projects led to
on the sidelines, though, head. longer king of the hill? date’s name along with that of his even more desire to do creative, unin-
says Lynne Sipiora I am ashamed to say this, but I The truth is, I could argue either parent. I squeezed his arm, and he hibited things, maybe exposure to
wanted him to win. side with equal passion. patted my hand, and I remembered these same sort of activities and teach-

I
swore I would never live I certainly had nothing against The truth is, I was preparing how as a baby he would pat me on ing methods over longer periods of
vicariously though my children. the other four nominees — they appropriate rationalizations for the shoulder as I carried him on my time, say, since the age of seven, would
I would encourage and support were his friends, good kids from either outcome. hip. help to form more self-motivated and
their interests and activities, but I good homes — but I really, really At halftime of the homecoming The winner was announced, and passionate learners today.
wouldn’t live or die by their wanted him to win. game, mothers were instructed to I hugged my son hard. Now, I realize that everyone learns
successes or failures. They were Sure, I had always thought the line up with their sons and accom- He hugged me back and headed differently and performs differently,
separate entities after all, and the whole homecoming court an archa- pany them across the football field toward his friends, while I headed and a test, especially a one-day PSAT
umbilical cord had been cut. ic tradition that encourages petty for the election results. back into the stands. test, is no way to measure academic
I kept that promise for a long popularity contests between a I held my son by the arm and A friend says: Every mama bird success or desire to learn, but it seems
time. I wouldn’t write their essays or bunch of kids already filled with looked at this decent kid who, thinks hers sings the sweetest. to me that just the general passion in a
build their science fair projects. I adolescent angst. What exactly does though not yet a man, was now I thought I was immune from TAG class discussion shows that
was unmoved by the teacher that it measure, anyway? It has nothing certainly a guy. He wore a shirt, tie that. Turns out I’m not. something is going right.
they insisted hated them, and I to do with academic achievement or and jacket with high-top sneakers, Isn’t the whole homecoming Perhaps by introducing a bit more
watched countless soccer games any special skill in any special area. and I remembered that he’d worn court an archaic tradition that TAG-style teaching to all kids, our
without ever offering any helpful Not only that, rumor had it the Velcro shoes for far longer then he encourages petty popularity con- schools would see better results, ei-
hints from the sideline. whole process was hopelessly cor- should have, because teaching and tests between a bunch of kids that ther in testing or in the much more
My three children have regaled rupt — with Student Council mem- learning to tie was not something are already filled with adolescent important sphere of real life, where
me with stories over the years of bers being bribed with Big Macs either of us accomplished until he angst? creative thinking, problem solving
who did what to whom. I always and a voting process reminiscent of was 8. Well, isn’t it? and motivation apart from grades
listen — it is a mother’s job — but I a Florida election. I kept my arm tucked in his, even really matter.
never jump into the fray. I counsel On the other hand, what parent while he flirted with the queen Lynne Sipiora of
with a practiced attitude that con- wouldn’t welcome their child being candidates and goofed off with the McKinney is exec- Hailey Sowden is a
veys a sympathetic yet “this too shall crowned anything? kings. Everyone laughed at some- utive director of senior at Highland Park
pass” kind of philosophy. Wasn’t it a measure of effective thing he said, and I remembered the Samaritan Inn, High School and a
And then my son was a senior. parenting that he was so highly the years of speech therapy when I Collin County’s Student Voices volun-
And then my son was nominated regarded by his peers? And had to bribe him into the office each only homeless shelter. Her e-mail teer columnist. To
for homecoming king. wouldn’t it be a self-esteem boost week with a new Matchbox car. address is lsipiora@tx.rr.com. respond to this column, send an e-mail to
voices@dallasnews.com.

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Sent by: jrush Opinion BLACK
8B Sunday, October 4, 2009 C dallasnews.com The Dallas Morning News

Community opinions A forum for readers in Dallas County

SOUNDING OFF
Comment on the following topic on our
blog: dallasnews.com/opinionblog.
Homecoming: Ready or not
Should students spend more time in It’s a rite of passage for mothers, too, says Elaine Kollaja of Dallas
school? At what level of government
M
y daughter has a date for the
should the decision be made about homecoming dance. She is ec-
static. I am petrified. She may be
lengthening school days or adding old enough for this, but what about me?
more instruction days to the year? What, exactly, is my role in today’s
exaggerated high-school social scene? I’ve
checked, and Emily Post provides no guid-
ance whatsoever on this momentous rite of
passage. Too bad, because I could really use
some help. To do too little will make me
seem as though I don’t care, and to do too
much will make me seem like a helicopter
Michael Hopkovitz Hailey Sowden mom living vicariously through her child’s
Insurance Industry Senior, Highland Park social engagement. Like so many other
Pricing and Analytics High School, Dallas parenting challenges, it’s a tricky balancing
Professional, Far
While I do relish in the
act.
North Dallas
wonders of long The first question on my mind is The
Adding additional summers, students in Mum. Who buys it, and how extravagant
classroom time for other countries are should it be? Mums are a very important
reading, writing, studying while Amer- part of the Homecoming scene, and big
math and science are icans play. Still, for business for our school’s PTA. Mum Moms
excellent reasons to many kids, summers have been toiling for months cutting rib-
add to the cost of don’t end up being a bon and assembling the elaborate corsages
educational services. time to explore, to that both girls (and boys!) wear to the big
But we’re not maxi- read or to pursue
game. WILLIAM “BUBBA” FLINT/Special Contributor
mizing the educa- non-school related
Friends who grew up in other areas of
tional use of the activities, but three
long months to forget
the country seem perplexed by the hugely outfit was for homecoming, I was skeptical. Of course I’ll have to clean the house, and
school day now.
last year’s material. beribboned mum; I take it from their “Do freshmen go to the homecoming perhaps even paint the front hall. But should
attitudes that our custom is a peculiarly dance?” I asked. She accused me of doubting I serve snacks to the other parents? Cock-
Texan affair. I wasn’t previously aware of her ability to land a date. But truly, I never tails? Maybe I’ll have one now.
the cultural disparity and thought all high doubted her success for a minute — her The only saving grace in this whole affair
school girls everywhere spent homecoming dating prospects are what keep me awake is that my daughter’s date can’t drive yet, so
day wearing corsages that make them nights. Many, many things seem to start there’s no worry about her riding off alone
resemble a Kentucky Derby winner. But earlier now, and I clearly still have some with a boy who has borrowed his mom’s nice
what I personally find unusual is the trend distance to travel in catching up with the car for the big night. At this point, unsu-
Faith Davis Johnson Karen Kimball in large armband corsages, complete with times. pervised car travel might actually put me
Eighth-grade U.S. Substitute teacher, ribbons and teddy bears, for the guys. Finally, there’s The Pre-Dance Photo Op. over the edge. Instead, I assume we parents
Studies teacher, John Richardson ISD When I was in high school, a young man I’ve seen caravans of cars lined up at neigh- will be pressed into chauffeur service. At
B. Hood Middle would rather have been boiled in oil than
Lengthening the bors’ homes around this time of year and least I hope that’s what everyone has in
School, Dallas alight from his pickup truck sporting such
school day would asked myself, “Who died?” Nobody, fortu- mind. I really don’t want to have to pitch in
Research-based probably be counter- an accessory. nately. The traffic jam was just the dance for a limo. Not yet. We all need to save some-
evidence supports a productive for both Then, there’s The Homecoming Dress. attendees, along with their parents, gather- thing for the kids’ weddings, or at least for
correlation between students and teach- Fortunately for me, this particular detail ing at one photogenic house to snap dozens the Senior Prom.
higher achievement ers. A longer school was settled before I even knew it was an
and longer instruc- year would do no of pictures in finery they’ll never wear again,
issue; I was thus saved much wailing and with dates they may not even be talking to Elaine Kollaja of Dallas is a
tional time for stu- harm but is probably
gnashing of teeth during hours of fruitless next week. graduate student in the SMU
dents. It seems log- unnecessary. Since
our country’s begin-
shopping at NorthPark Center. This year, by some mysterious lottery, we Master of Liberal Studies
ical that students
spending more time ning, all decisions My daughter found the “perfect” dress have been designated as photo hosts. While program. Her e-mail address
in school, receiving about education have and shoes during the summer and bought I’m flattered that my home has been deemed is elainekollaja@yahoo.com.
quality instruction, been the domain of them with an optimistic eye toward the worthy of the honor, I’m also a bit nervous.
Visit her blog at www.scratchpaper-eck. blog
will holistically bene- the states and should future. When she announced that the spot.com.
fit our society. remain so.

Voices: The above Voices volunteers are regular
contributors to this forum.

William Olsson of Dallas: The government’s
remedy for anything that doesn’t work is “more of it!”
Conquering another culture
Victor Aves of Dallas: Some students are already English is more than just words, says Susan Wildburger
spending up to 12 hours at school when you include

O
extracurricular activities. Other countries have stu- n the last day of a five-week course accents, and I tell them what I have learned: one language is no strange endeavor; it is
dents coming to school in the evening and on week- over the summer, a multitude of “An accent is not a problem unless it in- daily life. Bilingual people are better able to
ends at all age levels. The decision needs to come feelings overwhelm me as I look at terferes with pronunciation.” Also, that they see things from two or more perspectives
from each individual ISD in anticipation of funds for my students. I need to say something, but I should talk in their own voices, not in some and to understand how other people think.
these additional resources. What good is a federally wait. Then one of my students stands and Americanized version of themselves. To do But here, being bilingual is rare and may
mandated program for longer school days when says he has been chosen to speak for the that, they need to understand that what they even be seen as a negative by others.
DISD, for example, is not fully capable of staffing class. He delivers a speech of gratitude for are learning is more than just a second We need to be more tolerant of people
schools due to the budget shortfall? my efforts, my teaching, language. They must conquer the permeat- who speak with accents — people who speak
my patience and tolerance ing usage of a third language — the language more than one language. I tell my students
Donna Lackey of Dallas: If students require more of them. He thanks me for of the larger culture — with all the typical that over the years I have encountered many
time in school, it should be decided at the school lev- relating to them. language expressions. people who have commented on my accent
el with the state and parents picking up the tab. Stu- I proudly notice that I was fortunate to come into this country during conversations, and I wonder why
dents in the DISD magnet schools don’t require the speech is orated in with a broader education, cultural back- people feel the need to do so.
year-round school. Year-round school might be nec- perfect tense, correct verb ground and the ability to speak English (the As my students prepare to leave, I tell
essary for some, but it will affect family time for conjugation — that of British kind, but English nonetheless). But them one last thing: “Labels are just that,
many trying to push vacation time from work into standard American Eng- the language of culture is the harder thing to temporary, and they peel off after a while.”
Voices
shorter summer spans for kids. lish, and my student chose master. People only become aware of their
Teacher
Harvey Richman of Dallas: Considering the re- perfect replacement words culturally determined traits and values Susan Wildburger teaches
cord of the DISD administration, it may not be pru- for the ones commonly used. when they are directly exposed to other English as a second lan-

dent to expose students or teachers to them any lon- I remember how I, too, craved for toler- cultures. guage, most recently at
ance when I first came to America almost 30 When people are exposed to other world Brookhaven College as
ger than necessary.
years ago. As an ESL teacher, I have to relate views, they recognize their own sometimes- adjunct faculty member. She
Mellen West of Dallas: More time in schools is to them; it is my duty. misconstrued world views, and they may is also a Teacher Voices volunteer columnist.
meaningless if it is not productive time. More good I share with my students how easy it is for become more sensitive to the ideas of others. Her e-mail address is susanwild14@gmail.com.
could be done with smaller class sizes, rigorous in- people to put labels on them due to their For people in Europe, mastering more than
struction of reading, writing, science and math com-
bined with liberal arts, foreign language study and
physical education. What level of government
should make the decisions? The one that has to pay
for it. RAISE YOUR VOICE LETTERS
Audrey Pincu of Dallas: Instead of extending the The Dallas Morning News is accepting Apply in four easy steps: Rename zero tolerance
school day and year, why not take what we have and applications for Community Voices, a 1. Write a little about yourself and put
make it better? We have AP classes for the “smart” panel of volunteer columnists who will be together a list of current and previous civ- Re: “Schools relax rules on ‘zero toler-
kids. Why not offer other enrichment programs for regular contributors to ic involvements. How would others in the ance’ — New state law ends policies that
all children? If the government wants to interfere, the Opinions page in- community describe you? What is unique sometimes harshly punished good stu-
they can provide more funding for the schools and side the Metro section. about your background and experience? dents for mistakes,” last Sunday news
higher teacher salaries. Voices volunteers Why should we choose you? story.
write opinion columns 2. Share a previous writing sample or I laughed out loud at the headline in
Cherie Bell of Dallas: Public schools should be the Metro section. What happened to
open year-round and should have been for decades every four to six weeks write something new on a current topic. A
and are the “stars” of writing sample should be 600-650 words. “zero tolerance” being exactly that: zero
now. All the time students have off from school, and tolerance?
from consistent learning, is a detriment to their fu- the weekly Sounding 3. Jot down three other topics you
Off feature that appears would like to write about. Let’s just rename that policy to “who-
ture and ours. ever it happens to and how rich and/or
on Sundays, in which the Voices and other 4. E-mail the application to voices
readers respond to a question of the week. @dallasnews.com. Please include your willing their paents are to fight it” policy.
SIGN UP Debra W. Drewry, Dallas
To get an idea of what topics Voices write address and phone number.
These responses are from readers who have asked
about, visit dallasnews.com/voices. Deadline: 4 p.m.tomorrow.
to receive the weekly Sounding Off question. To be
GET VOICES columns from across
added to the e-mail list, send your full contact informa-
North Texas and add your own comments.
tion to communityopinions@dallasnews.com.
dallasnews.com/voices

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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10B Sunday, October 11, 2009 C dallasnews.com The Dallas Morning News

Community opinions A forum for readers in Dallas County

SOUNDING OFF
Comment on the following topic on our
blog: dallasnews.com/opinionblog.
Exceptional neighborhoods
This weekend’s Oak Cliff home very much in transition. He and I had a nice For example, the Beckley Wood neigh-
Going forward, do you trust City tour will reveal them to you,
(electronic) dialogue about the frustrations borhood will be featured for the very first
that had caused him to respond the way he time in the tour’s 35-year history. The tour
Hall to prevent the kind of says Debra Witter had — mostly the constant struggle to get organizers also wanted to focus on smaller
corruption involving developers attention from the city of Dallas on code homes that have been transformed by their

I
recently wrote a column about the enforcement issues. He talked about how owners, not just the grander homes in Kess-
that was exposed in the recent glories of Oak Cliff. My piece was in sometimes he just wanted to live somewhere ler Park and Winnetka Heights. You can get
neat, clean and easy, where constant vigi- more information at ooccl.com.
federal trial? response to what another Community
Voices columnist had written, which I felt lance wasn’t required. Going on the tour is a great way to see Oak
was unduly negative about Oak Cliff and I sure hope he sticks it out, because people Cliff — not just the homes themselves, but
the involvement of its residents in helping like him will determine whether the Oak Cliff these neighborhoods I’ve been talking about.
improve their neighborhoods. I got some that I know and love — the neighborhoods of As you drive (or bike) between the houses,
interesting responses. Most of them were North Oak Cliff and, yes, the booming Bish- you’ll see beauty, and you’ll see challenges.
very positive, but one guy really took me to op Arts area — becomes a truly representa- You’ll see that much has been accomplished
task. tive image of the face of Oak Cliff to the rest in Oak Cliff, and that much remains to be
He didn’t use these words, but in es- of the city. accomplished.
Susan Sanders Connor Mighell
sence accused me of being a shallow yuppie The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League is My critic was right — those of us who live
Wansbrough Junior, Cambridge
School of Dallas
who needed to get out of my privileged a nonprofit umbrella organization for 23 in the neighborhoods that have made it, so to
Attorney, Lake
Highlands
enclave and see the real Oak Cliff. He also neighborhood associations covering nearly speak, cannot ignore the bigger picture. Nor
Despite the distinct challenged me to write about Oak Cliff 10,000 households. Their Web site says they can we afford to be complacent about our
Developers were in lack of checks and without talking about the Bishop Arts work “to promote Oak Cliff to the wider own neighborhoods. Reclaiming a neigh-
bed with local poli- balances surrounding
district, hills and trees, diversity, etc. — community as an exceptional place to live.” borhood that has been allowed to deteriorate
ticians long before the City Council’s
what he called the Oak Cliff clichés. I like that characterization. “Exceptional” is a long, slow process, and one that requires
Don Hill came along; approval of devel-
opers, which needs to I have to admit that really stung, as I can mean “superior,” but also can mean vision, patience and stamina. Unfortunately,
those involved were
just sophisticated be addressed, I be- thought it was an unfair reading of what I “rare” or “deviating from the norm.” I think a neighborhood can be destroyed much more
enough to disguise it. lieve Don Hill is the had written. My first reaction was just to that applies well to the neighborhoods that quickly and easily. All it takes is doing noth-
Sometimes the city exception rather than ignore it, but instead I e-mailed him back are part of the league. ing.
got some benefit, but the rule when it and, with as much restraint as I could, told But don’t just take my word for it. This
the developers and comes to our local him just that. I’m really glad I did. Turns weekend is the league’s annual home tour. Debra Witter of Oak Cliff is an
politicians almost government. The vast out he is the president of one of the neigh- This year’s tour has taken pains to highlight attorney and a Community
always reaped the majority of city offi- borhood associations in west Oak Cliff — a some of the neighborhoods that don’t get Voices volunteer columnist.
biggest rewards. I cials can be trusted to quite so much attention. Her e-mail address is debra
charming neighborhood but one that is still
don’t expect things to do what is best for the witter@tx.rr.com.
change, because city.
there is no incentive
to change.

