Opinion | Arming Teachers: A Misguided ‘Solution’ | Big Indy News
Connect with us


Opinion | Arming Teachers: A Misguided ‘Solution’



To the Editor:

Re “Armed. And Ready to Teach Kindergarten” (front page, July 31):

As both a parent of school-age children and an American citizen with common-sense values, I am deeply disturbed by this article. Creating a school rapid response force of ill-trained and most likely underprepared and timid teachers, administrators and janitors to do what nearly 400 law enforcement officials armed with automatic high-capacity rifles could not do in Uvalde seems rather farcical and misguided.

It’s as if the proverbial “good guy with a gun” is now the new tactic being deployed to act where trained officials so blatantly and tragically failed.

Evidence shows that successful outcomes from such tactics in mass shooting events are extremely rare. And so, yet again we ignore the elephant in the room (hundreds of millions of guns, lax gun laws, the N.R.A. lobby) and instead of legislating safeguards for the innocent, we meekly and quietly give a teacher a 24-hour certification and a Glock, which unless it is in the hands of an expert weapons handler becomes essentially a pea shooter against a maniac armed with an automatic rifle.

Insane gun laws that allow such frequent mass shootings are now being cloaked in stupid and poorly thought out “solutions” in this once great country.

Timothy Paynter
Media, Pa.

To the Editor:

As a retired elementary school teacher, I felt a mixture of disbelief and horror after reading this article! What is wrong with our country that makes it acceptable for teachers to carry and possibly use a loaded weapon?

Classrooms are places where the environment should be safe and comfortable for learning. Will having educators ready to shoot create the atmosphere that we want for our children?

Barbara Segal
Berkeley, Calif.

To the Editor:

Rather than terrified teachers feeling compelled to learn to handle a gun for their own safety and the safety of the children in their care, why don’t teachers simply refuse to go to school until these semiautomatic rifles are completely banned and off the streets?

Teachers taught over Zoom during one plague; they can do it again during this current plague.

Lisbeth S. Fried
Ann Arbor, Mich.

Giving firearms to civilians with minimal training and experience is a nationwide disaster in the making. The lives of our children, young adults, teachers and administrators deserve a more thoughtful, careful response to the epidemic of school shootings. Not reckless, shoot-from-the-hip policies.

Victor Caliman
Kings Park, N.Y.
The writer is a former teacher and principal.

To the Editor:

Re “Putin Performs for Russia, and Ukraine Is the Stage,” by Peter Pomerantsev (Sunday Opinion, July 31):

Mr. Pomerantsev’s excellent analysis of President Vladimir Putin’s manipulation of the Russian “cycle of humiliation and aggression” reminds me of the Russian folk saying “Never carry garbage outside the hut.”

The Russians will never acknowledge or memorialize their self-inflicted pain because they refuse to present their failures and shortcomings to the outside world. Russians believe that doing so would risk allowing foreigners to exploit such vulnerabilities.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, remains vilified in Russian society for his adoption of glasnost, which would have allowed public debate and scrutiny of Russian failures over the years and which the traditionalists opposed.

Melvin A. Goodman
Bethesda, Md.
The writer, a former C.I.A. Russia analyst, is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University.

To the Editor:

When will the media label Vladimir Putin as who he is: the 21st-century Hitler? The sooner the better, since that identification could reach the Russian citizens who are being propagandized.

C.J. Hoppin
Peaks Island, Maine

To the Editor:

In “Republican Governors Are Quietly Delivering Results” (Sunday Opinion, July 31), Liz Mair attempts to prove Republican competence by cherry-picking economic data that she says favor Republican-run states. But Democrats could similarly point to data to support Democratic-government competence.

Just one example: Of the states with the highest rates of Covid deaths, the top six are led by Republican governors.

Gubernatorial effectiveness is measured by a lot more than just some cherry-picked data.

Richie Feder

To the Editor:

This essay presents an interesting contrast with an Upshot article the day before, “Ragged Safety Net Is Weaker in States That Ban Abortion.” Three of the Republican governors of whom Liz Mair is most complimentary — Greg Abbott, Doug Ducey and Asa Hutchinson — preside over states that have among the worst records in the country on things like child poverty and maternal mortality.

Has the price paid for the lower taxes and other policies they have implemented been worth it?

Ellen S. Hirsch
New York

To the Editor:

Re “‘The Final Straw’: Flooding Washes Away Kentucky Coal Country Stalwarts” (news article, Aug. 5):

Reading this story about Kentuckians is heart-wrenching. Living this story must be beyond heartbreaking. The death, the destruction and the lack of resources are a living nightmare.

It is insidious that the coal production that adversely affected people’s health and the surrounding countryside contributed to an unstable climate that causes such heavy rains and serious flooding. Unfortunately, these climate events will continue to destabilize communities if global warming is left to fester.

