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The Public Pulse: Debating school reopening; Tech High history; Defend free speech

The Public Pulse: Debating school reopening; Tech High history; Defend free speech

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OPS needs to rethink

Of all the things that we have been forced to sacrifice in the last four months, there is one thing that I refuse to sacrifice without a fight, and that is our children’s education and well-being. School is an essential service for our youth, and it is imperative that all students be physically present every day of the upcoming school year. I am very disappointed in the Omaha Public Schools officials who currently believe that it is safest to send kids back to school only part-time.

Safest for whom? Certainly not safest for children who are experiencing bouts of depression and behavioral issues from being isolated from society. Certainly not safest for children who are falling behind their peers in education because their parents both work and do not have the time or the means to home school their kids. And certainly not safest for those at-risk children whose home life is so volatile that the four walls of a classroom are the only place they feel safe and secure.

I am begging every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, pastor, teacher and concerned citizen who cares about the children in their lives to please contact OPS and demand that kids physically go back to school full-time. If we don’t, our children will potentially suffer lifelong consequences not just educationally, but socially, mentally, physically and emotionally. It is incredibly selfish for us as adults to place the burdens of COVID-19 squarely on the shoulders of our children.

Elisabeth Richert, Omaha

School virus dangers are serious

Reality check: To have students and staff return to school without assurance of a safe learning and work environment is frightening and will jeopardize lives of children, education employees and their families. I’ve been involved with the education community my entire adult life. Schools are petri dishes of germs without COVID-19. Masks, physical distancing and online learning lessen the danger.

COVID-19 studies indicate that it is spread as aerosol or particles expelled when breathing, talking, singing and yelling. Wearing a mask/shield lessens the spread of COVID-19. It is not an infringement on personal rights; we do it to increase safety when outside our homes. No one enjoys it.

Classrooms cannot provide physical distancing with 20-plus students present. Safe physical distancing requires additional space and staff. Churches are a logical source of space, but the difficulty remains a staffing and financial issue. Federal CARES Act funds should be used to provide for student technology needs and Internet access regardless of family economic status. Online instruction solves the safety, space and staffing issues.

Online learning is problematic for working families. It is easier to catch up on education than to grieve the loss of students or staff. Education happens whether in-person or online. Lost lives cannot be recovered. One life lost is too many. Do you want to sacrifice a family member for a test score? I don’t! My only daughter is a teacher. My only grandchild is a third grader. Yes, it’s personal.

Patricia Shipley, Nodaway, Iowa

Tech High history and police issue

The headline “Groups call on superintendents to pull police from hallways,” which appeared in the OWH July 16, took me back to an earlier time. In the ’70s after a student protest closed Technical High School early for the Christmas break, a decision was made to work to change the atmosphere at the school. The building was painted, new carpeting was put down on every one of the five floors, and a new curriculum was created. Recruitment of students from the entire district began.

Those students asked that police officers be removed from the school. The school board and the administration did that very thing. The school functioned smoothly and well until 1984, when the school board decided the district did not need two downtown high schools.

Is it time to listen to today’s “call”?

Nancy W. Huston, La Vista

Schools and sexual abuse

The Nebraska State Education Association fully supports the Omaha World-Herald’s July 15 editorial regarding sexual abuse and schools. There is no acceptable reason that an educator in a PK-12 school district should be in a sexual relationship with a student, regardless of the age of the student. If that does occur, the educator must face consequences greater than revocation of their teaching certificate.

The Nebraska State Education Association is in full support of legislation that strengthens the penalties for educators who take advantage of their position to coerce students into a sexual relationship.

Jenni Benson, Lincoln

president, NSEA

Greatest Generation at risk

During World War II, the Greatest Generation came together in wartime, sacrificing food, fuel and income to collectively defeat the Axis powers. During the Vietnam War, their children marched in the streets, facing tear gas and police in riot gear, sacrificing their safety and lives to bring our soldiers home and out of harm’s way.

Two generations later, we are being asked to simply sacrifice the convenience of dining out, to not gather and simply wear a facial covering when in public, to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Sadly, the America that over 418,000 people gave their lives in WWII to save has become so self-centered and apathetic that people refuse to take simple measures to defeat this new enemy, which unfortunately poses the greatest threat to the great men and women who sacrificed so much to make this country what it is today, all for the sake of “normalcy” and economic growth. I find this shameful.

Jeff Vavruska, Gretna

Defend free thought, free speech

The attack on free speech makes me fear for the future of my grandchildren. The principles of our country, found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, are the very tools that we have used to improve our nation. Freedom of expression is what has enabled us to utilize these tools to overcome injustices and obstacles created by our own fallen state. The ability to express your ideas freely is one that many of my fellow citizens seem to have taken for granted, which is worrisome considering how many individuals on the radical left want to silence those who disagree with them, without any current objection by the majority of Americans.

Many Americans are scared to question the true motives of organizations like Black Lives Matter, which takes many radical stances on their official website that have nothing to do with racial injustice. Americans’ anxiety is likely caused by the dread of being blasted on platforms like Twitter and the risk of losing their jobs due to pressure from the echo chambers of radical leftists on social media.

We, as American citizens, have the ability to say and question whatever we want, and if it is determined wrong or radical, then people have the right to freely move on to consider other ideas.

Where are the classical liberals? Classical liberals on the left should be on the front lines defending this assault on our liberty to free speech. Although the majority of common-sense citizens have more to lose than the other side, we must take a stand now. Otherwise, we won’t be able to stand at all.

Matthew Locke, Omaha

Removing statues, historical names

The revisionist movement toward historical events and figures in American history makes me wonder when the names Harney and Farnam will come under attack. All were involved in fighting the Indians in Nebraska and Colorado in the 1860s. Also, General Crook, the Crook house. As much as we want to make things right in our 21st century way of thinking, the problem is, these events and people lived in a different time and had different thoughts on what they were facing.

Richard Benolken, Omaha

Best form of affirmative action

This is in regard to the article, “Omaha city councilman wants Nebraska to end ban on affirmative action” (July 13). I feel describing Measure 424 as a “ban on affirmative action” is very misleading. Measure 424 explicitly prohibits the state from discriminating on the basis of race, sex and ethnicity when hiring and acceptance in higher education.

Measure 424 is a ban on discrimination. While this would prohibit affirmative action based on race, sex and ethnicity, it would be possible to have affirmative action based on economic status, single parentage or other factors. For proponents of affirmative action, having affirmative action based on wealth, or the lack thereof, should still be effective for all people on lowest rungs of society. It would help impoverished black, white, brown, red and yellow equally. This would be far more acceptable than having affirmative action based on race, sex and ethnicity.

To have affirmative action that grants favor to specific races would require repealing “Equality Before the Law,” which is our state motto and what Measure 424 protects. I believe that this is unacceptable, and if Measure 424 is allowed to be repealed, it would literally implement institutional racism.

Joseph Maxwell, Omaha

Importance of being positive

Thank you for publishing Fritz Donahoo’s poetic “Ode to an Attic Fan” in Tuesday’s paper (July 14 Pulse).

No anger, no outrage, no lamenting, no blaming and no negativity. Just a nice reminiscence about a simple product that makes life a bit more pleasant. What a welcome respite from all the news and opinion.

Eve and Eric Watts, Omaha

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