Customizing the classroom
Those with learning differences
motor sensory issues. We were also asked to teacher ratio. The real problem is that so
Candace S. McAfee Faith Davis Johnson
deserve change, says Kristy follow a set of instructions while distractions many American children do not enjoy
12th-grade A.P. U.S. Eighth-grade U.S. Gudmundsson of Dallas were played from a tape player to simulate school, so they are not motivated to do well.
Government teacher, Studies teacher, John audio processing difficulties. But making classes easier or more challeng-

I
Skyline Center, Dallas B. Hood Middle have always loved school. I am an eager I was amazed at how much more difficult ing is not the answer. Instead, schools
School, Dallas participant in class discussions; I always these complications made each task, as well should more aggressively separate students
I think Mayor Tom do my homework; and I study hard for
Leppert has some
as how much concentration each task re- based on learning style so that each student
I do believe City Hall is
tests and quizzes. My efforts have generally quired. In the dyslexia simulation, I had to learns in the most productive way possible.
good ideas about on the right track. The
accountability and
been rewarded, so school and I have a pretty focus so hard on just reading each word My cousins found exactly the type of
Mayor and City Coun-
ethical standards. I cil members seem to
good relationship. correctly that I was unable to answer simple classroom setting they need at Shelton,
trust him. The defen- work well together But last week I got the chance to see comprehension questions about the passage. which is a perfect fit for them. But not every-
dants’ claims of and appear to have school through the eyes of students who have I cannot imagine how frustrating it must one has access to or can afford such an edu-
innocence when they the best interests of very different educational experiences than be to deal with such obstacles in class every cation, so public schools should learn from
have you on tape — the citizens of Dallas my own: students with learning differences. day. Not only is every assignment a struggle, schools like Shelton and offer better solu-
unbelievable. Do they in mind. The renova- My two cousins recently moved to Dallas. but you could work for hours on something tions to children with alternative learning
think we are stupid? tions in the Arts One has ADHD, the other has dyslexia, and and still not get it right. It must be exhaust- styles.
District are an in- both began attending the Shelton School this ing. Students would be taught the same mate-
dicator that funding is year. So far, the school, which specializes in
being aligned in the
As part of the simulation, the teachers rial, but those with learning differences
teaching students who have learning differ- treated each “student” in the room as a would receive the individualized approach
appropriate places.
ences, has been great for them. Every year student might be treated in a standard class- they need. If more students felt confident in
the school hosts a learning difference sim- room. When the exercises were completed the classroom, more students would be
Voices: The above Voices volunteers are regular ulation night where they invite parents and incorrectly (as most of them were), we were motivated to try their best. In America we
contributors to this forum. guests to come experience what it is like to chastised and told to pay more attention. believe that a person can achieve anything
have a learning difference. It is no wonder to me now why so many he sets his mind to. Let’s give our schools the
At the simulation, the Shelton teachers students, many of whom have these learning ability to enable students to succeed.
Betsy Whitfill of Dallas: Like many people, I’m provided us with a variety of exercises de- differences, grow to dislike or even blow off
losing the trust I’ve had in government at all levels. signed to replicate the challenges students school. For most people, it is easier to claim Kristy Gudmundsson is a
Dallas City Hall is no exception. I would like to see with learning differences face in a typical not to care than to try and show weakness. junior at Hockaday School
more critical thinking among council persons and a classroom. We were made to read aloud There’s been a lot of talk lately about in Dallas and a Student
view to the greater good for the whole city, rather passages that had all the words written reforming our schools. Americans are falling Voices volunteer columnist.
than putting money over everything. Dallas needs to backward to simulate dyslexia. While watch- behind other parts of the world academi- To respond to this column,
be a place in which people want to live, not just work ing only our own hand’s reflection in a mir- cally, so some think we should lengthen the send an e-mail to voices
and make money. ror, we had to copy some text. This simulated school year or decrease the student-to- @dallasnews.com.

Cathy Doyle of Dallas: This is the perfect oppor-
tunity for our City Council to pass an ethics bill with
teeth in it, and I certainly hope they take that oppor-

Going places with DART
tunity. Unfortunately, this “pay for play” has been a
way of life in South Dallas politics for some time. I
wonder if it will really change unless a real outsider
is elected there. And how would he get himself elect-
ed? Bus and rail improvements to take side trips on the way to and from Fair visits and convenience for special
work, or even to go to lunch. I am fortunate groups of people is one thing, but for many
Bob Dewberry of Dallas: These convictions keep it strong, says John in that I have the option to use DART or to people, DART is the difference between
should scare the bejabbers out of any officeholder drive. However, many people do not. having a job and being unemployed. One of
considering felonious actions, so this was a good
Guilford of Oak Cliff
One recent morning, I noticed a young the bus routes I often take goes up Preston
week — not a bad one. We can expect a higher de-

W
hen I first moved to Dallas 20 man in a motorized wheelchair on the train. Road, from downtown to North Dallas. At
gree of honesty as a result of the trial. I feel those years ago, there was a continual He moved and spoke with great difficulty, about 9 in the morning, this route is
convicted are far from representative of our political argument about what DART but his smile and sheer determination were jammed with eager, energetic women mak-
environment. should be: a bus company or a regional inspiring and contagious. As we approached ing their way up to wealthy North Dallas
Janice Schwarz of Dallas: Not really. A large part transportation network. I remember going Union Station, the driver helped him cross homes where they work, apparently as
of the problem is the low salary paid to City Council to the State Fair of Texas in 1995 where they onto the small elevator that lowered his nannies and cleaning ladies. I venture to say
members. When you have a full-time job at a lousy had a mock-up of a DART train that you wheelchair onto the ground. I can imagine that without DART along Preston, many of
wage, it is tempting to use your power to improve could walk through. I remember thinking that without the services of DART, life for these jobs would be difficult to fill.
your lot. that the metroplex was at a crossroads in its people with physical handicaps such as this There is always a lot of conversation
development. man could deteriorate into an isolated, about how DART could be better than it is.
Roy H. Kinslow of Dallas: It will happen again. In my North Texas lifetime, DART has immobile existence. Frankly, it is hard not to compare our DART
The players will be careful for a while, but the same managed to become both a bus and train Another of the enhancements that DART to a city like Chicago or New York, where the
forces are in place to allow it to happen. New faces network and has done so quite successfully. has made recently has to do with bicycles. subway system is mature, extensive and
will come on the scene who will not have a fresh Most urban planners will tell you that There are now bicycle racks on the front of well-used. It is important to realize that
memory of the Hill, Fielding and Lipscomb events, mass transit needs a high density to really buses. It has been my experience that if the DART, especially DART rail, is still a very
and they will have the hubris to think they can be thrive. With the exception of the commuter weather is halfway decent, there is a bicycle young system. It’s just a teenager. And as
cleverer and not get caught. The 14-1 system lends bus routes that DART runs from cities like on these racks about every five or six buses. with children, the more we invest in them
itself to this sort of thing. A strong mayor system Glenn Heights, Rowlett and Farmers In addition, the new train cars have racks now, when they are developing, the more
would be even worse. Branch, DART’s greatest successes are for bicycles. This is the best of both worlds: productive they will be when they grow up.
within the boundary of, say Loop 12, where You can take DART to get through the heavy
SIGN UP the density is the highest. traffic areas, then jump on your bike when John Guilford of Oak Cliff is

These responses are from readers who have asked
I am a DART rider. I live in Oak Cliff and you get to White Rock Lake or the Katy an engineer and a Commu-

to receive the weekly Sounding Off question. To be
work in North Dallas. I take a train and a bus Trail. nity Voices volunteer col-
almost daily. I have a stepdaughter who This year, for the first time, we can take umnist. His e-mail address
added to the e-mail list, send your full contact infor-
takes the DART train to and from school the DART train to the State Fair of Texas. It is jrg65@aol.com.
mation to communityopinions@dallasnews.com.
downtown every day. I routinely use DART will drop us off right at the front gate.

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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Community opinions A forum for readers in Dallas County

Comment on the following topic on our
blog: dallasnews.com/opinionblog.
Teaching teenagers
What North Texas politician do Yes, there are heartwarming moments, says Victoria John of Dallas

W
hen I tell strangers I teach middle prized cowboy hat, a special gift from his amazing. His supportive classmates responded
you trust the most? school, they respond with praise grandfather, to my classroom for safekeeping with a standing ovation. How many people
or pity. They either call me a saint prior to his performance. I thought back on the spend a Friday afternoon being entertained by
and tell me there’s a special place in heaven four years I had known him, and a kaleido- talented young people?
for me — or they say I’m crazy and a glutton scope of his unique qualities swirled into view “Oh the times! Oh the customs!”
for punishment. — joining younger students at lunch just be- Last year the seventh- and eighth-grade
“How do you deal with all those raging cause he enjoyed their company, sharing heart- drama class performed a one-act version of
hormones?” “Young teenagers are disre- warming family stories, offering math tips to a Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
spectful and unruly.” “They are belligerent friend in the hall between classes. Moments of for the annual winter program. The actress
and rebellious.” kindness, respect, honesty and tolerance. playing Quince had been reluctant to perform
Susan Sanders Connor Mighell The comments echo the ancient orator As he turned to leave, I called his name and her character as directed. When she finally
Wansbrough Junior, Cambridge Cicero’s words regarding corruption during shared, “You are such a neat and thoughtful complied at the performance, she experienced
Attorney, Lake High- School of Dallas the Roman Republic: O tempora o mores — young man. I have really enjoyed knowing and audience revelry and applause.
lands translated as, “Oh the times! Oh the cus- teaching you.” He turned, and with his familiar Later, she shared: “Ms. John, at first, I
Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s
Angela Hunt is the strong stand on toms.” smile responded, “Thank you. I love Latin and didn’t want that part. But I didn’t complain
only local official I cutting government Too often, the news today regarding drama.” He paused and added, “It’s because of and gave it my all. Now I’m so glad I had the
trust. She truly seems earmarks and lower- teenagers is negative. However, experience you. You make it fun.” part of Quince. I really enjoyed it and learned a
to have the communi- ing taxes for all citi- has taught me that when you seek the best, “Oh the times! Oh the customs.” lot!”
ty’s best interests at zens has certainly you find it. It’s not always easy, but teaching In drama class, a first-time performer “Oh the times! Oh the customs!”
heart. The more the earned my respect. middle school students is most worth it. walked hesitantly onto the stage to present a These are not isolated cases. I have taught at
mayor and other He does not get
As a Latin, drama and musical theater pantomime for 19 of his peers. Reaching the Lakehill for 10 years, and students still surprise
council people op- involved in extrane-
teacher at Lakehill Preparatory School in center, he looked at his audience and froze as me. In the words of American composers
pose her, the less I ous matters, but stays
focused on eliminat-
Dallas, I enjoy variety each day. he quietly mused, “So this is what stage fright George and Ira Gershwin, “Who could ask for
trust them.
ing unnecessary and As individuals, my students are insight- is.” anything more?”
irrational spending. ful, interested, motivated and full of reward- He then launched into one of the best pan-
ing surprises. As a group, they cooperate tomimes I have ever observed. It even brought Victoria John is a middle
with respect and eagerly volunteer for sig- to mind the exceptional skill of the famous school Latin, drama and
nificant community service projects, in- mime artist Marcel Marceau. With creativity musical theater teacher at
cluding a monthly trash cleanup at White and humor, this student morphed into a pre- Lakehill Preparatory School in
Rock Lake. historic man attempting to start a fire. He Dallas. She is also a Teacher
Recently an eighth-grade Latin, drama communicated the essence of his story through Voices volunteer columnist. Her e-mail address is
and musical theater student brought his silence and well-executed movement. It was VJohn@lakehillprep.org.
Candace S. McAfee Faith Davis Johnson
12th-grade A.P. U.S. Eighth-grade U.S.
Government teacher, Studies teacher, John

Give an animal a second chance
Skyline Center, Dallas B. Hood Middle
School, Dallas
I trust Tom Leppert,
and I trusted Lee Sen. Royce West has
Jackson when he was been a formidable
county judge and
Alan Walne when he
champion of the
constituents of his Adopt a pet from a shelter today, says Cynthia Herschkowitsch of Dallas
was on the city coun- district. His work in

