News From Terre Haute, Indiana


February 23, 2014

Readers’ Forum: Feb. 24, 2014

Declaration of specific gender should never occur

In Bill Jaeger’s recent letter advocating for HJR-3, he states, “When my children were born they were defined male and female by their sexual anatomy.”

I would like to point out that during the early 1970s, Dr. Julianne Imperato, a Cornell endocrinologist, conducted an expedition to the Dominican Republic to investigate reports of an isolated village where children appearing to be girls turned into men at puberty. In the village, these children were known as “guevedoces” (literally, penis at 12 years).

In an isolated village of the southwestern Dominican Republic, 2 percent of the live births in the 1970s were guevedoces (actually male pseudohermaphrodites). These children appeared to be girls at birth, but at puberty these “girls” sprout muscles, testes and a penis. For the rest of their lives they are men in nearly all respects. Their underlying pathology was found to be a deficiency of the enzyme, 5-alpha Reductase.

The article, if anyone cares to read it, was published originally in the American Journal of Medicine (Am. J. Med. 62: 170-191, 1977).

Declaring an individual’s sex with no possible legal exception is not something that should be done at any point in their lifetime. If something like this should fall into the hands of some ignorant, fundamentalist, conservative judge, paraphrasing Mr. Jaeger, who knows what harm can be done by inflicting one’s personal judgment?

The only thing that HJR-3 “establishes” is ignorance, prejudice, injury and denial of human rights.

— Dalton L. Case, Terre Haute

Say no to alcohol at the State Fair

What ever happened to the family atmosphere at the Indiana State Fair? Do we really have to be subject to alcohol sales at the State Fair this year?

Have you lawmakers lost your minds? These are questions I'm sure lots of Indiana Hoosiers are asking. Let’s leave the fair alone and not have the drunks with their beer walking down the street, falling all over themselves, throwing up, thinking this is a wonderful way to party at the fair.

The streets will stink and there will be beer cans all over. I applaud North Carolina for standing their ground and saying no.

Why do you lawmakers think we have to follow what the other states do. Let’s stay beer free at the Indiana State Fair.

— Penny Cox, Montezuma

Protect yourself against bad food

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is still expanding the list of retailers carrying meat unfit for human consumption to Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and 970 locations in California alone. About 8.7 million pounds were shipped all through 2013 by Rancho Feeding Corporation of Petaluma, Calif.

The recall comes in the wake of USDA’s new “inspection” program that allows the meat industry to increase speed of processing lines and replace federal inspectors with plant employees. According to USDA inspector general, this has resulted in partial failure to remove fecal matter, undigested food and other contaminants that may contain deadly E. coli and listeria bacteria.

Traditionally, USDA has catered more to the interests and profitability of the meat industry than health and safety of American consumers. Consumer interests come into play only when large numbers of us get sick. Having USDA protect consumers is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

The Obama administration should reallocate responsibility for all food safety to the Food and Drug Administration. In the meantime, each of us can assume responsibility for our own safety by switching to the rich variety of soy-based meat products offered by our favorite supermarket.

— Tommy Caton, Terre Haute

Warm appreciation for support staff

Since February is the month where we tell others how much we appreciate and love them, I wanted to take a minute to let members of my Rio Grande staff know how much I appreciate them.

Great teachers in a school are, of course, vital to having great instruction; and so often the general public only thinks of teachers when they think of school. However, I have come to realize that equally important are the members of the support staff. This includes educational assistants, recess aides, health assistants, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians, school protection officers and secretaries.

As an administrator, we see quickly just how much work they do whenever one of them has to be out for some reason. I may forget to thank them on a daily basis, but I want each and every one of my support staff to know just how much they are valued and appreciated. Thank you sincerely for all you do to make Rio Grande a great school.

— Susan Shackelford, principal Rio GrandeElementary School

Merit in approach

I was pleased to read the Freeport Journal Standard supported my view, that increasing the words spoken to poverty infants might eventually lift them from poverty. Finding ways to accomplish this is not the only change we need.

Health and Human Services reported that its project, Head Start, produces little lasting advantage. This result mirrors the 1960s Perry Preschool Project, in which only certified, college-trained instructors were used. So, please, just forget Head Start, stop blaming teachers or the system, and let’s fix this.

According to the book “Educating Hearts and Minds,” by Catherine Lewis, in Japanese pre-schools in 1997, 50 percent of the time was spent in “free play,” (no rules, no teacher interference).

Only 1 percent of the day was spent on academic activities, the balance on art, singing, story-telling, class meetings and cleanup. Yet, in 2012, 15-year-old Japanese students tested at world high levels for reading and math.  

While these results appear to be contradictive, Japanese pre-schools have the stated objectives of encouraging children to become close friends, to self-resolve differences, to recognize school as a desirable place to be, to use children’s imaginations to develop questions and to seek education to answer them. The American Sudbury Valley Schools successfully rely on “self-education” for all ages.  There must be merit in this approach.  

— Ron Gore, Covington

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