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Opening Arguments

Evil ways

I wonder how many schools in Fort Wayne are going to be talking about 9/11 today and how many will ignore it:

KUTV) SALT LAKE CITY - Several Utah schools have decided to let Sept. 11, 2007 pass without observing the sixth anniversary of the unprecedented terror attacks against the United States -- over fear of re-kindling the haunting memories for those who vaguely remember them, or introducing them to children who weren't born yet.

This year, Sept. 11 falls on a Tuesday for the first since since the actual attacks. But some school administrators believe that commemorating the tragedy may inhibit the ability for students to make forward progress.

"We don't want our kids thinking about that. We want them to move on,'' said Beth Johnston, principal at East Layton Elementary in Davis County, whose oldest student was just 6 on Sept. 11, 2001. "It might be age-appropriate for older students to acknowledge and talk about it, but for our younger kids, we don't want them to dwell on violence."

I don't know the right answer to this. I know parents struggle with where to draw the line between protecting their children from knowledge of the world's evil and arming them with the knowledge that will actually help them protect themselves from the evil. It's surely an even more difficult decision for school officials, who must take into account not only their own judgment but their sense of parental wishes and the community's collective position.

Fort Wayne Community Schools Superintendent Wendy Robinson visited us yesterday, and I think her assessment, that it's pointless to set up guidelines for high schoolers because they will talk about it anyway, is right. And there's probably no good reason to bring it up with students in kindergarten through the sixth grade. Worrying about inhibiting "the ability for students to make forward progress" is educational gobbledygook, but it suggests how tricky it is to decide how to talk to middle school students about such things as 9/11.


Bob G.
Tue, 09/11/2007 - 10:37am

At the other end of that spectrum, there ARE those students that asked yesterday: "Do we have TOMORROW OFF"?

And there WILL invariably be those that will just TAKE the day off...missing the entire meaning of what today signifies.


Wed, 09/12/2007 - 6:07am

Kids missing the point of a holiday? Shocking.

I think kids are fairly tough. Don't rub their noses in it, necessarily, but don't feel like they're horribly fragile. I have to resist this temptation myself - I have a 2 and 4 year old and just want them to be sweet and innocent forever. But, that's a selfish impulse and would not serve them well.