I
cil. I have high stan- bringing the Universi- t happened again this year, as it has so had offered to help. The lady from the shelter their job harder than ever: the flagging econo-
dards for elected ty of North Texas many times before: A student came offered such a glowing description of the my, hurricanes in recent years and a spate of
officials and their system to the south- running into the school where I teach, facility, its volunteers and its adoption pro- seizures from puppy mills.
public stewardship ern sector, providing
gingerly carrying a kitten. gram that, on Saturday, I prepared my little So now, I’m fostering the little broken
and not too many meaningful intern-
meet my standards. I ships for young
He thought it had been attacked by a dog broken kitten for the trip. kitten that I am calling “Cassidy,” as in “Hopa-
have helped some people through the and, thinking its leg was broken, wrapped a I was expecting kitty nirvana. But from the long.” He seems to be improving. He is eating
candidates get elect- Conrad project, and makeshift bandage around its tiny rear leg to moment we entered the shelter, I knew I and playing; he only drags his foot when he
ed and deeply regret- speaking at Career give it support. Since its injuries didn’t seem wasn’t going to leave him there. The smell was gets tired.
ted my decision to Day programs are life-threatening, I secured it in the storage terrible, the litter boxes were full and cats But I am still agonizing over the animals in
help. statements of his room of a very accommodating colleague were everywhere. I’ve never seen so many cats. our shelters. When I asked the shelter manag-
commitment to until my classes were over. They all seemed healthy, well-fed and happy, er if they needed volunteers, she said, “We
education. During lunch, I e-mailed my old friend but I was shocked by their sheer numbers. have plenty of good volunteers.” What about
Jonnie England and asked for advice. She, in In the isolation room, I quickly realized, donations? “Donations are up, too.” “What do
Voices: The above Voices volunteers are regular turn, forwarded my appeal to her animal- these cats in here are actually sick. My little you need, then?”
contributors to this forum. rescue network. Within an hour, I had two guy is just broken. A big, beautiful, blind cat “Adopters,” she said, “Adoptions are way
offers of help — one from a local organization was nosing around my carrier. My heart down.”
Susan Scott of Dallas: The ones that have yet to that uses a foster network and promotes melted. So, if you have room in your heart and your
run for office and be elected, or at this point, maybe adoptions on its Web site and at pet shops; the The shelter manager told me that if I left home, please go to your local shelter, and say,
Kinky Freeman. other from a shelter that offered to take the my kitten there, he would develop an upper “Give me the oldest animal you have, or the
kitten immediately. respiratory infection. I said that I would foster one that’s been at the shelter the longest, or
Sharon Pedevilla of Dallas: Former mayor Lau-
In the meantime, I drove the kitten to my him, so they took pictures to display on their the blind one or the kitten with the broken
ra Miller. She called it as she saw it and was criticized
vet in Farmers Branch for an assessment. Two Web site. pelvis. I want to give an animal a good home
as a result.
X-rays and $161 later, we had the diagnosis: a I cried all the way home, grieving for all of and a second chance at a happy life.”
Ellen Raff of Dallas: I trust Angela Hunt from broken pelvis and possible nerve damage, those beautiful cats who, because they are They all have sad stories. It’s up to us to
City Council, because she has been willing to break causing the right rear foot to knuckle under, older, are probably going to spend their lives write their happy endings.
from the “group think” that seems to dominate un- injuries more consistent with being hit by a in this no-kill shelter, rather than in loving
der Mayor Leppert. I also like Carol Kent, my repre- car than a dog attack. homes. Cynthia Herschkowitsch
sentative to Austin, because she keeps in touch For the rest of the week, I dutifully gave the How does this happen? It’s certainly not teaches at South Oak Cliff
through e-mails and updates, and she is open to kitten his medicine, changed his litter box and the shelter’s fault. The people are hard-work- High School in the Dallas ISD
feedback. played with him to ensure that he was social- ing, unbelievably dedicated and understand- and is a Teacher Voices volun-
ized for his eventual new family. I also talked ably overwhelmed. I also know that a variety teer columnist. Her e-mail
Thelma S. Clardy of DeSoto: I trust State Rep. address is CHerschkowitsch@dallasisd.org.
to volunteers from the two organizations that of catastrophic events have coincided to make
Helen Giddings.
Donna Lackey of Dallas: It’s really sad that too
many run on an agenda and can’t be trusted. Even
though the candidates need our vote, they seem to
be owned by those with money who give to their
campaigns.
Thank you for reading this column
Ed Weymouth of Addison: John Carona. He do I hear? Perhaps one. On a good day. really isn’t that challenging. I don’t pretend
seems to be ethical and works in the best interest of
We all need to express our The next night I am out to dinner at my to be a devotee of thank-you notes, but I do
the citizens of Texas. I do not always agree with him, gratitude to others, says Daley favorite Italian restaurant, enjoying warm recognize that they are meaningful.
but, then, I do not always agree with my wife, either. Epstein of Dallas ravioli covered in marinara. Every few min- It seems ironic that those who do exhibit
utes, the waiter walks by and inconspic- gratitude aren’t exactly considered role
Martin Greenberg of University Park: None I began my first day of work in Washing- uously refills my water glass. Barely notic- models. Both at the beginning and at the
Kurt Freeman of Dallas: I trust Jeb Hensarling;
ton, D.C., the same way I ended it, with a trip ing, I continue to converse with my friend end of a performance, the audience hears
he gives a straight answer to questions without try- along the Red Line. That day, just an hour and enjoy the meal. It is only after I am at the words, “Thank you for coming; I hope
ing to run a game on us. after I disembarked from my train, the Red home, reading in my pajamas that I realize: you enjoy/enjoyed the show.” If performers
Line crashed and killed nine people. As I I should have thanked the waiter whenever can extend common courtesy, why can’t we?
Beverly Lowry of Dallas: I would elect State Rep. heard the news, I realized: There could have he refilled my glass. Have we reached such a low point that the
Dan Branch to any office he seeks. been 10. It hit me how grateful I was to be Perhaps it is a sense of entitlement that only time we express gratitude is when we
Bob Dewberry of Dallas: Rep. Will Hartnett. He
alive. takes the words “thank you” out of our vo- are acting? I hope not.
is smart and effective in Austin and he represents us, Gracias, thanks, todah, merci, danke, cabulary. We take for granted deeds that are It is time for us all to abandon our egotis-
responds to us and informs us well. thank you. Whether one word or two, it’s not actually acts of kindness, assuming that tical ways and take a second to think and
hard to say and does not take much time. things should be handed to us on a silver thank. Parents, friends, teachers — they all
Alan Kazdoy of Dallas: Don Hill. I am sure that However, today’s fast-paced society just platter. Most of us need a reality check: We deserve our gratitude. We need to become
everything he does from now until his sentencing can’t seem to find the time to voice gratitude. are fortunate in so many ways and fail to more proactive and turn those two words
will be strictly kosher. Appreciation says a lot about a person’s properly recognize and express our grat- into a habitual saying. People really do
Roy H. Kinslow of Dallas: U.S. Rep. Sam John-
character. It shows a lack of self-absorption itude. welcome another’s gratefulness. Everyone
son without a doubt. He’s been there, done that and and recognition for others’ thoughtful ac- Another sign of inadequate gratitude is likes to be appreciated.
has the scars to prove it. tions. But too often we fail to display such an the lost art of thank-you notes. With the
admirable trait. evolution from paper to electronic, much Daley Epstein is a senior at
As I walk out of a public building, I hold writing is becoming obsolete. Yet, thank-you Yavneh Academy of Dallas
SIGN UP open the door for the person right behind and a Student Voices volun-
notes retain their sophistication and signif-
These responses are from readers who have asked me. Since the place is bustling, a few more icance. After receiving a gift, it is still proper teer columnist. To respond
to receive the weekly Sounding Off question. To be people follow behind and walk through the etiquette to sit down and scribble down a to this column, send an
added to the e-mail list, send your full contact infor- opened door. Before I know it, 20 or 30 few appreciative thoughts. Yes, this does e-mail to voices@dallas
mation to communityopinions@dallasnews.com. people have exited. How many thank you’s take more time than saying thank you, but it news.com.

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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Community opinions A forum for readers in Dallas County

We asked our Teacher Voices …

How do you know a student will be successful?
Debbie Gallagher | Computer teacher, Daniel Karen Kimball | Substitute teacher, Richardson Susan Wildburger | Brookhaven College
Intermediate School, Duncanville ISD — I always ISD — Recently I substituted in a kindergarten adjunct faculty/ESL teacher — Albert Einstein
tell students that two things have to be present to class. It was the third week of school, and one once observed, “Education is that which remains
learn a new skill — the desire to learn and student stood out: He entered the classroom, put after one has forgotten everything he learned in
practice. If either is missing, they will not be his things away, and sat down at his table to school.” Study skills are, for me, what makes a
successful. As students mature, the desire must come from complete his morning work. Throughout the day he listened, student successful. The successful student will have been taught
within, not as a result of fear of being punished for not doing a followed directions and did his work carefully and correctly. He time management and will have a routine and structure set forth
task. I also teach a college class, and on the first day I meet with was proud of his job as “door holder” and was always ready and in by a parent. I can tell when a student comes to my class prepared,
my college students, I have them fill out an information sheet place when the class left the room. He answered questions ready to exercise that vital skill of note-taking, has all the
telling me about themselves. I ask what they want to get from the correctly and creatively (not copying the materials needed, homework ready to be turned in and an eager
class. One student wrote, “I expect to get an A in this class.” That answers of others). He was polite, kind and and sincere interest in listening. As a parent, I believe that parents
student will be successful, as opposed to the student who wrote friendly to students, and well-liked by who instill a sense of pride in their children and provide children
the word “nothing.” everyone. I may never see him again, with support daily produce, in many ways, successful students in
but I am convinced he is well on his way the classroom.
to success — in school and in life.

Julie Lewis | AMI/Math Interventionist, Victoria John | Latin, drama and musical theater
Lamar Middle School, Irving ISD — I know teacher, Lakehill Preparatory School, Dallas — In
that students will be successful if they choose to the words of Plato: “Good actions give strength
not only invest their best effort, but also to to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.”
develop a passion for what they are learning. Students prevail through the awareness and
Parents and teachers have to set high goals, but they must practice of three qualities: flexibility, accountability and
understand success should be measured simply by comparing responsibility. A flexible student adapts easily to new situations
where the student’s abilities and talents start and where they and accepts change as a positive and necessary process for
end. We are all unique individuals and have different talents growth. An accountable student learns from poor choices and
and abilities. I think success is a unique combination of best builds character through increased honesty to self and others.
effort, passion and personal growth. We must also remember Having been held accountable for actions, the student learns to
that a successful outcome should be something the student make better choices while serving as a positive role model. A
chooses because it makes him or her happy and proud of responsible student keeps agreements and, through consistency,
their investment in the accomplishment. That will leave builds esteem and self-respect. Acting with flexibility,
them inspired to achieve more. WILLIAM “BUBBA” accountability and responsibility allows the student to overcome
FLINT/Special
Contributor
personal challenges and achieve success.

Candace S. McAfee | 12th-grade A.P. U.S.
Government teacher, Skyline Center, Dallas — I Faith Davis Johnson | Eighth-grade U.S. Studies Cynthia Herschkowitsch | Teacher, South Oak
can tell if students will be successful: They have a teacher, John B. Hood Middle School, Dallas — Cliff High School, Dallas — You’d think, after 35
strong work ethic, take personal responsibility You know that students are on the path to years of teaching, I would be able to spot a
and are able to handle setbacks and adversity success when you give an assignment, and they successful student without fail. But while my
well. Life is not always easy, and there are no guarantees. Setbacks go a step further. For example, if the assignment intuition is pretty good, I can’t claim l00 percent
and adversity are facts of life. Unexpected life occurrences, such is to be handwritten, the student types it instead. Or if you’ve accuracy. Every kid is different. Some are late bloomers and
as a death of a parent or a family member, are difficult to given the student a task to complete based on a lecture in class, surprise you. Others come in full-throttle and then fade. But in
overcome. Sometimes missing an assignment or not fully and he or she includes analysis on a concept you haven’t covered general, I have found the following to be true: The successful
understanding concepts can send a student to the low self-esteem yet — and it’s right on target. You know when they ask you to students come in the first day of class, prepared to work, pencil
pit. If a student can overcome these challenges, he or she will write letters of recommendation and then promptly follow up in and paper in hand. They are attentive and look you in the eye. I
usually be successful. A solid family support system is a help, but writing, complete with an advanced “thank you.” You know when rarely, if ever, have to remind them to “stay on task.” I know we all
if the student is confident and possesses inner strength, he or she students remember what you have taught — and then use the have our bad days, but the successful student is one who leaves his
will be successful. same method to share with others what they learned from you. problems outside the classroom door.

We asked our Student Voices …

What makes a teacher effective and memorable?
Nandita Singh | Sophomore, Hebron High Kelsey McKinney | Senior, Booker T. Brianda Reyes | Senior, South Garland High
School, Carrollton — Funny and motivating Washington High School, Dallas — Teachers can School — Teachers’ effectiveness is not measured
teachers with hard tests and even harder finals influence their students’ thought processes. An by the amount of homework they give every
are always the most effective and memorable. effective teacher finds a way to force his or her night or how many students passed their class;
They are able to create a relaxed learning students to re-evaluate their ideas and really it’s measured by their passion for teaching. We
environment for challenging subjects such as AP classes or decipher what it is they believe. However, the ability to teach don’t remember the teacher who had pop quizzes all the time or
higher-level math. If a student feels accomplished after students does not necessarily make a teacher memorable. To the one who always gave out reading assignments. We remember
“surviving” a hard class, he or she not only remembers the teacher, become memorable, teachers must remain a real person to the the teacher who pulled us out after class to discuss why our grades
but also is thankful for newfound knowledge and confidence. students. These teachers have the ability to engage in intelligent were so low, the teacher who stayed after school just a little longer
These teachers also have enthusiasm and interest in what they conversations and effectively incorporate their personalities into to help us learn the lesson thoroughly, the teacher who praised us
teach. Teachers with the perfect blend of passion and interest for their teachings. They do more than teach; they influence their when we did something right and did not pick on us when we did
their job — and for the minds that they are responsible for students’ lives. Only a memorable teacher makes a connection something wrong. We want — need — praise and remember the
molding — are the teachers who ultimately impact their students’ strong enough for each student to begin applying what he or she teachers who are generous with their enthusiasm, their attention,
lives the most. has been taught. their care, their understanding.

Connor Mighell | Junior, Cambridge School of
Dallas — Remember the substitute teacher in the
film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? “Bueller? … Kristy Gudmundsson | Junior, Hockaday
Bueller? …” Thankfully, I haven’t School, Dallas — Humor. In addition to passion
experienced anything like that. Most of and enthusiasm, a good sense of humor turns an
my teachers have been good, but those who are truly otherwise good teacher into an outstanding one.
memorable have a clear, infectious passion for their When I think about all of my favorite teachers
subjects, like my former Latin teacher, Mrs. Gerard, over the past 12 years, most of them share something significant:
who knew just about everything regarding her They made classes fun. Learning is most effective when emotions
language and its beautiful history. She was always become involved, and just as acting is about connecting with an
searching for more information. The most effective audience, teaching is about connecting with students and making
teachers I have had engage their students. This can be them excited to come to class. Witty lectures keep students alert,
done without “dumbing the curriculum down,” as Dr. engaged and eager to participate. Jokes germane to the subject
Hahn, my current physics teacher, has shown. He inserts make facts more memorable and interesting. While a mundane
interesting, relevant demonstrations into his lectures. If class can make even the most interesting subject boring, a fun
the material isn’t engaging, the teachers risks losing their class can make the dullest subject captivating.
classes, no matter how much they enjoy what they teach.

Michelle Vongkeo Ashmore | Senior, Royse City Avery Hurst | Senior, J.J. Pearce High School,
High School — More often than not, great Richardson — My favorite teachers have been the
teachers pay attention to their student’s daily ones who truly get to know each individual child.
lives. Most think it strange that I have some of Viviana Cruz | Junior, Newman Smith High If you are just a student at a desk, there is no way
my teachers’ private phone numbers, but it’s not School, Carrollton — My AP biology teacher, Mr. to connect with what your teacher is saying. If a
only for convenience. It’s for when I need help with my own Hembree, was also my freshman bio teacher. He teacher becomes a “friend” with his or her students, it becomes a
personal problems or want to let them know about fantastic news. made such an impact on me that I specifically better level for them both to learn on. It is also effective if the
When I read my e-mail telling me that I was going to be a Voices went back to take any course taught by him. teachers don’t feel the need to “stoop down” to their students’
columnist, the very first person I told was my teacher, Mrs. Some say he was like a college professor because his coursework level. If students feel like we are being talked down to, it makes us
Krumnow. If teachers are able to gain the confidence in their was so hard, but he actually cared and remembered his students. I want to rebel more against anything they want us to do. If we are
students as people, they gain it also as teachers. To those select think a teacher who treats you like a person rather than an ID treated as an individual on the same level as our teachers, we are
few do we students reserve our greatest efforts. number and doesn’t underestimate you makes a great teacher. more likely to live our lives as learners.

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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Community opinions A forum for readers in Collin, Dallas and Rockwall counties

SOUNDING OFF
Comment on the following topic on our
blog: dallasnews.com/opinionblog.
Try mind-stretching fun
Should students spend more time in Don’t tell the kids they’re learning science, says Jeri Chambers of Plano
school? At what level of government should

“S
cience is gross. It’s boring. Why For the last three years, Texas Instru- in-disguise exhibition where you’ll find the
the decision be made about lengthening would anyone want to do science?” ments, through the STEM Academy, has answers to many of the slimy, oozy, crusty,
school days or adding more instruction Words spoken by a child (hopefully recognized local educators who improve stinky questions you’d love to ask but maybe
days to the year? not a parent), who perhaps is not experienc- student achievement in science, technology, were too embarrassed to do so. Kids will get
ing an effective science classroom. engineering and math. the chance to become a dust particle in a
It’s difficult to create an engaging sci- In 2006, the Science Place, Dallas Muse- giant nose, create different sounds that repli-
ence classroom. The vocabulary is intense um of Natural History and the Dallas Chil- cate the physics of gas at the Toot-toot Center
and extensive. The amount of content to dren’s Museum merged to form the Perot and much more. Grossology will be a part of
cover is expansive. The volume and coordi- Museum of Nature & Science. They are in the Sci-Tech until Jan. 3.
nation of materials alone requires a storage process of developing and building a state-of- The great news is that this exhibit is just
Keturah Stewart Kathleen Krumnow unit. Yet many teachers get up each day the-art facility in Victory Park. the beginning. Thanks to determination,
Math teacher, Don English teacher, eager to share and inspire students to em- Local universities have UTeach programs persistence and financial sacrifice, an army of
Achziger Elementary, Royse City High brace science. How difficult their job can be designed to recruit and train teachers of volunteers has been working to bring a
Mesquite ISD School when the community at large views science math, science and computer science. hands-on science experience to kids and
I believe if students Length of school days as a class to endure or a project to complete. A key to making science cool is to create adults alike in Collin County on a permanent
used the time they and years should be How did science become uncool to so hands-on science experiences outside of the basis.
currently have in uniform throughout many? It’s through questioning and dis- classroom that inspire and motivate students. Become part of the mind-stretching fun.
school efficiently, our country to ensure covery that we advance as human beings. Too bad we don’t have an engaging venue for When you have a moment and wonder what
they wouldn’t need that all kids get the It’s through solving problems in a scientific science in Collin County. Wouldn’t it be great fun activity you could do with your children
additional time. same opportunities way that we can provide food and water to if instead of heading to the mall or the mov- and perhaps their friends, try Sci-Tech Dis-
However, each class- to learn. Our federal covery Center. It’s gross. It’s cool, and perhaps
the impoverished and establish sustainabil- ies, we had a place where kids both young and
room is different. It government should
ity. It’s through the precision of research old could play with science? it will inspire a lifelong passion for all things
would be a tough call not be involved with
for anyone to make a the process unless
that we truly can find the cure to cancer, the Oh, wait, there is such a place — Sci-Tech science.
statewide or country- they are going to vaccine for H1N1, the protocols to overcome Discovery Center. After almost 10 years of
wide decision. implement higher traumatic brain injuries. research, outreach, and temporary exhibits, Jeri Chambers teaches fifth
standards with higher It’s through creativity and ingenuity that Collin County welcomes such a place. Sci- grade in Plano and is a Teach-
pay for teachers. we learn how to be more effective caretakers Tech Discovery Center opens in Frisco this er Voices volunteer col-
of our planet. Science is not only cool, it weekend. And, it’s going to be GROSS. Gros- umnist. She has been active
matters a great deal. sology, that is. in planning for this facility.
Many efforts abound trying to set norms Grossology shows off the “(Impolite) Her e-mail address is jericham@yahoo.com. For
more information, location and hours of opera-
for engaging and interactive experiences. Science of the Human Body.” It is a science-
tion please visit www.mindstretchingfun.org.

