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The Public Pulse: Schools and careers; Mental health needs; Let children play

The Public Pulse: Schools and careers; Mental health needs; Let children play

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Medical marijuana presser 3.10

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts talks about his opposition to a bill legalizing medical marijuana during a news conference at the Capitol on March 10.

Schools, careers

I taught 34 years in West Point High School and always felt that our public schools were generally college prep systems. Since my retirement I have met several of my students who felt they did not do well in high school. My usual response was, “No, your school did not do well for you.” In a sense they had spent four years of their lives struggling in classes that they would never use in day-to-day labor. However, they were now successful adults who had not gone to college, but had spent additional years attending various alternative systems or learning their occupations on the job.

Recently the West Point-Beemer Public Schools with Wayne State College, Norfolk Community College, 12 area K-12 systems, and Educational Service Unit 2 started what they call P2T (Pathways to Tomorrow.) Now, they offer programs in education, health sciences, computer sciences, building and construction, welding and commercial driver’s license training.

Students concentrating in one of these areas take the usual high school courses but have several opportunities to take very specific career-oriented classes. They may move right into a lifetime career right after graduating from high school.

I commend Omaha Public Schools for wanting to create a similar pathway system for their students. It may behoove them to contact the WPBHS principal for details.

Tom Black, West Point, Neb.

Mental health needs

My name is Elizabeth Leddy, and my father was the late Dr. Joseph Stothert.

It is difficult to put into words what my family has gone through in the past two weeks. We are devastated. My dad was a wonderful father, grandfather and husband. He saved thousands of lives and impacted for the better many thousands more. He will be terribly missed.

I am deeply troubled by the Omaha World-Herald’s decision to publish the article on March 19 regarding his DUI he received on March 4, insinuating in some way that his death was a result of that charge. Our family, his friends and colleagues noticed some changes in my dad over the past year. We never in our wildest dreams thought this would be the end result, and we will always be asking ourselves questions that will never be answered.

The fact remains that mental health challenges and depression for those working in health care are at a greater risk. Suicide within that profession is more than double the likelihood of an average person. A DUI is not what caused this tragedy, depression did. Public safety meant the world to my dad, and anyone who actually knew him knows that some of his actions in his final days were contradictory to his legacy and everything he stood for.

I truly hope that if we as a community can learn anything by this, it would be that if you are feeling depressed or suicidal, to ask for help. As a first step, we as a family want to address mental health by the memorial funds set up in my father’s name. Memorials are to be sent to the First Responders Foundation and the Omaha Police Foundation. Additionally, I hope that the Omaha World-Herald can learn that digging through and trying to find a reason behind the death of a unwell hero only shines a negative light on the mental health crisis that our country and community face.

We love you, dad. I hope you find peace.

Elizabeth Leddy, Omaha

Showing respect

I would like to again offer my condolences to the family of Dr. Joe Stothert. I chose to remember him for all the good things he did during his life.

On a different subject, I was pleased to learn that our mayor is going to stand for re-election. She has done an outstanding job for our city. I was also impressed by the fact that her opponents in the upcoming race put their campaigns on hold out of respect for the Stothert family.

Too bad members of both political parties, on the national level, can’t show as much class.

Ron Cronkhite, Omaha

First, do no harm

I am dismayed by a quote from Dr. James Lawler in the March 13 OWH article in which he said, “Americans have been willing to sacrifice old people so that kids can play sports.” He goes on to say that people should not have kids in sports or go to church with 200 people. My question for Dr. Lawler and his colleague, Dr. Rauner, who was also quoted in the article, is, “When is the right time for these activities?” A year ago, we took kids out of school and shut businesses for two weeks to “flatten the curve.” As of this morning, 132 people are hospitalized with COVID in Nebraska. This is down 87% from our high around mid-November. Where is the endpoint? When is it OK for kids to play sports and for people to go to church? Is the curve flattened yet?

Gov. Ricketts and Gov. Reynolds of Iowa recognize the importance of allowing people to make their own decisions about safety and use reason to prevail here in the Midwest. Although too many kids in these two states were in hybrid or virtual learning for too long, the recognition that ripping away school, sports, activities and friends may cause long-term learning and psychological damage to children has been widely acknowledged. There have been catastrophic rises in anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation in kids and young people.

No grandparent I know supports their grandchildren missing out on a year of their lives to protect the grandparents. The grandparents simply choose to skip risky situations like sporting venues and are grateful the kids can play. Equivalating kids playing sports to killing old people is not only terrible messaging but a fallacy. There are no studies tying youth sports to deaths of elderly.

It’s time to realize that the responsibility for health belongs to the individual, as it always was prior to 2020. A society that puts children and their needs last (and yes, social activity for kids is a “need”) is a broken society. Drs. Lawler and Rauner should reconsider their oath, “First, do no harm”

Jennifer Brungardt, Council Bluffs

Right vote by Bacon

Praise for Congressman Bacon for breaking with reactionaries to cast a principled and just vote in favor of the HR 6 Dreamers and Promise Act. Please write Sens. Fischer and Sasse in support of the Senate bipartisan Durban/Graham Dream Act and/or support for HR 6, whose text can be seen at Perhaps a collegial vote would lead to cooperation on broader immigration issues.

George Douglas, Omaha

Wise young writer

Madeline Freestone (March 19 Pulse) is wise beyond her years. Unlike many of our elected officials, she is able to examine thoughtless statements and distinguish facts from fiction. (Dare I say “separate the wheat from the chaff”?)

Madeline, good for you!

Christine Montez, Omaha

Civil liberties abused

Civil liberties are guarantees and freedoms that governments promise not to abridge, either by legislation or judicial interpretation, without due process. Individual rights protected by law from unjust governmental or other interference.

Most retired individuals have the luxury of time at their disposal and pay attention to what is going on in the world. Those who are out there trying to make a living, raise a family, involved in their children’s activities, have kids in college, and trying to make ends meet are inundated with many constant decisions to make. Life becomes much more demanding.

This is why we need access to unbiased news media to tell it like it is. Our local radio and TV stations do not always tell both sides of what is really going on. Adding to this is our social media that is shared on our smartphones.

Mornings we listen to KTIC for local and ag-related news. We tune into KETV at 5 p.m. to catch up on local news, weather and world news. In the evenings we tune in to OANN, Newsmax, Fox Nation and Victory channels to hear the rest of the story. Comparing local channels to other news media channels gives us insight to what is taking place in our country. By listening to both sides, you can assess what is really happening.

We need to wake up and acknowledge that we are living in a world of cancel culture, which is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles — whether it be online, on social media or in person. It is designed to project only one side of an issue.

Donette Jackson, Tekamah, Neb.

Outstanding clinic

My wife and I received our first COVID shots at a clinic given by the Sarpy County Health Department. I have to take my hat off to the professionalism and expeditious manner in which we were treated. I cannot remember an event that was organized to the level that this was handled. From the time we walked in the door until we left, there were people to guide us through each step, and the markings on the floor and taped off guidelines were so well laid out that there was no question on where to go and what to do next.

Kudos to the professionals and the military personnel who assisted in this clinic! Including the 15-minute wait time after the shot, the entire process took 25 minutes.

Ronald Rogers, Bellevue

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