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DEBRA HALE-SHELTON: What we think we know

by Debra Hale-Shelton | April 26, 2020 at 1:55 a.m.

In an age when we have access to the truth at our fingertips, it seems that an increasingly vocal number of Americans buy into misconceptions about important issues.

These span everything from health and politics to education. Here are a few:

• Covid-19 is the flu. It's not. The flu kills people every year, but not nearly as many in such a short time. Plus, we have a flu vaccine. If you disagree, please tell me the last time New York had to have so many body bags and refrigerated trucks in recent years.

Even if you want to defend the White House at all costs, please don't write off someone's life by exposing others to a deadly virus. You may have it and not even know it. That's when it's the most contagious. A minor illness for some people can kill others--old people, babies, those with other health problems, those without access to adequate health care.

• There are "more important things than living." So said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, in talking about reopening the economy during the covid-19 pandemic. Would he have dared say that about aborting an unborn baby so that the mother could have a more financially stable lifestyle? I doubt it.

• Home-schooling is usually the best option for children. It may be the best option for your child for good reasons, but it's not for everyone's child. Some children need to be with other children to help them learn how to get along with others. They may also get more effective teaching on such matters as learning to read and write and solving algebraic equations.

I know nothing about teaching a child phonics. I'd do fine on grammatical diagramming, but there's far more to school than that. I could play a video lesson, but had such a class in college and found it so impersonal that I left the University of Missouri and returned to Arkansas State University.

Besides, not all mothers can afford to stay home, and typically it seems to be mothers, not fathers, who most often do the home schooling. Finally, going to school away from home can help prepare a child for the real world, the good and the bad.

I am nostalgic enough to yearn for a return to the time when our country valued public education--an institution I once thought few people, if any, would dismiss.

• Many politicians and others argue that standardized tests are the answer. Yet our state deprives public schools and teachers of the funding and pay they need and deserve in efforts to educate our children. The weaknesses and biases of such tests have been demonstrated repeatedly. The teacher is neither solely to blame or to credit for a student's test score or grades.

Other important factors include a child's environment and lack of access to equally funded schools. Some of us know people who are intelligent but do not do well on standardized tests.

• Disagreements will always exist about the Bible. But some things are myths and little more. One is that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, an apple. The Bible never says the fruit was an apple. For all we know, it was a peach or a kiwi.

• Another is that three wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. The Bible never says how many wise men there were.

• Elderly voters are more conservative. Many are, but not all. I'm more liberal now than I was at age 25, perhaps because I've seen so much more of life and death over the years. In turn, I'm less prone to fault others than I once was. Mostly, though, I don't see how anyone can be liberal or conservative on every single issue. If the nature of the issue doesn't matter, what does? The reality is that elderly voters are like young voters: We defy stereotypes.

Enough about religion and politics.

My daughter, who turned 19 this month, had urged me to steer clear of politics and write about her instead. "You could write about 19 reasons you love me," she said.

So, here goes, Annie:

• I love you unconditionally because you are my child. I did not give birth to you, but I carried you and the name we would give you in my heart long before I held you.

• I love you because you try to do what is right. And you are not above telling people, including me, that you are sorry when things didn't go right. Being able to take responsibility and apologize when we are wrong is a sign of maturity.

• You are conscientious, especially in your academic studies.

• You are kind to animals, stopping your car and moving the turtle crawling across the street, calming a scared cat, finding homes for stray dogs.

• You volunteer your time and work, whether at an animal shelter, a charitable store or a women's shelter.

• You don't like to take too much money from me, a good thing since I don't have much. As a result, you are always interested in part-time jobs.

• You love small children. When you were barely 2 years old and I would pick you up at day care, I'd sometimes find you in a room for babies, playing with a younger toddler or in your own way babysitting.

• You care about your parents and your grandparents when we are sick, sad or lonely.

• You have willpower and know how to do things in moderation, especially when it comes to that bag of chips or a candy bar.

• You have a short temper. That's not a good thing. But you are human, and you have improved as you've gotten older, matured--a sign of learning from your mistakes.

• No. 11-19: I love you just because. You giggled and ran from me as I tried to change your diaper the first time in a hotel in China. You swigged your bottled milk long after I should have weaned you. You lovingly clutched the Elmo doll Santa Claus left you on your first Christmas in America. You shared your joys and fears with me. You laughed, cried, and hoped. You showed me how to love.

Debra Hale-Shelton can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @nottalking.

Editorial on 04/26/2020


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