Letters to the Editor

Readers write about both sides of the gun debate, evaluating teachers, and regulating children's television programming.

Both sides of gun debate claim middle ground

Rachel Graves's Sept. 5 Opinion piece, "Gun debate muzzles the middle ground," contains the single most sensible statement about the gun-control issue I have read in years.

While I personally do not own a gun, I see nothing wrong with people owning handguns, rifles, or shotguns and keeping them in their homes for their own protection.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), however, would have us believe that no American will be "free" or "safe" until people are allowed to carry concealed weapons anywhere they want and/or own rapid-fire assault weapons.

Is the average American homeowner really in danger of having his home invaded by an infantry brigade?

Why must this be an all-or-nothing debate?

Any measure to reasonably stop the flow of guns into the hands of criminals is immediately branded with unbelievable and unbearable rhetoric from gun-rights advocates.

I feel I have no choice but to oppose the pro-gun lobby because there is seemingly no limit to how far it will go.

Jason Frey
Unity, Wis.

Regarding Ms. Graves's Opinion piece about gun control, she seems to feel that no one had ever banned guns anywhere and the NRA only wanted people to own .50-caliber rifles and machine guns.

I agree that the middle ground referred to in the next-to-last paragraph sounds perfectly reasonable. And it is very likely similar to the views of the majority in the United States. But since the NRA isn't trying to get .50-caliber rifles and machine guns legalized, and supports (somewhat) background checks, their position seems fairly close to this elusive middle ground that she says neither side believes in.

Instead of discussing the merits of either side, Graves condemns them both, while showing significant sympathy for the underdog, no matter its actions.

If one side is for banning guns and is demonizing its opponents, as well as having difficulty raising money, and the other side is for the elusive middle ground and raises a lot of money, then maybe the sides are not the polar extremes Graves is trying to create.

Richard Altstatt
Huntsville, Ala.

Let the teacher be the grader

Regarding the Aug. 30 article, "How teachers should be graded," I felt that the article left out an important point. One of my friends has been teaching in a rural elementary school in northern California. From our conversations, I gather that she might not be able to score highly on an academic test, since she doesn't need to use that level of knowledge on a daily basis for the type of teaching that she does.

It doesn't make sense for the government to grade her poorly as a teacher, when it is the children who don't score highly on their tests. It would be grossly unfair to blame her for their failure.

What she does have to offer the little kids from these families is a great deal of love, enthusiasm, and consistency. Her third-grade curriculum challenges the students at their appropriate developmental stage. Do state testmakers actually know what is developmentally appropriate for 9-year-olds?

It amazes me when I hear how she sees beyond a child's family circumstances to reach out to individual children – nurturing their abilities beyond any labels that they might have been given.

Isn't this what we truly want in our elementary teachers? How can you test that?


Many eyes, but only one TV

Regarding the Sept. 6 Opinion piece, "Why government should not police TV violence and indecency," in my household, we've come up with an innovative way to control what children are watching, and it requires no extra technology or devices. We have one, yes, just one, cable-accessible television in the house, located in our family room.

If anyone is watching television, we are all watching it. If the adults want to watch programming that is not appropriate for children, we find something else for them to do.

Our children are more at risk of being separated from what goes on in the family when we give them the ability to shut themselves off with the latest gadgets to entertain themselves.

Montgomery, Ala.

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