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Prejudice, bigotry have no place here

April 13, 2011 - Dear Editor,

(In response to: 'Bigotry driving SOC issue?' The Citizen, April 9, page 6, Your Thoughts):

I don't know Carol Mannino Kachmar, but I want to thank her for her letter to the editor in the April 9 issue of The Citizen. Watching the schools of choice (SOC) controversy unfold, I wasn't able to articulate the discomfort I was feeling, until Ms. Kachmar nailed it for me, naming the elephant in the living room. Like Ms. Kachmar, I believe the reasons given for opposition to SOC may be a mask to cover prejudice and bigotry. I'd like to carry that thought further by highlighting some of the reasons SOC is healthy for everyone.

I no longer have kids in school, but if I did, like everyone, I'd want them in a good school, like those in Brandon. I'd want to be sure they were getting not only the academic rigor they'll need for higher education and/or the world they'll find themselves in after graduation, but I'd also want them to have a social experience that at least partially replicates that world.

To deprive our kids of the experience of knowing and mingling with kids from other racial, ethnic, or religious backgrounds than their own is, I believe, to short-change them. Without such experience, they may carry generalizations and unfair assumptions that will hamper their ability to work with others who are different. They may be unable to relate to others in an open-hearted way, foreclosing any ability to learn from other cultures. By continuing the schools of choice program, we will continue to keep open these educational possibilities for our children, all of them.

Prejudice and bigotry have no place in an increasingly globalized world. SOC offers a golden opportunity to teach this in our schools. To miss such an opportunity by discontinuing SOC would harm not just the kids coming from disadvantaged school systems, but all of our kids as well.

Lois B. Robbins

Brandon Twp.

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