Bladen Journal Tuesday January 10, 2012 Page 4A EDITORIAL ... LETTERS ... Here’s WHat We tHink Tampering teacher nother school district is feeling the sting of a Apublic backlash. This time it’s a school district in Albemarle County, Va., which is wincing after public outcry over a song some third-grade students allegedly penned about the Occupy Wall Street movement. The song in question is titled “Part of the 99” and was performed at the Westbrook Elementary School. The nature of the lyrics the students allegedly penned themselves left some parents and political pundits wondering just who really wrote the lyrics. Some political blogs and commentators have even gone so far as to label the song a form of “indoctrination.” In our curiosity to see just what the hullabaloo was about we took a peek at the lyrics. Here is a sample of what we say is definitely advanced for an 8-year-old’s level of thinking: “Some people have it all “But they still don’t think they have enough “They want more money “A faster ride “They’re not content “Never satisfied “Yes — they’re the 1 percent “I used to be one of the 1 percent “I worked all the time “Never saw my family “Couldn’t make life rhyme “Then the bubble burst Bladen Journal Poll: – The Bladen Journal conducts a weekly online poll for the public. This past week’s question was …Do you plan to re-gift any of the Christmas presents you received? 72% No 28% Yes Vote on the weekly question online at the Bladen website at bladenjournal .com “It really, really hurt “I lost my money “Lost my pride “Lost my home “Now I’m part of the 99 “Some people have it all “But they still don’t think they have enough “They want more money “A faster ride “They’re not content “Never satisfied “Yes — they’re the 1 percent “I used to be sad, now I’m satisfied “‘Cause I really have enough “Though I lost my yacht and plane “Didn’t need that extra stuff “Could have been much worse “You don’t need to be first “‘Cause I’ve got my friends “Here by my side “Don’t need it all “I’m so happy to be part of the 99.” We agree the topic itself is definitely deep for an 8-year old. How many thirdgrade students sit around and discuss or contemplate class warfare or poverty among their friends? It is more likely their conversation will consist of video games and the latest songs by Justin Beiber. We simply don’t see the lyrics as being written entirely by a group of 8-year-olds without the influence of an adult. Teachers suggest topics to students all the time and at times teachers even go so far as to assign specific directions for certain lessons. So why would this song be any different? We see this song as an attempt by the teacher to hijack the classroom and student assignment to push their personal point of view. In the words of another famous song, “Hey, teacher! Leave those kids alone!” Write to us! The Bladen Journal welcomes letters to the editor. Letters should be about issues of general interest, brief and to the point. We reserve the right to refuse letters longer than 250 words; poetry; letters that are in bad taste or libelous; and letters from outside our readership. Letters may be edited, but content will not be altered. Letters should be original. They must be signed. Please include your address and daytime phone number. Street addresses and phone numbers will not be published. A photograph of the writer will be used if provided. Send letters to: Bladen Journal, P.O. Box 70, Elizabethtown, N.C. 28337 or fax them to (910) 862-6602. Letters can also be sent by e-mail to email@example.com or through the Bladen Journal’s Web site at www.bladenjournal. com. Bladen Journal Published by Heartland Publications, LLC 138 West Broad Street, P.O. Box 70, Elizabethtown, N.C. 28337 (910) 862-4163 Opinion Bladen County Schools are heading for the 21st Century through the 1:1 digital initiative, which is being implemented through a pilot program now and will be rolled out in its entirety in the fall. I, for one, think it’s a great opportunity to help our students learn to cope in a digital world. While it is good our students are learning how to use technology for researching course assignments and school projects, let’s not forget to teach them the simple things such as how to address a business envelop and how to write a proper business letter. The real world is becoming a more complicated place with the advent of new and ever changing technology. It is important to know how to use that new technology, but it is also equally important for students to realize that even if they are using e-mail to send a letter, it still needs to look like a letter. In some places in the world, business correspondence is still done by completing a business envelop and affixing whatever the proper postage is to it. Yes, I am well aware the use of “snail mail,” as we like to call it, is fading fast in the global work place, but it is still a needed skill in some places. Many students are quite adept at using the Internet for many things such as social networking, event planning, skyping with friends and twittering about the latest celebrity to fall from grace. How are they at locating scholarly sources for term papers or solving