Kathryn S. Pabst Sandy Kulkarni
English/language Chemistry teacher,
arts teacher, Lovejoy
High School
Students are hard
Allen High School

“Study time" could be
measured in both
Only in Texas — the supersized Mum
workers, but what are qualitative and quan- Despite my better judgment, I ably would have worked extra hours in the hot
they working hard at? titative manner. summer sun, laboring in the fields to save
Two million minutes is Unless there are good played along with tradition, says enough to get whatever I could in order to “fit
the time spent in four research data sup- Beverly Biehl of Frisco in.” I did just that for many other reasons that
years of high school. porting the exponen- today seem quite trivial if I remember them at
What is your child tial growth of learn- all.

S
doing with that com- ing, how can we ome days, I wonder just what planet I
live on, but then I realize that it’s just I began to wonder at the stress I had just
pared to the two decide lengthening
school days will Texas. Now that I have a son in high put on myself. A big part of it was because I
million minutes of a
student in China? This work? school, I’m finding out that there are all sorts didn’t want to disappoint my son, who was
will be their competi- of traditions that bear no resemblance to really excited to give it to his girlfriend. Be-
tion once the gradua- those of my small-town Kansas homecoming cause this was important to him, it was im-
tion gown is packed experience. portant to me.
away. My latest adventure began with a late- WILLIAM “BUBBA” FLINT/Special Contributor
Still, I constantly espouse the concept that
night quest for the mythical Homecoming we are all one, that what happens to a part
Voices: The above Voices volunteers are regular
Mum. I thought I had struck the jackpot the girl’s clothing. Yep, they’re that big. affects the whole, and that everyone has a
contributors to this forum.
when I found a pre-made one for the low, low And it’s not just for the girls. The boys have value that is beyond measure. So why was I
Linda Croupe of Mesquite: I believe in working price of…(insert choking sound here) … $75. their own, albeit smaller, mum to wear on curling golden ribbon into ringlets and stuff-
smarter, not harder. Forcing students to remain in But I couldn’t wrap my head around the their arms. ing the mum full of bling just so my son
school longer does not guarantee they will learn any- concept of paying someone else to glue-gun Because I’m a crafty gal when I want to be, wouldn’t feel left out?
more than they do now. The focus should be on train- and staple loads of streamers, crappy-do I plunked down $43 and took my booty home I guess that goes to show you how easy it is
ing and retaining strong, charismatic, and effective ornaments, and curled ribbons onto what can to create what I thought would be the ugliest, to get caught up in the fever pitch of the mass-
teachers. only be described as an overly festooned most gaudy piece of fluff imaginable — in es, especially if it involves your children. And
rosette. other words, perfect. A true piece of Texas art. next year, I’ll plan ahead. I hear they have a
Kathy Minde of Richardson: No, students should
I was informed that even if you got the I’m all for traditions. I just find that spend- whole store in Plano dedicated to these
not be required to spend more instruction time at
pre-made mum, you are expected to add lots ing upwards of $200 on an overgrown plastic mums. Ah, Texas … gotta love it!
school. We expect our students to be “well-rounded,”
which means they need time for school related extra- of other stuff to personalize it. Apparently, the chrysanthemum festooned with 3-foot long
streamers and teddy bears is rather egregious. Beverly Biehl of Frisco runs a
curricular activities as well as church, jobs, service ac- bigger the mum, the more you are loved. And
I’m grateful that I didn’t grow up with this interior decorating and feng
tivities, and just time to chill. because Texans like everything big, these
shui consulting business.
things have taken on ridiculous proportions. particular tradition. As the youngest of eight
Janice Byrd of McKinney: I really like the idea of a Her e-mail address is Beverly
In fact, I was given an important piece of in a poor farming family, we didn’t have mon-
“year-round” school where you have eight weeks on @TheIntuitive Interior.com.
advice … put a necklace on it so it doesn’t rip ey to lavish on many extras. Granted, I prob-
and three weeks off all through the year. It gives every-
one needed breaks long enough to be restful but not
so long that the kids forget what they just learned.

Cynthia Stock of Garland: Students who perform
well in school will do so regardless of the time spent
there. Those not committed to education will find
Embracing my inner German
ways to fritter away the extra time.

“I
’m half Irish, one-quarter French, and Oktoberfest is about more policemen made valiant efforts to control the
one-quarter Swedish. What are you?” boisterous crowds.
SIGN UP “I’m German.” than just beer, says Laurie All that German blood running in my
These responses are from readers who have asked to “What else?” Lynn Lindemeier veins and the time I spent in Germany as a
receive the weekly Sounding Off question. To be added “Just German. That’s all.” nanny makes me overly protective of the
to the e-mail list, send your full contact information to This conversation as a child with a aprons. lovely polka folk dance. I had hoped to polka
communityopinions@dallasnews.com. classmate always made me feel like my My experience was only dampened by the at the Addison celebration without beer
heritage was well, boring — to be one thing behavior of the pedestrians who strolled being spilled on me or observe the Tanz
and one thing alone. Being able to list a through the dance area. Had it been roped off (dance) in McKinney without 30 people
mixture of ethnicities was fascinating to me or even orange-coned, or perhaps an actual ambling through, giving new meaning to the
RAISE YOUR VOICE as a child. portable dance floor provided, the situation folk song “I love to go a-wandering.”
Lately, however, I’ve come to realize that, might have been averted. You may say, “Don’t cry over spilled beer,”
We are accepting applications for Community
in the wonderful melting pot of the U.S., A similar interruption of polka-dancing and yes, I may whine a bit about disorderly
Voices, a panel of volunteer columnists who will be
being 100 percent something is becoming happened at the Addison Oktoberfest with crowds, but, nonetheless, I will continue to
regular contributors to the Opinions page inside
rarer. Thus, I no longer think my singular folks often stumbling onto the wooden dance attend Oktoberfests, search out the wurst,
the Metro section.
heritage is boring, but unique. floor with beer steins in hand despite the sauerkraut, pretzels and apple strudel, and
Apply in four easy steps: Last weekend I braided my hair, put on repeated requests of the announcer and the hear a “she’s too fat for me” polka with great
1. Write a little about yourself and put together a my “got gemütlichkeit” T-shirt and attended polite guidance of the policemen. Could the love for Deutschland, my German fatherland.
list of current and previous civic involvements. the McKinney Oktoberfest to celebrate my influence of too many barley pops (my I hope every American searches for ways to
How would others in the com- heritage. The polka-dancing demonstration grandfather’s name for beer) possibly have embrace his or her cultural heritage, to add to
munity describe you? What is was outstanding, with charming steps and altered some would-be German’s ability to the richness of what it means to be American.
unique about your background ornate costumes. follow simple guidelines? Ja, ja, I am 100 percent German heritage
and experience? Why should we The announcer explained the men The heavy promotion of profitable beer and all-American, and as my father would
choose you? slapping themselves in a dance was to and wine at these festivals obscures the other have said in his low German dialect, “Alles
2. Share a previous writing impress the women. Looked painful to me. In lovely German customs on display. The small gut.”
sample or write something new the dance entitled, “How the women take booths of traditional clothing, crafts and food
on a current topic. A writing sam- care of their men,” my favorite, the woman vendors were far surpassed by the numerous Laurie Lynn Lindemeier of
ple should be 600-650 words. became the authority, scolding the man into beer and wine counters. Ah, the American McKinney is a voice and
3. Jot down three other topics you would like to submission on his knees at one point. As the way to profit — drinking up the dollars. piano teacher and part-time
write about. men danced, beads of sweat rolled under At the Addison festival, the heavy sour elementary school front
4. E-mail the entry to voices@dallas news.com. their tasseled green felt hats, and the ladies smell of beer was overpowering. Still, office worker. She is also a
Include your address and phone number. Dead- likely welcomed the air flow as they twirled German bands with their traditional Community Voices
line: 4 p.m. tomorrow. their lovely red skirts adorned with green accordions were delightful, and the volunteer columnist. Her e-mail address is
lindemeier-rickard@sbcglobal.net.

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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Community opinions A forum for readers in Collin, Dallas and Rockwall counties

SOUNDING OFF
Comment on the following topic on our
blog: dallasnews.com/opinionblog.
Parents: Stress school more
Education is no longer job only for students, says Keturah Stewart
Do you trust your city hall to
prevent the kind of corruption
W
hen I was a kid, carefree and me and you.” academics: “I’m sorry he didn’t do his home-
oblivious to the growing pains At home, I would sit at our kitchen table, work. He had football last night, and we really
involving developers that was ahead, I was taught that school forever groaning and complaining about not didn’t have time to sit down and do it.” Really?
was my responsibility. Getting an education wanting to do it, and my mom made me sit
exposed in the federal trial in was my priority above everything else. I there until it was done. If I truly needed help, I
Please tell me you’re joking. Football, drill
team, cheerleading, karate, chess club, piano —
Dallas? didn’t know how easy I had it. had it. I was encouraged to study and take care whatever — should always take the back seat
While in school, I had the privilege of of my business. when it comes to your education.
playing soccer and softball, being on the drill Going to school was the only “business” I I am not that old. It has only been 13 years
team and in the orchestra, etc. However, if I had. since I was in elementary school. What has
wasn’t taking care of my And while I was at school, going to the clinic happened?
responsibilities, those because I didn’t feel like doing my work in class If kids have changed so much in just 13
privileges were taken away, was not an option. I was told, “Girl, if I have to years, what will it be like in 20? If it’s true that
no matter how much money leave my job to come get you, and you are not “kids are the future,” should we be afraid?
Jerry Walters Faith Davis Johnson my mother spent to enroll really sick, you’ll wish you were sick when I get Something needs to change.
Retired police officer, Eighth-grade U.S. me in the activity. done with you.” Unless teachers get support from home, we
Irving Studies teacher, John I was taught to always As a teacher, I have found that the stan- have to spend our time teaching students to
City hall is limited by
B. Hood Middle respect adults, even if I dards I was held to no longer apply to the respect themselves, to respect each other and
political consider-
School, Dallas didn’t agree with them. If I majority of students. They are no longer held to respect adults. Without support from home,
Voices was being treated in a way accountable for their academics or behavior.
ations and private I do believe city hall is it’s up to us to teach students that being educat-
Teacher that I thought was unfair, I Excuses are always made for children’s behav- ed increases their chances of being successful.
concerns in prevent- on the right track. The
ing public corruption, mayor and City Coun- could express my concern, ior instead of making them responsible for If more people would instill these qualities
even if it tried. cil members seem to but always with respect. their choices. in their children maybe, just maybe, we could
Power and influential work well together At school, I was held accountable for I’ve heard students speak to teachers, my- spend more time teaching academics.
ways have and always and appear to have every action, good or bad. When grades self included, in ways I would never even speak
will breed corruption. the best interests of came home, I was either praised or ques- to a peer. Kids seem to be more defiant. I won- Keturah Stewart teaches
Public scrutiny and the citizens of Dallas tioned. “What were you doing while your der daily if they talk to their parents the way kindergarten at Don Achziger
constant vigilance by in mind. The renova-
teacher was teaching this lesson? … Were they talk to us. When asked to do something at Elementary in the Mesquite
law enforcement are tions in the Arts
the preventive tools
you listening? … Did you tell your teacher home, do they say, “No, I don’t want to,” or, ISD. She is also a Teacher
District are an in-
that we must contin- dicator that funding is
that you didn’t understand? … Girl, you “You can’t make me”? Voices volunteer columnist.
ue to use. better get your act together, or it’s going to be I have heard every excuse when it comes to Her e-mail address is keturah.stewart@gmail-
being aligned in the
.com.
appropriate places.

Peggy vanWunnik Candace S. McAfee
Volunteering for more than a T-shirt
Administrative
assistant, DeSoto
12th-grade A.P. U.S.
Government teacher, Ask questions. Find your cause. Work your heart out, says Hanna Jacunski
Skyline Center, Dallas

I
I do trust my city hall t’s not about the T-shirt. It’s about the and serve. There is great satisfaction in ser- a negative, lazy connotation for too much
to prevent that kind I think Mayor Tom cause. This is the first rule of volun- vice to others, in seeing people and their longer.
of corruption. DeSoto Leppert has some
teering. conditions change.” This gusto for the cause is exactly what I
council members good ideas about
represent all citizens, accountability and
If you are signing up with any thought This I believe: Volunteering any amount of love being a part of. I wish that I could share
not just residents of a ethical standards. I about a T-shirt, then stop right where you are. time at any function is one of the most satis- this feeling with everyone.
particular district. trust him, but the Can you explain what the cause is? Why are fying feelings. I truly think that if more people And that brings me to the third rule for
claims of innocence funds being raised? What is the point of this give it a try, they will come back for more. volunteering: forward movement. Author
when they have you event? If you don’t know, you need to do your My friends and I help at events like the and professor Jon Naisbitt defines leadership
on tape are unbeliev- homework. Make-a-Wish-100 bike ride and the Leuke- as “finding a parade and getting in front of it.”
able. Do they think we One of my pet peeves is volunteers who go mia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Train- Find a cause you believe in, and then find
are stupid? just for the hours. The ing, and always want to sign up for whatever people who will support that cause with you.
National Honor Society the next function is. These experiences give a Every cause needs a work force. Smiling
chapters at various schools rush of satisfaction and a wave of good karma faces, helping hands, runners, walkers, fun-
Voices: The above Voices volunteers are regular are often filled with kids that are infectious and addictive. I want to draisers, managers. If more students would
contributors to this forum.
who signed up just to put it bottle up this feeling and save it for a rainy lend able bodies and willing minds, success
on a resume. At events, day. rates of fundraisers would go through the
Jeff Fortney Sr. of Plano: The practices exposed they are lethargic and A great example is Living for Zachary. L4Z roof.
at the Don Hill trial have been winked at for years at unenthusiastic. This has is a nonprofit organization formed after the No more sitting around, no whining, no
city halls across the country. The ease with which always bothered me. tragic loss of Clark High School sophomore lip service from the high school helpers. We
this can occur just heightens the temptation. Let’s Voices Should it count if you Zac Schrah to sudden cardiac arrest. The must supply a willingness to help, a strong
not forget that the definition of ethics often changes Student don’t care? organization promotes voluntary heart work ethic and leadership. But most impor-
for elected officials — and for some, Hill did nothing I applaud those who screening and education, and it advocates tant, we must express a sincere belief in the
wrong — because of that different definition. throw their hearts into their work. They passage of legislation to require heart screen- cause, not the T-shirt.
Joe Benik of Allen: Unfortunately not. Develop- inspire and move me to do more with my life. ing in student physicals.
ers are such an overwhelming force in local politics But more and more, they are rare in volun- This group is largely made up of students Hanna Jacunski is a junior at
that it’s difficult for elected officials, even those who teering circles. who were very close to Zac, students who Plano East Senior High
are honest, to stand up to them. The amount of The second rule of volunteering comes in have been able to turn a devastating loss into School and a Student Voices
the form of a quote by minister and writer a chance to help and possibly save others. The volunteer columnist. To
money it takes to buy and sell local pols is but a drop
Clarence E. Hodges: “I have been the recipi- students involved in this give me hope that respond to this column, send
in the bucket for these big developers, and I’m actu-
ent of love and service, therefore I can love the term “high schooler” might not have such an e-mail to voices@dallasnews.com.
ally surprised that we don’t hear of this more often. I
expect that part of the reason is that in many cases,
everybody keeps their mouths shut.
Ronald Paris of McKinney: I do trust my city offi-
cials for one reason. Because of the Dallas scandal,
they know they are under a microscope to do the
right thing.
From machines to ministers
Judith Maibie of Garland: I’d wager that most of
us voters don’t pay enough attention to the workings
You learn what supports you when you’re sick, says Ed Sizemore
of government at the local levels unless we have

