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Forum, Feb. 28: Is there liberty and justice for all?

Published: 2/27/2021 10:00:06 PM
Modified: 2/27/2021 10:00:05 PM
Is there liberty and justice for all?

The tall, gray-haired, pale-skinned, COVID-masked woman strides to the front of the crowd assembled under the tent for the annual school meeting. The moderator is about to commence the proceedings. With a quavering voice, the woman asks for the microphone. The moderator hesitates. The woman determinedly takes the microphone and turns to the crowd.

“The moderator is about to ask us to face the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. I want to explain my actions to you. I am going to kneel, on both knees, while you are saying the words and silently hope that some day they will not sound hollow. I will also be thinking of the privileges and opportunities afforded to me as a citizen of this country. Words should have meaning and truth to them. I hope you will think about what you are reciting. Do we live in a united country? Are we indivisible? Is there really liberty and justice for all?”

After a pause, she continues. “I understand this is causing some anger, discomfort and embarrassment. I cannot control any of that. I was witness to angry people violently attacking Capitol Police officers with the flag that we are about to pledge allegiance to. I have come to understand that my advantages have come at the price of others’ pain. Our country’s judicial system is unfair. I am heartbroken that it has taken 64 years for me to take a public stand, or rather to kneel, about this. My husband is afraid for me, but I respond with, ‘If not now, when?’ We are here about our children and their education. Why would it be considered inappropriate? I want our children to be able to recite this pledge knowing it is real, and living its words as they become adults, not just reciting them without meaning. Thank you for listening.” She hands the microphone to the moderator and begins to kneel.

I want to be this woman. What do you think the crowd’s reaction would be, if I should find the courage to be her?



Public schools are not a monopoly

I strongly disagree with many of Richard D. Bircher’s opinions in his Sunday Valley News op-ed column (“The public school monopoly is under siege,” Feb. 21). I have been a long-term educator in the Upper Valley, working in both the Hartford School District and the Dresden School District. I have been an educator contract negotiator and a trustee board member at Thetford Academy.

Public schools are not a business monopoly. They are a needed public service, like the fire department, the police department or the public works department. They exist to provide a necessary public service and are controlled by the communities they serve.

I am not opposed to charter schools as long as they meet a local need and meet high standards. A good example is the Ledyard Charter School. The school provides an alternative education experience that individual high schools do not have enough students to create. I am opposed to the creation of charter schools at the expense of properly funding public schools. I have yet in my lifetime to see a school district completely funded or completely staffed to meet the needs of all its students.

The column states that school boards are often made up of current or former educators. When I was an educator, the school boards that I interacted with were made up of community members, the majority of whom were local business people. At Thetford Academy, those of us who had been educators were in the minority.

The idea of school districts being helpless when negotiating with teacher unions in false. As a lead educator negotiator, I had plenty of statistics to back our salary and contract requests, but we were always at the mercy of the district’s budget limitations. As a board member, I had the same restraints. I may have wished to be more generous with our educators, but my fiduciary responsibility to our institution and the community limited what the board could offer.


East Thetford

Grateful for vaccine efforts

My mother has just signed up to receive her COVID-19 vaccination. I’ve been caring for her throughout the pandemic and am so happy that, finally, she can become vaccinated. This past year I have been extremely careful, trying to avoid contact with the virus to protect her. It’s been very stressful, and I feel a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders

Like most in the country, we have immense gratitude for those who are ensuring our access to the vaccine — from the manufacturers that developed them and the distributors that are shipping them across New Hampshire to our health care heroes administering them. They all are playing a role to keep us safe.

While we are thrilled that the vaccine is available, we’re also grateful that my mother always had consistent access to the medicines that she needs on a daily basis throughout the pandemic. I had a sense of comfort knowing that I could pick up her prescriptions without fear they wouldn’t be available. It was one less thing to worry about during a time of panic and fear.

With the new vaccination plan from President Joe Biden, I feel even more confident that the vaccine will be widely available soon. And I know that, with the help of distributors, it will safely and efficiently reach each corner of our nation.



Thanks to VA for vaccine service

I’d like to offer another appreciative shout-out to the White River Junction VA Medical Center. My dad is a 98-year-old World War II veteran, and he has just received his second COVID-19 vaccine at the facility. During our two visits, the staff and volunteers overseeing this massive undertaking have demonstrated remarkable good humor, kindness and efficiency.

I just wanted to thank them for their own service in return.



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