Forum, Feb. 11: Vt. students need alternatives

Published: 2/10/2020 10:00:18 PM
Vt. students need alternatives

I am an educator with a decade of experience working in schools. As I saw the trend in schools moving toward academic instruction at earlier ages and technology-filled classrooms, I became concerned. We are clearly educating the head, but what about the hands and heart? In a world that is experiencing a mental health crisis, what are we doing to lay a foundation for mental, emotional and social health from the very beginning?

These questions led me on my own quest to find school communities that focused on teaching the whole child, ultimately landing me at a Waldorf school. After completing my Waldorf teacher training, I felt greater conviction that we need to change the dialogue around what makes an education “successful” beyond test scores and college acceptance. We need to be asking, “What kind of human beings are we releasing into society? Are we educating children toward a path of fulfillment and positive contribution to society?”

The phrase “one size does not fit all” is often used to describe the education of children. Anyone who has worked with children knows every child has a different set of needs and strengths and learns best through a variety of teaching methods. So why are Vermont’s families being offered only one choice? Most of our families cannot afford private school tuition or home-schooling if the local public option is not a good fit. For example, in the Randolph community, we have a growing group of 60 families that want a Waldorf education for our children. In a community of mixed socioeconomic backgrounds, an independent school will be impossible for most of our community to afford. Where are our options?

I propose our state’s public school system consider creating inter-district public magnet schools. Or the state could approve a capped number of nonprofit charter schools to pave a road for alternative options, such as Waldorf. Either approach would create an avenue by which taxpayers have an alternative, affordable chance to better reach the needs of our children. Email vermontpublicwaldorf@gmail.com to get involved.

REBECCA HIPPS

Randolph Center

Such fine choices we’ll have

I grew up in Chicago, and after the Democratic Party’s Iowa debacle I can guarantee you that Mayor Richard J. Daley is spinning in his grave. Admittedly, he was far from progressive (especially when it came to matters of race) and his army known as the Chicago Police Department didn’t exactly respect the right of peaceful assembly when the hippies and yippies dared to show up at his convention in 1968 to protest the Vietnam War. But he knew how government worked, even if patronage greased the skids. The man could manipulate the levers of political power to get stuff done for the city that worked.

The Democrats of today can’t even figure out who prevailed after the Iowa caucuses.

Such fine choices we’ll have in November, in one of the most consequential elections in our history: a proven liar and scoundrel or some hapless nominee from the party that can’t shoot straight.

We desperately need more choices than the current two-party system provides, and don’t get me started on that nonsense called the Electoral College. Our current national political system is a joke.

MARK LATHAM

Hartford

Promises, promises ...

Frequent Forum contributor William A. Wittik wrote that he was “disappointed with some aspects” of President Donald Trump’s “public and private persona.” Only “some aspects”? But then he added that he was “not disappointed with his performance” (“Trump has delivered on many promises,” Jan. 21).

Consider:

■ Trump said he would “rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done.”

■ He said he would renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal. But instead of even attempting diplomacy, he simply reneged and withdrew the U.S. unilaterally, to the dismay of our European allies. (Note: Storming out dramatically is typical of Trump’s “negotiating” tactics.)

■ He said, “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”

■ During his inauguration, he said, “We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land.”

■ Perhaps most famously, Trump said he would “drain the swamp.” Instead, he brought into his Cabinet many Washington politicians and lobbyists who set about promptly dismantling many previously enacted policies, regulations and laws, doing great harm to all but the 1%. And, of course, several of his swampland appointees have resigned after financial misdeeds and ethical violations.

New York Mayor Ed Koch used to ask, “How’m I doing?”

I would like to ask, “How’s Trump doing on these major promises?”

MICHAEL WHITMAN

Lyme

Trump invites another attack

President Donald Trump must be pushed to accept the conclusions of the Russia investigation. When the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned the Department of Justice’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz about his nonpartisan report on the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in our 2016 election, he stated that, despite Trump’s claims, the investigation wasn’t influenced by bias against the president.

Trump knows that this was the unanimous conclusion of U.S. intelligence agencies, yet he accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denials. Worse, he continues to promote the baseless conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine — not Russia — that interfered in the 2016 election to help Hilary Clinton.

Distorting the truth about what happened in 2016 threatens our democracy and our national security. It’s kept Trump and his congressional enablers from safeguarding the 2020 elections from Russian attacks. And, as the impeachment trial showed, it’s prompted him to betray our democracy and national security by withholding congressionally authorized military assistance from Ukraine unless this ally — fighting Russian aggression — announced an investigation into a potential political rival.

Since GOP senators made a sham of the impeachment trial, Trump will be emboldened to keep pushing ridiculous claims that the Russia investigation was unfair or biased, and to seek new ways to cheat in the next election. Russian interference in 2016 election was an attack on our democracy; Trump is inviting another one.

The Senate must act to sanction Russia for election interference and to prevent further interference in 2020. Neither will happen unless Republican leaders forcefully pressure Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. That will require citizens to raise hell about their inaction.

STEPHEN GEHLERT

West Newbury

Loyalty should be to country

For me, the great puzzle of the impeachment process has been the behavior of congressional Republicans. They are mostly intelligent people, with every opportunity to be well-informed. They must know full well that President Donald Trump is corrupt, ignorant and totally unfit to be president of the United States, and in 2016 some of them said just that.

Yet almost without exception they have now become his loyal supporters. It is extremely rare for Republican senators not to follow Trump’s and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s directives. I find this hard to understand, and harder to accept.

Almost all the Republicans in Congress have given their full loyalty to President Trump and their party, who do not deserve it. They should and must give it instead to our country, which does.

JOHN LAMPERTI

Norwich

Republicans stand mute

To all supporters of President Donald Trump: Help me understand, please.

At age 78 I have developed core values thanks to family, friends, faith, education and experience. Among them are integrity, honesty, loyalty, kindness, modesty, education, reason, patriotism and respect of our democracy.

I strive to live by these, as I know most Americans do, as they represent the basis of a civil society based on the rule of law.

I understand political differences, just to name a few: more or less government; balanced budget or not; health care as a human right or not.

Our democracy embraces the process of discussing these differences and permitting U.S. citizens to vote on their choice of someone to represent them. Republicans have had many leaders who embody these values and represented their party with dignity and honor: Mitt Romney, John McCain, the Bushes.

Here’s what I don’t understand. How can you support a man as president who embodies none of our core values? Why do you stand mute when he runs roughshod over those things we cherish? Help me understand, please.

SYLVIA SANDS PAXTON

Orford




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