Letters To The Editor 12/16/2018

December 16, 2018
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Address inadequacy

Editor: Congratulations to The Times-Tribune on the Dec. 2 in-depth article on the paucity of minority teachers in the Scranton School District.

The article referred to ethnically and racially diverse teachers as a “minority” and that the majority of public school students in the city will be nonwhite by 2020. Given that, the article was an indictment and a call to action for the district to immediately take steps to rectify this situation.

There are several models of programs that identify potential teachers from middle school and high school that support these diverse individuals through mentoring, scholarships and other programs designed to remove obstacles to a career in teaching. Aggressive recruiting outside of the Scranton area could supplement efforts to build capacity from within the district.

There can be no doubt that there is a strong connection between the poor performance of district students on all manner of academic measurements and the absence of identifiable models of success in the classroom.

What is to be done? We are certainly past the point of hand-wringing that teachers who would bring diversity never apply for positions. One tactic that may be implemented immediately is for the district to attend a few career days at colleges with substantial minority student bodies and make sure they allow Scranton teacher Robert McLeod, who was highlighted in the news story, the release time to lead these visits.

Maybe the answer is not to wait for minority teachers to come to Scranton but for Scranton to aggressively look for them.




Spread the words

Editor: It would certainly be therapeutic if all the toxic misinformation of our age were of the single-use variety.

There you have in one sentence the three words lexicographers have chosen as words of the year.

Toxic, which was picked by editors of the Oxford English Dictionary, sums up perfectly the dominant ethos of this year. Whether in politics, religion or culture, things certainly and unfortunately have become virulent and noxious.

Misinformation, which was selected by editors at Dictionary.com, sadly emerges as the prevailing conduit for public discourse in this oversaturated media age. The use of “mis” over “dis” seems to herald a call to action against the fake news purveyors, the post-truthers and the flat-earthers running amok.

Finally “single-use” was the nominee for word of the year by the staff at Collins Dictionary. OK, one and done, a cup of coffee, a quick look. Here one day, gone another. Keep it brief. You get the idea.

I really hope all this toxic misinformation has a single use. The species and the planet have really been through enough.




Food for thought

Editor: I noticed on social media that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has started a new campaign: People should use “anti-specieist,” language or language that doesn’t insult or demean animals, they say.

Instead of bringing home the bacon, then, we should say, bring home the bagels. Really? Who has been offended by the reference to meat? Hogs or pigs don’t seem to get insulted by verbal slights.

No wage earner who brings home the bacon should be insulted. It takes a good amount of labor to bring bacon home. Would a dozen bagels be as satisfactory as a pound of bacon? I suspect most people would say no.

Some breadwinners eschew bagels. After all, they are full of gluten, which is among the latest dietary bogeymen. Some people reject bacon because it isn’t kosher, which means Jews , and Muslims who follow similar dietary laws, won’t eat it. They haven’t eaten it for some 5,779 years.

In addition, “Beat a dead horse” is a no-no; use “feed a fed horse,” PETA suggests. “Kill two birds with one stone” is out; you should say: “Feed two birds with one scone.” Do birds like scones?

Don’t laugh at Monty Python’s sketch about a dead parrot. That is speciesist, the animal equivalent of racist.

Political correctness runs wild. Who is really offended by these language lapses? Only zealots.

Don’t get me wrong, PETA has done some good things over the years. Ridding the cosmetics industry of animal testing, making zoos more humane and convincing more people not to wear fur are three campaigns that have exhibited good intentions. But political correctness and anti-speciesist language makes the animal rights movement look silly.




Damage control

Editor: The culture of compassion and community, of reason and democracy, is losing to a culture of hate and social fragmentation, of ignorance, stupidity and civic illiteracy.

The very institutions that promote justice and democracy are being undermined, defunded and corporatized. The language of compassion and community is being replaced by the language of egoism, selfish individualism and belligerence, obliterating any commitment to social bonds and the public good. The popular anger caused by structural social and economic hardships is misdirected largely at racial minorities, immigrants, Muslims and the political opposition.

But there’s no need to despair and surrender to those who would degrade our humanity and usurp our rights. The political climate, just like the environmental situation, is something that we have created. It also is something that we can change. As long as we have the First Amendment and the right to vote and refuse to have those rights abridged, then we can change things and elect people who represent us — our rights and interests — rather than those of the financial tricksters and the fossil fuel and war industries with their legion of government and media enablers who already have done untold damage to our earth and are prone to further destruction of the planet and its inhabitants.



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