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You've Got Mail

A middle school teacher assigned each of his 6th grade students to write a letter to a single member of the U.S. military for a class project. The teacher, Alex Kunhardt, was presumably aware of the content of the letters that were forwarded to Pfc. Rob Jacobs.

February 21, 2005 -- An American soldier overseas is fuming over letters he received from Brooklyn middle-school children accusing GIs of destroying mosques and killing civilians in Iraq.

Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey said he was initially ecstatic to get a package of letters from sixth-graders at JHS 51 in Park Slope last month at his base 10 miles from the North Korea border.

That changed when he opened the envelope and found missives strewn with politically charged rhetoric, vicious accusations and demoralizing predictions that only a handful of soldiers would leave the Iraq war alive.

"It's hard enough for soldiers to deal with being away from their families, they don't need to be getting letters like this," Jacobs, 20, said in a phone interview from his base at Camp Casey.

"If they don't have anything nice to say, they might as well not say anything at all."

Read that section again. Jacobs was stationed in South Korea, far away from Iraq. Even though Jacobs was not in Iraq, the teacher allowed letters to be sent accusing him of all manner of killing Iraqi children and destroying mosques.

Aren't teachers supposed to be the responsible adults in the classroom? Is it too much to ask that they use a little common sense?

[Ed - Minor corrections made]


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» Number 2 Pencil linked with Dashing their spirits

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» Knowledge Is Power: SondraK.com linked with Sick and wrong

» The Education Wonks linked with Some Students Need Lessons In Respecting Our...

» baldilocks linked with From the Pens of Babes (UPDATED)

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Comments (76)

Teachers responsible? Heh.... (Below threshold)

Teachers responsible? Heh.

Here in Michigan public school teachers closed the schools and took an unofficial day off to protest charter schools.

The agenda of most public school teachers is skewed towards pushing their liberal viewpoints and getting as much money as possible for as little work possible. So much for "what's best for the children".

BTW, teachers here are NOT underpaid. $50,000-$60,000 on average for nine months work is pretty good for a so called 'vocation'.

I'm not surprised by what the Brooklyn teacher did, I'm sure many more have done the same. Probably with the consent or direction of the NEA.

In dealing with my own children's teachers, except for a few, I've never met a less intelligent more mis-informed group of people.

Students in one classroom had to contact the school board to get their teacher to remove campaign signs for the dem candidate for governor from their room.

It's elementary, Watson!</p... (Below threshold)

It's elementary, Watson!

Remember the F-16 that bomb... (Below threshold)

Remember the F-16 that bombed a school in NJ?

What else do you expect fro... (Below threshold)

What else do you expect from glorified babysitters? I have about as much respect for the average grade school teacher as I do for personal injury lawyers, used car salesmen, and street people who beg for money.

Kevin: You missed the best... (Below threshold)

Kevin: You missed the best part:

"While we would never censor anything that our children write, we sincerely apologize for forwarding letters that were in any way inappropriate to Pfc. Jacobs. This assignment was not intended to be insensitive, but to be supportive of the men and women in service to our nation."

What the hell does he mean they "would never censor anything that our children write"? They're fucking kids! And if they wouldn't censor them, then the following apology is total b.s.

Sounds like this teacher ha... (Below threshold)

Sounds like this teacher had some input to the tone of the letters. SHAME on him/her!

No wonder our kids are behind every other country in Math/Science. There is way too much time spent on non-3 R's activity in schools.

I have a nephew in middle school and he couldn't tell you much about the Iraq war. Kids that age don't watch the news. They get their biases from what they are told by teachers (and parents.)

Let me guess, the kids pare... (Below threshold)

Let me guess, the kids parents "Support the troops" but hate the war, right?

This just goes to show you ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

This just goes to show you how much the anti war rhetoric pervades our media and schools.

I do wonder though, if the kids didn't need a bit of a geography lesson as Korea isn't anywhere near Iraq.

For an article that bitches... (Below threshold)

For an article that bitches about grade school education, you gotta love the caption on the picture:
"Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey received scathing letters from Brooklyn sixth-grader."

