Durham News: Opinion

August 1, 2014

Your letters, Aug. 3

I do not condone poor behavior, but I am aware of the conditions police officers face daily. I personally could not take the stress.

A thankless job

I very recently drove down the street to my new home here in Durham for the first time. I was very happy to see not only a Durham police patrol car, but a sheriff's patrol car as well. I read the recent article about gang members, and the negative article about a police officer.

I retired from a medium-maximum prison in central New York State, where I worked for eight years. My son retired from the police force after serving for 20 years.

I am well aware of the hard job both police and corrections officers face every day.

Working in that environment daily takes dedication and lots of self control.

I do not condone poor behavior, but I am aware of the conditions police officers face daily. I personally could not take the stress, making critical decisions every day that police officers must make.

I thank every member of our Durham Police Department and Durham County Sheriff's Office for doing a thankless job that makes it possible for me to live a quiet safe life.Please know your efforts to maintain a safe community for all do not go unnoticed.

John Patrick


Support Clean Power

On July 21, I joined many North Carolinians at The United Church of Chapel Hill to show my support for the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan. With rising sea levels threatening our coast, global warming isn't just a threat to North Carolina’s future. It's here now.

If we want to leave our children a safer, healthier planet, we need to act. And now is our biggest and best opportunity.

The EPA has proposed a rule to reduce global warming pollution from power plants -- the single largest source of the pollution that fuels global warming. Unfortunately some in Congress are working actively to block EPA's authority under the Clean Air Act to limit dangerous carbon pollution. With so much at stake, we need leaders to stand up to the polluters.

Senator Hagen should stand up for North Carolina and push back against polluters' attacks on this critical step to tackle global warming. Our children's future depends on it. ​

Nate McClafferty


Meaningful learning

Thanks for your well written, free newspaper. I look forward to its stimulating articles such as the front-page piece about the Carolina Friends School searching for truth and reconciliation. This issue should be explored in the public. Friends show courage.

The larger issue on my mind is education. I respect the Friends School and the Quakers (they were named because they quake with the spirit of reverence) and see their practice of gathering in silence as important to settling into personal thought and examination together. A recent study reveals that two-thirds of the public cannot bear to be silent (“Just Think: The Challenges of the Disengaged Mind,” Science, July 4, 2014). Does this indicate a failure of imagination? An addiction to stimuli? Should this be part of public school?

Durham Public Schools has a new chance with Mr. L’Homme as leader. He wants to break the school-to-prison pipeline. We all do. How can we empower students to join society when they want to react against the forces that cast them as the poor unfortunates?

Let's think outside the box about what schools can offer. Instead of traditional core subjects (revised every few years), how about teaching literacy through media literacy? What about putting math in the context of banking? Explore the subject social media rather than social studies? Science can take the engaging form of science projects. Of course this would mean hiring teachers with imagination and some expertise, and it would be difficult to devise a broad-based test of effectiveness. The accountability issue might be addressed by individual principals, and perhaps we could cut down on central administrators.

Our next generation will inherit problems of our making (by our choices or our ignorance), and the least we can do is provide meaningful help in learning the things they want to know. This will call for cooperation with children rather than dominance. I submit that schools need the input from students in devising best methods.

Anne Whitefield


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