We can probably all remember a time in our lives when we needed help from someone. One of the things that impressed me most when I moved to Merrill over 30 years ago was that the community looked after its own.
Many children need our help now to enable them to start the school year with the most basic school supplies. Over 600 backpacks for children in grades K-5 were filled last week through the cooperative efforts of Merrill Forward Together Healthy Community Initiative, the Optimist Club, the UW-Extension, and 4-H. Monetary contributions are still needed to help pay for supplies. Please consider a tax-deductible donation to this worthy cause. Contributions can be mailed to MFTHCI – Backpacks for Kids, P.O. Box 793, Merrill, WI 54452. To those that have donated funds or supplies already, our children and families in need say thank you.
What You Know for Sure,
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. -Mark Twain
On one side of Wisconsin’s school sex education debate are parents and community decision-makers who are very serious about helping young people protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, from sexually transmitted infections, from undiagnosed cancer, and from sexual exploitation and abuse. We know that education is not enough, but that doesn’t excuse advocating ignorance.
On the other side are those who believe that education about sexual health will encourage irresponsible and risky sexual behaviors. They believe this despite all evidence. They repeat it with conviction.
At the Merrill Public Schools Human Growth and Development Advisory Committee meeting last week, former school board President, Joe Fink, advised the committee to cease all sexual health education for a year. Because the new law requires medically accurate age-appropriate sex education or none at all, Mr. Fink proposed that doing nothing would prevent the district “from screwing up.”
A Merrill teacher, Brian Suchocki, explained the risk of doing nothing with a true story: “We had a student who learned about testicular cancer in health class. He was able to have the proper procedure done so he could lead a healthy life.”
The gap between supporters of sexual health education and the opposing side could not be drawn more clearly. Opponents of sex education have believed that sex education encourages promiscuous sex through the thirty years that I have been working to prevent teen pregnancies and STDs. They will believe it forever.
It’s just that it ain’t so.
Family Planning Health Services, Inc.
I response to Ms. Catherine LeMay-Brown’s letter to the editor on Aug. 4 regarding the “Healthy Youth Act,” otherwise knows as the “Sex ed bill,” that was passed earlier this year, the problem we see with the new law is that it makes it illegal to teach an abstinence based only program in a school district that offers a Human Growth and Development course.
An example of the true motives behind this bill is what is happening in West Allis. West Allis came up with a two-track system where they offered both the comprehensive sex ed course as well as an elective abstinence-centered course that will, among other things, include discussion of the “ineffectiveness of contraception.” Authors of the Assembly bill 458/Senate Bill 324, Rep. Tamara Grigsby and Rep. Kelda Helen Roys opposed this as it was reported in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the “reason they wrote the bill was to end abstinence-only courses, which they said contributed to high rate of sexually transmitted diseases among teens.”
Contradictory to Grigsby and Roy’s beliefs, according to an article in the Wisconsin Family Connection, from March 1, 2010, “Milwaukee Public Schools has been teaching this Planned Parenthood-style comprehensive sex education for years now and that school has the highest teen pregnancy and STI rates in the state, and some of the highest in the country.”
The fact remains that the only way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections is abstinence. Unfortunately, the passing of this bill makes it an all or nothing proposition, where parents either choose their children to be taught the comprehensive sex education or nothing at all, leaving parents who would like their children to have the abstinence based program, without an option, therefore, any statements that say MAPS will still maintain their abstinence position, under the new law, is not telling the truth as MAPS cannot claim to be abstinence based and then teach how to, blatant instruction in the use of contraception, etc.
Instead of forcing this onto the K-12 grade children, as stated in the law, and having parents opt out, the school board has the power to opt out of teaching the HG&D course. There should be no hurry to rush into teaching the comprehensive sex ed under the new law, however, if the board doesn’t opt out by the end of September, this style of comprehensive sex ed will be taught this school year. The community should have a say and, if given the time, will be able to study it for themselves, get better informed and will be able to make an educated choice. The next school year, after having heard from an informed community, the school board vote will reflect the path in which the community would prefer to take.
Paul & Karen Cournaya, Joe & Dorly Dahlke, Brad & Sue Geiss, Terry & Crystal Krueger, Tim & Pam Moat, Kathy Palazzo, Chad & Shellee Sabatke, Stacey Stine, Bill & Nancy Zeitz
all of Merrill
After reading the letter from the Wilders, titled “Dear Friends of America,” I felt a response was necessary. The Wilders apparently feel that their God given freedoms and rights are being taken away from them. Most of us were correctly taught in school that these freedoms and rights are actually granted by the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which the last time I checks, are still valid and in place. What freedoms and rights do the Wilders feel they have lost? They obviously have the freedom of speech, the right to worship as they please and the right to hold a rally in Merrill on Aug. 28. It appears difficult to determine what freedoms and rights have been stolen from them by “the progressive King Georges now in control.”
The Wilders talk about freedom lovers standing together. I also am a freedom lover, more than willing to stand up for the freedoms and rights offered by this great country. These freedoms and rights allow the Wilders to have their beliefs and opinions, but also allow progressives to have different beliefs and opinions and not be called radicals for having them.
To the Wilders and others of their ilk, Glen Beck appears to be a messianic figure. Mr. Beck’s Restoration of Honor Rally in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 28 and its replication here in Merrill would be more believable if Mr. beck were not engaged in some less than honorable activities. Apparently Mr. Beck believes the dollar is about to undergo a catastrophic collapse. Beck’s apparent solution for those concerned about this unlikely event is to buy gold. Conveniently, the main sponsor of Beck’s Fox News show is Goldline International, who will gladly offer to sell you all the gold you might want as a cushion against the impending catastrophe. Helping to promote these sales, Beck wrote on his famous blackboard, during one of his new shows, the words Gold, God and Guns, putting gold before God as the potential savior from the financial meltdown supposedly being caused by the progressive onslaught.
Goldline is essentially unregulated and uses high-pressure sales techniques to sell vastly over priced gold coins to unsuspecting Americans. Because of the highly inflated sales price, these coin buyers will never realize a profit when they decide to sell the coins. However, Mr. Beck continues to use fear and Fox News to promote the apparently fraudulent activities of Goldline International.
More detailed information on this matter can be found in the July/August issue of Mother Jones magazine from which much of the information in this letter was obtained.
This letter is a follow up to the letter in last week’s paper from former Fair Board member Brad Becker. In 30 years of practicing dentistry, I have been fortunate to meet and build relationships with thousands of people. I feel that this experience has allowed me to become a fairly good judge of character. I have known the entire family that runs Grecian Delight for over 15 years. I have found Sam, who is the owner, to be kind, sincere, and very generous. It is impossible for me to imagine him being the uncaring rule breaker that some on the Fair Board have painted him to be. Investigations have shown a number of reports against him to be without merit. Yet his family has suffered just the same.
I hope that Merrill will be known as a place where diversity and new businesses are encouraged and welcomed. Our future depends on it.