Also, I don't understand where the teacher's bias comes into it at all. See this paragraph:
"Most of the 21 letters Jacobs provided to The Post mentioned some support for the armed forces, if not the Iraq war, and thanked him for his service. But nine of the students made clear their distaste for the president or the war."

IMO this was not an act of bias on behalf of the teacher. Now, had the teacher actually dictated which opinions kids were and weren't allowed to express -- that would be an act of bias.

The Post also ran this para... (Below threshold)

The Post also ran this paragraph:
Most of the 21 letters Jacobs provided to The Post mentioned some support for the armed forces, if not the Iraq war, and thanked him for his service. But nine of the students made clear their distaste for the president or the war.

Lets see, 12/21 = Most and 9/21 = minority report.

Hmmm. No way a teacher could collect all 21 and not notice that over a third of them were derogatory. Oops, I mean assuming teacher had integrity and intelligence.

The sadest part here is this would be a fantastic real world chance for not only the class and teacher, but the school to learn a little more about tolerance, diplomacy and thinking about the consequences of what you write, etc. Doubt it will play out that way though.

Since there aren't any mosq... (Below threshold)

Since there aren't any mosques near the DMZ, who is to say the troops didn't destroy them? ;)

Epador ~It is inte... (Below threshold)

Epador ~

It is interesting that the left, who believe that everything should be solved with diplomacy, is so darned bad at it.

When you call them on bad manners, lack of diplomacy, consequences or intolerance they start to shriek about their right to free speech.

21 marines should write bac... (Below threshold)

21 marines should write back. I wonder if the teach would censor _that_.

I like how epador and mayfo... (Below threshold)

I like how epador and mayfore quote the same passage but arrive at different conclusions. Point goes to epador!

It's the teacher's job to tell his student's what is, is not, an appropirate letter. It was his job to review them before they were mailed. It is the teacher's job to censor the student's letters if they were offensive either by making the student rewrite it or refusing to mail it.

That the teach failed to do any of the above, is evidence of bias or just plain incompetence. And the principal's statement stinks, too.

That teacher SHOULD BE FIRE... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

That teacher SHOULD BE FIRED!

They are glorified BABYSITTERS!

God help them if they actually had to WORK FOR A LIVING!!!

For this Liberal crazy to be brining kids into his push on propaganda is below despicable. Fire the bastard.

"It is interesting that the... (Below threshold)

"It is interesting that the left, who believe that everything should be solved with diplomacy, is so darned bad at it."

Well, they seem to think socialism is what is needed to draw in red-state voters.

still no caption contest wi... (Below threshold)

still no caption contest winners eh? its Monday already!

MayforeEither the ... (Below threshold)


Either the teacher is incompetent or irresponsible. There is a claim that this was an assignment. So, did the teacher read each letter? If not -- incompetence. If so, and still allowed the wholely inappropriate ones to be sent -- irresponsible.

Either way, from the principal's mealy-mouthed statement I'm not going to hold my breath for any consequences for this teacher.

Long term solution -- VOUCHERS

now please

hey julie! You bea... (Below threshold)

hey julie!

You beat me this time. :-)

I almost wonder if the pare... (Below threshold)

I almost wonder if the parents of the kids who sent the noxious letters were the true authors, either directly ("Dad, what should I write?") or through the crap they're telling their kids.

Still, the teacher should have reviewed and excluded the objectionable ones. (I can just hear the moonbats now: "CENSORSHIP!!! THAT'S CENSORSHIP!!!! YOU HATE THE CONSTITUTION!!!")

Lee: You don't know the hal... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

Lee: You don't know the half of it. My wife's stepsister (I'll call her Hazel) is a sixth-grade teacher, at one of the worst schools in town, no less (when you don't have seniority, you get the crap assignments). She's told us lots of horror stories about people who get into early-grade teaching not because they want to teach second-graders, but because they want to be second-graders. Their idea of teaching is all-day playtime. Hazel says that about half of the students she gets entering the sixth grade each year are reading at least two grade levels behind, and that many of them have had imprinted in them an anti-intellectual attitude that makes them proud of their failures. They bully any student that "blows the curve".

