Readers write: Jan. 5

School discipline gap starts at home

The Dec. 29 AJC “Monday Conversation” by attorney Mike Tafelski and AJC columnist Maureen Downey decries the school discipline disparity between blacks and whites, as well as disparities in prison populations. Statistical evidence is presented, implying a racially based cause and concluding that the “discipline systems must be reformed.”

One solution given is, “Make sure school officials have met with the child’s parents.” Therein lies a tale: two parents. Could it be the fundamental cause of the disparities is the single-parent household? Absentee dads? Look at the statistics between single-parent households and disciplinary problems, school dropout rates, poverty rates, arrest rates and prison populations.


Time gives family gift of perspective

Regarding AJC columnist Jay Bookman’s “Time, The Greatest Gift of all” (Opinion, Dec. 28), this article really resonated with me, as I am sure it has all of us. As the mother of a recovering heroin addict currently serving a bone-crushing sentence, I have realized the gift of time. As Mr. Bookman says, “It’s that shifting perspective from which wisdom is distilled. You can’t read about it; it can’t be taught. It is a gift only time can bestow.”

Time spent with my son behind the razor wire is as precious as it gets. We have been spared the ugly alternative of addiction and death. Our time is spent reflecting on our lives; we laugh, we cry, we get angry. We discuss articles like these, we work on solutions. All because we understand that looking back gives us all the answers we need.

I hope everyone who reads this takes the time to reach out to a loved one in need and offer your wisdom. Thanks, Mr. Bookman, for your very timely column.


Blame Castros for Cuba’s troubles

It is naive and arrogant to fault U.S. policy for the lack of progress in Cuba as did Dan Thomasson ("Why did Cuba thaw take so long? It's complicated," Opinion, Dec. 28). Through 10 different U.S. presidents, the only constant in Cuba has been the dictatorship of the Castro brothers. They alone are responsible for their country's lack of freedoms and poor economic condition.

Or are we expected to believe no other country can prosper without our cooperation? Mr. Thomasson states the need to normalize relations has become more pressing. More pressing for the Castros, perhaps, given the dramatic drop in oil prices and the resulting impact on Russia and Venezuela, both of which have been propping up the Cuban dictators. Time will tell if this change in our approach works to the benefit of the Cuban people. That will depend on the Castros’ willingness to change after 60 years of failure — by them, not us.