Unsigned Vox Pop submissions continue to amaze me and leave me with a feeling of near total disdain. The Dispatch continues to allow writers to cowardly take shots at school officials, shots at coaches, shots at teachers, shots at peace advocates, shots at "you-name-em." Dispatch Vox Pop/"opinion" editors appear to actually solicit irrational, untrue statements and negative generalizations every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from people who have no right ripping things they (most often) know nothing about. This negativity is wrong. It has to stop.
People, (I included), have a right to express views, dislikes, and feelings in any private setting. I can't think of a person I know who at one time or another hasn't vented about something privately. (I have privately shared my dissatisfaction with Dispatch writers, teachers, coaches, parents, etc. in the past.) But when you take the venting to a public forum and make unsubstantiated statements and you assert...downright stupidity - you are wrong. It has to stop.
You are most wrong when your negativity affects students in school, children of parents, players on sports teams and kids in general. I know how much this bothers kids when overtly negative put-downs are printed in Vox Pop. I have seen the "not again" distractions for players in sports when forced to respond to the negative ignorance expressed in your paper, especially when dealing with members of their peer group. I feel and empathize with the absolute counter-productivity of cheap-shooters when discussing the negativity that appears in the paper with students in and out of my classes. It has to stop.
As a secondary teacher for 31 years, I have tried to teach kids that positive thinking yields positive action, and equally and opposite, negative thinking yields negative action. Bashing teachers, bashing coaches, bashing officials, bashing for the sake of bashing in general is an expression of negative thinking, and it can only yield negativity in the actions of those most affected...the kids, the players and the students. They don't need to read this crap. Our kids need to hear positive reinforcement for their hard work in school, their dedication and commitment to extra-curricular activities and simply because they're kids who deserve our support. They grow tired reading the unsigned bashing of adults in their lives: Coaches, teachers, clergy - even their parents. It's time to stop the negativity. It's time to get rid of Vox Pop... once and for all.
JOE CLOUTIER is a Baxter resident who is a longtime Brainerd High School teacher.
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