Don't use restraint as way to discipline
The National Disability Rights Network released its report on the continued use of restraint and isolation in schools. Among the examples cited are scream rooms in Connecticut and the tragic death of a boy who was stuffed in a duffel bag in Kentucky. These examples show the need to set forth policies and consequences of using inappropriate restraint and isolation at the federal level.
Yet, despite inaction at the federal level, I want to commend the Tennessee Legislature for responding to the community's concerns for the need to protect students with disabilities in schools. In 2009, Tennessee took a big step by outlining ways to prevent inappropriate use of restraint and isolation in the Special Education Behavioral Supports Act. Last year, this law was strengthened by clarifying that restraint and isolation are procedures of last resort, and must be used only in emergencies where it is necessary to prevent physical harm to the student or others.
This last point is important. Appropriate restraint and isolation should be used in dangerous situations, but it should not be used as discipline. With proper behavioral supports in place, all Tennessee students with disabilities can receive an education free from harm.
Disability Law & Advocacy Center of Tennessee
Young people can find own way
Headline (March 28): "Bill expands religious rights," and below that, "Tennessee low in college degree attainment."
Imposing religious beliefs on others does them a disservice, especially adolescents. Religion without thoughtful examination deprives youth of the critical thinking skills required in academics and in life. Ironically, extreme religiosity doesn't even instill strong personal values, because it creates a dependency. Once away from home, youth often stray because they haven't found their moral center. Thus, the next strong personality they meet can easily persuade them to believe just about anything.
Our lawmakers don't help when they waste so much time trying to legislate morality. Even God gave us a free will, but that's not good enough for our elected officials. I teach about adolescent development, and I assure you -- if given balanced information -- young people are capable of reasoning and making good decisions.
Pascal said, "God made us in his own image, and unfortunately, man returned the favor." I don't believe God is as controlling as we are. So parents -- don't be afraid to let go, show your adolescents and young adults you trust them to find their way. In the long run they won't disappoint you.
Energy strategy creating crisis
President Obama describes his energy policy as an "all of the above" approach.
The sources of energy available for the foreseeable future are: Renewables (wind, solar, geothermal and biomass (ethanol)), nuclear, petroleum, natural gas and coal. Wind generation of electricity is feasible in certain locales of the country but certainly not everywhere. The same can be said for solar.
All renewables account for 7.3 percent of U.S. energy consumed, leaving 92.7 percent produced by other sources. Yet, this administration has invested billions in renewables (wind and solar) with no significant increase in power generated.
Wind and solar are the only energy initiatives of this administration. There is no new nuclear construction. The administration has not addressed hydroelectric.
Oil production and permitting are down on federal lands by 10 percent and in the Gulf by 17 percent in the last year!
Natural gas is booming on private lands, but the administration has no natural gas initiatives.
Coal provides 22 percent of U.S. energy but new EPA regulations are putting coal energy out of business with no administration initiatives to develop clean coal.
The result of the "all of the above" energy strategy will be economic crisis. This administration is actually pursuing a "none of the above" energy strategy.
COL. (R) ROGER DUCKWORTH
Read scientists and not shamans
I doubt if Gov. Haslam and some letter writers know about Kitzmiller vs. Dover in 2005. That trial is called Scopes II. Republican Judge John Jones allowed scientific testimony. Judge John Raulston did not allow it in Scopes I.
Scientists shellacked shaman Michael Behe, the creationists' vapid version of pious William Jennings Bryan. Judge Jones ruled that Intelligent Design was a feeble creationist sham with no evidence and no case.
Do churches really want this debate? The problems with creationism are legion. We have stories, not data. There are two tales of creation. What theory reconciles them and nature?
Here's what hurts a creationist. Yahweh creates, destroys, and then starts all over from water-logged scratch! He drowns all life except eight humans and two of every creature (or seven) on a boat smaller than the Titanic. Pity the creationist who has to reconcile that with nature.
Possible classroom discussions: How did those two possums make it to Tennessee without those two lions eating them? What evidence disproves the spherical, moving earth theory? Are germs more real than evil spirits? Well, are they? Meanwhile, science standards suffer.
Evolution explains life nicely. Tennessee's lawmakers might try reading scientists instead of shamans.
IAN CLAUDIUS SMITH
Howard continues to be mistreated
The payoff of little vision, poor planning, favoritism and racism now rears its head in East Hamilton. A hurt toe affects the whole body. A neglected community hurts the entire school system.
The coddling of Lookout Valley and neglect for some six years of not rebuilding Franklin Middle have been costly to students and the school system at large. The rebuilding of Franklin at that time could have been some $14 million, while today's cost will approximate $25 million to $30 million of taxpayers' monies. The board has not been good stewards of our taxes.
Howard High, the oldest school in the system, has no feeder middle school simply because its student population is more than 95 percent black. In this supposedly enlightened age, we find it easy to waste dollars and good common sense.
Historically, Howard High should be on the National Register of Historical Education Sites of the country and not mistreated as it continues to be after its 139 years of existence.
JAMES R. MAPP
'Jokes' about Irish aren't funny
I agree with the letter from John "O" Johnston about the tasteless "jokes" in Punchline on March 16.
When those of us of Irish ancestry are happy to celebrate our heritage and the good Saint himself, you sure disillusioned us. How childish!
And none of the jokes were funny. Try to do better next year, or choose another subject.
Lincoln Park deserves better
In November 2011, a newspaper article informed the Lincoln Park community that Erlanger will be extending, going through the only park that was available for African-Americans during segregation.
Lincoln Park is a neighbor with Erlanger and was not given the courtesy of a heads-up before the paper was released.
Erlanger was responsible for all the displaced, old and underprivileged residents that had homes, which were paid for, to build a laundry department.
Harrison Ford will be shooting part of a movie on the life of Jackie Robinson, who played with the Negro League at Lincoln Park. I have reached out to Erlanger several times with a promise to follow up wanting to make the park a historical landmark.
TIFFANY A. RANKINS