Herald-Mail Forums

December 24, 2007

Last week's question:

·When you think back to your own childhood, what is your favorite Christmas memory?


In many months of running this forum, I have received many answers to questions I would consider to be negative, especially with regard to the Washington County school system.

That is the opinion of some who respond to this forum, but, in this season of peace, I would ask the posters the following question:

If your own child were struggling to learn and to do the right thing, would you greet every forward step by saying that it was not good enough - or would you applaud what progress had been made and exhort him or her to do even more?


The Washington County Public Schools struggled for years, in part because there were educators who believed that certain children, based on their background or their parents' income, could not achieve.

Then came School Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, who told the staff that the federal No Child Left Behind act was really the "no excuses" law.

It is not enough, she told staff, to excuse a student's poor performance because his or her parents are in poverty. Every child must achieve.

As the song says, it's not easy to turn the Titanic around, but Morgan has grabbed the wheel and is attempting to do just that. Henceforth, in this forum at least, it will no longer be adequate to say that the school system is not good enough.

If that is your view, please cite the deficiencies and recommend remedies. If school system officials ignore wise counsel, shame on them. If respondents to this forum fail to offer it, then they must share the blame for any problems that exist.

· My own favorite Christmas memory as a child involves traveling to our Maginnis family reunions, which were held for many years on Christmas Eve.

We saw aunts and uncles, some of whom who still had a hint of an Irish brogue and who told us stories of growing up poor in Pennsylvania's hard coal country. One I remember goes like this:

During Prohibition, there were establishments called speakeasies to get around the federal ban on liquor. One day when he was still a boy, one of my uncles took his cousin along while delivering something to one of these joints.

Unfortunately, the cousin was wearing a skipper's cap, which the bartender mistook for a policeman's hat and poured all the liquor down the drain. My grandfather, who was a great advocate of temperance, would have been pleased.

I am sure you have memories to rival that one and we would like to share them. If this column were only about government, politics and how taxpayers' money is spent, it would be dull indeed.

Next Monday will be New Year's Eve, not too late to think about Christmases past and how they stuck in your memory. After that there will be time enough to get into the foibles and failures of local institutions.

Bob Maginnis is
editorial page editor of
The Herald-Mail newspapers

This week's question:

·We only received a few appropriate answers to last week's question, so let's try it again: When you think back to your own childhood, what is your favorite Christmas memory?

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