Investing in early education benefits future society

In her June 2 Opinion piece "When preschoolers get expelled, not just kids need correcting," Barbara Atkinson takes liberties with the terms teacher and early childhood educator. She says: "Teachers need help. They are being asked to do too much to meet the goals of literacy, language, and mathematics development recommended by the No Child Left Behind Act.... They are doing all of this, yet they're being paid on average less than half of what a public kindergarten teacher makes."

This type of misinformation elevates the professional status of a day-care worker to that of a certified teacher.

In principle, though, I agree with Ms. Atkinson that early childhood facilities are being pushed too far. They were established to allow a two-income family or a single mother to work. That choice is not right for everyone. However, if the parents decide to go that way, we should be paying to put in professionals equipped to handle the job. Whatever helps the child will help our society in 20 years.
Richard Brown
Plant City, Fla.

Billions of chickens suffer unnecessarily

Regarding Paul Shapiro's June 6 Opinion piece "Time to crack down on chicken abuse": If people saw a wild bird disfigured and suffering, chances are that someone would stop and try to get the bird to a wildlife rehabilitation clinic. Yet billions of chickens suffer out of sight every year, and the human response is to eat them and their eggs.

Chickens are intelligent and social, like dogs and cats. People have caused all kinds of animals to suffer throughout history without thinking that it mattered, only to realize later that it did. Don't wait for slow social change - be the first on your block to realize how cruel it is to make chickens suffer for meat and eggs.

People naturally find it easier to relate to one suffering animal. Trying to contemplate billions is overwhelming. Start here: Talk to your legislators about banning battery cages for egg-laying hens and expanding the Animal Welfare Act and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to include protection for chickens. Meantime, eat them less.
Linda Serfass
Hudson, Mass.

Hiring teens requires extra effort, skill

I just finished reading the June 2 article "Teens may be last to get summer jobs." To hire teens today it does take a special effort on the employer's part. Not because they cannot do the job, but because of the amount of life skills today's teens must be taught.

The lack of teen hiring has as much to do with employers' poor management and leadership skills as it does with anything else. In addition, you not only have employers who aren't skilled enough to work with teens, but if they do hire them, they are aggressively monitored by the Department of Labor (DOL). Am I the only one to find it odd that we have midnight basketball leagues but cannot have 15-year-olds work past 7 p.m. most of the year?

As all employers work to maximize productivity, hiring teens can become too much for employers to handle.

The solutions are simple to identify but hard to execute. How do we teach managers to instill life skills? How do we get the DOL to be a partner in encouraging employers to hire today's youth instead of simply fining employers for offenses?

Most likely the solution will not be government based but market based. The market place will one day see the asset today's youth can be.

Perhaps it is time for the DOL to revisit current youth labor laws and modernize the current guidelines to enhance and encourage the hiring of today's youth.
R.D. Martin

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