Lives and livelihoods need rescuing in eastern Kentucky. Beyond the cleanup, these folks need jobs, housing, medical services and good schools. Land damaged by coal mining needs to be rescued.

Our fellow Americans need help, and we as a nation need to answer their call. And we need to pass legislation to mitigate the climate crisis. We have a lot on our plate, but we can do this!

Sally Courtright
Albany, N.Y.
The writer is a retired science teacher.

To the Editor:

Re “The Fight Doctors” (Science Times, Aug. 2):

In opposing the expansion of mixed martial arts, Senator John McCain — hardly the squeamish sort — described their bouts as the equivalent of “human cockfighting.” The current ubiquity of this “sport” is yet another signpost in the moral decline of our society.

Doug Brin

Read the full article here


Adnan Syed of ‘Serial,’ Newly Freed, Is Hired by Georgetown University



Adnan Syed, who was freed in September after he spent 23 years in prison fighting a murder conviction that was chronicled in the hit podcast “Serial,” has been hired by Georgetown University as an associate for an organization whose work mirrors the efforts that led to his release, the university has announced.

Mr. Syed, the subject of the 2014 podcast and pop-culture sensation that raised questions about whether he had received a fair trial after being convicted of strangling his high school classmate and onetime girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999, will work for Georgetown’s Prisons and Justice Initiative.

Mr. Syed, who was 17 at the time of Ms. Lee’s death in Baltimore, has steadfastly maintained his innocence.

The university said that Mr. Syed, now 41, will help support programs at the organization, such as a class in which students reinvestigate wrongful convictions and seek to “bring innocent people home” by creating short documentaries about their findings. The program, founded in 2016, “brings together leading scholars, practitioners, students and those affected by the criminal justice system to tackle the problem of mass incarceration,” according to its website.

Georgetown University, which is in Washington, said that in the year leading up to his release, Mr. Syed was enrolled in the university’s bachelor of liberal arts program at the Maryland prison where he was incarcerated.

“To go from prison to being a Georgetown student and then to actually be on campus on a pathway to work for Georgetown at the Prisons and Justice Initiative, it’s a full circle moment,” Mr. Syed said in a statement. “P.J.I. changed my life. It changed my family’s life. Hopefully I can have the same kind of impact on others.”

He added that he hoped to continue his education at Georgetown and go to law school.

The new job this month culminated what has been a remarkable year for Mr. Syed, whose case has again received widespread public attention after a flurry of recent legal activity.

In September, Mr. Syed was released from prison after a judge overturned his murder conviction. Prosecutors said at the time that an investigation had uncovered various problems related to his case, including the potential involvement of two suspects and key evidence that prosecutors might have failed to provide to Mr. Syed’s lawyers.

In October, prosecutors in Baltimore dropped the charges against Mr. Syed after DNA testing on items that had never been fully examined proved Mr. Syed’s innocence, officials said.

Ms. Lee’s family filed an appeal with the Maryland Court of Special Appeals after prosecutors dropped the charges.

On Nov. 4, the court said in an order that the appeal could be heard in court in February.

Marc Howard, the director of the Prisons and Justice Initiative, said in a statement that Mr. Syed’s “commitment to the program and to his education was clear from the moment he stepped into the classroom.”

He added that Mr. Syed “is one of the most resilient and inspiring people I’ve ever met, and he has so much to offer our team and the other students in P.J.I. programs.”

In a Georgetown University article about the hiring, Mr. Syed said that he was in disbelief when he first saw a flier for the program.

“It became this domino effect to see us be accepted,” he said. “It made it become something real in the eyes of others, that there are opportunities. There can be a sense of hope: a sense of hope that things can get better, a sense of hope that I can work hard and still achieve something, a sense of hope that I can still do something that my family will be proud of.”

His attachment to the school was evident on Sept. 19, when he walked out of prison for the first time since he was a teenager.

Amid a throng of reporters and his supporters, Mr. Syed walked down the courthouse steps in Baltimore, smiling. He gave a wave.

And in his hand, he carried a binder with a Georgetown sticker. His graded papers and tests were inside.

Read the full article here

Continue Reading


At Berkeley Law, a Debate Over Zionism, Free Speech and Campus Ideals



“Supporting Palestinian liberation does not mean opposition to Jewish people or the Jewish religion,” the group said in a statement to the Berkeley law community. Members of the group did not respond to messages seeking an interview.

After learning about the bylaw, Mr. Chemerinsky met with the university’s Hillel rabbi and spoke with several Jewish students, but, aside from concerns within the law school, the reaction was relatively muted, he said.

