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Voice of the Voter - This Week's Articles

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Site updates each Wednesday | Read comments from our readers on our new Letters to the Editor page. | Send us your thoughts with a single click below.

No Teacher Left Behind

We don’t pay our teachers enough. We hold them to higher moral standards than the rest of our community. We ask them to put our children’s needs above their own. We ask them to teach under daunting, sometimes even perilous circumstances and then blame them for the failings of the system. Teachers are often required to posses postgraduate degrees, undergo constant vocational training and yet are compensated on a comparable level to the manager at your local Starbucks. With all of that, we still wonder why there are so few really good teachers in the public school systems of America.

Education is important. Everyone from Snoop Dogg to the Queen of England will tell you that, “stay in school, don’t take drugs.” But survival often surpasses education as the primary objective in many of our nation’s schools. We have turned our public institutions into holding pens by erecting fences and barring windows as much to keep the children in as to keep others out. Written permission is required to travel the hallways between classes. Bells sound to send students between secured areas where they are under constant supervision. There is a hidden subculture out of the view of authorities where kids group together for protection. Peer pressure trumps reason every time and safety in schools for many young people is almost an oxymoron.

Yet as awful as it all is, there is joy to be found. There is that moment when things all of a sudden make sense. Favorite subjects, favorite teachers, things that turn one small period of the day into something to look forward to. A good teacher can make a world of difference; a great teacher can change lives.

Great teachers are the ones who take chances and make subjects come alive, they are also usually the ones in trouble with the school board or PTA for not “strictly adhering to the curriculum. I once had a history teacher show up in Union Civil War uniform, twenty years later and I still remember that class. I also remember that the next day he got in trouble for insensitivity to Native Americans. In all fairness, to the Native American population the Union soldiers from the mid 1800’s up to the turn of the twentieth century were equivocal to the German SS to the Jewish community in late 1930’s and early 1940’s Europe. So our teacher went to the local community college and asked a professor of history there, who also happened to be a member of the Sioux Nation, to come and give the counter-point, also in full costume. That was a 7th grade American history class, and to this day one of the best I have ever taken. Mr. Williams was a great teacher.

There are still a few really great teachers rattling around in the public school system, but they are few and far in between. This is not to fault the teachers themselves; most are just hampered by the system they are forced to work inside. Teachers are asked to teach with outdated materials, and even those are in limited supply. Teachers are asked to give their lessons in such a manor as not to offend the 15-20 different cultural and religious view points represented in the class, all while keeping safety and liability issues in mind. No wonder they have trouble keeping the kids interested, we don’t let them teach anything interesting. History is not always politically correct but our teachers are forced to teach children the history lessons in whitewashed PC terms so nobody gets upset. What about the lessons that should get them upset and motivated enough to assure that the failures of our past are not repeated? Great teachers inspire action but teachers cannot become great if we don’t support them.

Children are our most valuable resource, and public school teachers are the people most entrusted with nurturing and developing that resource. The best young people qualified to be teachers are lost to the private sector on a regular basis. How can schools offering $35,000 a year hope to compete with Fortune 500 companies paying double that just for showing up to work? We must reexamine our priorities before it is too late. The teachers in many of our schools are on strike right now because there was no money for their negotiated pay raises, while there was seemingly plenty to cover money ear-marked for the administrators and school district officials. How is it that the districts can afford to send officials on trips across the country and around the world in some cases for “seminars” and still cry poverty when it comes to paying the people actually educating our youth? It is a system that collapses a little more every year and one that will continue to do so until something is done about it. We must actually pay the people we entrust our children to on a level equivalent to the amount of trust we are placing in them if we are to have any hope of bringing the system back from the brink. While we’re at it let’s pay attention to what they have to say about how the job should be done as well. Somehow it seems reasonable that they would know more about what our children need than some bureaucrat who might see the students once or twice a year at a school assembly or football game.
Kyle Pesonen - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article.

Respect and Entitlement

There was a time in America when it was more than an axiom that respect was not given it was earned. To earn respect one had to distinguish one’s self as an upstanding member of society. Respect did not come simply from the fact that one had been born.

It seems that in this new age of entitlement, people seem to feel that they deserve respect simply for existing. It does not seem to matter if you have done anything worthwhile for society or if you are even a productive member in society. People from school children to senior citizens seem to feel that the world owes them respect. Why? What have you done to earn it? Have you taken time out of your life to help those less fortunate than yourself? Have you endeavored to make your community better in some way? Have you shown respect to others? Have you even bothered to educate yourself in politeness? If you have not, then why does anyone owe you respect?

Some would argue that all humans deserve respect. I say that is ridiculous! Do we respect people like Charles Manson or Richard Allen Davis? No! We call them what they are and lock them in the deepest darkest holes we can find. They are monsters not deserving of anything in terms of respect. They are not just mentally disturbed individuals; they are psycho killers who merit no respect whatsoever.

So why then do we try to give respect to those who choose to disrespect others all the time with their actions? Why should I respect the gang-banger out on the street treating human life as if it is nothing of any great import? Why should I show any respect for people that spend their lifetimes milking the system for all its worth while I work hard and pay my taxes? What has the third and fourth generation welfare family, where not one family member has even ever applied for a job, done to earn my respect? Why should I respect those who live off the sweat of my brow without contributing anything to society? Should I respect them because they happen to be of the same species as I?

We need to return to a culture of earning respect and one where the value of a person comes from the sum of their deeds. We need to stop allowing children to demand respect while refusing to give it. Our society has become overrun with people who feel that the world owes them something. It does not. We are entitled to one thing at birth. That thing is death. All humans are entitled to die at the end of their life. That and nothing more is a birthright. All other things should be earned. If you choose to ignore your education no matter what form that education may take, you have no one to blame but yourself. If you choose a life of crime, you have no one to blame but yourself. If you choose to spend your life in idle pursuits, you have no one to blame but yourself. My success is not a result of my birth. Quite the contrary, I have had to overcome many obstacles to enjoy the small measure of success I enjoy. I worked hard for that which I have achieved in my life and I work every day to achieve more. Does that mean I deserve anything more than anyone else who does the same? No. I deserve what I earn. If people respect me, it is for the things I do in my daily life to earn it. If I do not earn the respect of others I do not deserve it.

For the young African American who claims slavery as their excuse for not achieving, we need to stand up and say “No sir. You may not claim this.” Neither they nor anyone they know has ever been a slave in America. For the young Caucasian that claims a birthright of dominance over others we need to again say “No sir. You may not claim this.” There are no superior ethnicities of humans on this planet. For any other group who would claim a right to anything simply for being born of that group we must once more say “No sir. You may not claim this.” Nobody is deserving of anything simply for being born other than to eventually die. Anything more than that is a privilege and privileges are something that can be held or lost through actions. If you act in a manner that is not deserving of privileges, you should lose them. Respect is an earned privilege. If you don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it. What have you done to earn it?
Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | E-mail Comments on this article.

Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to:

Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to


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