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East County Wednesday, May. 25, 2011 6 years ago

OUR VIEW: Higher priorities for deputies


Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube is doing what all other levels of government are doing — except the irresponsible feds — and that is cutting spending and reprioritizing.

One of Steube’s planned cuts this year includes eliminating school resource officers at many elementary schools, including the one who serves five East County schools. While the deputies surely serve a good purpose, several factors mitigate against them being a priority.

First, a primary goal of the program, as told to East County Observer News Editor Pam Eubanks by Deputy Russ Younger, is to “try to intervene and make sure the kids start making the right decision.” Indeed, there is a role for that with kids who are in trouble with the law or headed in that direction. Early intervention has potential to pay later dividends.

But the East County elementary schools are in low-crime areas. The demographics suggest most of the students are not headed for criminal activity. That raises the question of how badly these deputies are needed in the schools. We suspect the answer is: Not too badly. That makes a school resource officer in those schools a low priority.

Second, isn’t making sure that kids make the right decision the parents’ responsibility? We might sound like old fuddy-duddies here, but shouldn’t mom and dad be teaching their children right and wrong? Particularly in elementary school?

This just should not be the responsibility of government, even in the form of law enforcement officers and teachers.

Teachers should be allowed to focus in on reading, writing, math and history — core disciplines to enable students to have the tools they need for wherever their educational choices take them — not teaching right and wrong, particularly as the definitions differ from family to family.

And law enforcement should be in the business of catching criminals and making sure our neighborhoods are as safe as possible, not making sure elementary school children are making the right choices. Perhaps visiting parents of high-risk children would make more sense.

This is not to diminish the efforts of Deputy Young or teachers. But the policy should be reprioritized.
Sheriff Steube is making the right call.

+ Imagine that
Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch wants iPads or similar technology for every child at the school. School officials make the argument that iPads or other such mobile, easy-to-use touch screen devices are able to deliver on basic instruction.

And they fit the school’s projects-based learning program and desire to adjust teaching to individual students’ abilities.

Did the school go to the School Board and beg for money to buy the devices, or search out state or federal grants, hoping some taxpayer dollars from somewhere could pay for their project? No.

Instead, a group of parents and teachers calling themselves the Technology Task Force is holding private fundraisers starting with a walk-a-thon at the school. Then they will do whatever is necessary to raise enough money to buy the devices. And taxpayers won’t be nicked for a nickel.

Oh. Did we mention that Imagine School at Lakewood Ranch is a charter school? Such schools just often bring a different mindset.

Well, good for them. It sets the right example for students: Don’t look to government for solutions and money, just get out there and make it happen.

Kudos to Bayside Community Church
Kudos to the Bayside Community Church 24/7 Team, which took off for Alabama after historically destructive storms tore through the state April 27, killing nearly 300 people and devastating thousands of lives.

The group, including many youth such as Shawn Adams and Nate Fox, drove a trailer full of immediate needs such as diapers, shampoo and other supplies to Pleasant Grove, Ala. The next day, they began helping clean up the streets and offering to pray for people — prayers that were readily accepted. They prepared 1,200 spaghetti dinners to distribute and learned a lot about giving.

When Fox asked a man who was made homeless by the storms what he needed, the man said he only needed a poncho. Fox gave him his own on the spot.

’Tis better to give than to receive, and they have done the better.


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