Letters to the Editor  2/2

February 05, 2002

Letters to the Editor  2/2

What are redistricting foes teaching their children about the poor?

By Joseph L. Jefferson

The debate concerning the redistricting of Washington County Schools has proven to bring out those underlying prejudices that we as parents fail to admit in public, but often think about.

As a parent, I would never dream about speaking ill of another group of people, because of their race, socioeconomic status or the environment in which they have lived.

However, I am smart enough to know my children will pick up on those sentiments if I behave in a way that reflects those opinions. It would appear on the surface, that the debate over redistricting some of the northern elementary schools is less about education and more about segregating the haves from the have-nots.

We are supposed to be smarter and wiser than our younger and more innocent dependents. As parents we are supposed to learn from the mistakes that our parents made and not make those same mistakes when raising our children.


Children don't have an appreciation of financial wealth, but we teach them that. Young adults don't know the difference between poor students and wealthy ones. Our kids see each other as friends and classmates. It is only our ignorance that teaches them to notice these differences in others.

We do not live in a big city and therefore don't suffer from some of the issues that plague larger inner-city schools. Our systems of schools have positive qualities as well as negative. As involved parents, we owe it to our children to be involved enough to compliment our school's positives and assist with fixing the negative issues.

The school that my children attend should be based on where I live within the County, and not on how well I can lie about where my imaginary baby-sitter lives. We have entire neighborhoods of children that should be attending one specific school, but by some miracle, happen to land childcare providers in completely different school districts. As adults and our children's ultimate teachers, we should be ashamed.

Of course there is that argument about looking out for the best interest of our children. But that doesn't carry any weight.If we really want to look out for our kids, we should teach them that all people are indeed created equal.

We should provide them with the opportunity to become better people, by teaching them to work harder within the learning environment to which they are supposed to attend.

We should be involved in the educational process and not try to undermine a system that attempts to promote equality, multiculturalism and those other factors that we don't get from our textbooks.

Sure, we could pay to send our children to private schools. But that doesn't ensure that they will become better students or better people. I often recall a statement that goes like this, "You can put a monkey in a $1,000 suit. But he is still a monkey." Private golf courses have the same bad golfers as public courses.

The economic status of the student or location of the educational facility does not make that school system better. If we are teaching our children this, we are only setting them up for failure. We need to teach our kids to judge each other by the content of their character and not the content of their parents' wallets.

I have recently become a parent and realize that my kids learn from what they see me do and how I act. I also realize that I have been guilty of some of the same things that I have mentioned in the previous paragraphs. To that, I wish to apologize to anyone that I may have inadvertently offended in the past.

However the biggest apology should be to my children, for I am teaching them some of the same negative stereotypes that other have had of my race. I did not get to where I am today because I went to a school that was better than any other. I have become the person that I am because my mother taught me that hard work creates better people and it allows them to appreciate what they have achieved.

A child is born with no state of mind. He is blind to the ways of mankind (Grandmaster Flash, The Message, 1985). We need to do a better job of teaching our children, before they grow up to make the same mistakes that we have.

The author is the Director of Cooperative Education Shepherd College and is a graduate of Fountaindale Elementary, Northern Middle, the Alternative School and North Hagerstown High School, class of 1984.

Liberals are ugly

To the editor:

It would seem that Mallard Fillmore has been ruffling a few liberal feathers. Mr. Martin's letter is yet another example of the liberal attempt to eliminate anything that offends them.

The club-wielding caveman recently depicted in the strip is not something you would encounter today, but the squealing liberal staring at the club, questioning the caveman's right to self-defense is certainly a contemporary issue, especially in the Peoples Republic of Maryland, under the rule of the gunophobic Spendening.

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