LAURA THOMAS: Directors should look at the longer term
March 28, 2013 11:00 AM

Citizens and elected officials need to consider the longer term social ramifications of decisions regarding discipline as reported by the Gazette on Tuesday. Mr. Ross’s article quotes me as saying that “we as taxpayers and members of our small community have a lot invested in these young men” and I believe that we should invest in our collective future by supporting the continuation of their education.

In example, I can cite the history of an individual from my own Indiana family, who made some bad decisions in junior high and, through the combined discipline of town, family and school, learned a lasting lesson and went on to become an effective, caring educator who returns a great deal of tax revenue to our country.

After an incident in the 1980s involving securing alcohol underage and misbehaving off school property and being apprehended by police, this person completed an education at IHS, graduated college summa cum laude from Pitt and completed a M.Ed. at Harvard.

Supporting this turnaround was truly a community effort involving a counselor to whom our entire family feels grateful up to this day; a skilled, stern and caring principal; effective police; and parental punishments.

We live in a small town, and everyone knows about incidents like these. There is no effort to sweep things under the rug or privilege certain students, as a petition started out of town claims. My family had modest means and tended toward bookworms rather than athletes.

This incident was humiliating to us all and that was long before the days when social media could be used to add to an atmosphere of pillory.

The net result of an Indiana education was a young person who chose to teach at-risk and special-needs students for the rest of a career that has made a difference in the lives of many young people, students into whose troubles these lessons gave insight.

It is being argued that “rules are rules” and analogies were made at a recent school board public comment session that many workplaces have zero tolerance policies.

That is the prerogative of individual corporations, but young people are still works in progress and our society is not a corporation.

The responsible thing for our country’s long-term fiscal and social well-being is to rehabilitate these young citizens through discipline that does not separate them from our educational system.

Laura Thomas

Indiana

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