Protecting kids 

Protecting kids

The Insider reported in the March 18 issue that Rep. Andrea Lea, R-Russellville, plans to introduce a bill in 2011 that would ban lottery ticket vending machines. She said, “I usually don't like to enact legislation that inhibits adult behavior … but when it comes to protecting children, I think it can be helpful and this is the right thing to do.”

We'll observe prevention of child abuse for a month in April so it's a good time to consider school corporal punishment in the context of “protecting children.” Being “helpful” and doing “the right thing” is appropriate any time of the year.

In the Russellville School District, similar in area to the region Rep. Lea serves, administrators reported that they had resorted to paddling 64 times last year, a relatively modest amount. Eliminated, it might not even be missed. However, nine times the recipient was a child enrolled in Special Education classes. Corporal punishment was used at will nearly 40,000 times last year. It is not uncommon for there to be injuries and sometimes teachers are charged with assault.

In the 70-page report, “Impairing Education: Corporal Punishment of Students with Disabilities in US Public Schools,” the ACLU and Human Rights Watch found that students with disabilities made up 18.8 percent of students who suffered corporal punishment at school during the 2006-2007 school year, although they constituted just 13.7 percent of the total nationwide student population.

If our legislators are afraid to ban the practice for all Arkansas students, they should at least ban the paddling of disabled students. It is a form of abuse and it's time to stop it — especially for those who are not very good at understanding why they are being hit in the first place. What do you say, Rep. Lea? It would be the right thing to do.

Randy Cox, LCSW
Little Rock

Lincoln v. Halter

Little Rock was recently visited by Rachel Maddow, thanks to the Clinton School of Public Service speaker series program. On the morning after the landmark decision where the health care bill earned enough votes to pass the house, Maddow explained how the bill worked.

When asked about Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Maddow pointed out that by “casting a vote both for health care reform and against health reform … Blanche Lincoln has provided zero percent of those people with a reason to vote for her.”

Opponent Bill Halter has consistently urged Lincoln to set aside special interests, lobbyists, and insiders and pass the legislation. “I hope Senator Lincoln will change her mind again and join me in supporting this important legislation. The delay and bickering in Washington must stop. The time is now to pass health care and student loan reforms without delay.”

It's pretty clear which Democratic candidate puts Arkansans first and our health care. Unlike Blanche Lincoln, Bill Halter has
provided ample reasons to vote for him. Simply put, a vote for Lt. Gov. Bill Halter is not only a vote in the right direction as it relates to health care reform, it's the right thing to do. We can no longer allow our fellow citizens, neighbors and friends to go unserved by health care, insurance and the like.

Judy Watts
Moveon.org member of Little Rock

The health debate

Bravo to Butch Stone for his letter about the national health debate, saying what he thinks about Republicans. I say to hell with them.

My husband lost his job. He is a very proud man who has worked since he was 19 years old to take care of his family. We are getting old now. And my husband has bad health problems. The doctors think he may have MS. And he definitely has spinal cord damage from bone spurs in his neck. And we have no insurance. The doctors want my husband to have a full MRI from head to toe. How can we afford this with no insurance? Also why are there millions of starving people and children in the United States of America? And why is everyone blaming President Obama? Bush put us in debt.

Butch is absolutely correct. President Obama has only been president a year. Where were all these squealing people who criticize President Obama when George W. Bush was putting us in debt?

Sherry Kivo
North Little Rock

With this nation's health care system currently in reform and so many health issues in question, I would like to make a plea for the unborn. There is no doubt that President Obama is establishing one of the most pro-abortion administrations in history. Join me in being a voice for the voiceless. Let your senators and representatives know that you oppose taxpayer-funded abortion mandates.

Branson Bolden
Little Rock



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