T
he ordeal began on May 8. I under- ticated equipment. The first operating room Barbara. This ordeal has been very rough on
good code and law enforcement, along with investi- went quadruple coronary bypass had about $3 million worth of lighting, her as well. She kept things going at home,
gative journalism, in operation to root out the cor- surgery. By August I had had four computers, a bypass machine and other called frequently, visited when she could and
ruption and publicize it. major surgeries, the last being a “muscle flap” equipment. Another factor is the staff — constantly loved me, even when I was not so
Marybeth Mank of Mesquite: I do trust the Mes- and skin graft to repair the doctors, nurses, techs and various therapists. lovable (rather often, I must confess).
quite City Hall to prevent corruption. We have a wound in my chest from Leaving the hospital setting now, I must Another important factor is our pastor,
great mayor in John Monaco, and he is making the bypass. In the process, acknowledge that I had a large support Mike Waits, a Southern Baptist minister (I
some great changes in our city. I strongly believe I lost my sternum (breast group. I had the love and prayers of family am Jewish and Barbara is Episcopalian, but
that he has Mesquite’s best interests at heart and is bone). After almost five and friends, including Christians, Jews, Mike officiated at our wedding, and he
great at leading the City Council members to pre- months in the hospital, I Messianic Jews and even a few Muslims, in continues to offer good counsel). Mike sug-
vent shenanigans, such as those in Dallas, from oc- came home just a few days the U.S., Canada, Europe and possibly else- gested that I made it through all this because
curring in Mesquite. ago, on Oct. 1. where. It was a great comfort to know that I do not know how to give up. Perhaps so,
What did I learn from so many people cared enough to send cards, but Barbara puts it in simpler terms — I am
Marc Murray of Allen: I don’t believe you can pre- Voices this ordeal? I did not, as make phone calls, visit and lift me up in a tough old bastard.
vent the human nature of greed. Community
many others have, find that prayer.
Scott D. Goebel of Plano: As long as there is hu- my faith in God had been enhanced. It was I will leave to others the argument as to L. Edward Sizemore of
manity, there will be corruption. Having said that, I strong enough all along. However, there whether the effects of prayer are divine or McKinney works in sales
were several factors that helped me survive psychological; I will say only that they did and is a Community Voices
believe Plano city hall currently has the finest repre-
this five-month-long ordeal. help and that I appreciate them. volunteer columnist. His
sentatives anywhere — and they have earned our
There was a great deal of highly sophis- I owe a great debt of gratitude to my wife, e-mail address is
trust. ed3332@msn.com.
Bob McIver of Garland: I trust the Garland city
hall and council to not have corruption. I believe
they have controls in place to prevent it.

SIGN UP Get other voices columns from across North Texas and add your
These responses are from readers who have asked
to receive the weekly Sounding Off question. To be own comments.
added to the e-mail list, send your full contact infor-
mation to communityopinions@dallasnews.com. dallasnews.com/voices

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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Community opinions A forum for readers in Collin, Dallas and Rockwall counties

SOUNDING OFF
Comment on the following topic on our
blog: dallasnews.com/opinionblog.
Reality vs. California dreams You can’t see rip currents when you wade
I’ve learned to appreciate job worn-down self. We had moved back to our
into the ocean. Everything looks fine, like any
What North Texas politician do security and a sound economy,
home state after nearly a decade in Texas,
and, with each passing month, we seemed to other day at the beach. But if you get caught
you trust the most? says Darrin Swartz-Larson be further and further from where we in one, you suddenly feel your feet losing
wanted to be at this point in our lives. their grip on the gravelly sand and your body

A
bout halfway through our year in Up until then, each move seemed to walk being sucked out to sea by a powerful force
California, I saw a body floating in us forward on life’s path: apartment to first that can swallow you and drown you quickly,
the waves near the beach a few house — an old bungalow down the coast especially if you fight it. The way to survive,
blocks from our house. The waves were from San Francisco with indoor-outdoor they say, is to swim parallel to the shore until
gently carrying the man toward the shallow carpet in the kitchen — to our nearly new you’re out of the undertow and can make
water and then pulling him back out place in El Paso with incredible views of the your way back to land.
Connor Mighell Beverly Biehl beyond the rescuers’ reach, over and over Franklin Mountains, to our large, modern The water looked fine when we decided to
Junior, Cambridge Feng Shui consultant, again. Apparently he had been dragged out house on a double fairway in McKinney, move back to California — a little choppy, but
School of Dallas Frisco to sea by a rip current. where we sank our roots deep into the Texas not dangerous. We jumped in and swam out
I’ve known Frisco I stood on the bluff watching the prairie. a bit, and before we knew it, we were far from
Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s
strong stand on Mayor Maher Maso firemen try to pull him from the surf. It When we first walked into the place we the shore. No matter how hard we tried, we
cutting government for years prior to his didn’t feel right to just walk away, as if it rented in California’s Half Moon Bay last just kept getting pulled further and further
earmarks and election, and he’s a didn’t matter that someone was slipping July, we tried to be upbeat. This was a out. Somehow we remembered to swim
lowering taxes for all savvy politician who away from his life. People paused all along voluntary move, after all — a promotion for parallel to the shore.
citizens has certainly knows how to get the bluff, quietly trying to figure out what me and a chance to be near family and My wife finally landed a part-time job, we
earned my respect. what our city needs. happened. There was a surf kite, the
The man’s friends again. We laughed about the rented out our house in Texas, and we
He does not get surfboard that goes with it and a small pile
commitment to our dorm-sized rooms, opened the windows to squeezed our budget even tighter to stay
involved in of his things on the beach — his keys and
extraneous matters, city’s tax base while let out the funky, stale smell, and started to afloat.
promoting wallet, perhaps, things that would soon be settle in. We made our way back to shore in late
but stays focused on
family-friendly called “personal effects” and handed to We knew it would be an adjustment to July, arriving in Texas exhausted and grateful
eliminating
unnecessary and activities is amazing. someone with a heavy heart. scale back our lifestyle, but we didn’t know for another chance at the Lone Star life. We
irrational spending. A special beach rescue team eventually the U.S. economy would tank at the same were finally — finally — back on our path
arrived and pulled him to the shore, but it time, leaving us with an unsold house in and back with friends who never once made
was too late. A T-shirt used as a pillow Texas, a derailed career for my wife and us feel foolish for trying the California dream
during the mouth-to-mouth attempts was public schools for our daughter that were one more time.
placed lightly on his face, and the people on more pink slip than blue ribbon.
the bluff slowly started to move on, the vigil Whatever had been propelling us along Darrin Swartz-Larson of
over. our path seemed to downshift, sputter and McKinney is a former
I had been walking by the beach that stall at the western edge of our world. By the Community Voices volunteer
Art Fleming Nancy L. Ruder day hoping to feel something in the ocean’s columnist. His e-mail address
IT systems engineer, Preschool and art
time I saw the body floating in the Pacific
crash and whisper, its eternal rhythm, that late winter day, I was wondering if we’d is darrinslarson@sbcglobal.
Double Oak teacher, Plano which would ease my worried and net.
ever get our lives back on track.
Even though I am not I wouldn’t let any of
a Dallas resident, I them watch my purse
listen to Angela Hunt. while I went to the
I know that she is ladies room. State
controversial, but I
truly believe that she
has the best interest
of the city and its
Sen. Florence Shapiro
has earned my
respect, though. She
is a tireless worker for
Playing ‘rock, paper, scissors’
residents at her core. the children of Texas.
It’s more than a game. It’s a fun class who does an errand for the teacher if two disputes. Another fifth grade teacher and I
students volunteer? “Rock, paper, scissors.” were standing in the hall when another
way to decide, says Jeri At the end of one school year, a parent sent teacher approached with an attractive black
Voices: The above Voices volunteers are regular
contributors to this forum. Chambers of Plano me a gracious letter complimenting our jacket. It seems that she was cleaning out her
school for the way the children interacted on closet, no longer wanted it and thought one of
Rock, paper, scissors.
Field Day. Evidently, he witnessed a heated us might. We both wanted it.
Sallie Henry of Frisco: I trust Sam Johnson One of the fascinating behaviors of
discussion between two students over who We first decided to see who it fit better.
more than any other North Texas politician, but I children is their ability to mediate and solve
got the ball next. There they went, back to That choice was inconclusive; it looked great
do not totally trust him. My daddy always told us their own conflicts. At our neighborhood
back, “rock, paper, scissors — shoot.” He on both of us. We decided to solve it the “rock,
when he asked us a question, he wanted the truth, school, for example, the
appreciated the climate that allowed students paper, scissors” way. When the stakes are
the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I rarely physical education
to take ownership of their conflicts without high, one game is not sufficient; best two out
feel I’m getting that from any politician, especially department models one
adult interference, and he longed for that of three is preferred. I lost this one, too.
the ones in North Texas. very effective strategy:
same collegiality with adults. The odd thing is that losing this game is no
“rock, paper, scissors.”
Jeff Fortney Sr. of Plano: The only person I Years ago, my husband and I used “rock, big deal. Sure, there’s disappointment, and I
Most people are familiar
trust serving in City Halls today is the unnamed paper, scissors” to decide whose turn it was to have witnessed losers proposing best three
with the game. At our
Elected Official. The one who you don’t read about change diapers. We have even used it to out of four or four out of five. But in the end
school, if students can’t
in the papers, whose sole ambition is to serve those decide who takes the dog out. the conflict is resolved, and players move on
Voices decide who won a close
who voted for them, and one who isn’t consumed Recently, a friend and I were trying to their happy way.
game or need to decide a
with the next election or the next highest office. Teacher decide who should pick up for carpool late I must admit, though, I still covet that
dispute, they immediately
They are out there, somewhere. I just can’t name one night. While on the phone, I suggested jacket.
stand back to back and put out a hand, palm
one. that we play “rock, paper, scissors.” The first
up, and go through the drill: “rock, paper,
time, we both had paper — a tie, and a Jeri Chambers teaches fifth
Bob McCullough of Allen: Probably the only scissors — shoot” to see who wins.
do-over. After recommitting to honesty, we grade in Plano and is a Teacher
politician I would trust is the one who I vastly differ What makes the process fascinating is how Voices volunteer columnist.
did it again. I got paper. She got scissors. I got
with politically. Laura Miller has spent a good ma- it translates beyond the gym. At recess, who Her e-mail address is
carpool.
jority of her life rooting out corrupt practices when gets the swing first? Rock, paper scissors. In jericham@yahoo.com.
I’ve even used it to determine more serious
she was with the Dallas Observer. Political views
aside, if she found my wallet, I can bet my bottom
dollar she would get it returned to me.
LETTERS
Ronald Paris of McKinney: The North Texas
politician I trust the most is Florence Shapiro. She Children need accountability
was my high school speech teacher, and all educa-
tors can look to her for how to lead by example. Re: “Parents: Stress school more — Educa-
tion is no longer job only for students, says
Stephen D. Spotswood of Plano: I wouldn’t Keturah Stewart,” last Sunday Teacher Voices
trust a Texas politician any further than a camel can column.
spit on a Texas sidewalk. I, like Stewart, think being held account-
Fred Yarbrough of Frisco: The most trusted able for every action is the way to teach a child
North Texas politician has to be Sam Johnson be- responsibility. My son has been teaching for
cause he does absolutely nothing. more than 15 years, and as each year passes, it
is more difficult for him to find hope for the
Prissy Wisnewski of Plano: I trust Carol Kent, students and their futures.
who was just elected in November 2008 to serve as The word I keep hearing is “defiant.” The
the state representative for District 102. She is a big students have little or no respect for teachers,
supporter and volunteer of public education, and parents, each other and themselves. No
all three of her kids graduated from public school. teacher should be disrespected. I fear parents
Toni Andrukaitis of McKinney: We have a new, have lost control, because they are more inter-
active mayor in McKinney. He is very involved in all ested in pleasing the child and having the
aspects of city politics and charities as well as cul- child like them. It starts young. I see little kids
tural and social activities around town. Mayor Bri- talking back to their parents daily as the par-
an Loughmiller is doing a great job. I trust him im- ents try to bargain, plead or beg to try to gain
plicitly. control.
Parents make excuses constantly why their
Marc Murray of Allen: None. I believe they all child is out of control and unable to do what is
have their own self-serving agendas to different de- expected. I told my sons if they got in trouble
grees. They are beholden only to lobbies, PACs and in school, they were in big trouble at home. WILLIAM “BUBBA” FLINT/Special Contributor
personal gain. Without parent support, it is hard to see
Scott D. Goebel of Plano: Former Plano Mayor how the business of education can succeed. The children of today will be the leaders of We looked for the recycling bins to dispose of
Pat Evans was the most trustworthy politician on School administrations and teachers are now tomorrow, and unless parents are willing to them properly but found none. If we are sup-
the planet. Whatever she said you could take to the held hostage to the demands of these overpro- make education a priority, the future is to be posed to be and teach our children to be
bank. When voters disapproved of something, she tective helicopter parents. feared. earth-friendly, where are the city’s recycling
changed direction to truly represent Plano. Education is the key to a successful life in Joanna Harkins, Fairview bins? We picked up the littered recyclables
business and living in the real world. The and disposed them at our neighborhood Wal-
SIGN UP dumbing down of education to meet the Mart in McKinney instead.
needs of those who do not want to learn weak- Where are the recycling bins? Please provide more recycling in parks and
These responses are from readers who have asked
to receive the weekly Sounding Off question. To be ens society and the education system as a My kids, ages 5 and 3, went to Celebration common places so that we may keep our earth
added to the e-mail list, send your full contact infor- whole. I applaud teachers, and I appreciate all Park in Allen recently. We saw the ground lit- clean the way it has been given to us.
mation to communityopinions@dallasnews.com. your hard work in the classroom. tered with aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Catherine Casterline, Anna

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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8B Sunday, October 25, 2009 E dallasnews.com The Dallas Morning News

Community opinions A forum for readers in Collin, Dallas and Rockwall counties

We asked our Teacher Voices …

How do you know a student will be successful?
Kim Barnes | Head of Early Childhood, Greenhill Kathleen Krumnow | English teacher, Royse City Jeri L. Chambers | Fifth-grade teacher, Plano —
School, Addison — Sometimes there is a spark. High School — I know a student will be Knowing a student will be successful comes
Sometimes there is an attitude. Sometimes there successful when I get support from his or her down to one word: belief. It starts with the
is a demonstration. Often, the student is a parents. Too often, parents tend to set their parents. Parents who have an unbridled belief
problem-solver. A student who takes a failure or high-school kids free. Free from attending “Meet that their child can and will succeed are the
mistake in stride and devises a solution that will move him or her the Teacher Night,” free from checking report cards, free from foundation. The next step comes from the student. Students who
forward will succeed with the situation at hand or in the future. curfews and, as a result, free from accountability. When these kids believe that they can do it, even if it means some work and
Students who present perseverance and creativity as they solve a reach adulthood and actual freedom, they will not have the diligence, will find success and learn to leverage that success to
problem become students who can see varied facets of an issue. required foundation to take care of themselves. So, when a parent even greater success. The icing on the cake comes from the
These problem-solvers engage others either to reflect ideas or to calls or e-mails me just to check on a child, I teacher. A teacher can build confidence and belief in her students.
solicit physical help or brainpower. Reflection plays a big part in think, “Lucky kid. You will know what true Faith in positive outcomes trumps curriculum and teaching
these students’ lives as they seem to constantly build on the freedom means.” strategy any day. A smart child does not necessarily a successful
challenges they have conquered or even at which they have failed. student make, but when a belief “team” is in place, the sky’s the
limit.

