Talk Back: Readers Respond

December 22, 2003

December 22, 2003


From debates over "too much TV" to school nurse salaries and Type 1 diabetes, kids' health was on Connect for Kids' collective mind a lot in the past few months.

This dad responded to November's Tuned-In Toddlers, which focused on the abundance of media greeting children today:

As a father of three boys (ages 9 years, 7 years, and 18 months), I would like to throw my two cents worth into the mix. My oldest, Michael, is a third grader that has always had a television in his room (from the day he was born). Although he hates to read (and always has), he is far and away from being illiterate. Matthew, my seven year old, is a second grader and has been tested at the fifth grade level of reading (perhaps higher now, as he continues to read higher skill level books). He's always shared a room with Michael. Our youngest, Mark, likes to watch TV. About that there is no doubt. However, he'd rather play ball with his brothers. "So far, he's developing right on time (according to the doctor's analysis anyway.)"

"I don't think that the television is detrimental to the learning curve of a child, after all, my parents let me watch as much of the idiot box as I wanted, and I turned out alright, didn't I? Has anyone seen the remote?"


Ed Chambers

This school nurse responded to December's School Nurses in a New Age:

I do agree with this article whole-heartedly. As school nurses, we are faced with increasingly sensitive medical problems daily and the medical necessity for caring for these children grows with each passing year. I love being a school nurse, this is my fourth year as one, but the wages are very disconcerting. If you broke down per hour what I make a year, I wouldn't even make minimum wage. This is also taking into consideration the time we are out of school. The pay usually stays the same, but the job description includes more and more each year. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing better than a child or a parent thanking you for some detail you may have performed for that child's well-being, it just doesn't pay the bills.


School Nurse

Families with Type 1 diabetic children know first-hand the importance of school nurses. Many commented on October's Bearing with Type 1 Diabetes.

I just wanted to thank you for a well-written article about both children with Diabetes and the incredible Rufus and Ruby bears. I have a 6 year-old son with diabetes. Rufus has been a wonderful friend to all of us. It has also been my pleasure to first work with Carol Cramer to bring Rufus and Ruby bears to a large group of children in our Diabetes Clinic in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland, Canada; and then with Laura Billetdeaux to hopefully see more bears heading north.


Barb Marche
(Mom to Liam diagnosed Type 1 diabetes March 2000, now 6 years old)
Newfoundland Canada

I am a mother with two sons with diabetes. I am very grateful that after 7 years of monitoring and testing blood sugars and balancing insulin injections, active sports and smart diets, my sons have been healthy with no hospital visits, keeping within the hospital guidelines, as well as attending a university away from home. The challenges we faced together made our family strong and wove us together to become a tight family unit. I started my own children's charity 5 years ago—Diabetes Hope Foundation—view I feel that being faced with the challenges of diabetes has made our family smarter and stronger.

Barbara Pasternak
(Mother of two young men with diabetes)
Diabetes Hope Foundation


Sounding Off on Education
Whether living in rural America, suburbia or Gotham City, lots of readers had comments on our coverage of educational issues.

These parents provided their first-hand rural ed experiences, sounding off on October's Rural Schools: an Uncertain Path to College:

I was reading your article and the question as to why kids in rural areas do not attend college is an interesting one. Being from a very rural area I can speak from experience in saying that there are no college or career counselors at most rural high schools that can show the kids or their parents where to go for scholarships or how to even fill out the enormous amount of forms required. I also believe that a lot of rural residents don't earn enough money to help send their kids to college—I really don't believe that it is a question of whether or not the kids want to go.


Karen Derry
Rural resident and parent

The last of our three children is about to graduate from a small (158 students) rural high school in Illinois. Most of our students go on to the local Jr. College because 1) we do not have the advanced classes so our students believe they are not prepared for a 4 year institution; 2) since our students may have an average ACT or SAT because they have not been exposed to advanced classes they cannot obtain enough scholarship money to attend a 4 year institution unless they get a financial package due to sports; 3) with budget cuts this past year the class offerings are now down to the bare bones.

I only see the problem with the rural schools getting worse. All three of our children have no desire to return here to live mainly because of the school system's lack of resources. Our enrollment like many rural schools is steadily declining.

Peggy Hampton

Before No Child Left Behind, an October story focusing on the efforts of the Montgomery County, MD public school system in the context of the law, drew this response from an anonymous teacher:

The "No Child Left Behind" Act is not going to work. There is more to educating a student than just teaching. A teacher can give her all to every one of her students, however, if that child has no help from home or has behavior issues, then there has to be another way. To say that too many children are being left behind so therefore you must meet the standards or you will not be a good teacher, is wrong...


