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February 13, 2021 at 2:59 a.m.

Teenage motherhood

The issue of teenage pregnancies in Arkansas is one that must be addressed. As a teen student living in Arkansas, the education I have received included a basic presentation only addressing the horrors of teen pregnancies and the importance of abstinence. The lack of teaching has resulted in many peers becoming teen parents themselves. This issue has detrimental economic, physical, and mental effects on teens and their community. To properly address this issue, a plan must be put into place.

Arkansas does not mandate if and what is being taught in schools. Even if sex education is taught, schools are required to push for abstinence instead of thoroughly teaching students about medically accurate safe sex. A bill needs to be passed that would mandate proper sex education. After educating teens on the importance of safety, a need for access to birth control is required for underprivileged and young teens. Although there are programs that address the issue of birth control for adults, teens are often left off or require parents' permission. The last step to help end teen pregnancies in Arkansas for the long run is to make groups that help new teen mothers. It has been proven that children of teen pregnancies are more likely to also become young parents.

Arkansas has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy, and it is not hard to see why. Ignoring an issue does not make it away, so this issue should be addressed more to lower the rates in Arkansas.


Hot Springs

Don't ditch mask yet

Herd immunity is on the horizon and now is not the time to stop our efforts to "stop the spread." According to CDC data, there have been over 26 million cases of covid, and just recently that number was surpassed by over 27 million people having at least 1 dose of a covid vaccine (granted, two doses are needed to be fully immune with the current vaccines).

Unfortunately, I see places and people backing off the mask-wearing, which is worrisome, especially as the strains are beginning to mutate and becoming more infectious, and probably more deadly.

If we stick to our "stop the spread" plan, maybe by early summer our country can become more normal. Please wear your mask, socially distance, wash hands, avoid crowded indoor establishments, and get your vaccination. It is sad that a brainless RNA virus that is 0.125 microns in size can outsmart so many selfish people who refuse to wear a mask, etc.



Greatest of presidents

One is still referred to as "The Father of Our Country." A man of action more than words, but when he spoke, all listened. And he spoke loudly and eloquently at Trenton, Brooklyn Heights, Valley Forge, and Yorktown, and later when he said, "I do solemnly swear ..." setting the bar high for all who followed in his wake.

The other, the original "Man in Black." Somber, a man of action and words. Words that had the ring of scripture, pinging as though shards of metal against the wall of ignorance and intolerance. "Four score and seven ..." "Of the people, by the people ..." "To bind up the nation's wounds ..." Only to be cut down by an assailant's bullet from a poor player limping across the stage of shame, prompting a long black train steaming across the countryside, its forlorn whistle echoing across the miles, and ages.

Pray God we never forget these two, these dream-snatchers, these forgers of liberty.



Careful on cleansing

From trying to do good to looking foolish and inept can be a very short step. The question of whether we can separate time, location, culture and greatness is questionable. Culture, the accepted norm and behavior of a particular time, changes quickly.

In my short 79 years I have lived through segregation, the controversy over the length of men's hair and women's dresses, and children eating after adults and riding in the back of pickups. Things change.

I am not saying never remove offensive landmarks and names. When a society begins cultural cleansing by removing Lincoln, Jefferson and Columbus, how far does it go in antiquity: Alexander the Great, the Roman emperors, the Vikings or maybe even Jesus, who said be kind to your slaves?

The bottom line seems to be that most of us conform to the culture in which we live. A failure to conform makes us an outcast. Judge our ancestors by their impact on their time and culture, not today's.



Teachers and pupils

There has been a lot of talk lately of how the past year will change the way we look at education. I'm all for changing the education system in America, but using technology more and more is not going to help. The problem stems from the lack of focus on teachers.

Education is treated like a business model. The Education secretary at the federal level acts as the CEO and the chief officers are the state education secretaries. Together with mandates and bills drawn up by the legislators of each state, some of whom don't have any knowledge of the classroom at all, they decide what should be taught. Next come the school board members and superintendents. All these people make the decisions about what needs to be taught in the classroom, how to hold teachers accountable, and what needs the students have. All the while, other businesses are shaped around education and want to get in on the money that they can make off of providing "learning opportunities."

What this model is missing is seeing that the best learning opportunity students have is their teachers, trained in education and content knowledge and with the ability to see each student's needs. Besides following a few guidelines and standards, they should be left alone to teach and should be paid a good salary for doing it.

For too long now education has been underfunded at the federal and state levels. This sends a message to the general public that education is not worth funding. When that happens, we begin losing on so many fronts. We lose an educated electorate who can make informed decisions. We lose on the poverty issue because students don't value their education enough to want to get higher-education degrees and better-paying jobs. And we lose on a national level as America's students fall behind other countries. Yes, we need changes in our education model, but we better be mindful of who those changes benefit, and clearly they need to benefit the teachers and the students above all else.




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