Faith Davis Johnson | Eighth-grade U.S.
Studies teacher, John B. Hood Middle School, Karen Kimball | Substitute teacher, Richardson
Dallas — You know that students are on the path ISD — Recently I substituted in a kindergarten
to success when you give an assignment, and class. It was the third week of school, and one
they go a step further. For example, if the student stood out: He entered the classroom, put
assignment is to be handwritten, the student types it instead. Or if his things away, and sat down at his table to
you’ve given the student a task to complete based on a lecture in complete his morning work. Throughout the day he listened,
class, and he or she includes analysis on a concept you haven’t followed directions and did his work carefully and correctly. He
covered yet — and it’s right on target. You know when they ask was proud of his job as “door holder” and was always ready and in
you to write letters of recommendation and then promptly place when the class left the room. He answered questions
follow up in writing, complete with an advanced “thank you.” correctly and creatively (not copying the answers of others). He
You know when students remember what you have taught was polite, kind and friendly to students, and well-liked by
— and then use the same method to share with others what everyone. I may never see him again, but I am convinced he is well
they learned from you. on his way to success — in school and in life.
WILLIAM “BUBBA”
FLINT/Special
Contributor

Tim Greenwell | Freshmen World Geography
teacher, Flower Mound High School, Lewisville Sandy Kulkarni | Chemistry teacher, Allen High Mark R. Harrington | History teacher, Seagoville
ISD — Students will be successful when they are School — What is real education? I don’t think it High School — As a history teacher and a
aware of their capabilities and limitations and is merely getting good grades, but it is mainly historian, I’ve never given much import to the
work to move forward beyond those about learning skills to apply that knowledge to writings of Nostradamus. Divining what is to
self-recognized levels. You can see it in their body language, hear our real lives. While teaching, when I hear come has never been our strong suit. Similarly,
it in their voices and experience it by the confidence they exude. questions like “why” and “how” from a student, I sense that the I’ve never given much credence to those who claim they help us
Likewise, if these traits are lacking, it does not always mean they student is intellectually stimulated. Those unexpected curious connect with our supposed past lives. Despite all our yearnings,
are shy but rather do not necessarily possess a strong enough questions signal presence of a vision. They tell me that students we have the here and now — no more. For these reasons I find it
sense of self-awareness. It should also be noted that being an are able to relate what they learned with practical cases. I notice hubristic to label a student. There are valedictorians living under
overachiever or a suck-up does not equal success. Success that successful students have a goal in their mind and vision for freeways. There are F students running successful companies. As
requires initiative and effort, focus and drive, responsibility and the future. What they need is simply building an action plan. If teachers, it is incumbent on us to provide opportunities for
commitment. teachers provide them with an insight, I can see “success” success. We should leave the future in God’s hands — and maybe
marching with those students. the astrologers’.

We asked our Student Voices …

What makes a teacher effective and memorable?
Michelle Vongkeo Ashmore | Senior, Royse City Brian Brown | Senior, Plano West Senior High Brianda Reyes | Senior, South Garland High
High School — More often than not, great School — A good teacher is someone who shows School — Teachers’ effectiveness is not measured
teachers pay attention to their student’s daily he or she cares. Someone who wants to see you by the amount of homework they give every
lives. Most think it strange that I have some of succeed. Someone who knows your name after night or how many students passed their class;
my teachers’ private phone numbers, but it’s not the first day. These teachers are not there just to it’s measured by their passion for teaching. We
only for convenience. It’s for when I need help with my own teach, but also to help you learn. If you can’t learn something the don’t remember the teacher who had pop quizzes all the time or
personal problems or want to let them know about fantastic news. way they are teaching it, they’ll take the time to make sure you do the one who always gave out reading assignments. We remember
When I read my e-mail telling me that I was going to be a Voices more than just know it; you understand it. They’ll come early and the teacher who pulled us out after class to discuss why our grades
columnist, the very first person I told was my teacher, Mrs. stay late if that’s what it takes to help you. They will not only be were so low, the teacher who stayed after school just a little longer
Krumnow. If teachers are able to gain the confidence in their able to, but they want to engage in a conversation with you. Good to help us learn the lesson thoroughly, the teacher who praised us
students as people, they gain it also as teachers. To those select teachers are people I can talk to about anything. People I trust. when we did something right and did not pick on us when we did
few do we students reserve our greatest efforts. Teaching isn’t their something wrong. We want — need — praise and remember the
job; it’s their teachers who are generous with their enthusiasm, their attention,
passion. It’s what their care, their understanding.
they were born to do.

Alexandria Hudson | Senior, Rockwall
High School — I have had my fair
share of hateful, grouchy, pompous Ana K. Molina Brea | Sophomore, Jasper High
teachers. But for the past four School, Plano — Trying to overcome
years of high school, my lively, bewilderment in the classroom can be like to
encouraging, creative English teachers have trying to find a four-leaf clover in a patch of
been the highlight of my school day — mainly hundreds — after a while, people stop looking.
because they have treated me with respect. My But Ms. Darden, my ninth-grade biology teacher, broke through
junior year especially, I felt like Mrs. Melissa using the element of surprise. She would enthrall us in her
Nelson managed to balance classroom lectures about chloroplasts and ribonucleic acid with shocking
management with friendship and a genuine comments that made us laugh and kept us all ears, hanging on her
interest in my life. Good teachers will drop words. Maybe more teachers should teach with astounding style.
everything to help you when you struggle. She In the rare times when our interest started waning, Ms. Darden
showed that she wasn’t at school just to make money. always surprised us. Her flamboyant mneumonic devices aided us
She took what was required to be taught in AP English on tests. Even a year later, I can recall all eight characteristics of
III and showed us how it would apply to everyday life. Good life, and I do not think that I will forget them anytime soon.
teachers teach for the future.

Brennan Tanksley | Senior, McKinney Boyd High Sneha Raghunathan | Junior, Plano Senior High
School — Out of all the unforgettable attributes School — A memorable teacher inspires students
my teachers have had, only one seems to stand to think out of the box. Rather than teaching
out as a dominant factor: the ability to transcend Avery Hurst | Senior, J.J. Pearce High School, students rote facts, an effective teacher
the professional bounds that so many teachers Richardson — My favorite teachers have been the encourages students to discover a subject by
have grown accustomed to. Through compassion and ones who truly get to know each individual child. themselves. An effective teacher also answers all her students’
understanding, my best teachers were able to secure their places If you are just a student at a desk, there is no way questions, even if they are repetitive or obvious. She doesn’t mind
in each student’s memory forever. Without this uncommon to connect with what your teacher is saying. If a explaining things over and over again. The most memorable and
personal factor, school begins to feel more like an obligation than teacher becomes a “friend” with his or her students, it becomes a effective teachers know their students, and are able to adapt to
the privilege that it is. The ability to build relationships with better level for them both to learn on. It is also effective if the each student’s abilities. My most memorable teachers were the
students and become more than just a teacher in the eyes of their teachers don’t feel the need to “stoop down” to their students’ ones who were always enthusiastic about teaching and made me
pupils permanently engraves them in their students’ minds. That level. If students feel like we are being talked down to, it makes us enthusiastic about the subject. Even if students already know the
ability, above all others, is what makes teachers able to effectively want to rebel more against anything they want us to do. If we are subject, a good teacher finds a way to make the class learn
do their jobs while securing their place in each student’s life for treated as an individual on the same level as our teachers, we are something new every day. And they do all of this while respecting
years to come. more likely to live our lives as learners. students and their intelligence.

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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Community opinions A forum for readers in Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties

SOUNDING OFF
Comment on the following topic on our
blog: dallasnews.com/opinionblog.
Small town nostalgia
Should students spend more time in My world was larger than in the big city, says Michael Hopkovitz
school? At what level of government “Well, I was born in a small town. … Oh, We spent long days in the playground at you run across wet stones in a stream. That
those small communities.” the town park, or swimming in the public in a small town, the police know the parents
should the decision be made about — Small Town, John Mellencamp pool. Sometimes, we would take our bamboo and address of a lost 5-year-old and will let
lengthening school days or adding fishing poles to a pond and debate whether him run the siren on the way home.

D
more instruction days to the year? allas is my home now, but I was Superman or Aquaman could catch more Eventually we moved to the big city. Our
born in a small Texas Hill Country fish. Other times, we hung out at the Amer- new house had air conditioning, which beat
town, and spent much of my child- ican Legion Hall, where the retired veterans the heck out of our box fan at the old house,
hood there. My parents, eastern European would tell us war stories over their beers. but my days of taking off in the morning and
immigrant survivors of the Holocaust, I also would “help out” at my father’s just going wherever I wanted had come to an
were hardly typical Texans, but our family small business, no doubt getting in his way. end. Too much traffic, too many people we
fit right into the Germanic/Hispanic My primary job was the twice-daily trips to didn’t know, too many ways for me to come
town’s character. check the post office box. Fortunately Winns’ to harm, and no pecan trees or fishing
Viviana Cruz Tim Greenwell Our neighbors on one side had two boys five and dime was right by the post office. I ponds.
Junior, Newman Freshmen World my age, Edward and Johnny, my constant could dawdle there for a long time, going In our small town, I felt as free as the
Smith High School, Geography teacher, companions. The lady who lived on the through complex mathematics of how I wind. I cherish my memories of that time,
Carrollton Flower Mound High other side in a much larger house could could divide a nickel among the entire aisle and every few years, I revisit the places of my
Students should be
School, Lewisville ISD have been middle-aged, but to us, she was of penny items. childhood. That small town is no longer
allowed to tailor their A longer school day
a scary old lady. We never, ever went in her At night, our attention went to star-filled small, and my father’s old store is now one
days; some are better would have to include yard, convinced that she was an evil witch skies unimpaired by light pollution and the antique shop among many. Perhaps that life
suited in a classroom a different approach who would do terrible things to us. wondrous lightning bugs we would chase. I experienced doesn’t exist anywhere except
and others in an than our current My house had big pecan trees in the At the end of these long days of play, my in memories like mine. If so, that’s a shame.
off-campus location structure by provid- back yard. In season, we would collect mom was always waiting for me, with freshly Oh, those small communities.
such as college-out ing a balance be- nuts, take them “downtown” and sell them baked treats to eat while she kissed away
and internships. tween something of for 5 cents a bag to everyone we could find. whatever boo-boo’s I accumulated during Michael Hopkovitz of Dallas,
Spending too much strong interest to the This would provide plenty of money to go the day and listened to my adventures. inside Denton County, volun-
time in school and not students and some- to the fountain at the town dairy plant and I also learned some unpleasant things. teers with several Jewish
getting real-world thing that is educa-
get whatever ice cream dish we wanted. Or About German immigrants who didn’t want nonprofit groups and is a
experience holds us tionally sound.
we would take in a double feature at the their kid playing with a Jew. That if you Community Voices volunteer
back.
town’s only movie theater and sit in air- throw rocks at a beehive, you get badly columnist. His e-mail address is mikespolitics
conditioned comfort for an afternoon. stung. That you can fall and hit your head if @att.net.

Kim Barnes
Head of Early Child-
hood, Greenhill
Debbie Gallagher
Computer teacher,
Daniel Intermediate
The gift of hospice
School, Addison School, Duncanville
ISD
It’s a concept that eases the pain of dying, says Shirlene Lucy
The school day needs

I
to be re-evaluated The answer to im- f you had the option to know when you be at an inpatient facility such as a hospital, worry about finances at this critical time.
from a develop- proving our educa- are going to die, would you want to but most people opt to remain at home. A During my dad’s experience, I learned a
mental perspective tion system is not a know? definition of hospices would include the fact couple of very important things. If you are
instead of a time longer day or a longer Hospice is a concept that can come close to that they do not treat the patient medically, unhappy with a situation or a caregiver, call
perspective. Ensuring school year. The giving you that gift, so you can accomplish but only provide palliative care, meaning that the hospice office and ask for a manager or
strong programs that answer is really very
things before you die. Not the trips or the they keep the patient as comfortable as pos- other official. If the issue can’t be worked out,
spiral and challenge, simple — smaller
job-related things, but renewing old friend- sible until he or she passes away. you have the right to dismiss that hospice
yet allow children to classes. If all teachers
have a childhood, had 20 students or
ships, making things right between you and Here are some things I learned during my altogether and hire another one. Don’t be
might be a better fewer in their class- that estranged family member, telling your dad’s experience with hospice: timid if you think that is called for.
focus. While national rooms, so much more children you love them one more time, and First, to be placed in the care of hospice, Also, do not make sweeping promises to
guidelines and state could be accom- giving away your stuff in time to see the recip- the patient’s doctor has to certify that he or the patient. Instead, say that you promise that
input should be plished. I know this ients enjoy using it. I had a friend dying of she believes the patient is within six months you will make the very best decision under the
provided, school takes money, but if kidney cancer who wrote her own obituary. of dying; it doesn’t always happen that way, current circumstances that you can.
districts know their you want the answer, Hospice wasn’t even available in this however. Going on hospice is something we would
communities and that’s it. country 40 years ago. In 1842, Jeanne Gar- After the family contacts a hospice, a social all rather not think about. But if you ever
should be the ones
nier introduced the concept at Dames de worker visits the family wherever the patient obtain the services of one, you could learn
able to make best
Calaire in Lyon, France, having been inspired is. This person explains how hospice works that this can be one of the most compassion-
judgments.
by a patient there. But it wasn’t until 1974 and offers the family assistance in filling out ate decisions you can make in life’s journey
that Florence Wald, the “mother of American the stack of papers necessary to sign up. She for you or your loved one. The gift of hospice
Voices: The above Voices volunteers are regular hospice,” organized the first one here. Now will tell the family that hospice attends to the is about dignity and quality at the end of a
contributors to this forum. there are more than 4,700 hospices in the emotional and spiritual needs of the termi- terminally ill person’s life.
United States. nally ill patient, provided by a team of experts
Before my dad died seven years ago, his including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social Shirlene Lucy of Carrollton is
H.G. Manning of Salado: I do not know if the
doctor recommended hospice. I found that workers, chaplains and volunteers. a retired portrait photogra-
school day should be lengthened or not. Certainly, it
just as there are differences in the quality of Hospice care is not expensive. In fact, it is pher and Community Voices
is a topic worthy of discussion. However, I do know volunteer columnist. Her
restaurants, hospitals or widgets, so it is for covered by Medicare, which pays for every-
it should not be a mandate made upon the states by e-mail address is shirlenelucy
hospices. thing except certain supplies. Therefore, the
the federal government. @msn.com.
Hospice isn’t a place, but a concept. It can patient and his or her family do not have to
Glee Huebner of Dallas: There are many good
reasons to lengthen the school day. It would allow
more time to concentrate on learning each subject
and it would be helpful to working parents. There
are also many reasons to have year-round school.
We could fully use the facility, it would allow less
time for children to get into trouble during the sum-
Inching toward the metric system
mer, and we could work in more short vacation
breaks, giving much needed time to rejuvenate both
It’s a must for keeping up yards every day; they haven’t failed us yet.
But by the time I finished my homework, I
not be a major struggle for them when they
reach their chemistry class in high school.
children and teachers. in science and math, says not only had a grasp of the metric units, I It is about time that we as a nation em-
Claire Mayer of Little Elm: Students in no way, Nandita Singh of Carrollton realized that it was a pretty practical system. brace the metric system and allow ourselves
shape or form should be spending any more time in If we can understand that there are 100 cents to enter the 21st century. If we want to bring

K
ing Henry died Monday by drinking in one dollar, then we can understand the America’s students back on top of math and
the classroom. This is a matter of quality not quanti- chocolate milk. For some people, this
ty. We need to remember that public schools are in entire metric system. The silly little tricks and science, the first step is to make it easily
statement makes no sense. For others, phrases we learn in elementary school really accessible and comfortable.
the profession of educating youth, not raising chil- this is the metric system.
dren. just instill an irrational fear of all things Although moving to a completely metric
It’s a pneumonic device to remind people metric in a student’s mind. system in America seems like an insur-
Shirley Jackson of Arlington: More time spent of the prefixes used in the metric system. For Kids are not drawn to a field if they do not mountable hassle, it is the key to restoring
in school should be beneficial to most students. It example: Kilometer, Hectometer, Decameter, even understand its language. The metric our global credibility in math and science.
seems they have too much free time on their hands Meter, Decimeter, Centimeter, Millimeter. system is the universal language of math and Americans can be viewed as narrow-minded
and utilize that time in unwise activities. When I entered my sophomore chemistry science. Students in every other developed and unaware. The metric system is a prag-
class this year, I believed I was fully aware country utilize the metric system. Therefore, matic, easy-to-learn and adaptable system. If
Mary Anne Markley of Carrollton: No to more and familiar with the metric system. That
days. No to longer days. Time is needed for: sports, when they develop an interest in math, phys- students and future generations can com-
was until my chemistry teacher kindly stated ics or chemistry they are able to parse it with pete, communicate and converse in metric
Scouts, band, drill team, dance and music lessons, that “King Henry should have died” and then
clubs, volunteer work, etc. And what about kids who full confidence units, we will restore America’s status as the
asked us if we could tell her how many centi- To close the gap between the students in most advanced nation in the world.
have to work after school to save for college? Or help meters were in a meter. The response was one
out at home? And what about the teachers? Time to America and those of other rapidly advancing
long and drawn out silence from a room full countries such as China and India, we need to Nandita Singh is a sopho-
breathe? Think? Plan? of students who could not believe that the level the playing field. The metric system is more at Hebron High School
SIGN UP clever acronym for the metric prefixes had the accepted measurement standard in the in Carrollton. She is also a
These responses are from readers who have asked failed us. While I struggled with my con- world. Science is teeming with liters, meters Student Voices volunteer
to receive the weekly Sounding Off question. To be versions homework that night, I began to and grams. If we begin to teach our students columnist. To respond to
added to the e-mail list, send your full contact infor- wonder whether the metric system was even the metric system from day one, there would this column, send an e-mail
mation to communityopinions@dall asnews.com. all that practical. We use feet, gallons and to voices@dallas news.com.