In November, we featured a story called 5 Years of English Only about the aftereffects of the passage of Proposition 227 in California. This southern California reader provides his ideas about diversity in education:

We are experiencing many problems in the U.S. because of the wrong type of diversity being promoted in our schools and throughout society. Ethnic diversity is a great thing and helps this country continue to be what many have fought and died to make it (freedom and free will for all who pursue it). Cultural diversity on the other hand will destroy the very aspect that has brought us all here. We must teach one country and one culture so we can all work together for a common goal, equal opportunity for all. "I am a firefighter/ E.M.T. in Southern California and have had many encounters with people who do not speak English. It creates many problems for us as rescuers. We (and our ancestors) came to America to share in the good it offers, we need to be Americans so we can continue to keep it that way. I am no longer Italian, my neighbor is no longer Spanish, my good friend is no longer African. WE ARE AMERICANS and should act like it"


Derek Raring


A Culture of Teaching
Columbus Day and Thanksgiving often spark lessons and learning about America's past. But information about Indian culture is often outdated, inaccurate and cliched. In September's Cradleboard Curricula, we talked with Indian songwriter and educator Buffy Sainte-Marie about her Internet-based cultural teaching tools.

This sounds like a wonderful concept. My son and I attended Sundance three times at Crowdog's Paradise in Rosebud, South Dakota and once in Arizona, just below Phoenix. Each year he has been invited to talk about what he has learned in his classroom. Last year, he led his first grade class in a short version of the dance that he learned from the Sundancers and explained the event to them from a 6-year old's point of view. My son attends elementary school in a predominantly white upper class neighborhood in northern California. He gets a real positive response from his young classmates. I will look into the curriculum further in an effort to bring it to the local schools.

Tom Gallegos


I am so happy about Cradleboard Teaching Project and the REAL Indian history being made available "I am 66 yrs. old and recently learned my grandmother's name. All my life I was told she was full blood Native. I can find nothing on her after the 1930 census of Montgomery County, Georgia. I did learn over the Internet that in 1930 the Natives were round up and sent to reservations. I also learned that 150,000 or more weren't allowed to list themselves as Natives because someone, probably not Native, determined they weren't Native. I would like to have this type of information for my family, without having to wait for the school to adopt the program. As a person who is Black, Native, and Caucasian I have experienced situations that could cause me to hate if I let it.



In November, we featured a story, Young Poets Share Their Culture, highlighting the lives of contemporary Indian students. A proud mother of one of our profiled teens shared her comments:

My name is Jackie Blacksmith and I am Marcia Blacksmith's mother. I wanted to thank all the people who supported the Crow Poets and for all the publicity they are receiving. This makes me even more proud of my daughter and the other Crow Poets. Marcia is very talented in what she does. She is a Crow traditional dancer, has a beautiful voice and can really sing plus does all her writing. She is the youngest (baby) of my 4 children and she is now a senior in high school and it is very hard to let her go. Thank you for this article on our students from Lodge Grass High School.


Jackie Marlene Blacksmith

Juvenile Justice?
Our December story, An Insider's Look at Juvenile Justice, shed some light on often-avoided problem of youngsters incarcerated in adult prisons. This Alaskan reader wants to do something about her state's situation:

A few years ago I watched a 60 Minutes II interview with Evan Ramsey. He was convicted and sentenced as an adult for shooting a school principal and a student who had bullied him for years at his high school in Bethel, Alaska. I believe he received something like 210-year sentence. It was heart wrenching seeing Evan's tears and obvious remorse. This was a child who had been abused, abandoned, and neglected—I just could never understand why the circumstances of Evan's life were not taken into account.


"Rehabilitation, not harsh sentencing should be the goal for those that may still have the chance to turn their life around for the better."

Diana M. Maggiola


Teacher Resource Alert
In September we launched Kids in America: 500 Years of Change an interactive timeline highlighting critical moments in the evolution of public policies and laws affecting children.

I am so delighted to learn about this project. I am currently doing sabbatical research on the age of the orphanage in the state of Rhode Island and we are collecting oral histories of residents and staff who worked in RI's public orphanage and in other institutions. I love your site because you provide an important context for the understanding of how communities respond to the needs of children. I am a sociologist and not a historian and I deeply appreciate what you have done here.


Sandra Enos
Associate Professor of Sociology



Tips for Non-Profits
This year marked the first year of Connect for Kids' independence as a non-profit organization covering kids' issues. We shared what we've learned about the business of non-profits in an October piece called Thinking About Starting a Non-Profit?

I literally decided within the last week that I wanted to start a non-profit. I've worked as a volunteer grant writer for an agency for the past 5 years and now that both of my children are in school I am ready to tackle this. I'm still in the brainstorming phase so I think it's definitely prophetic that your article is in my inbox this morning!

Thanks for collecting the types of things I've been searching all over the Net for you've saved me lots of time. While the scope if of my org is pretty small (increasing access to books for the children who come to a Methodist-sponsored food pantry and meal provider), I want it to be successful and intend to plan it carefully with future growth in mind.

Thanks for all your hard work on behalf of kids!


Jennifer Roe


It's been our pleasure, Jennifer. And we look forward to continuing to fulfill our mission on behalf of kids and families in the coming year. Keep your comments coming and have a very happy holiday season!

The Connect for Kids Team

Cecilia, Jan, Susan, Carlos, Rob and Caitlin

Talk Back

If you've got comments or questions about this story, we'd like to hear them. Send your response to Robert Capriccioso (

Robert Capriccioso is a writer for Connect for Kids.