Letters to Editor – January 10, 2013
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
The story in last week's Maple Leaf entitled "Consolidation Study Planned For Newbury School District" quickly grabbed my attention as a former educator.
It is a wonderful example of what the State of Ohio has not done for this area in the field of K-12 public education and I continue to be amazed at how passively the citizens of this immediate area seem to be about it.
At one point, the current Newbury Schools superintendent and its chief fiscal officer are quoted as saying, "By the end of the next school year, we will be in a deficit situation ... if a district is trying to pay the state back for borrowed funds, that obligation could transfer to any district with which it merges."
This same backward looking policy from the state would also apply to Ledgemont Schools, which is even further along on the bankruptcy path.
What a tremendous non-starter this policy is for all of the surrounding districts who might want to help these two districts in some fashion, but have their own budget problems to worry about.
Just for the sake of consideration, let me pose two suggestions that might have some impact on education in this area and across the state.
1. Has the Chardon Schools administration or board considered approaching the state education department and propose that Chardon might be willing to help these beleagured neighboring districts if the State of Ohio would help us to replace our 70-year-old high school with a brand spanking new one with updated labs and a performance center where we could actually conduct our own commencements?
You know, something similar to Ashtabula, Geneva, Painesville and many other consolidated districts across the state that bring pride and new businesses to the area.
The state should also agree to support additional transportation and moving costs so that all of these kids would be receiving a first class education for the 21st century. If there is no state support for moving forward in this manner, then they should prepare to lose their loan money, and pay directly for students to attend other schools to meet minimal education requirements on a continuing basis.
You do not stand still, you either move forward, or go backward in the current society.
I would also hope that some of our local politicians would become involved in moving this concept through the Columbus bureaucracy since they are allegedly being paid to help the citizenry of this area.
2. Everyone seems to be concerned about the level of K-12 education in the mathematics, science, and technical areas, so what is actually being done about it within the 88 counties of Ohio?
The Ohio State University seems to have plenty of dollars for a new football coach; what are they doing for education in these areas?
Why are there not summer workshops of one or two weeks duration in every county of the state for 20-30 teachers in these areas that they can attend free of charge to discuss new ideas in their discipline and new teaching approaches. These workshops should include one math, and one science teacher from every district in a county who would be obligated to take any new ideas back to their home schools.
After two or three summers of these workshops, I'll bet that some improvements in these disciplines could be observed, and the concept might even spread to other areas of study.
The United States does not lack money or expertise for these venture, only creativity and will, and local citizens must demand this of their politicians.
Dr. David P. Peltier
Step Up and Help
I am writing in response to the letter of Mr. Sheldon Firem in last week's Maple Leaf because he apparently missed the focus of my comments about a community response to the growing drug use problem, as reported by Glen Miller.
Perhaps, had Mr. Firem attended the meeting at which I spoke or called me to discuss my comments, such misunderstanding could have been avoided.
I did not suggest that the assistance and support of trained volunteers from local churches for those grappling with drug use problems should replace trained professionals who treat the drug addicted.
What I said was local churches and their members could provide much needed personal and emotional support for those seeking recovery from drug use, to facilitate the efforts of those trained professionals.
Drug intervention counselors and specialists have repeatedly told me that individuals in drug recovery who have a strong support group or family member support are far more likely to succeed in avoiding future drug use than those who have no such support. This is not an issue of morality, but rather humanity.
While some training of those willing to volunteer their time to provide such emotional and personal support for recovering drug users is expected, volunteers from local churches will require less training because many already provide similar support to those in need.
I am skeptical of the argument that every human impropriety can be blamed on addiction as a disease beyond an individual's behavioral control. When I ask drug users in my court why they use heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine, they almost always answer,"to deal with the stress."
When I was growing up, we dealt with "the stress" by playing sports, talking with our parents and praying to God. Since God has been thrown out of our schools and so many modern families are broken and dysfunctional, apparently "stressed out" young adults and juveniles seem to have turned to drugs.
I do not need theory from a scientific study to tell me what is happening. I obtain my insight directly from the actual young adult and juvenile drug users who appear in my court. That is the reason why I have concluded that those in recovery need ongoing emotional and personal support to deal with stress during and after their recovery.
We simply cannot afford to pay professionals and government employees to be there daily for these recovering drug users, but trained volunteers from the community, especially churches, could fill this important long-term support role.
Government, alone, cannot solve the growing drug problem. Just look around. Government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the "War on Drugs" and the government agencies tasked with fighting that war. Yet, drug use still plagues our communities, despite often heroic efforts by law enforcement.
Moreover, who is going to pay for the increase in professional programs and bigger government agencies suggested by Mr. Firem?
And, the rate of permanent recovery for many who participate in these costly professional and government agency programs is disappointingly low, especially when the recovering drug user has no support base. Again, I see this problem weekly in my court.
The myth that government can solve all of our problems is just that– a myth. The "government is the solution" argument also is an excuse that unfortunately allows people to look the other way and not engage in solving the problems that face our community. At a minimum, we, the people, need to help solve the problems facing our community. In this case, such help would be by providing emotional and personal support to recovering drug users.
The sad truth is that the increase in young adult and juvenile drug use is a community problem as much as it is a disease or behavioral issue. I respectfully suggest that the community, especially those who are willing to become trained volunteers through our local churches, step up and help the trained professionals and government agencies dealing with this community problem by providing emotional and personal support for those struggling daily to recover from drug addiction.
Judge Timothy J. Grendell
Geauga County Probate and Juvenile Court
Faith and Trust
As I leave public service, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped along the way. My 32 years of service to Geauga County has provided me the type of career I could only hope for while in college.
The faith and trust the citizens have shown me, both for the county road levy as well as my candidacy for county engineer are very humbling. I hope my service has left the Geauga County road system in better condition then when I started in the 1980s.
Thank you for the opportunity to service Geauga County.
Robert L. Phillips, PE, PS
Geauga County Engineer