Monday, July 18, 2011

Should the Obese Fatten the Government Budget

Should the Obese Fatten the Government Budget?
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
July 18, 2011

Plucking obese children from their parents is the ultimate in “nanny-statism.”

Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston and Lindsey Murtagh, an attorney and researcher with Harvard’s School of Public Health, want to extract obese children from their homes and away from their parents for a government intervention.

Ludwig and Murtagh want to place these children in foster care, as if that system is without fault. Should the anorexic be removed from their homes as well? How about the bulimic? How about those with ADHD? What about children who refuse to study? Where should the line be drawn?

This is the same government running a perpetually failing postal system, AMTRAK, motor vehicle departments and public schools at federal, state and local levels. This is another example of an overreaching government exerting their kung-fu grip on the American people. The continuing notion that government can better raise our children should put fear in our hearts and minds not unlike that of Nazi Germany.

Government is partially responsible for the rise in childhood obesity. Examine the fat-laden school lunches and now breakfasts shoved down the throats of low-income students. How many schools have eliminated physical education, extra-curricular sports and other exercise-based activities in the name of budget cuts? Society will pay the piper regarding the rising cost of health care and dependency upon Medicare and Medicaid.

Also consider the numerous teens unable to secure part-time and/or summer employment. The overrun of illegal aliens storming our borders to “do the jobs Americans won’t do,” the oft-repeated mantra of many turning a blind eye to the epidemic of illegal immigration, keeps ever-fattening teens on the couch.

Make no mistake; parents also must carry the weight of irresponsibility for stuffing their children with fast food and allowing them to lounge around playing video games or enjoying faux lives on-line.

Here’s an idea for a job creator: parenting school. Folks need licenses to drive, teach, work as accountants, electricians and plumbers, but not the most vital of all jobs – parenting.

Yes, the American people have a collective obesity problem, but so too does the government who instead of cutting its own fat, wants to add more bureaucracy and spend more money it does not have on programs that will ultimately fail like their numerous predecessors. Stop spending tax-payer money on public school diversity manuals as in Nebraska and get the children into the gym.

Sanford D. Horn is an educator and writer living in Westfield, IN.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Keeping Cursive is (Write) Right

Keeping Cursive is (Write) Right
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
July 11, 2011

Like a well-executed bunt in baseball, cursive writing is sadly becoming a lost art.

“I want to learn cursive,” my seven-year-old niece Lauren said. “I don’t want to just print,” said the rising Oak Trace Elementary School second grader.

That Indiana has removed cursive writing from its curriculum is a curse against the current and future generations of school children. Just because 45 other states have done likewise does not make it right. Replacing cursive writing with keyboarding does a disservice to students who will ultimately suffer.

Writing, like reading and arithmetic of the vaunted “three Rs” of academia, is a vital leg of children’s learning. Like a three-legged stool, eliminate one leg and the stool becomes useless. Students need a foundation in cursive writing to compliment the skill of using the keyboard as not everything they write in life will be composed on a computer.

Education experts have determined that the third grade is the optimum time to commence learning cursive writing. At that age and grade cursive writing instruction is ideal to enhance motor skills.

“The computer is important, but that’s just pressing buttons,” my 10-year-old niece Elysa said. “With cursive, you are doing the work – working your hand muscles,” said the rising Westfield Intermediate School fifth grader.

“School is where you should learn to write,” said Elysa. “You need to write your signature in cursive” and it “shows your personality,” she said. “We started learning cursive in third grade. We used handwriting books and the Promethean Board,” said Elysa, referring to the interactive white board.

Having taught middle and high school, handwriting ranges from the creative to the illegible and students with poor handwriting skills tend to get frustrated and not write enough, thus making the handwriting even more difficult to interpret by teachers.

Not all applications can be filled out on-line. Paperwork in doctor’s offices, checks and thank you notes still require handwriting. Neatness ensures accuracy, while the alternative could be costly financially or even medically.

It’s unfortunate, even tragic, that far too many schools have eliminated physical education, art and music enabling students to expand their horizons. It is even more detrimental to see watered-down history/social studies curricula as well as English classes where spelling no longer counts or where grammar is not taught. Eliminating cursive writing is another nail in the coffin of a formerly exceptional American educational system.

Don’t write off cursive.

Sanford D. Horn is an educator and writer living in Westfield.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Punished for Responsible Behavior

Punished for Responsible Behavior
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
July 7, 2011

Make no mistake – I, in no way, condone drinking and driving. In fact, the penalties for such an egregious offense are not nearly severe enough.

Strike one should cost the intoxicant his or her driver’s license for two years and a $10,000 fine payable to a drunk driving victims’ fund. Strike two should cost the guilty party his or her driver’s license for life – yes, life, along with a $50,000 fine. Should a drunk driver kill someone a death sentence should be attached. There is no excuse for any person to slide behind the wheel of a vehicle having imbibed beyond the legal limit.

That said, a recent decision made by the Indiana Supreme Court upholding the conviction of a woman for public intoxication while riding in a vehicle as a passenger is outrageous.

Opting to do the right thing and not operate her vehicle, Brenda Moore took the responsible path and enlisted a friend to drive her home. However, for the offense of a burned out license plate light, Moore was arrested and charged with public intoxication.

While the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the initial conviction, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld that conviction in a decision it reached on June 28. The Indiana Supremes voted four to one retaining Moore’s conviction, noting that the law was properly obeyed as public roads are considered public places.

However, was Moore in public by riding in her vehicle? If so, does anyone riding on a bus or other mode of transportation run the risk of facing arrest should they be under the influence of alcohol when they avoid driving their own vehicle? It seems like a classic Catch-22 – damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

If the letter of the law has been appropriately followed, the intent certainly was not. Clearly Moore was attempting to behave in a legal and appropriate manner by responsibly choosing not to drive herself home knowing she was polluted by alcohol. For her sober decision, Moore should not have been subjected to arrest.

Certainly this is no plea to ease the laws as they stand. That would simply be injudicious. Instead, an intoxicated person riding in his or her own vehicle or even a public mode of transportation not causing any harm to another person or creating a disturbance should not be charged with a crime. It is essential the Indiana legislature revisit this law and amend it.

Sanford D. Horn is an educator and writer living in Westfield.