Hazel tells us that she is one of the very few teachers in the school that writes up daily lesson plans. She says that most of the teachers keep a boilerplate lesson plan or two in a drawer, so that they have something to whip out when the school board comes around to inspect. They use the same ones over and over and nobody ever gets wise to them (or, if they do, they don't care). The principal is just marking time until retirement and has basically told the teachers with concerns to buzz off.

During the campaign last year, for about a week, there was a large Kerry sign posted at the school's student dropoff/pickup entrance. It took complaints to the city council and a TV station report to get it taken down. The school administration never owned up to who put it there.

They could call it censorsh... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

They could call it censorship all they wanted to, but writing that kind of drivel to the guy in uniform is uncalled for.

The teacher should have graded the assignment and not sent the letters.

Not content with keeping th... (Below threshold)

Not content with keeping their hate to themselves, the left is now resorting to teaching their children to hate as well. How nice. A whole new generation of brainwashed little Nazis are being raised by their leftwing fascist parents and knuckle dragging teachers.

The real tragedy here is th... (Below threshold)

The real tragedy here is that kids are being indoctrinated, either by their parents, or teachers, to believe this crap. It is a disservice to the troops, to our country, and the child's development. All we need is more non-working commie whiners on government aid...

Sounds to me like this teac... (Below threshold)
Opinionated Vogon:

Sounds to me like this teacher is ready for a promotion... the the PhysEd dept. Those who can, do. Those who can't, Teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym! :¬)

The solider is from Jersey,... (Below threshold)

The solider is from Jersey, and the idiots are in Brooklyn?

Sounds like a great chance for the parents of that soldier to visit the class and set them straight

Do you suppose that this 't... (Below threshold)

Do you suppose that this 'teacher,' on top of his other failings, did not comprehend that Korea and Iraq are not the same place?

It would sort of fit with the idiocy of the whole event.

That teacher ought to be fi... (Below threshold)

That teacher ought to be fired.

One of the first things tha... (Below threshold)

One of the first things that must be removed to be an idiot like this teacher is common sense. BTW, the New Jersey school was not bombed. It was hit with live cannon rounds instead of the target laser that was supposed to be used. Still a potential disaster, but a bomb would have leveled it instead of putting a few holes in it. I must presume here that the pilot is no longer a pilot.

The agenda of most publi... (Below threshold)

The agenda of most public school teachers is skewed towards pushing their liberal viewpoints and getting as much money as possible for as little work possible.

What else do you expect from glorified babysitters? I have about as much respect for the average grade school teacher as I do for personal injury lawyers, used car salesmen, and street people who beg for money.

And people wonder why they can't get enough good people to be teachers. Hmm.

It is interesting that the left, who believe that everything should be solved with diplomacy, is so darned bad at it.

Middle school children = "the left"

many of them have had imprinted in them an anti-intellectual attitude that makes them proud of their failures. They bully any student that "blows the curve".

Sixth graders are graded on a curve?

Oops, sorry to interrupt the "hate teachers" fest.

Reminds me of a British sch... (Below threshold)

Reminds me of a British school teacher who encouraged her pupils to write letters to a fur trader. Oh, did I say letters? I meant death threats.

When our class wrote letter... (Below threshold)

When our class wrote letters to soldiers last year, our teach proofread them.

"Middle school children = "... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"Middle school children = "the left""

Nope just means "indoctrinated by the left."

However I don't think teachers are glorified baby sitters.

I do think the teachers union has done a lot to screw up education in this country. Probably one of the best ways to immediately make schools better would be to ditch the NEA, kill tenure, and frankly get the feds out of the education system as much as possible.

mantisSixth gra... (Below threshold)


Sixth graders are graded on the curve?

And that's if they're lucky! School Admins make it clear that teachers are pretty well forbidden from flunking kids at all!

Might hurt their little self-esteems, ya know. (and ruin the stats the school presents to the state to show how wonderful they are)

I know lots of really good public school teachers..many of them have left public schools or been forced out or slug away attempting to really teach under harassment from their mediocre peers and hostile school admins.

