Durham News: Opinion

July 18, 2014

Your letters, July 20

I wish Mr. L’Homme and DPS all the luck in the world. The School-to-Prison Pipeline won’t be conquered easily.

Editor’s note: The swearing in of new Superintendent Bert L’Homme on Monday (DN, bit.ly/1rdEuqV) generated several reader comments on the new Durham Public Schools’ chief’s goal of breaking the school to prison pipeline, which critics say routes young people, often minority, to the criminal justice system for minor offenses or behavior that could be handled outside the courts. Remember you can comment on our online stories with a Facebook account.

Keeping kids in school

I wish Mr. L’Homme and DPS all the luck in the world. The School-to-Prison Pipeline won’t be conquered easily.

One large step would be to contact Judge Steven Teske, if he hasn’t already, and learn as much about his successes in Georgia as possible. Keeping children IN school, while balancing safety concerns, is the goal.

Stunningly, the more kids are kept IN school, the more they graduate and become tax-paying citizens, not prisoners and drags/costs to our system.

Stop charging every child with a crime if they throw a tantrum, scream or embarrass a teacher/administrator. To take some liberties with Judge Teske’s statement on the matter, we have got to get past this belief that every child who angers an adult must have committed a crime. Good luck, sir!

Ken Harris

via Facebook

Work is critical

I’m especially appreciative of Mr. L’Homme’s stated goal to break the school-to-prison pipeline. This work is critical in Durham as we strive to build a strong economy, boost workforce development, and avoid youth unemployment.

In order to be successful, we must start interventions EARLY to be successful, before they even reach DPS. A national study was just released that showed which social and emotional learning programs were most effective with preschoolers. I hope our new superintendent will play a strong role in advocating for and partnering on efforts to expand and enhance NC Pre-K to support at-risk children.

Building a strong culture around positive thinking and high expectations will go a long way in overcoming some of DPS’ struggles. I am excited to see all that is to come with Mr. L’Homme’s tenure.

Shannon Ritchie

via Facebook

Fix parents’ mindset

Good luck to the new superintendent! He’ll need it, to clean up the mess left by the last guy.

My perhaps naive view as a Durham parent is that they should focus on greatly improving the academics in Durham Public Schools, and parents should be held responsible for sending kids to school who are motivated to learn and who can behave well enough not to interfere with the education of others. Violent trouble makers who disrupt class and threaten the safety of others should be kicked out of school, quickly.

We can argue all day about how the poor kids don’t get a fair shake when stuck on the school suspension to prison pipeline. But the fact remains that parents in even the poorest countries in Africa make school a priority and send their kids there eager to learn and looking for ways to better their lives.

It seems to be a fairly unique American phenomena where people have just given up and don’t care any more what happens to their kids. Fix that mind-set and the schools will fix themselves.

Ron Sutherland

via Facebook

Those 911 ‘calls’

It is refreshing to read of Chief Lopez’s decision to curtail the (apparent) widespread practice of police lying about 911 calls in order to circumvent the law (which is, of course, something that average citizens would be jailed for) in order to violate constitutional rights. It may help to restore the distrust and lack of respect that is growing among the taxpayers who fund these employees.

Hopefully the chief will close this chapter by terminating these people; lying to citizens and to their superiors cannot be allowed in a professional setting.

Increasingly we see law enforcement throughout the country receive negative press due to abuse of citizens, dishonestly and sometimes overt criminal behavior. And, too frequently, such behavior is protected by superiors.

Dennis Hawley


Freedom of religion in Turkey

Re Hal Maner’s letter “Turkey’s Rights” (DN, July 13, bit.ly/1tNPpcX)

The “Turkey Christian Churches Accountability Act” (HR 4347) asks that Turkey follow its own laws regarding freedom of religion of its people. Turkey’s Christian citizens are sorely restricted from practicing their religion, because since the 1950s the Turkish government has hindered their prayer services, religious education, clerical training and appointments, as well as confiscated churches and monasteries, schools and orphanages, holy sites and cemeteries, and even manuscripts and vestments.

In 2011, the Turkish government revised its Law of Foundations to provide a legal process for the return of such religious properties or for providing compensation. By January 2014, over 300 such properties were returned, although over 1,000 claims had been denied (2014 Annual Report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom). Greek and Armenian Patriarchates are still denied the right to train and educate clergy, and install successors. The Greek Orthodox Theological Seminary at Halki remains closed, since 1971. Ironically, in January 2013, Turkey’s Council of Foundations returned 190 hectares of forestland to the Seminary, but it remains closed to this day.

Section 3 of HR 4347 seeks to promote the settlement of the stated problems and Section 4 requires the Secretary of State to submit annual reports to the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. The problems are certainly not based on “preposterous historical narrative” – as stated by Hal Maner – nor are the churches and holy sites “Turkey’s diverse and historical heritage.” Let Turkey’s Christians truly enjoy religious freedom, otherwise provisions of article 24 of Turkey’s constitution, promising freedom of faith and religious education, are just meaningless words on paper.

Lazar Larry Odzak


Support Our Children’s Place

While enjoying lunch with my colleagues, your newspaper article “Speaking Up For Children of Incarcerated Parents” (DN, July 6) was mentioned.

Even though the women present were veteran teachers, the statistic that over 24,000 children have a parent in the N.C. prison system was new information. The number was much higher than they imagined.

Because children have an unfathomable void in their lives due to having a parent in prison, they need a support system that can carry them through those trying years. That places a huge responsibility on the churches, schools, after-school programs and individuals like you and me.

Our Children’s Place continues to be a significant voice for advocating for the children across North Carolina. What was not mentioned in the article is that Our Children’s Place, like many nonprofit organizations serving children, is in dire need of funding to keep its mission aloft. I encourage you to financially support Our Children’s Place ( ourchildrensplace.com/). It serves us all to serve the children when they need us the most.

Mary Andrews

Chapel Hill


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