Regaining respect for teachers and police

By William Lewis

In past years, school teachers and police officers were the lynch pins that held society together. Today, that is no longer the case to the extent that it was during the early and middle part of the 20th century.

Our government structure and social environment have changed significantly since then. The civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960s and ‘70s brought a new set of values to our society. That was true in both the United States and Western Europe, where social unrest and continual demonstrations in favor of increased civil liberties and opposition to the Vietnam War materialized.

During the earlier times, most grammar school and high school students respected our teachers and police officers. They considered them the symbols of government authority.

In an atmosphere like that, there is less crime and a more law abiding atmosphere. Such a situation also leads to a more favorable learning process.

We need to return to mutual respect between citizens and government authority, especially the public school teachers and police officers.

After the Vietnam War, some returning American soldiers experienced a hostile reception. Today, that has changed with U.S. veterans of the armed services being praised for their efforts in our behalf.

Hopefully, a similar situation will occur regarding police and school teachers.

Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in complaints against police and teachers. In the case of police, charges of brutality have increased.

In regards to teachers, they have been subject to charges of not teaching properly. The concept of teacher evaluation has become prominent. The situation of students in the classroom not learning reflects certain factors, including little interest in studying academic subjects, poor preparation for school work, coming from broken homes, and lacking the ability to do well in academic subjects.

It could be a positive step forward if a return to vocational school training could be reintroduced to our city high schools where academic subjects are taught in the morning and vocational subjects in the afternoon. Vocational subjects could include such skills as carpentry, electrical work and auto repair.

This system was in place during the 1950s and into the 1960s. It could lead to a better city educational system. It could be more productive for the teachers and students.

Regarding our city police, at some point there has to be a better working relationship between the citizens of the city and their police. The police and residents of New York City have to work together as they did during the World Trade Center disaster at the beginning of this century.

There needs to be less blame for the ills of society put on our police and school teachers. A large majority of our teachers and police are hard working and devoted to their professions.

Another aspect to this situation is the increasing involvement of the judicial branch of government in law enforcement and educational issues. The number of lawsuits against these departments and the city administration has increased. Lawsuits involving law enforcement issues were especially prevalent during the Giuliani administration. These legal lawsuits can be time-consuming and expensive. For the most part using the courts for challenging law enforcement and educational policy is not helping the situation.

It will take a lot of effort of all concerned to continue with the improvement of our city. We have done it before.

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