No need to wait for the year 2081, the world of Harrison Bergeron exists in our public school system.

Not content with keeping... (Below threshold)

Not content with keeping their hate to themselves, the left is now resorting to teaching their children to hate as well.

That wouldn't be quite as objectionable -- but they're also trying to teach other people's kids to hate.

Last year our elementry sch... (Below threshold)

Last year our elementry school did letters for our GI's. My daughter went to the school and spent 10 months in Iraq. All the letters were very funny and no one wrote what these kids did. Kids in sixth grade don't think this way! My daughter thought the world of the letters. Or maybe it is differnet in a red state of Colorado. Even thought I'm in the Blue area of the state.

Kevin, This teacher... (Below threshold)

This teachers actions are in violatation of most standard teaching rules for professional conduct . This rule is normally part of a state's written code of conduct.

Elementary and secondary school teachers are not allowed to introduce discussions or information which could be interpreted by students as faculty intimidation or manipulation of their classes into supporting a political movement or belief. If you want to request an investirgation and official ruling on this situation, contact this teacher's School Board representatives and /or their state' Department of Education. Normally, such actions from a teacher pushing either side of the political fence would result in a written reprimend.

Whoa, wait a minute, y'all-... (Below threshold)

Whoa, wait a minute, y'all--"glorified babysitter"? Please judge your schools, but don't assume all are that bad.

I invited my students (8th and 10th grade) to write letters to soldiers in Iraq. I showed the presentation "Until Then" first. If they chose to write to a soldier, I told them that the point was to make someone happy and to just write about their lives. If they didn't want to, they could choose a creative writing assignment instead.

I read every single letter, and each was from the heart. I wouldn't have sent any that were insulting. What a fool that teacher was--the students could have expressed their "opinions," but she was under no obligation to mail them.

Please attend school board meetings. Atttend Back to School nights. Visit the classroom and see teachers in action. Praise the good ones and objectively criticize the bad ones. Look at your district's test scores. Check where your graduates go to college or further education. Don't just complain--take action to be part of the solution.

Before anyone says anything about working 9 months, let me state that if I counted the hours I work after school grading papers, making lesson plans, attending workshops, chaperoning dances, etc., the time would even out.

I wouldn't have sent any... (Below threshold)

I wouldn't have sent any that were insulting.

Wouldn't that be censorship? ;) The principal's comments made no sense. They wouldn't censor but they wouldn't foward a letter if offensive.

Wouldn't that be censors... (Below threshold)

Wouldn't that be censorship? ;)
Yeah. I think it was a ham-fisted way of saying that they would censor, but with considerable latitude for political views, only stopping downright offensive letters.

Sometimes censorship is a g... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Sometimes censorship is a good thing.

IN this case, the teacher should have told the students writing the offending letters that their letters weren't going to be sent and why, and if they were upset, then directed them towards the president, congress or some other policy maker in the government, not the poor guy who volunteered for the job, and doesn't have much say in policy at all.

The Principal said:While... (Below threshold)

The Principal said:While we would never censor anything that our children write, I have trouble believing this sort of freedom extends beyone this incident. I wonder how the Principal would come down on a student who wore an Abortion is Murder T-shirt!

IN this case, the teache... (Below threshold)

IN this case, the teacher should have told the students writing the offending letters that their letters weren't going to be sent and why,

How about giving them that reason that as a kid you vowed you would never use: BECAUSE I SAY SO!

Why can't we teach our chil... (Below threshold)

Why can't we teach our children diplomacy? The teacher could have turned this assignment into something positive and encouraged the students to write about happy things here on U.S. soil. The children could have expressed their sympathy for the soldiers spending so much time away from their families. Wouldn't this approach teach the children compassion for fellow human beings, even though their families political viewpoints differ?

"How about giving them that... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

"How about giving them that reason that as a kid you vowed you would never use: BECAUSE I SAY SO!"

While there are times for the BECAUSE I SAY SO, argument.