complicated science questions. With the advent of what is commonly called, “The Cloud” there is no need to print out documents. Instead they are saved in some far away place to be retrieved as needed. The school system received two grants to help pay for about 1,500 high school students to receive a Lenovo tablet for which they will be responsible all during the academic year. Superintendent Robert Taylor said if the tablet is stolen, the student must file a police report and bring a copy of the police report to the district office in order to have the tablet replaced. If a student simply misplaces the digital device, the parents of the student will incur a replacement fee. There is a lot to be said for students in the high schools being exposed to the use of digital technology in the classroom. I have heard many stories of students who arrived at college eager to learn only to be overwhelmed by the amount of technology in use in the college level classroom. While many students are fortunate enough to have some exposure to digital technology in the home, not all students have that luxury and this digital initiative through the school system levels that playing field somewhat and I am happy to see our board of education members agree. I think our students need to be exposed to as much technology, especially in the sciences, as possible. With the work place becom- The Bladen Journal’s opinion is expressed only in its unsigned editorials. The opinions expressed in columns, letters and cartoons are those of the authors and artists. Add more technology to our schools Erin Smith Staff Writer ing more and more global, they need to understand how to function and how to use the myriad of digital media to their advantage when they join the work place. While I am sure some teachers will question the need for the tablets in the classrooms, the wisdom of such a move is indeed forward thinking. Education is no longer just the “Three Rs” though they are still very important. It is about teaching students to be competitive in a global market and how to function in a technologically advanced world. When I was growing up, the Internet was just an idea and a computer was so large and so bulky, that took an entire building to house one. Our concepts and ideas of what the 21st Century would hold was shaped by such movies and television shows as Star Trek, Star Wars and Lost in Space. We were told that one day we would be able to press a button and like magic we would receive a complete meal in seconds. I guess to some degree that has come to pass with the invention of the microwave oven. Computers are now common in the work place and at home. When the computer malfunctions, the world comes to a complete stop until it is repaired or replaced. No longer can we sit back and be satisfied with the status quo. We have to find ways to incorporate technology into our students lives so they can compete in a global network. n Erin Smith is a staff writer at the Bladen Journal and can be reached by email at esmith@ heartlandpublications.com or by telephone at 910-862-4163. The Bladen Journal accepts guest columns from readers who want to write about local, state, national or internation issues in a format longer than a letter to the editor. Guest columns can be up to 750 words, must include a phone number, be signed and must include a photograph of the writer. As with anything submitted for publication in the Bladen Journal, guest columns may not be libelous or contain knowingly false information. All guest columns are subject to approval by the Bladen Journal management. For more information about guest columns, call Editor W. Curt Vincent at 862-4163, Ext. 261. (USPS 057720) Second class postage at Elizabethtown, N.C., and additional mailing offices *Published Tuesday and Friday* Web address: www.bladenjournal.com Contact us For news: firstname.lastname@example.org For school news:email@example.com For ads: firstname.lastname@example.org For sports news: email@example.com For legal ads: firstname.lastname@example.org THE STAFF W. 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January 10, 2012 n www.bladenjournal.com n Bladen Journal n Page 5A Following Daniel Boone’s travels to the West First there was Daniel Boone. Boone’s real exploits on America’s frontier made him a legend in a new country whose people were ever pushing westward, driving the boundaries of their nation to the Pacific and beyond. The history of our country’s push westward has never been easy to write, wrapped up as it is with contradictory themes. The tenacious heroism of the settlers braving the long dangerous treks to new homes has to be matched up against the greed, deceit, and callousness that forced the original inhabitants off their lands. While the expansion of democracy led to a land of freedom admired throughout the world, it was built in part on lands seized from a weak neighbor. How can that story best be told? North Carolina native poet, novelist, and teacher Robert Morgan showed us one way in his recent biography, “Boone.” Using his great storytelling skills, Morgan demythologized Boone, while, at the same time, showing him to be an extraordinary