Letters to the Editor, August 20

Aug. 19, 2014 @ 12:41 PM

It’s time for later times

Monday morning I was shocked to learn our Board of Education is already tabling the idea of later start times for our students.  The traditional school year has not even begun and the board has preemptively and unilaterally decided that no change will be considered for 2015-2016.

As president of the Durham Council of PTAs, I spoke at a school board subcommittee meeting in May. The council offered to assist the school board in informing parents and teachers about the pros and cons of later start times.  I made this offer because I heard loud and clear from our middle and high schools that later start times are a priority. PTAs are uniquely positioned to gather information from parents and teachers.  I have yet to hear from the board about my offer.

Heidi Carter stated, "We have to raise awareness about this issue." That can only happen if DPS families have reason to believe the board takes their concerns seriously.  Too many times the idea of later start times has been raised only for it to quietly go away. Most recently this happened three years ago when the previous administration tried to lead this change.

In the meantime the Council of PTAs will present information to our members about this issue at our upcoming meeting.  We will be encouraging PTAs to reach out to their school communities to gather information and document their thoughts.  We think the time has come to stop kicking the can down the road. 

Ann Rebeck


Justice for all

As a society, our police forces can choose two general approaches to dealing with the public.  

At one extreme is cops in military vehicles expecting the worst of citizens and inciting anger, fear, and resentment.  In contrast, policemen in England are not armed and they depend on community relations to keep order.  

The United States has chosen the first approach and it is paying some sad dividends.  In England only three police deaths were recorded for the decade from 2000 to 2010.    In the United States, 64 cops were killed in 2013 alone and 74 so far this year.  Police killing of citizens is even worse.  The United States is responsible for more than 80 percent of all the gun deaths in the 23 richest countries combined.   

Police investigating themselves is another bad idea.  I believe our justice system has become all about politics.   Note that you don’t see drug-sniffing dogs in places like Trinity Park but you do see them in Durham’s projects.  You don’t see traffic stops in Trinity Park, but you do see them in poor areas of the city.  This is partly why there is a great disparity in arrests and imprisonment among black, Hispanic, and white citizens.  

I grew up believing in the Constitution and what it stood for, but I think it is a travesty the way it is implemented.  We don’t have a fair playing field and we will never have one until we get serious about justice for all.

Larry Bumgardner