That changed, he said, after Kenneth L. Marcus, the civil rights chief of the U.S. Education Department during the Trump administration, wrote about the bylaw in September in The Jewish Journal under the explosive headline “Berkeley Develops Jewish Free Zones.”

Mr. Marcus wrote that the bylaw was “frightening and unexpected, like a bang on the door in the night,” and said that free speech does not protect discriminatory conduct.

The article went viral.

Mr. Chemerinsky said he learned about Mr. Marcus’s article, which he described as “inflammatory and distorted,” while he was in Los Angeles for a conference. Mr. Chemerinsky said he typed out a response to the article, which was appended to it, and then didn’t think much of it. That afternoon, he was deluged by emails. At an alumni event that night, the law school’s perceived hostility to Jews was “all anyone wanted to talk about.”

In an interview, Mr. Marcus, a Berkeley law school alumnus, said that he was contacted by law students there who were concerned about the bylaw. He said he spent weeks trying to support them and wrote his article after Berkeley did not “rectify the problem.”

Not allowing Zionist speakers, he said, was a proxy for prohibiting Jews. The provisions, he said, are “aimed at the Jewish community and those who support the Jewish community,” even while acknowledging that the policy could allow Jewish speakers and bar those who are not Jewish.

Read the full article here

Continue Reading


‘Better Defined By Their Strengths’: 5 Ways to Support Students With Learning Differences



“People with learning differences are human,” wrote Deanna White, a neurodiversity advocate and parent learning coach in response to a question we posed on LinkedIn. “Unique individuals and wonderful humans that are better defined by their strengths. So stop focusing on the weakness.”

We invited our social media followers across Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to weigh in on the most effective way schools can better support students with learning differences.

Responses ranged from shifting educators’ mindset—like highlighting student strengths—to more far-reaching changes that would require schoolwide or district support.

Focus on students’ strengths

There are many ways of encouraging students to play to their strengths, as educators Winston Sakurai and Phyllis Fagell demonstrated in an August 2022 article by Education Week Assistant Editor Denisa Superville.

They detailed how they shared their own learning struggles as a way to connect with their students. Their personal successes show students, who may be struggling academically or socially, that anything is possible.

Here’s what other educators had to say.

1. Help them understand their learning strengths and challenges and growing them as strong self-advocates.

2. Devoting time and money to developing teachers’ abilities to differentiate.

– Amy S.

By having high expectations and giving them exposure to high-quality materials and experiences, even ones that seem “above them.” They will shock us with their insights every time.

– Angela P. 😒😒🥴

Meet students where they are

In a 2015 primer on the topic, EdWeek Assistant Editor Sarah D. Sparks wrote about how “differentiated instruction”—the process of identifying students’ individual learning strengths, needs, and interests and adapting lessons to match them—became a popular approach to helping diverse students learn together. Respondents largely agreed.

Time to work with every student. If you can meet with a child for a bit of time to help with exactly what she or he needs, it might ignite both learning and understanding.

Alison K.

So many ways…start with environment, a.k.a. The Third Teacher.

  • Reduce obstacles

  • Increase supports

  • Meet kids where they are

(h/t @drncgarrett)

Matt R.

Small class sizes, strong positive teacher/student relationships, differentiated instruction, and reflection.

Yvonne E.

Smaller class sizes

In a 2017 Opinion essay, former teacher Marc Vicenti wrote about “the daily wear and tear on educators when trying to juggle a full teaching load and meaningful relationships with lively young people who all have different needs and experiences.”

“We can either choose to be less effective in our practice or exhaust ourselves—neither of which is beneficial to students or our own well-being,” he wrote.

Smaller class sizes are one way of mitigating the risk of burnout while working to meet each student’s needs.

Small classes, small schools, local control. I am the principal in a pretty small school in a small community and I know every child, and every family and we can build programs to meet our students’ needs. A country run or state run school system can’t do that.

Ryan G.

Increase funding to actually lower the student-to-teacher ratio. This allows teachers to give more time to the individual.

Cathleen W.

Fewer standardized tests

Standardized tests have long been criticized for narrowing instruction and for holding all students to the same standard when “students enter school at varying levels and learn and grow at different rates.”

The backlash against standardized testing renewed interest in alternative ways to evaluate students’ learning progress, like “performance assessments—the idea of measuring what students can do, not merely what they know”.

STOP standardized testing.

Dawn W.

Fewer standardized or timed tests, teaching to mastery, not according to a schedule.


Give students a voice

Sometimes it’s best to go to the source to discern how to best tackle an issue. Giving these students a voice can not only empower them in their learning, but also help educators understand how to have the biggest impact.

Ask them how they learn and what helps. Give them a voice!

Grisel W.

Yes! Listening to what students need and giving them a voice is something we need to do for all students, but especially those who need more help in the classroom.

Victoria D.

Read the full article here

Continue Reading