In this case, the kids need to learn why their letters aren't going to be sent. If the teacher just censored them with the BISS reason, they aren't going to learn anything, and will definitely think they are the victims in some act of discrimination.

Also, the teacher could hav... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Also, the teacher could have made it a research project, if she/he had asked for proof of the charges in the letters.

Although, this teacher either agreed with them, or is an idiot.

In this case, the kids n... (Below threshold)

In this case, the kids need to learn why their letters aren't going to be sent.


If the teacher just censored them with the BISS reason, they aren't going to learn anything,


and will definitely think they are the victims in some act of discrimination.


Because I said so, damn it!

Unfortunate sigh here, and ... (Below threshold)

Unfortunate sigh here, and then this: disappointing to read that there is such a generalization about what is censorship and what is not. Also, what the role of education is and is not.

You could argue, theoretically, that ANY directorial efforts were "censorship" in that they refuse one course of expression and then require another inorder to succeed. Education IS redirection, and to a large extent, "censorship" of an original individual state inorder to exact another.

But, education can and is v... (Below threshold)

But, education can and is very often a political process and to complain about that is to defy social organization. It's just a case of who censors what and why, as to being beneficial or detrimental to the individual and society itself because of that.

Censorship by the "state" is the issue of concern but it's also alarming to my read how many here assume that education and behaviors by educators IS "the state" -- there's a huge assumption here to conclude that behavior by educators represents some state level censorship of individual expression.

I agree as to the poor behavior in the case of this teacher and the principal, school system and that it bespeaks of incompetence in their school system and certainly by the teacher.

Those Marines should write back to the students, I agree -- it's a great suggestion -- and share their truths with the children because it sure seems that the kids aren't getting a good education otherwise.

"Why?"Because when... (Below threshold)
Just Me:


Because when you want a child to learn a lesson, and to apply it, they need to understand the principle behind it.

We could start with kindness, respect, etc.

The one thing that bothers me about all this is that some kids couldn't figure out how to write a letter to a soldier without being offensive. Certainly they could have thought of something nice to say, even if it was a discussion of the weather.

As a parent, if I want my kids to learn moral principles and apply them, then they need to have an understanding of why we have certain rules.

In this case teaching kids generally to have a respect for others, is a good place to start.

Then you can move on to tell them that with the accusations they made, they need to find facts to back up the claims, and if they still feel strongly, then they should direct their opinions to the people in charge of the policy, not the grunt on the ground doing his job.

Guess maybe it is my take on parenting my own kids that influences this, I just think kids learn better, and learn to make better decisions, when they understand the reason why behind the decisions we make.

Certainly they could hav... (Below threshold)

Certainly they could have thought of something nice to say, even if it was a discussion of the weather.

From what I read, soldiers want to hear about the kids lives -- what they are doing, their families, their favorite class, favorite game, whatever -- just a little bit of home.

Which is my point julie.</p... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

Which is my point julie.

If you tell the kid you aren't sending their letter-because you said so, they aren't going to learn what kinds of things should have been in the letter.

Telling kids that kindness is a good place to start, and that soldiers like to hear about things at home, is a much better teaching moment than just saying "because I said so."

Sounds like a great chan... (Below threshold)
LC ima mommy:

Sounds like a great chance for the parents of that soldier to visit the class and set them straight

Actually, this soldier is my little brother, and my dad is going to be on Hannity and Colmes tomorrow night to express his outrage (you may have heard him on Hannity's radio show this afternoon.) There will also be a follow up article in the Post tomorrow with some more of the lovely quotes.

And yes, the teacher did read them, b/c in his cover letter he states something along the lines of "the kids have differing political views"...political views?? THEY'RE 11!!

Anyway, it's nice to see the support here for my brother. It's not a matter of freedom of speech for these kids, and we certainly don't blame them. My family is righteously outraged that a teacher would ask for Rob's address to write "letters of support" and then sanctify these kinds of notes.

Before anyone says anyth... (Below threshold)

Before anyone says anything about working 9 months, let me state that if I counted the hours I work after school grading papers, making lesson plans, attending workshops, chaperoning dances, etc., the time would even out.

