Letters to the Editor -- October 16, 2009

Phone punishment policy is unfair

I am the parent of a student at Indian River High School and am in need of your support. Over the summer, the School Board passed the new policy regarding cell phones in school. The policy is a ban against possession or use of cell phones on school property while in session.

Some people may feel this ban is a good thing, but what most don’t realize is the punishment for a cell phone found in possession is unfair and unjust. If a cell phone is found in possession of a student while in school, the punishment is that a student will be placed on social probation for 10 school days.

What is not made clear is that the punishment is actually 14 consecutive days, because the students are not permitted to participate in any school activities, nor are they allowed to be on school property on the weekends, as well.

This punishment is unfair because it only affects those students who participate in after-school activities, such as sports, cheerleading, band and ROTC. It does not affect those students who do not participate in after-school activities, because they do not come to school functions anyway. Therefore, it is a free ride for them.

The original policy was revamped and made tougher due to many reasons. Some students throughout the district were caught texting, sending inappropriate pictures and cheating on tests with them. But the ultimate reason was because the school board was hit with an in-your-face yearbook picture from one of our other schools in the district last year, depicting teachers and students texting and talking on cell phones while in school. Keep in mind, this did not happen at Indian River High School, but our children are the ones paying the price as well.

With this said, as parents, students and administrators, we need to do what is right for our children at Indian River and put pressure on the school board to amend this policy, to make it fair and equal across the board for all students at Indian River and not penalize those who make honest mistakes.

Here is an example of how this ruling has affected my son, Justin: He was running late to school last Thursday morning and forgot to remove his phone. When he was found with his phone in his possession, it was turned off and had not been used. His initial mistake was that he had not interrupted his class by turning it in to the teacher immediately when he realized he had it. He was waiting until after class, to take it to the office.

Now, he is facing the 10 school days of social probation, which means no football practice, no in-school weight/strength training and no football games for two weeks, while others who do not participate in sports get caught with a phone and have no repercussions placed on them.

He also is an assistant to [athletic director] Todd Fuhrmann, but due to this social probation, he is not allowed to attend any other sporting events or school functions during this period. This policy, as it is written, may have cost my son an opportunity of a lifetime. Because of this policy, he was not permitted to play football this past Friday against Delmar, where scouts from the college he so desperately wants to go to were supposed to attend to watch him play.

We are not sure at this point what damage this has done to his future, or if his opportunity of going to this college has been stripped from him over a cell phone.

What I will be proposing to the school board is to amend the policy to allow each individual incident to be looked at as it arises, and to make a determination if it is an in-your-face violation of the no-cell-phone policy or an honest mistake.

If it is a first violation and it is found that the cell phone is off and not in use, the student should receive a first warning and the cell phone is confiscated. If the cell phone is or has been in use prior to the confiscation, the punishment begins immediately. If that is the case, or it is a second violation, the punishment would be that the student must complete 20 hours of community service and it must be completed within 30 days and a signed report must be given to the school within that 30-day span. If the punishment is not satisfied within that time frame, the student would face either a suspension of some sort or another punishment of equal value.

I believe that this amendment will be a positive solution to the cell phone issue at Indian River because it is fair across the board for all students. Students need community service for college and it will help the community.

I am asking everyone to support us at the next school board meeting, on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Sussex Central High School. This is for our children and their future. Please pass this on to everyone you know. The more that attend this meeting, the better chance we have of changing this policy.

I am also starting a petition to take to the school board meeting. We need signatures, and we need people at the meeting. Please try to make arrangements to be in attendance if you agree a change is needed.

Denise Rines

MSO has big fan in letter-writer

The Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra had me riveted to my seat at its opening performance on Oct. 3. The music of Mozart, Ravel, and Brahms was brilliantly conducted by the music director, Julien Benichou, and enhanced by their guest artist,

Gilles Apap, a world-renowned classical violinist. Benichou, as usual, lit up the stage with his musical genius and charming personality.

I consider myself most fortunate to live in a community where such excellent entertainment is easily assessable and affordable.

Barbara A. Bozak
Ocean View

Democrats deliver message to Carper

Recent polls have shown that Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated that they have no voice in the national debate on health care. Almost 1,100 well-financed lobbyists for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries have daily access to our elected officials in Washington. The people’s voices are being drowned out by those who have a stake in preserving industry practices that not only created the current crisis but generate profits by denying coverage to those most in need of care.

We are strong advocates of a public option as a matter of personal choice. Sen. Rockefeller’s proposal is the most effective way to ensure the kind of competition that will force insurers and drug companies to cut costs and thus reduce health care costs to the sick and small business.

We are also strong advocates for extending national coverage to all uninsured Americans. Without this extended coverage, 45,000 people will continue to die each year because they cannot afford to see a doctor. Keep in mind that our insurance premiums now include the cost of caring for the uninsured, who use emergency rooms as primary-care providers. This adds about $1,000 to every family-plan premium. Increasing the number of insured consumers would spread the risk and create a new pool of customers for insurers.

We do not support proposals that would leave it to the states to manage health care reform. We recognize that states are often the incubators of new ideas, but in this case leaving health care reform to the states would not guarantee that people, regardless of where they live, would have access to the same affordable health care for whatever illness they have. It would perpetuate the existing patchwork quilt of regulations that vary from state to state without ensuring any semblance of uniform coverage and ultimately leave us dependent on insurance companies who are largely responsible for our current broken health delivery system.

