I'm wondering if anyone else noticed the significant relationship of all of the articles on the Opinion page of the Dolores Star last Friday, March 15th?
Having a background in education, my eye was first drawn to Joseph Sanford's article titled "The true value of public education." If you haven't been reading Mr. Sanford's articles, in my opinion you should. He's a young man with wisdom beyond his years. He sees the world uniquely, and he's almost always "right on." He certainly was in this article. It's so true: what we learn or don't learn in public school about living together in a society determines how we get along in our society throughout our lives. Learning how to share ideas, thoughts and even differences, in a civilized manner begins in public schools. (We should thank God that most people understand this, and this makes for a better world.) How all adults act demonstrates to our youth how they should grow and act.
The second article I read, really a letter to the editor, dealt with the divisive conversation in our community over the displaying of, and the meaning of, the Confederate flag. It was titled "The symbols of the Confederacy are powerful for many." Mr. Martins did an excellent job,I felt, in sharing his deep and meaningful thoughts about a very troublesome topic. It was even more significant because of his personal experiences growing up, and how topics like this can seem fine to the majority, but hurt deeply those who suffer, sometimes alone, through words, acts of derision, and worse. What's most significant in Mr. Martins' article is his even-handed approach to the personal feelings he's sharing. And I concur with his encouraging our community to support open dialogue and inclusion, all aimed at providing "... the best education for our children possible." (I'm a 65 year-old white male and pastor of the Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church here in Dolores. While my children are grown and live in other parts of our nation, I firmly believe "all" children are "our" children - and we owe it to them as the future generation of this nation and the world to give them the best opportunity to succeed in this world. That, I believe, begins first and foremost with a strong, involved and supportive family followed by an excellent education. This includes teaching them how to get along with one another throughout their lives.) The third article, another letter to the editor, was titled "Voice your concern about middle/high school administration." I admit, I read this last because the title led me to believe that it was going to be divisive, and that's the last thing our world, our nation, and our community needs. Ms. Weir, speaking for herself and for others, obviously has some serious concerns with our local school's administration, i.e., how the High School Principal, Athletic Director and Superintendent are doing their jobs. Those who are in positions of leadership know that close scrutiny in today's world comes with the job. Whether it's in public education, ministry, or local, state and national politics, what is done or not done, and the reasons for doing or not doing something, is always going to be questioned. And I would agree with Ms. Weir that when there are concerns about what's happening in our schools, questions should be asked. This dialogue needs to happen, it needs to be on-going, and it needs to occur in a respective environment where all agree the outcome needs to be what's best for our children and teens. (I'm not saying that what's best for is children and teens is necessarily what they want nor what seems easier to them. After all, I'm sure we all can agree that the goal of education is to create educated, thinking adults who can contribute to society. That requires listening, learning, homework and sharing ideas in an open academic environment.) Ms.Weir suggests that more people get involved in learning what's happening in our schools. (She goes further in her recommendations, but other than what I've read in various newspaper articles, I admit I don't know enough to follow her recommendations fully.) I personally plan to seek opportunities to learn more about what's happening in our schools, then decide how I can help ensure the educational environment for our children and youth is the best it can be. I believe this should be the goal of all adults, parents, community members and school administrators, teachers and support staff.
For me, reading these three articles/letters on one page of our newspaper illustrates what we should want our children and teens to realize: being able to share in open, frank and honest dialogue is a valuable lesson: it's one that we adults should be modeling for them and all future generations. After all, if they don't learn this lesson from us, what lesson will they learn? Because rest assured, they will learn something from us.