and fascinating person. From his home base along the Yadkin River in North Carolina where he grew up, Boone explored Kentucky and then pulled his kinfolk, neighbors, and countless others across the mountains to his new home country. Later, many of them followed Boone further west to Missouri. Other men, some of them with adventurous spirits similar to Boone’s, continued the push westward long after Boone left the scene. In his latest book, “Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion,” Morgan continues the saga. Instead of focusing on just one man as he did with “Boone,” he uses short profiles of ten different men to develop a panoramic look at a historic era. He picked a variety of subjects. Some, like David Crockett, Sam Houston, Kit Carson, and John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, are, like Boone, mythical figures, demigods in America’s national pantheon. Others like Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and John Quincy Adams, though not as colorful, were even more important. They made controversial decisions that put the power of the nation behind their visions of an expanding country. Most of us remember learning in high school history that the key event in opening the door to the expansion of the United States was Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Morgan’s portrait of Jefferson shows how his strong and continuing interest in the western part of North America arose long before 1803. The largest acquisition of territory, other than the Louisiana Purchase, had a North Carolina connection. As president, North Carolina native and UNC graduate James K. Polk led the country into the war with Mexico and the acquisition of the Southwest and California. Even while pointing out Polk’s numerous flaws, Morgan praises him as one of the country’s most effective presidents. Morgan includes another North www.bladenjournal.com Carolina-connected president, Andrew Jackson, for his role in opening the west. Today, historians criticize Jackson for his part in the forcible removal of the eastern tribes of Native Americans. But Morgan’s sympathetic portrait of Jackson’s bravery, tenacity, and open democracy, shows the reader why many historians admire him. The tales of heroic fighters like Sam Houston, David Crockett and Kit Carson make them obvious choices for “Lions of the West.” But why did Morgan include “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman? Although apples and trees were important on the frontier, I think Morgan used him to show that the settlement of the West resulted more from the determination of ambitious ordinary people than from government direction. “Lions of the West” is full of many more good stories, all told by a talented author, whose histories and biographies read like his much-admired fiction. n D.G. Martin hosts UNC-TV’s “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch/ Let’s add civility and civic skills to our goals This is a season of giving, good cheer, and forbearance. Too bad that, as the political season begins in earnest with the turn of the year, all those fine sentiments will become just a memory. So maybe, as we jot down our New Year’s resolutions, we could add this one: “Every action done in company, ought to be with some sign of respect to those that are present.” And then let’s hope that our political leaders add it to their lists, too. That simple resolution came from the pen of George Washington. It was the firstof his “Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior.” Washington was a mere teenager of 16 when he wrote them down, which ought to make any number of our current elected officials pause and reflect. For too often in recent decades our politics have been strident, polarized, coarse, even mean. We do not show respect L to those present. We do not even show respect to those who are not present but, by virtue of televisions, newspapers and the Web, are just as tuned in as those who are there. And because we do not, we are all the poorer. Incivility directly affects both the quality and the quantity of the hard work of governance. Along with the outright rudeness that often marks our public discourse, it makes it virtually impossible to reconcile opposing views and, therefore, to meet our civic challenges. Anyone can walk into a room where there are differences of opinion and blow it apart. What is hard to do is to walk into the room and bring people together. That is political skill of the highest order. So why shouldn’t we just etters to the Editor Director gives thanks to community Dear editor, On behalf of the residents of West Bladen Assisted Living, I would like the opportunity to thank the community at large for their generous out pouring of kindness and generosity not only during the Christmas holidays but year-round. We are so truly blessed to have such wonderful friends, relatives, and churches come out and share with us. Just a single visit means so very much! Some of you sang carols, brought gifts, and had services with us. We appreciate you! May we wish all of you a Happy New Year, hoping it will be a prosperous one for everyone. God bless you all, Jo Harrison