RAISE YOUR VOICE Apply in four easy steps: your background and experience? Why 3. Jot down three other topics you would
We are accepting applications for Com- 1. Write a little about yourself and put to- should we choose you? like to write about.
munity Voices, a panel of volunteer colum- gether a list of current and previous civic in- 2. Share a previous writing sample or 4. E-mail the entry to voices@dallas
nists who will be regular contributors to the volvements. How would others in the com- write something new on a current topic. A news.com. Include your address and phone
Opinions page inside the Metro section. munity describe you? What is unique about writing sample should be 600-650 words. number. Deadline: 4 p.m. tomorrow.

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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10B Sunday, October 11, 2009 W dallasnews.com The Dallas Morning News

Community opinions A forum for readers in Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties

SOUNDING OFF
Comment on the following topic on our
blog: dallasnews.com/opinionblog.
Pencil in some play time
Do you trust your city hall to Forget overscheduling! Focus on what’s underscheduled, says Kim Barnes
prevent the kind of corruption
M
emory zoom — Three children (8, were in charge of their time, or at least a good This time to reflect and regenerate and to
6, 4) joyfully mix dirt, leaves, portion of their time. They were wondering, make choices and have control over those
involving developers that was sticks and water as they pat and exploring, discovering. They were problem- choices provides opportunities to problem-
exposed in the federal trial in decorate their creations and place them solving. They were creative. solve and try out solutions. Children work out
into the imaginary oven. They talk vividly The children I described created their own social issues via reflection and role play;
Dallas? about the aromas arising from the box personal education. They role-played cooking without the play, issues are worked out
beside them. — looking for just the right ingredients and through physical aggression or ailments.
Memory zoom — Six teenage boys come temperature for the perfect pie. Teenagers Lack of down time may be the reason a
trotting down the alley. It’s impossible to kept each other in line as they established the child zones out in front of the television. It
tell who is who because rules of a football game. Little ones learned to may be the origin of the chronic stomachache
slick red mud is dripping engineer and collaborate. or “my head hurts.”
from every crevice of their Overscheduling has become a buzzword Is your normally happy, easygoing child
clothing and bodies. That popular in parenting books and even reflected becoming consistently mopey or whiny?
Jerry Walters Faith Davis Johnson park will never have any in Student Voices columns. Each day young Check out his schedule for the underschedul-
Retired police officer, Eighth-grade U.S. grass! children move from school to music lessons to ing of free play. With the emphasis on what is
Irving Studies teacher, John Memory zoom — Ten multiple sports practices and games. underscheduled in a child’s day, overschedul-
B. Hood Middle kids under age 6 are In Revolution in the Bleachers, Regan ing may evaporate and parents may find the
City hall is limited by
School, Dallas
political consider- Voices busily work at a water McMahon cites a survey of children aged 3 to stress of their schedule may have some evap-
ations and private I do believe city hall is
Teacher
trough. One has learned 12 conducted by the University of Michigan. oration as well.
concerns in prevent- on the right track. The to lodge a stick in the Taken between 1981 and 1997, this survey Of course, focusing on the play and reflec-
ing public corruption, mayor and City Coun- faucet to ensure water flow is uninterrupt- concluded that free time had declined 12 tive time may bring forth those two little
even if it tried. cil members seem to ed, while others arrange cove molding to percent, playtime had dropped 3 hours per words that bring terror to the hearts of many
Power and influential work well together engineer water flow to three different areas. week, unstructured outdoor activities de- parents and teachers: “I’m bored.” Celebrate
ways have and always and appear to have
They are careful to avoid the dams just creased by 50 percent, structured sports those moments. And reply, “What are you
will breed corruption. the best interests of
Public scrutiny and constructed by others. doubled from 2 hours 20 minutes to 5 hours going to do about it?”
the citizens of Dallas
constant vigilance by in mind. The renova- Childhood memories. What are your 17 minutes and after-school study time in-
law enforcement are tions in the Arts three favorite? Do they involve structure? creased by 50 percent. Add in seven hours of Kim Barnes is the head of
the preventive tools District are an in- Do they involve adults or adult organiza- school, and it’s time to go to bed. early childhood education at
that we must contin- dicator that funding is tion? Was there a specific objective or goal Forget overscheduling! Let’s look at each Greenhill School in Addison
ue to use. being aligned in the for you to achieve? Do any of them center child’s day from the perspective of what is and a Teacher Voices volun-
appropriate places. around play? underscheduled — free, undirected play and teer columnist. Her e-mail
Think back to children when children down time. address is barnesk@greenhill.org.

Peggy vanWunnik
Administrative
assistant, DeSoto
Candace S. McAfee
12th-grade A.P. U.S.
Government teacher,
Skyline Center, Dallas
Exceptional neighborhoods
I do trust my city hall This weekend’s Oak Cliff home he is the president of one of the neighborhood quite so much attention.
to prevent that kind I think Mayor Tom associations in west Oak Cliff — a charming For example, the Beckley Wood neigh-
of corruption. DeSoto Leppert has some tour will reveal them to you, neighborhood but one that is still very much in borhood will be featured for the very first time
council members
represent all citizens,
good ideas about says Debra Witter transition. He and I had a nice (electronic) in the tour’s 35-year history. The tour organiz-
accountability and dialogue about the frustrations that had ers also wanted to focus on smaller homes that
not just residents of a ethical standards. I

I
recently wrote a column about the caused him to respond the way he had — have been transformed by their owners, not
particular district. trust him, but the
glories of Oak Cliff. My piece was in mostly the constant struggle to get attention just the grander homes in Kessler Park and
claims of innocence
response to what another Community from the city of Dallas on code enforcement Winnetka Heights. You can get more in-
when they have you
on tape are unbeliev- Voices columnist had written, which I felt issues. He talked about how sometimes he just formation at ooccl.com.
able. Do they think we was unduly negative about Oak Cliff and the wanted to live somewhere neat, clean and easy, Going on the tour is a great way to see Oak
are stupid? involvement of its resi- where constant vigilance wasn’t required. Cliff — not just the homes themselves, but
dents in helping improve I sure hope he sticks it out, because people these neighborhoods I’ve been talking about.
their neighborhoods. I like him will determine whether the Oak Cliff As you drive (or bike) between the houses,
Voices: The above Voices volunteers are regular got some interesting that I know and love — the neighborhoods of you’ll see beauty, and you’ll see challenges.
contributors to this forum. responses. Most of them North Oak Cliff and, yes, the booming Bishop You’ll see that much has been accomplished in
were very positive, but Arts area — becomes a truly representative Oak Cliff, and that much remains to be ac-
Sharon Barbosa-Crain of Irving: It does not re- one guy really took me to image of the face of Oak Cliff to the rest of the complished.
quire “city hall” to stop corruption, and developers task. city. My critic was right — those of us who live in
are not the sole cause of such. The Dallas defen- Voices He didn’t use these The Old Oak Cliff Conservation League is a the neighborhoods that have made it, so to
dants’ actions were against criminal law. Personal words, but in essence nonprofit umbrella organization for 23 neigh- speak, cannot ignore the bigger picture. Nor
Community
honesty controls law-breaking — that, and a accused me of being a borhood associations covering nearly 10,000 can we afford to be complacent about our own
healthy fear that alert people will notify the author- shallow yuppie who needed to get out of my households. Their Web site says they work “to neighborhoods. Reclaiming a neighborhood
ities of what they observe. privileged enclave and see the real Oak Cliff. promote Oak Cliff to the wider community as that has been allowed to deteriorate is a long,
He also challenged me to write about Oak an exceptional place to live.” slow process, and one that requires vision,
Cleatius Copeland of Roanoke: Yes, I do trust I like that characterization. “Exceptional” patience and stamina. Unfortunately, a neigh-
Cliff without talking about the Bishop Arts
the people in the City of Roanoke government. district, hills and trees, diversity, etc. — what can mean “superior,” but also can mean “rare” borhood can be destroyed much more quickly
How can you not trust a government lead by a per- he called the Oak Cliff clichés. or “deviating from the norm.” I think that and easily. All it takes is doing nothing.
son named “Scooter”? Do I always agree with I have to admit that really stung, as I applies well to the neighborhoods that are
them? No. But I have found they are approachable. thought it was an unfair reading of what I part of the league. Debra Witter of Oak Cliff is an
If I ever decide that I can’t trust them, I will be part had written. My first reaction was just to But don’t just take my word for it. This attorney and a Community
of a process to vote them out of office. ignore it, but instead I e-mailed him back weekend is the league’s annual home tour. Voices volunteer columnist.
and, with as much restraint as I could, told This year’s tour has taken pains to highlight Her e-mail address is debra
Vickie McKillip of Carrollton: No one is im-
him just that. I’m really glad I did. Turns out some of the neighborhoods that don’t get witter@tx.rr.com.
mune to getting caught up in corrupt practices giv-
en the right mix of opportunity, desperation and/or
greed. While there is no current hint of local scan-
dal, political power and fallible human nature
make uneasy bedfellows. If temptation knocks on
the door often enough, someone will answer sooner LETTERS
or later.
E.B. Pope of Lancaster: Sadly, not at all. I think
A tree to save in Colleyville
corruption is built in and unavoidable. All of the There is an opportunity for McDonald’s to
people in city government seem to be looking out be a long-term steward of a historic tree and
for themselves the most. to provide a model of conservation to our
Stephen Matthews of Bedford: I trust city hall,
community of children and the surrounding
regardless of the city, less than I trust officials on area.
the national level. The back-scratching good ol’ boy With a focused effort by a construction
network seems to be more prevalent at the local company and McDonald’s, a tree on the site of
level. a new McDonald’s in Colleyville can thrive for
another 100 years or more. Efforts made to
Jill Wallace of Flower Mound: I live in Flower save this tree can be a testament to today’s
Mound and I do trust my mayor and city council to children and tomorrow’s adults that we actu-
do what is in the best interest of the citizens they re- ally thought through what to conserve for
present. They have proven themselves to be worthy them. These efforts are also a great learning
of their office, and their hard work has been benefi- opportunity in a community that values edu-
cial for our citizens and community. cation.
Jim Dyer of Carrollton: I know some of our
The construction company’s arborist has
council members, and I also personally know the recommended aeration pipes be installed
mayor, and I have found them to be upstanding cit- with observation valves and openings to check
izens. I feel if one of them should deviate from the periodically, because air to the roots is vital for
straight and narrow the other council members all trees.
would report it. Mitigation for the tree had been agreed up-
on as part of the deal. The tree is more than 30
inches in circumference, so the new owner has
SIGN UP
agreed to mitigate by planting 40 inches of WILLIAM “BUBBA” FLINT/Special Contributor
These responses are from readers who have asked
trees, or 10 4-inch caliper trees.
to receive the weekly Sounding Off question. To be
Large trees are rare in this area, have many This last post oak from the Bogart Dairy of and be willing to execute the recommenda-
added to the e-mail list, send your full contact infor-
valuable attributes besides providing shade, yesteryear is needed in the center of town. tions of the arborist hired to help save the tree.
mation to communityopinions@dallasnews.com.
and should be preserved inside the city. Maybe the owner can now see the opportunity Anne Dyson, Colleyville

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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Community opinions A forum for readers in Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties

SOUNDING OFF
Comment on the following topic on our
blog: dallasnews.com/opinionblog.
The rush to adulthood
There’s value in preserving the innocence of childhood, says Viviana Cruz
What North Texas politician do I remember walking into my school participated in binge drinking. Columbia
these words being applied to children as
you trust the most? auditorium and sitting down on hard young as 9 years old? University’s National Center on Addiction
plastic blue chairs. I remember turning to Let’s review: For the past 12 years I have and Substance Abuse states that children
face our speakers to hear what they had to been enrolled in the public school system, first aged 12 and up have a 14.4 percent drug abuse
say. DISD, then Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. rate.
“This is the start of a new school year; The first time the words “young adult” were These are sickening numbers, but there is
let’s really make it count! It’s time to get to applied to me was in fifth grade, the first year some hope offered by Joseph A. Califano Jr.,
work, to try harder and do better. You are of the “rigorous, no nonsense” world of Ted CASA chairman: “A child who reaches age 21
one year older, one year wiser. This is the Polk Middle School. Most students were 11 to without smoking, abusing alcohol or using
Peggy vanWunnik Faith Davis Johnson time for you to shine as young adults, and drugs is virtually certain never to do so.”
13, with the exception of a few geniuses. Did
Administrative Eighth-grade U.S.
since you are young they fit the criteria of young adults? Is it fair to These are comforting words and show we
assistant, DeSoto Studies teacher, John
adults, there will be zero expect that from someone going through the can do something to better the futures of
B. Hood Middle
Although I haven’t tolerance for any painful stages of pre-teenism? many youth. A good place as any is how we
School, Dallas
always agreed with insubordination. You set That’s not my only criticism of the use of view children, because that’s what 10- to
his tactics, and even Sen. Royce West has an example for those those two words. The frightening thought 13-year-olds are: children.
though I generally been a formidable younger than you and Children learn from their peers; it’s a
entered my head one day that the very
support Republican champion of his before you know it, you administrators who strived to end drug and simple fact. If only one of them has this
or independent constituents and is
will be adults in the alcohol abuse, teenage violence and brilliant idea of how grown up they are, they
candidates, I have for well-respected local-
a long time admired Voices workplace. Summer is pregnancy were unknowingly instilling the will all get it.
ly and nationally. His
and supported John work in bringing the Student over; it’s time to grow up problems into a younger generation. My head It’s time we valued childhood and
Wiley Price. He is an University of North and act like the young was too lost in the clouds to notice it, but I’m innocence, because all too soon it is gone. It is
honorable man who is Texas system to the adults you are.” sure the thought processes of many of my far too short to be rushed, and that’s what has
fiscally responsible southern sector, I remember having heard this speech peers went something like this: been happening through our education
and works to find providing internships three times before, and this one was taking “I’m being asked to perform as a young system. Maybe after this, we can work on that
common ground for young people place at the beginning of seventh grade. I adult. I’m being told every day what my suicide rate and those self-esteem issues.
across party lines. He through the Conrad had just turned 12. responsibilities are as a young adult. Heck, I
serves his constitu- project, and speaking Does anything seem wrong to anybody am a young adult! And adults can do Viviana Cruz is a junior at
ents well. at Career Day pro-
besides me? The words “young adult” are whatever they want!” Newman Smith High School
grams show his in Carrollton and a Student
pretty easy to understand. I would expect According to government statistics, two
commitment to
maturity, responsibility, independence and out of five eighth graders have consumed Voices volunteer columnist.
education.
integrity from a young adult. But why are alcohol and about 11 percent have To respond to this column,
send an e-mail to voices@dallasnews.com.

