Letters to the Editor 4/7/11
Guns and schools
GUNS VS. SCHOOLS
I mourn the passing of the good old days when political and military leaders spoke wisely and bluntly about the issues facing the country.
Possibly some leaders still are speaking wisely and bluntly. Possibly citizens simply are not hearing them because, as contemporary writer Chris Hedges asserted, “We are awash in electronic hallucinations.”
The words I hear, though, from most leaders sound like carefully television-designed and poll-vetted sound bites.
Could Dwight D. Eisenhower, the two-term Republican president and former Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Forces, even win a Republican primary or get promoted to general today?
In his “Chance for Peace” speech in April 1953, Eisenhower warned us about the dark road we were traveling, saying, “The best [case] would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples . . . Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed . . . The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.”
Times change, and prices rise. We’ve fired, as near as I can tell, at least 124 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Libya, with the United Kingdom firing the rest. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the current replacement value for a Tomahawk in today’s dollars is $1.41 million.
Yet Jacksonville, the small city I live in, is embroiled in an argument about whether it can afford to spend $17.6 million for a new junior high school.
For the price of 13 Tomahawk missiles, our city could have its modern school building. For the price of 124 Tomahawks, 10 small cities could have a modern school.
This tradeoff is what Eisenhower was trying to warn us about in 1953 and again in 1961 in his “Farewell Address.” In that speech, Eisenhower insisted that “we must not fail to comprehend [the] grave implications” of “this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.”
He offered several specific warnings, saying, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex” and “We should take nothing for granted: only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
DON’T REDUCE SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Reducing the number of school districts in Illinois by over half is a bad idea. We need to revamp the school system, period. We need to stop busing and keep our grade school classes small. Middle schools could be magnet schools based on what the child’s abilities need. High school should be more like our junior colleges now. We should start all children in college or technical schools when they turn 16. Expelling kids just gives them a step towards the prison system. It is cheaper to provide a good education than pay the cost of crime. First you have the cost to the victim. Then you have the court cost, then the cost of the prison system, then finally the parole and often a new victim cost. We need to stop expelling kids – they love it. We need specialized teachers who keep them in school. Even if separate from the other students it will still be cheaper in the long run. Gives a whole new look at the separate but equal issue. You see it will address the fact that a lot of it has to do with poverty, not just color.
CRACK THE WHIP
I have noticed that this is another article, about criminals rights, not victims’ rights [See “When a fifth-grader goes to jail,” by Holly Dillemuth, March 3]. This article made no attempt to discuss how a child should be handled, if they make a weapon, and use it to commit theft or bodily harm. No mention of this, in the article, at all. I do love that “pitiful” face, on page 8. You really made the perpetrator look like the victim. Bravo!!!! As for “counseling,” in my day, “counseling” was a paddling. Troublesome children were treated as trouble. There was none of this “sensitivity” crap. Of course, there weren’t nearly as many drive-by shootings, either. In my opinion, troublemakers, as young as preschool age, should be allowed to face jail time. Crack the whip, and let’s see how soon behavior improves.
From comments at illinoistimes.com