Well Goddess, then you are one of the few who really care. I live in a large city and a lot of the public school teachers I've met spend an awful lot of time hanging out in bars with other city employees complaining about Bush. Not sure how many papers they grade between shots and maxing out their sick days.

LC,I'd like to tha... (Below threshold)


I'd like to thank your brother for his service and ask if you could let us know the unit he is in so we can send a few letters with an appropriate and heartfelt message.

Most teachers do nothing bu... (Below threshold)
Rob Hackney:

Most teachers do nothing buty babysit, and think up new ways to SPREAD THEIR LIBERAL NAZI PROPAGANDA onto OUR CHILDREN.

What this Communist Liberal pinko did to one of our brave boys in the service was DISGUSTING.

I've assigned the same thin... (Below threshold)
carol mm:

I've assigned the same thing, as a service project. I do censor the letters. Usually the kids, well, the boys, want to ask about weapons and how many people the soldiers have killed. When we do send these letters out we have a generic address and we have no idea where in the world the letters will be sent to our military. Shame on the teacher for not checking what the kids wrote, and if he/she did, for letting them go out....but I have a feeling that the tchr had no idea where the letters were headed.

Carol, actually the teacher... (Below threshold)
LC ima mommy:

Carol, actually the teacher knew exactly where the letters were headed...he asked for my brother's address specifically. And he definitely read them first before mailing b/c he included a cover letter saying that they contained a variety of "political beliefs!"

Mesablue, we're working on setting up an email account for him to receive letters so I'll post it back here when we get it out. Thanks for your concern.

Really funny commentary on ... (Below threshold)

Really funny commentary on censorship. Since when does it apply at all to school children, in the classroom? The welfare of all the children, and their education, supercedes any individual's right to speak out.

This is the (yet another) problem with these commies applying their philosphy in the classroom. Their only obligation and duty is to teach the basics, the three R's if you will. The kids are barely getting that. Let them be kids and save the political rallies for when they're in college.

The point of this entire story should be, wherre the hell did these children get these ideas, and why. If they got it in school, they need to start firing people, right to the top. If they got it at home, some one should call child protective services.

Mantis, you took my quote o... (Below threshold)
Cousin Dave:

Mantis, you took my quote out of context. I was repeating what my stepsister-in-law has told me about the way things work in her school. Why would I want to run her down? She's a good teacher. She works hard. Last year she spent a week staying with us while she was waiting on an apartment that she had leased to become available. I can tell you that she came home from school and went right to work on the next day's lesson plans, every night right up until dinnertime. She exhausted herself to the point that she usually went to bed around 9:00, or fell asleep on the couch after dinner.

She's a good teacher trying to do the best she can in a crap system. She tells us herself that there are more bad teachers than good ones. The problem is that the school system has no mechanism for getting rid of the bad ones, or even figuring out who they are. So the teaching jobs attract a lot of losers who figure that it beats working. And, under the current system, they're right.

Cherish the good teachers. Don't be afraid to rip the bad ones. But make the distinction. Don't lump them all in the same group.

I have a feeling that th... (Below threshold)

I have a feeling that the tchr had no idea where the letters were headed.

If he did, would the letters then talk about our military killing innocent Koreans?

Filled with political diatribes, the letters . . . predicted GIs would die by the tens of thousands, accused soldiers of killing Iraqi civilians and bashed President Bush.

One girl wrote that she believes Jacobs is "being forced to kill innocent people" and challenged him to name an Iraqi terrorist, concluding, "I know I can't."

Another girl wrote, "I strongly feel this war is pointless," while a classmate predicted that because Bush was re-elected, "only 50 or 100 [soldiers] will survive."

NY Post

Kids reflect the views of t... (Below threshold)

Kids reflect the views of their parents. That's why silly stuff like "kids choose the president" are almost always predictive of who wins.

I read a comment (maybe on BLACKFIVE?) from a young person who said she was writing her *own* letter, although her class had written letters, so that the soldier who got it would know that she *wanted* to write instead of being forced to.

