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Keeping students safe

January 31, 2006|By WENDY LEECE

This week we asked our parent panelists: Is enough done at Newport-Mesa schools (and others elsewhere) regarding traffic and the safety of students?

There is always more to be done to keep students safe, especially in our post-Sept. 11 world. Everyone, and especially teenage drivers, is in such a rush. Students carrying flags to alert drivers in crosswalks around schools is a good idea.

While traffic safety is very important, I am just as concerned that we also protect the minds and hearts of our students. Parents have the expectation that administrators will protect their children from teachers whose personal opinions, when shared in the classroom, may undermine the values students learn at home.

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Parents expect their children's minds be filled with knowledge when they go to school, but some teachers veer from their prescribed course of study and share personal opinions to try to persuade students to accept their viewpoints. This is not an issue of free speech. If controversial issues are discussed, teachers are required by district policy to share all sides of the issue.

I know of a situation last year in which a teacher frequently showed movies that had a political message. The teacher shared controversial personal viewpoints and downplayed students' opposing ones. One student, who felt uncomfortable listening to the teacher's personal views, confronted the teacher. The student's parents complained to the teacher and administrators. Fortunately, the parents had given this child a good moral foundation, and the teacher's views did not change the student's mind.

Because the teacher is an authority figure, some students, who may not be as well-grounded by their parents in moral principles, may adopt the teacher's personal views.

With the purging of faith-based values from public schools, students must accept relativism and secular humanism as the predominate worldviews. But this poses a dilemma for any student from a home with traditional family values. Should students have to put their values and beliefs aside in the classroom? Maybe students should wave a flag, so the teacher, in the interest of intellectual honesty, is reminded to share opposing viewpoints.

Parents must prepare their children for a possible assault on their family's values with the same forethought and diligence practiced when teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street.

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