Thursday, September 1, 2005

Letters to the Editor

School uniforms:
Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to the topic of school uniforms. I read the article in your August 10, 2005 newspaper about the parent who opposed school uniforms, and I respect her (Rhonda Smith) opinion but it’s not my opinion — neither is it the opinion of many other parents in this community. I also did not attend the July 12 meeting on school uniforms but I wish I had been there to support the parents who are for the school uniforms.

First, uniforms most definitely bring up the academic level due to the fact that children will spend less time focusing on who has the latest fashions on. Children will also “shallowly” determine each others’ family financial status. Example: If some students wear only or mostly brand name clothing they or their family must have more money. Others who wear non-brand name clothing must have less money. We as adults know that you can’t judge a book by its cover, but for a child it could be unhealthy peer pressure either way. And I don’t set examples for my children by what another school is doing or has done. I look at all children as a whole. I’m sure there are countless very smart (academically) children who have been made to feel bad because they didn’t have on certain clothes, which could affect their self-esteem. Or, on the other hand you have children whose parents can afford brand-name clothes who will be admired by their peers but academically are failing.

Secondly, the uniforms are reasonably priced and they last for at least two or three years if taken care of properly. I don’t think they (schools) would be able to offer free used uniforms if the uniforms did not last past one year. I also have three children that go to school here in Byhalia and I haven’t seen anywhere I can buy a complete new outfit for $10 to $15. Wherever this store is please let me and other parents who are spending $20 to $40 per outfit know immediately! I also am not in favor of trading my children’s self-esteem for a few saved dollars. And it allows me to keep up their weekend and church clothes.

Thirdly, school uniforms prepare children for the workplace. Any respectable job has in place a uniform or dress code, or require that you be neat every day that you show up for work. The place for “loose” clothing is at home, not at school or work. The school uniforms are mostly made for children and the comfort level of these clothes is quite high. I know because I moved here from Memphis where uniforms are mandatory and I’ve never heard my children complain about comfort. When they get home they can put on their favorite jeans and do as they please. But, we need to install a sense of responsibility in children from a young age. Letting them know that if you choose to have children there will be some costs involved when it comes to school. The P.E. uniforms are very nice and comfortable as well as reasonably priced. I don’t feel that I have to put my children in a private school to have them become familiar with real life expectations. I respect and applaud Henry School for their efforts and giving parents the chance to have a say in this matter. And trust me, if they (Henry School) make uniforms mandatory, all children will show up next year in uniform. What will happen to the children if they don’t wear them? Their parents will get some from the free uniform offer or transfer them to another school where they don’t wear them. Simple as that! I could sit back and complain about this and that, but instead I realize that there are costs that come with school and know that whatever it is it’s going to help mold my child into a better adult so it’s worth every penny! And if and when it comes to my children, I most certainly will drop whatever I am doing to see about them. What could you possibly be doing that is more important than your children? And teachers have been to school already and made a career for themselves. I see no reason for them to be in uniform. It teaches them (kids) that they, too, can grow up and have a career of their own and not sit back and complain. Children are much smarter than most people think; it’s the parents who have to be willing to go the extra mile. With the schools as well as the children, you get out what you put in! So once again, congratulations to Henry School and all other schools who are considering uniforms, because they are putting the children first, not trying to save a few dollars! And may God open those parents’ minds who are selfishly putting their own concerns before the real issue here which is the children. And please let’s grow up as parents so that our children grow up better off than us.

Pamela Townsend
Byhalia mother of three

New school year:
To the parents of the children in Marshall County

Dear Editor,

The new school year is here once again, and many children are returning to the same grade because they were held back; some are going to the next grade because their parents insisted they should be passed to the next grade; others were promoted but dread going to school because they simply cannot do the class work. If your child fits into one of these categories, please do something different this year. Become an active participant in your child’s education. Do whatever it takes to help your child succeed.

The majority of the students who are struggling lack the ability to read at their grade level. Have your child read to you for 10 minutes from his social studies or reading book. Ask your child questions about what he has read. If you discover your child cannot pronounce words or explain what he has read, get your child a tutor. Every time a child repeats a grade, his chance of graduating from high school decreases, and the longer a child struggles, the harder it is for him to catch up. These are the children who become discipline problems.

I was employed in the Marshall County school district for 25 years, and in April or May I could always count on seeing the parents whose children had been failing the entire school year. “What can I do to help my child pass to the next grade?” they asked.

Why wait until the end of the school year to become concerned? Your child brings home a report card at the end of every nine-weeks term. I do not mean to sound insensitive, but it is time for parents to become responsible adults and take responsibility for helping to educate their children. (I am aware that not all parents are irresponsible, and I applaud the parents who are not.)

The teachers are under a tremendous burden to teach many children who do not want to learn and to pacify many parents who couldn’t care less (until April or May). Parents, I urge you to become involved in educating your child. An educated child can get a job; therefore, he has no need to sell drugs, rob or kill and end up in jail or dead.

When your child comes home with a complaint against a teacher, remember there are two sides to every story. Schedule a conference with the teacher. Please do not enter the classroom and demand, “What’s going on between you and my child? What’s the problem?” Adults do not have problems with children. Children, however, mimic the attitude of their parents; so, leave the conference with a well defined plan that has your child’s best interest at heart. Usually, parents who support teachers have high achieving children.

I became a teacher because I love children, and I desire to see all children prosper and enjoy life, not die in the dawn of life or be caged like animals.

I challenge parents who love their children in the wrong way by supporting them when they misbehave to give tough love and support the teachers while encouraging the child. I become overwhelmed with sadness every time I hear a parent say, “My child and I are pals. We are tight.” Your children have enough pals; what they need most during these difficult adolescent years are responsible adults to guide and discipline them. Here is a question just for you. Is your child walking toward a productive life, the jail, or the grave? You hold the answer to this question in your hands.

Elizabeth Jones
Red Banks

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