It's not just writing letters, it's a whole mindset that somehow being forced to do these little community involvment things, write to elected officials, or soldiers, or do volunteer work, somehow being made to do those things is educational and will encourage students to be active in the community. I think it's far more likely to simply condition them not to do anything they aren't forced to do.

Oh, and no doubt the teacher will learn how it feels to get hate mail. I wonder if the teacher will consider it educational.

Sorry, Cousin Dave, I was d... (Below threshold)

Sorry, Cousin Dave, I was doing a little collection of quotes there, and added yours because I was genuinely curious about sixth graders and the curve, as I don't remember there being one when I was in sixth grade (don't remember knowing what one was either). Didn't mean to lump you in with the blanket anti-teacher folks.

Letters like these were con... (Below threshold)

Letters like these were considerable food for thought while I was in the desert (or The Sand Carnival as we dubbed it) and for the most part, we took it in stride.

Creepy. Not sinister.

these kids need to read the... (Below threshold)

these kids need to read the following....

Iwo Jima
The famous battle offers lessons for us 60 years later.

Saturday, February 19, 2005 12:01 a.m.
...."Yet even this valor and sacrifice is not the full story of what Iwo Jima means, or what Rosenthal's immortal photograph truly symbolizes. The lesson of Iwo Jima is in fact an ancient one, going back to Machiavelli: that sometimes free societies must be as tough and unrelenting as their enemies. Totalitarians test their opponents by generating extreme conditions of brutality and violence; in those conditions--in the streets and beheadings of Fallujah or on the beach and in the bunkers of Iwo Jima--they believe weak democratic nerves will crack. This in turn demonstrates their moral superiority: that by giving up their own decency and humanity they have become stronger than those who have not.
Free societies can afford only one response. There were no complicated legal issues or questions of "moral equivalence" on Iwo Jima: It was kill or be killed. That remains the nature of war even for democratic societies. The real question is, who outlasts whom. In 1945 on Iwo Jima, it was the Americans, as the monument at Arlington Cemetery, based on Rosenthal's photograph, proudly attests. In the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s, it was the totalitarians--with terrible consequences. "

If these kids can't understand the above, they won't be able to understand any other important happenings in their life.

All I hear from you wingnut... (Below threshold)

All I hear from you wingnuts are complaints about the educational system. If the educational system is too liberal for you, why don't you step up the the plate and become teachers instead of bitching about it.

What was the discussion PFC... (Below threshold)

What was the discussion PFC Jacob's sister had with Alex Kunhardt? Did they talk about an opportunity for soldiers to open a dialogue with very confused students? Or did he promise that they would send Christmas Cards of support?

I think she's very off track about sixth graders not having political feelings. This is the age when they start questioning the world and certainly they are effected by the images of war. They had followed a very contentious and close presidential race that divided our nation. Of course their families are most likely discussing the war at their dining room tables. Why wouldn't they discuss these issues in a SOCIAL STUDIES class?

If they are indeed being innundated by their parents lefty views, then what better way to put their questions and concerns out to the real men in the field who are risking their lives. I know men in the field and they're not idiots. They could articulate what they feel to a child.

I think our men in the field are brave and smart. They could articulate their feelings and beliefs better than anyone. What a marvelous educational opportunity. I'm saddened that PFC Jacob's family has chosen to turn this incident into a political bruhaha and another easy attack at public schools.

DingoThere are lot... (Below threshold)


There are lots of teachers in the trenches who laudably do the best they can. But they also know that they have to keep their mouths shut in a system that punishes those that don't go with the flow. Some of them burn out, some of them leave for private schools or another career.

Some of them commit suicide.

What problems do YOU have with honest competition? Why do public schools demand a monopoly?

JonWould you send ... (Below threshold)


Would you send a "Congrats on your Wedding" card where you then added your sentiments "I think marriage can be kinda nice, but I realize statistics show Western marriages are doomed to fail, or have spouses who beat and cheat on each other with regularity. But I wish you luck in trying anyway with this oppressive patriarchal custom."