Art Fleming
IT systems engineer,
Shirlene Lucy
Retired portrait
Give an animal a second chance
Double Oak photographer and

Even though I am not
volunteer, Carrollton Adopt a pet from a shelter today, says Cynthia Herschkowitsch
a Dallas resident, I Not a politician,

I
listen to Angela Hunt. exactly, but I admire t happened again this year, as it has so played with him to ensure that he was social- catastrophic events have coincided to make
I know that she is Dallas County District many times before: A student came run- ized for his eventual new family. I also talked to their job harder than ever: the flagging econo-
controversial, but I Attorney Craig Wat- ning into the school where I teach, ginger- volunteers from the two organizations that had my, hurricanes in recent years and a spate of
truly believe that she kins and the work he ly carrying a kitten. offered to help. The lady from the shelter seizures from puppy mills.
has the best interest is doing to free in- He thought it had been attacked by a dog offered such a glowing description of the facil- So now, I’m fostering the little broken kitten
of the city and its nocent people who and, thinking its leg was broken, wrapped a ity, its volunteers and its adoption program that I am calling “Cassidy,” as in “Hopalong.”
residents at her core. have been wrongly
makeshift bandage around its tiny rear leg to that, on Saturday, I prepared my little broken He seems to be improving. He is eating and
sentenced to years in
prison.
give it support. Since its injuries didn’t seem kitten for the trip. playing; he only drags his foot when he gets
life-threatening, I secured it I was expecting kitty nirvana. But from the tired.
in the storage room of a very moment we entered the shelter, I knew I wasn’t But I am still agonizing over the animals in
accommodating colleague going to leave him there. The smell was ter- our shelters. When I asked the shelter manager
Voices: The above Voices volunteers are regular
contributors to this forum. until my classes were over. rible, the litter boxes were full and cats were if they needed volunteers, she said, “We have
During lunch, I e-mailed everywhere. I’ve never seen so many cats. They plenty of good volunteers.” What about dona-
my old friend Jonnie Eng- all seemed healthy, well-fed and happy, but I tions? “Donations are up, too.” “What do you
Jill Wallace of Flower Mound: Jody Smith, may- land and asked for advice. was shocked by their sheer numbers. need, then?”
or of Flower Mound, would be my choice. She loves She, in turn, forwarded my In the isolation room, I quickly realized, “Adopters,” she said, “Adoptions are way
her community, supports our businesses and appeal to her animal-rescue these cats in here are actually sick. My little guy down.”
Voices network. Within an hour, I is just broken. A big, beautiful, blind cat was So, if you have room in your heart and your
schools, and has worked very hard to make Flower
Teacher had two offers of help — one nosing around my carrier. My heart melted. home, please go to your local shelter, and say,
Mound a wonderful city to live in. Her enthusiasm
about our city and her pride in our community and from a local organization The shelter manager told me that if I left my “Give me the oldest animal you have, or the one
its citizens is contagious. that uses a foster network and promotes kitten there, he would develop an upper respi- that’s been at the shelter the longest, or the
adoptions on its Web site and at area pet ratory infection. I said that I would foster him, blind one or the kitten with the broken pelvis. I
LeRoy Grego of Irving: Laura Miller. She should shops; the other from a shelter that offered to so they took pictures to display on their Web want to give an animal a good home and a
be our next governor of Texas. take the kitten immediately. site. second chance at a happy life.”
Troy Kelley of Irving: Kenny Marchant has dem- In the meantime, I drove the kitten to my I cried all the way home, grieving for all of They all have sad stories. It’s up to us to
onstrated his concern for our area for 18 years in the vet in Farmers Branch for an assessment. Two those beautiful cats who, because they are write their happy endings.
Texas House before going to Washington. He X-rays and $161 later, we had the diagnosis: a older, are probably going to spend their lives in
doesn’t need the money and is a super strong person broken pelvis and possible nerve damage, this no-kill shelter, rather than in loving Cynthia Herschkowitsch
of faith and integrity. causing the right rear foot to knuckle under, homes. teaches at South Oak Cliff
injuries more consistent with being hit by a car How does this happen? It’s certainly not the High School in the Dallas ISD
Norma Urban-Palomarez of Flower Mound: than a dog attack. shelter’s fault. The people are hard-working, and is a Teacher Voices volun-
Kay Bailey Hutchison. I don’t always agree with her For the rest of the week, I dutifully gave the unbelievably dedicated and understandably teer columnist. Her e-mail
stand on things, and I often believe that she’s too kitten his medicine, changed his litter box and overwhelmed. I also know that a variety of address is CHerschkowitsch@dallasisd.org.
conservative. But I trust her to do what she says
she’ll do. I know where she stands; she doesn’t waver
or waffle. She is not “middle of the road,” but not
usually so far to the right that I couldn’t meet her LETTERS
halfway.
Douglas Raymond Rose of Grand Prairie: I have Singley set a good example
great confidence in our Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. Re: “Jack Singley — Guided Irving district
He has a business background, and I believe he is through two decades,” Tuesday news story.
doing an exceptional job of staying on deck and At a time when area school superinten-
guiding the wheel of the Dallas ship. dents appear to be having all sorts of issues, it
Vickie McKillip of Carrollton: I trust the Farmers has been more than reassuring to read that
Branch City Council. They’ve proven again and Singley governed the Irving ISD for 21 years
again that they have the courage to take on difficult without any major problems.
issues without flinching, waffling or backing down. His death reminds us of just how unique
Farmers Branch is thriving under the current lead- his tenure truly was as we look at other area
ership. districts.
The former Carrollton-Farmers Branch
Stephen Matthews of Bedford: Mayor Mike superintendent resigned after having been ar-
Moncrief of Forth Worth seems like a person I rested for drunken driving, the former Lan-
would trust at this point of his political career. Even caster ISD superintendent mismanaged
though I probably don’t agree with him on most is- funds, the former superintendent of Arling-
sues. ton ISD accepted speaker fees from an organi-
Pat Justice of Flower Mound: I trust my con- zation aligned with Arlington ISD, the former
gressman, Dr. Michael Burgess. I heard him speak Richardson ISD superintendent resigned
at our town hall meeting in August, and he’s smart suddenly in August after only two years with
and informed. He sees it as his duty in Congress to the district. While no specific reasons for his
represent his constituents the way we want to be re- sudden departure have been given, his abort-
presented. ed tenure followed that of his predecessor.
The current DISD superintendent is pres-
SIGN UP ently dealing with many issues — budget WILLIAM “BUBBA” FLINT/Special Contributor

These responses are from readers who have asked
problems, issues with the board — and the
to receive the weekly Sounding Off question. To be beat goes on. Hopefully, we will be able to use GET OTHER Voices columns from across North Texas and add your
added to the e-mail list, send your full contact infor- Singley as a case study of what a school super- own comments. dallasnews.com/voices
mation to communityopinions@dallasnews.com. intendent should do.
Bobbie Stevens Johnson, Carrollton

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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Community opinions A forum for readers in Dallas, Denton and Tarrant counties

We asked our Teacher Voices …

How do you know a student will be successful?
Kim Barnes | Head of Early Childhood, Greenhill Tim Greenwell | Freshmen World Geography Faith Davis Johnson | Eighth-grade U.S. Studies
School, Addison — Sometimes there is a spark. teacher, Flower Mound High School, Lewisville teacher, John B. Hood Middle School, Dallas —
Sometimes there is an attitude. Sometimes there ISD — Students will be successful when they are You know that students are on the path to suc-
is a demonstration. Often, the student is a prob- aware of their capabilities and limitations and cess when you give an assignment, and they go a
lem-solver. A student who takes a failure or work to move forward beyond those self-recog- step further. For example, if the assignment is to
mistake in stride and devises a solution that will move him or her nized levels. You can see it in their body language, hear it in their be handwritten, the student types it instead. Or if you’ve given the
forward will succeed with the situation at hand or in the future. voices and experience it by the confidence they exude. Likewise, if student a task to complete based on a lecture in class, and he or
Students who present perseverance and creativity as they solve a these traits are lacking, it does not always mean they are shy but she includes analysis on a concept you haven’t covered yet — and
problem become students who can see varied facets of an issue. rather do not necessarily possess a strong enough sense of self- it’s right on target. You know when they ask you to write letters of
These problem-solvers engage others either to reflect ideas or to awareness. It should also be noted that being recommendation and then promptly follow up in writing, com-
solicit physical help or brainpower. Reflection plays a big part in an overachiever or a suck-up does not equal plete with an advanced “thank you.” You know when students
these students’ lives as they seem to constantly build on the chal- success. Success requires initiative and remember what you have taught — and then use the same meth-
lenges they have conquered or even at which they have failed. effort, focus and drive, responsibility od to share with others what they learned from you.
and commitment.

Julie Lewis | AMI/Math Interventionist, Victoria John | Latin, drama and musical theater
Lamar Middle School, Irving ISD— I know that teacher, Lakehill Preparatory School, Dallas — In
students will be successful if they choose to not the words of Plato: “Good actions give strength
only invest their best effort, but also to develop a to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.”
passion for what they are learning. Parents and Students prevail through the awareness and
teachers have to set high goals, but they must understand success practice of three qualities: flexibility, accountability and responsi-
should be measured simply by comparing where the student’s bility. A flexible student adapts easily to new situations and ac-
abilities and talents start and where they end. We are all unique cepts change as a positive and necessary process for growth. An
individuals and have different talents and abilities. I think accountable student learns from poor choices and builds charac-
success is a unique combination of best effort, passion and ter through increased honesty to self and others. Having been
personal growth. We must also remember that a successful held accountable for actions, the student learns to make better
outcome should be something the student chooses because choices while serving as a positive role model. A responsible
it makes him or her happy and proud of their investment in student keeps agreements and, through consistency, builds es-
the accomplishment. That will leave them inspired to teem and self-respect. Acting with flexibility, accountability and
achieve more. WILLIAM “BUBBA” responsibility allows the student to overcome personal challenges
FLINT/Special
Contributor
and achieve success.

Debbie Gallagher | Computer teacher, Daniel K.B. Phipps | English/Language Arts teacher, Karen Kimball | Substitute teacher, Richardson
Intermediate School, Duncanville ISD — I always Arnold Middle School, Grand Prairie — My hope ISD — Recently I substituted in a kindergarten
tell students that two things have to be present to for each student who walks through my class- class. It was the third week of school, and one
learn a new skill — the desire to learn and prac- room door at the beginning of the school year is student stood out: He entered the classroom, put
tice. If either is missing, they will not be suc- that he or she will be successful. Throughout the his things away, and sat down at his table to
cessful. As students mature, the desire must come from within, year, that success will come in different shapes and forms, de- complete his morning work. Throughout the day he listened,
not as a result of fear of being punished for not doing a task. I also pending on the student. Sucess for one student might come in the followed directions and did his work carefully and correctly. He
teach a college class, and on the first day I meet with my college form of mastering a particular skill, while for another, it might was proud of his job as “door holder” and was always ready and in
students, I have them fill out an information sheet telling me come in the form of not being sent to alternative school for a place when the class left the room. He answered questions cor-
about themselves. I ask what they want to get from the class. One better part of the school year. I am an advocate for celebrating the rectly and creatively (not copying the answers of others). He was
student wrote, “I expect to get an A in this class.” That student will small successes with my students to encourage them to persevere polite, kind and friendly to students, and well-liked by everyone. I
be successful, as opposed to the student who wrote the word as they strive for those successes that come as a result of multiple may never see him again, but I am convinced he is well on his way
“nothing.” failures. to success — in school and in life.

We asked our Student Voices …

What makes a teacher effective and memorable?
Lade Obamehinti | Junior, Trinity High School, Viviana Cruz | Junior, Newman Smith High Brian Brown | Senior, Plano West Senior High
Euless — Caring is one attribute that makes a School, Carrollton — My AP biology teacher, Mr. School — A good teacher is someone who shows
teacher effective and memorable. A caring Hembree, was also my freshman bio teacher. He he or she cares. Someone who wants to see you
teacher wants to know the student as a person. made such an impact on me that I specifically succeed. Someone who knows your name after
The dynamic teachers in my life always cared went back to take any course taught by him. the first day. These teachers are not there just to
about my goals and were willing to sacrifice to help me achieve Some say he was like a college professor because his coursework teach, but also to help you learn. If you can’t learn something the
them. The teachers who understand that have an opportunity to was so hard, but he actually cared and remembered his students. I way they are teaching it, they’ll take the time to make sure you do
change a student’s life for the better. Their passion inevitably think a teacher who treats you like a person rather than an ID more than just know it; you understand it. They’ll come early and
transfers to their students. A teacher with a genuine interest number and doesn’t stay late if that’s what it takes to help you. They will not only be
in who I am and in who I can become — and someone who underestimate you able to, but they want to engage in a conversation with you. Good
then does something about it — is the most memorable and makes a great teachers are people I can talk to about anything. People I trust.
effective. teacher. Teaching isn’t their job; it’s their passion. It’s what they were born
to do.

Nandita Singh | Sophomore, Kristy Gudmundsson | Junior, Hockaday
Hebron High School, Carrollton — School, Dallas — Humor. In addition to passion
Funny and motivating teachers and enthusiasm, a good sense of humor turns an
with hard tests and even harder otherwise good teacher into an outstanding one.
finals are always the most effective When I think about all of my favorite teachers
and memorable. They are able to create a relaxed over the past 12 years, most of them share something significant:
learning environment for challenging subjects such They made classes fun. Learning is most effective when emotions
as AP classes or higher-level math. If a student feels become involved, and just as acting is about connecting with an
accomplished after “surviving” a hard class, he or she audience, teaching is about connecting with students and making
not only remembers the teacher, but also is thankful them excited to come to class. Witty lectures keep students alert,
for newfound knowledge and confidence. These engaged and eager to participate. Jokes germane to the subject
teachers also have enthusiasm and interest in what they make facts more memorable and interesting. While a mundane
teach. Teachers with the perfect blend of passion and class can make even the most interesting subject boring, a fun
interest for their job — and for the minds that they are class can make the dullest subject captivating.
responsible for molding — are the teachers who ultimately
impact their students’ lives the most.

Connor Mighell | Junior, Cambridge School of
Kelsey McKinney | Senior, Booker T. Washington Dallas — Remember the substitute teacher in the
High School, Dallas — Teachers can influence film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? “Bueller? …
their students’ thought processes. An effective Avery Hurst | Senior, J.J. Pearce High School, Bueller? …” Thankfully, I haven’t experienced
teacher finds a way to force his or her students to Richardson — My favorite teachers have been the anything like that. Most of my teachers have
re-evaluate their ideas and really decipher what ones who truly get to know each individual child. been good, but those who are truly memorable have a clear,
it is they believe. However, the ability to teach students does not If you are just a student at a desk, there is no way infectious passion for their subjects, like my former Latin teacher,
necessarily make a teacher memorable. To become memorable, to connect with what your teacher is saying. If a Mrs. Gerard, who knew just about everything regarding her
teachers must remain a real person to the students. These teacher becomes a “friend” with his or her students, it becomes a language and its beautiful history. She was always searching for
teachers have the ability to engage in intelligent conversations better level for them both to learn on. It is also effective if the more information. The most effective teachers I have had engage
and effectively incorporate their personalities into their teachers don’t feel the need to “stoop down” to their students’ their students. This can be done without “dumbing the
teachings. They do more than teach; they influence their students’ level. If students feel like we are being talked down to, it makes us curriculum down,” as Dr. Hahn, my current physics teacher, has
lives. Only a memorable teacher makes a connection strong want to rebel more against anything they want us to do. If we are shown. He inserts interesting, relevant demonstrations into his
enough for each student to begin applying what he or she has treated as an individual on the same level as our teachers, we are lectures. If the material isn’t engaging, the teachers risks losing
been taught. more likely to live our lives as learners. their classes, no matter how much they enjoy what they teach.

HOW TO SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letters should be 200 words or fewer and include the writer’s name, address and phone number for verification purposes. Only the name and city of the writer will be published. Letters will be edited
for length, clarity and style. Send by e-mail: communityopinions@dallasnews.com. By Fax: 972-263-0456. Or by Mail: P.O. Box 655237, Dallas, Texas 75265. For more information, contact
Michael Landauer, assistant editorial page editor for Community Opinions, at 214-977-8258 or mlandauer@dallasnews.com.

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