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Letters to the Editor - April 17, 2009

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By The Staff

It begins

with discipline

One of our grandchildren (age 8), spending the weekend with us, made reference to her bad behavior: how she whines a lot.

We assured her that she is not bad at all and that she never whines.

“Oh, I don’t whine at granddaddy and grandmother’s house,” she replied, “it’s not allowed, but I do whine at home.”

Isn’t it amazing how quickly they learn what is expected and what is not?

The same principle applies to our children in public schools, where we no longer expect good behavior and have allowed “discipline” problems to ruin our schools, making it impossible for even the finest teachers to teach.

We are willing to sacrifice the majority of students to tolerate the troublemakers and not willing to face the discipline issue.

Many reading this will agree that we did not have this problem when we were growing up. When the teacher said, “Sit down!” — we sat.

When we misbehaved, we faced going to the principal’s office or worse, especially when we got home.

Put simply, discipline problems were not allowed or tolerated. We were there to learn and this expectation was communicated all the way through school.

It seems that the only solution offered in today’s schools is to put more and more money into our system, reduce class size, eliminate programs and then spend that much more money.

When will we accept the fact that until we get discipline back into the schools, no amount of money or even the most qualified teacher can improve our schools?

I have talked with many wonderful teachers who are frustrated due to lack of discipline.

Many have quit the profession or moved to private schools where they are allowed to teach. If a child cannot behave, he should be removed from the classroom/school without excuses. No exceptions.

Discipline problems will not be tolerated, period. Maybe it’s also time to consider some alternatives!

My invitation is simple, but the ideas to make it all work will require the help of dedicated politicians, church and community leaders as we form the “Save Our Children” movement in Marion County, all of Florida and, hopefully, throughout the country.

It begins with giving a tax credit to any student who will choose to exit the public school system and enroll in a private Christian school or its equivalent. For example, assuming $8,000 per pupil as our cost at this time, the credit would be for $6,000, which will save taxpayers $2,000 per student.

If we have 100,000 students throughout the state transfer out, the savings amount to $200 million.

This also eliminates the need for more schools being built and should allow us to maintain needed programs which are on the verge of being cancelled for lack of funds.

Churches will need to step up and allow schools to be started in their buildings.

Good teachers must be willing to teach in these private schools and tuition be such that the $6,000 per student allows for salaries and benefits to be fair and competitive with little subsidy.

Will it take some volunteers? Of course it will, but if we are serious about our children’s education, something must be done!

Per student cost can definitely be reduced in this plan. Wasteful spending should also be reduced; therefore money should not be a problem.

We need to get the movement started as soon as possible.

Any politician, pastor, businessman or concerned citizen who is interested in making such a plan work, please contact me through this newspaper.

It’s time for some creative thinking and hopefully this will be a start in that direction.

God bless our children.

Wayne Rackley

Ocala

Community can

come together 

The American Cancer Society has been an active member of West Marion community for many years offering a number of patient and family services, cancer support groups, tobacco control programs and lifesaving research. We continue our mission thanks to the help of generous volunteers and dedicated staff.

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a community event in every sense of the word. It is a chance for the community to come together for one common cause. Being a part of Relay For Life means I’m a part of a national grassroots movement to fight cancer. Being a Relay For Life volunteer, means I’m making life better for cancer survivors, patients and their families.

But we are faced with a critical shortage of volunteer leaders. With the challenges of our day-to-day demands, time has become a premium and many people are finding it more difficult to participate in community service. It is because of the volunteers who preceded us, however, that certain types of cancer are now highly treatable or even curable. With more help, we will continue to win the war.

The American Cancer Society needs your help now. Plans are under way for the 2nd annual fundraiser Relay For Life for West Marion County on May 1 and 2 to support cutting-edge cancer research, help provide free transportation to hospitals, and help prevent youth smoking, publish lifesaving literature, and develop a new generation of weapons to fight cancer.

Now is the time for individuals, families, organizations, schools, religious groups, corporations and small businesses to build a team and join our fight to reduce the burden of cancer across America.  Relay For Life can be the site of a company picnic or family gathering while supporting a great cause. 

To sign up to participate or learn how you can help, call 352-629-4727 ext. 5823 or visit www.marionrelay.com or the American Cancer Society web site at www.cancer.org.

Sincerely,

Tricia Marks

RFL Publicity Chairman

In a rage over

bumper stickers

As a Democrat in Marion County I am having a harder and harder time leaving my driveway without returning home in a rage.

Bumper stickers…

I remember when bumper stickers were used to tell people that they visited the Wisconsin Dells. Now their only use seems to be to declare what team you’re on and people don’t stop to consider what the bumper sticker is really saying about the driver.

Two weeks before President Obama’s inauguration I began seeing the incredible message: “You can keep the change…Palin in 2012.” There were no messages like this when former President Bush was elected even though it will go down as one of the most controversial elections in American history.

Democrats took the hit and hoped that the new president would make this country a better place for all of us (not just a wealthy few). It just didn’t work out that way. I will admit that there were plenty of negative bumper stickers at the end of Bush’s term but considering his confidence ratings (even by Republicans) that was no surprise. The point is that the Democratic Party hoped that Bush would succeed.

Last week I was stopped at a light in Ocala next to a large, expensive SUV. Taped in the side window was a ragged piece of paper with the message: I’ll keep my freedom, my religion, my guns and my money…you can keep the change.” The driver was a lady in her late sixties or early seventies and it appeared that she had no financial worries. 

I know that I read this piece of paper through democratically tinted glasses but this is how I interpret her message: “I’m doing just fine. Why would I want anything to change?

“I’m really not concerned with poverty, foreclosure, unemployment, government and big business corruption, failing infrastructure, health care that could devastate the finances of entire working American families with one catastrophic illness, a poor education system, dependence on foreign oil, questionable war-mongering, and devastating global pollution. I have an SUV, health insurance, plenty of money and a gun. I already got my good education. I’m doing fine.”

If I missed something good about this despicable message, please help me to see it.

 I was raised in a “Christian” based religion and this message is anything but “Christ-like.” What religion does she want to keep?

It’s time for Republicans to admit the simple fact that they lost the election because they failed to represent the needs of the majority of Americans who are either hurting or want to stop the hurt for the Americans who are. There’s really no “mystery” in how they lost.

I don’t think that Democrats have all the answers. I know that President Obama does not have all the answers either. I am pretty sure that he is trying to surround himself with some of the best minds and resources that are available to him so that he can make informed decisions. He listens to his advisors and his opponents far more than the former president did.

I’m not smart enough to have all the answers like a few of the columnists of this paper presume to have. It seems that every comment is based on money. “Where is all the money going to come from?” Money management is not the most important “change” that needs to happen in this country. Lack of compassion, inability to envision the future and selfishness are far more serious problems than money. If we made the more important changes the money issue would be much easier to solve. Until we start treating every American with equal respect and opportunity we are not “government, by and for the people.” We are government by and for the few. We have no right to call ourselves a democracy.

Joe Peck

Florida Highlands