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Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - August 24, 2012

Letters

Matches in the woods

Editor,

Better to prevent a fire in the forest than to need to put one out. So I'm writing (with 15 years of teaching experience at Gunn) with a tip about matches in the woods. The woods are the world of our school, and the matches would be an over-emphasis on reforming our counseling services, which could burn up our best energies in arguments over something of limited importance for kids.

Instead we should focus on creating the reforms that would make a solid difference: advising parents and teenagers about the toxicity of taking too many APs; distancing students, during the day, from their distracting and harmful attachment to their phones and social media; implementing school-wide technology to monitor and coordinate homework loads; rooting out the academic dishonesty that puts every competitive student into a high-stress to-cheat-or-not-to-cheat bind; mitigating the growth of class-sizes that places kids at increasing emotional and academic distance from their teachers; loving our kids more for their humor, confidence, compassion, daring, patience, insight, honor and playfulness than for their grades.

It's time to keep our cool, be effective and do all we can to safeguard the critters.

Marc Vincenti

Los Robles Avenue

Palo Alto

Treasure religious freedom

Editor,

Four years ago last week, a gunman opened fire on attendees of the Knoxville, Tenn., Unitarian Universalist Church. Deja vu struck this week when I heard about the fatal attack upon Sikhs in their Oak Creek, Wisc., gurdwara, and then the burning of a mosque in Joplin, Mo. All of us must support our Sikh, Muslim, South Asian and Arab neighbors, who even here are affected by these apparent hate crimes far away.

As U.S. citizens and as Unitarian Universalists, the people of my congregation treasure religious freedom and the diversity it nurtures. We grieve with those who have lost the right to worship safely, as well as their loved ones and spiritual home.

When Lt. Brian Murphy was shot defending the Wisconsin temple, his superior officer humbly insisted that this bravery was just their job. We all have the job of defending our neighbors against violence and intimidation. Will we?

Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern

Parish Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto

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