We find no evidence that co-ops will be able to introduce competition into the marketplace. While we agree that more competition is needed, the concentration of carriers that now exists in most states would be an insurmountable barrier to establishing a co-op.

Nor do we find the arguments persuasive that any reform bill must establish a level playing field for insurance companies. Considering that their overhead is 30 percent, as contrasted with 3 percent for Medicare, and considering that their CEO’s are paid multi-million-dollar salaries (excluding bonuses and other perks), the country needs an insurance carrier whose operations are cost-effective and whose primary mission is to provide coverage rather than the current system, which profits from denying coverage.

It is long overdue for the United States to recognize that ensuring health care for all is its public responsibility and that health care is not something that should only be available to those who can afford it. Every developed country in the world ensures that every one of its citizens has health care.

Finally, our country has been debating health care reform for 100 years without resolution, through Republican and Democratic administrations starting with President Theodore Roosevelt, followed by Presidents Truman, Nixon and, most recently, President Clinton. We are now in a crisis that needs major surgery, not Band-aids or placebos.

What emerged from the Senate Finance Committee on which Sen. Carper sits is a weak bill that will not ensure uniform health care for all Americans. It is not the kind of major surgery that is needed. And, if what is passed by Congress does not alter significantly the way the health care industry does business, it will once again have failed. History will not be kind to those who caused the failure.

We urge Sen. Carper to reconsider his position and support reform that includes a federally managed health insurance option, otherwise known as a robust public option.

Joanne Cabry, chair, Progressive Democrats for Delaware
Lee Dogoloff, president, Shore Democrats
Bob Fredericks, vice president, Eastern Sussex Democratic Club
Pete Keenan, chair, 38th Representative District Democratic Committee
Jerry Northington, Progressive Democrats for Delaware
Kay Ryan, vice-chair, Sussex County Democratic Party
Peter Schott, chair, 14th Representative District Democratic Committee

Jennings Foundation grateful for support

On behalf of The Justin W. Jennings Foundation, I would like to thank Contractors for a Cause and all of our sponsors for your generous donations. Our annual Golf Outing at Cripple Creek Country Club was a success.

Your contribution to this event, and others throughout this year, will help make it possible for us to build Justin’s Beach House for families battling cancer.

Since its inception in November 2001, Justin’s foundation has grown considerably, not only as a foundation, but a community of friends with the same purpose.

On Sept. 29, which would have been Justin’s 29th birthday, we officially broke ground on Justin’s Beach House. This was made possible because of thoughtful contributions from people like you.

By the summer of 2010, we plan to welcome our first family into Justin’s Beach House.

As you know, the pain and suffering of cancer does not go away. We hope that starting next year we can take away some of that pain and renew a family’s spirit, if only for a week.

Once again, thank you for your generous donation and for your continued support in the future.

Thanks to:

• Contractors for a Cause, 84 Lumber, PNC Bank, Bank’s Wine & Spirits, Wilmington Trust, Pohanka Automotive Group, Dealers Building Supply, Penco Supply, Geico, Hockers, G&E, Leslie Kopp, Atlantic Elevator, Cottage Café, Rembert, Pendelton, Jackson, Dukesigns & Design, Overture Home Theater, United Distributers, Coors Light, Pepsi Products, May Development LLC and Cripple Creek Country Club;

• Hole sponsors Allstates Construction, American Cedar And Millwork, Atlantic Refrigeration, Bradco Supply, Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, Blades HVAC Service, Bramhall & Hitchens, Cave Construction, C&C Drywall, Charles D. Calhoon DDS/PA, Class of ’98 Avon Grove High School, Creative Resource Group, Coffin Hardwood Flooring, Cottage Construction, Delcard Associates, Inc, Denny Electric, Devon Design & Drafting, Donaway Furniture, East Coast Fasteners, Fabri Zone Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning, Fortress Home Services, Freccia Family, Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner PA, Kornerstone Management Inc., Land Design Inc., Lenoard A. White Esq., Matt Williams Electric, Masterjack, Miken Builders, Millville Pet Stop, Miranda & Hardt Construction and Building Services LLC, Morning Star Construction LLC, MSP Equipment Rentals, Ocean Swell, Overture, Rob Ward Home Services R.W. Homes, Sandtone Constuction, Seaside Country Store, Shore Home Improvements LLC, Stanton Door Co., Tim Rhodes, Coldwell Banker, United Rentals, Vista Design and WSFS Bank.

R.Craig Nantais, Director
Justin W. Jennings Foundation

Reader opposes CVS in Ocean View

I understand that the Ocean View Council is considering an application by CVS to construct a store (approximately 13,000 square feet) off of Route 26, close to the intersection of West Street.

Having a box store in middle of Ocean View certainly goes against the collective hope of all Ocean View citizens to keep the small-town charm of this city. Within three square miles, we have two Happy Harry’s, Giant and Food Lion. We certainly don’t need CVS!

Millville voted down to have a gas station. I hope our council will do the same with the CVS project.

Fred Palmai
Ocean View

Editor’s note: Ocean View council members voted in 2008 not to permit a convenience store with gas pumps along Route 26 near Savannah’s Landing.