"letters of support to the troops" doesn't mean insulting the troops with unsolicited/meanspirited politics.

Darleen,I wouldn't... (Below threshold)


I wouldn't send a wedding card to a bride unless I believed in the marriage.

I think it would be more than educational for a child to ask a bride why she wanted to get married. Children should be asking questions.

Creating a dialogue of thoughts isn't "mean spirited." And if PFC Jacob's sister picked up the letters that were sent to South Korea than it certainly wouldn't be "unsolicited."

Somehow, Jon, I knew the wo... (Below threshold)

Somehow, Jon, I knew the word "appropriate" wasn't in your personal dictionary. Thanks for confirming it. I bet you are just as fun at funerals.


I don't understand. How am... (Below threshold)

I don't understand. How am I inappropriate?

JonI did say unsol... (Below threshold)


I did say unsolicited letters but unsolicited politics. These letters were ostensibly to be letters of support. How do you come to believe content that is anti-military is support or appropriate? That's like sending a wedding card containing anti-marriage sentiments. Or a "Congrats on your New Baby" card telling the parents they are contributing to Over.Population and Environmental Destruction.

As my late Grandma Mildred would say "If you can't say anything nice ... "

Is the word "nice" in your dictionary?

Darlene, I guess w... (Below threshold)


I guess when there's a war going on...

then it's not about nice. These kids need some information. Again, who better than a serviceman who willing to risk his life for what he believes in to explain the war in Iraq.

And as my Grandma Margaret said, "White lace curtains can't hide a dirty house."

You keep suggesting there's some Emily Post ethics involved in education. These are the most important questions that these kids could ask in their lives. They saw the Twin Towers fall from their classrooms, their brothers and sisters are in Iraq, and it's going to be their lives that will be drafted if we can't get more United Nations support. Why can't they ask a private what's it really like in the military. Particularly if the family of the PFC agreed to the written exchange?

Darlene, let's look deeper at this story.

Why were only 21 letters reported? Is JHS 51 extremly underpopulated? Aren't there usually about 30 kids in a class? Do you think some letters might have been yanked?

Why did the letters go to Korea? Why would this PFC's sister from New Jersey go to a middle school in Brooklyn and ask for letters? Why did they write letters to a non combat zone? Why Park Slope students? All of New York knows that with it's Co-Op markets, hippie bumper stickers, and lesbian moms that it's pretty likely that some of the kids would be likely to be against the war?

The sister says they were expecting letters of support...or were they letters aimed at discussion. I haven't read the letters of course, but the fragments I've been able to read on the Post seem to be well articulated questions and concerns. Yeah, a few of the kids asked stupid insensitive questions. I probably would have pulled them. But I think any thoughtful serviceman would have no trouble telling a student his point of view.

And if he didn't, he;d just toss the letters.

Why would Mr. Kunhardt put a cover letter on the kid's writing? He obviously didn't want to offend. I wish they'd show us the letter he wrote.

Why wouldn't the sister dump the letters after reading the cover letter? Why wouldn't the PFC just dump the obnoxious letters? Why would they call Fox/CNN/and Murdoch news services?

Why has his family inundated every conservative blog for the past two days?

I don't know, Darlene. I wish Kunhardt would speak up and let us know what's the connection between the sister and him. It's all kinda fishy.

It just doesn't seem nice.


It's all kinda fishy... (Below threshold)

It's all kinda fishy

Ah! Yes, it would come to that. I bet it's just another plant by EvilGeniusRove™.


What ever happened to honor... (Below threshold)

What ever happened to honor and respect. This generation has been raised to ignore this. No respect for people in charge, no respect for one another and no respect for our own President. To me a person who is willing to put their life on the line so that others can live a life of liberty and pursuit of happiness, deserves all the honor and respect from this country. It is people serving now and who served this country that brought us to where we are. It is the men and women in the military that should be honored and respected more than anyone. More than pro ball players and actors. I commend the men and women of the armed forces. Without them this world would be in a disasterous state. Thank you from me, my children and grandchildren.






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