Activity director We must change our ways Dear editor: At the present time, there is great stress in nearly every country on Earth, including the United States. The Bible spoke of the present time over 3,000 years ago. Christ spoke about it in the 24th chapter of Matthew. Lee Hamilton Contributing Columnist COMMENTARY D.G. Martin Contributing Columnist ask politicians to resolve to be more civil? Why do we need to put it on our lists, too? Because everyone in this country has a responsibility to foster a civic dialogue that respects the people with whom we disagree and that advances the interests of the nation. Knowing how to disagree without obstructing progress is a basic civic skill. The more that ordinary citizens state their case and their principles cogently, in a manner that is substantive, factual, and does not attack the motivation or patriotism of those with whom they disagree, the better our political system will work and the stronger our nation will be. If we know how to do this ourselves and to accept no less from our leaders, then we can change our politics. The year 2011 started off like a scalded jackrabbit with disaster after disaster here and around the world. Here in the United States, less than 50 percent of men and women get married. Gays bring their lifestyles out into the open. Stealing is through the roof. Murder and rapes are up. By our actions we are thumbing our collective noses at God. Here is what His word says: I will not be mocked,” “woe unto the man,” that says good is evil and evil is good. Woe unto the man who brings his sins into NEW E-MAIL ADDRESSES FOR THE BLADEN JOURNAL the open. America is on the threshold of being judged by God for its many sins. The return of Jesus Christ is at the door, but before he returns a great deal of death and destruction will take place because of making the wrong choices. It does not have to happen — if only America would repent. But the way things look, that will not happen because the American people think that the government can solve our nation’s problems. Jerry Lewis Harrells GM/Editor: W. Curt Vincent n firstname.lastname@example.org Staff Writer: Erin Smith n email@example.com Bladen Journal classifieds: n firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: Brittney Woodell n email@example.com In a democracy, it is not enough just to let politicians set the rules of engagement. As citizens, we need to know how to cultivate our own skills: to stay informed, volunteer, speak out, ask questions, make discriminating judgments about politicians and policies, and improve our neighborhoods and communities. And we need to know the values that underlie productive civic dialogue: mutual respect and tolerance; the humility to know that sometimes we’re wrong; the honesty to keep deliberations open and straightforward; the resolve to surmount challenges whatever the obstacles; and, of course, the civility that allows us to find common ground despite our disagreements. If we come to value all this, then the politicians who spring from our midst will have to, as well. It seems a small thing, resolving to be more civil. But it’s not small if we put it into practice ADOPT A NEW BEST FRIEND! See more friendly faces at the shelter or visit www.bladen.petfi nder.org — if we get off the sidelines, engage with the issues in front of us both large and small, and learn firsthand a basic appreciation for the hard work of democracy: how to understand many different points of view and forge a consensus behind a course of action that leads towards a solution. It is the actions of many ordinary people rolling up their sleeves and digging into the issues they confront in their neighborhoods and communities that keep this great democratic experiment of ours vital. This is because every one of us who hones the civic skills needed to renew our politics makes it that much more likely that our nation will thrive. That’s not a bad goal, as we finish out one year and turn toward the future. n Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. The Bladen Journal welcomes letters to the editor. Letters should be about issues of general interest, brief and to the point. We reserve the right to refuse letters longer than 250 words; poetry; letters that are in bad taste or libelous; and letters from outside our readership. Letters may be edited, but content will not be altered. Letters should be original. They must be signed. Please include your address and daytime phone number. Street addresses and phone numbers will not be published. A photograph of the writer will be used if provided. Send letters to: Bladen Journal, P.O. Box 70, Elizabethtown, N.C. 28337 or fax them to (910) 862-6602. Letters can also be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Bladen Journal’s Web site at www.bladenjournal.com. Bladen County Animal Shelter 508 Smith Circle, Elizabethtown, NC (next to the Powell-Melvin Ag g Service Center) ) Please visit or call during offi ce e hours Monday, Wednesday & Friday 1:00-5:30 Saturday 9:00-12:00 910-862-6918 Please thank my Sponsor No one will ever love you more than a dog or cat that was once abandoned... Adopt “Amelia” TODAY! BLADEN JOURNAL