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Welfare system, learning cursive, a lack of sidewalks and more in Sunday's Forum

Staff Report • Aug 29, 2013 at 4:13 PM

Tina Dupuy made one particular comment in her column Aug. 10 that I felt was the antithesis of the point she was attempting to make with her “poor-shaming” theme. When she wrote: “in America you get to be middle class the same way you get to be king — by virtue of birth,” she was demeaning those of lesser means who dare to dream of becoming more. She was as culpable in the “poor-shaming” scheme as every single Republican she was blaming.It is difficult to be brief when addressing the issue of public assistance/welfare, even more so when trying to understand why some will remain in the system for a lifetime. Her comment is one reason some are afraid to exit what they perceive as security to chance the unknown. And the system does little to “wean” them gradually away from their comfort zone, making it unlikely that they will take an entry level job and test the waters of life. Granted, there are those who are not bothered by living off others even though they are capable of working. It doesn’t bother me to call them entitled, because that how they feel. We “owe them” and “they deserve all they can get.” I’ve heard it many times.Still, while welfare will never be perfect, it certainly must be tweaked for those wanting to become participating members of society rather than ‘participants’ of a government program. They can eventually elevate themselves to self sufficiency in time with determination, hard work and a gradual weaning from what was designed to be assistance, and not an existence. (I am speaking only of people capable of working.)M. RAMSEY Gray

I am a grandmother and grew up having to take a special class each year on how to write cursive until high school. Even people in my grown son’s generation don’t always write cursive, even though they had to learn it in school also. Forget my grandson’s generation. They don’t even know how to spell with all of the abbreviations used in texting. If a child does not learn to write cursive, even just his name, how will signatures be distinguished from one another? Anyone can write another person’s name.As a former teacher, I feel that each child should learn to at least sign his or her name, but learning cursive in the lower grades should still be required, if for no other reason than to learn how to spell correctly.HELEN WRIGHTJohnson City

A problem exists on the property of Indian Trail Intermediate School. This also happens to be near my house. Getting out of school at 2:40 p.m. should put me at home around 2:50 p.m. — the time Indian Trail dismisses. Unfortunately, the car line puts me at home at 3 p.m. or 3:20 p.m. on a bad day. I know that 10 to 30 minutes waiting isn’t that long, but I think since I don’t have a sibling or relative to pick up at Indian Trail that it’s quite ridiculous for me to wait in that line simply to get home. I’m not saying I just want parents to force their children on the bus and call it a day, but I think the school should come up with a faster system of moving the line along a little.I don’t complain about this simply for my of impatience, but for the sake of the residents who live in the huge row of apartments located near the mile-long car line.BAYLEE HEADJohnson City

Tennessee has recently moved to tie teachers’ licenses to their students’ test scores. On its face, that is an appealing idea. After all, if the students don’t perform well on their tests, that’s the teacher’s fault, right?Maybe not. The teacher is a very important part of the process. But there are others who strongly influence the student’s performance, such as: the student himself, the school administrators, the school board that sets policy, the government that funds the schools and, most importantly, the parents.The parents should be singled out because they have more control over the student that anyone, including the teacher. If the parents do not demand academic excellence from their children, what does that do to the teacher’s chances for high test scores? Tying teachers’ licenses to their students’ test scores is like tying a cardiologist’s license to the health of his patients. If his patient insists on eating fast food and refuses to exercise, should the doctor lose his license when his patient has a heart attack? Accountability is a good thing. But only if the person being held accountable has control over the situation and the power to achieve the desired result. In the case of teachers, they may not.JEFF BENEDICTJohnson City

As I was driving home from school, I noticed kids riding their skateboards and bikes along the street. Luckily, I was going the speed limit and was able to slow down. It came to my attention that my street, as well as several neighborhood streets, lacks sidewalks as well as bike trails. With sidewalks and bike trails, families can enjoy a nice bike ride or walk around the neighborhood without the fear of a car coming out of nowhere.On the street where I live, there are several hills that restrict your view. In addition to these hills, people use my street to get from North Roan Street to Carroll Creek Road without having to risk sitting at a red light. I have several neighbors with small children who enjoy riding bikes. Being within walking/biking distance to Indian Trail Intermediate School, families take bike rides up to Indian Trail. Unfortunately, there is no safe alternative route to take to get to Indian Trail, only the neighborhood streets. When I see a car speeding down a hill, I always worry about these small children being in the street on the other side of that hill. Small children do not remember to look for cars, so they will be focused on whatever activity they are engaged in at the moment. Unfortunately, drivers aren’t focused on the road either; they have their attention somewhere other than the road such as the listening to the radio, texting on their cell phones, or eating food. Consequently, the child may suffer fatal injuries due to the distracted driver. When I was younger, I grew up in a neighborhood that had sidewalks. My sister and I had the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike in a safe environment. I feel that my neighborhood needs sidewalks to ensure safety for children and families.KINSEY KINGJohnson City

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