Regarding 'The Power and the Pulpit' (June 1), in which my email to Rep. Jalila Jefferson was featured, and the follow up Letters To The Editor (June 8), I feel there needs to be some clarification of my fundamental point.
The issue is that Jalila Jefferson voted in favor of an amendment to the state constitution, yet she stated: 'I do not support discrimination and I hope that the bill is ultimately found unconstitutional.' Jefferson took an oath of office to 'support the laws and constitution of the United States and the laws and constitution of this state' and to 'faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent' upon her 'to the best of her ability.' She did not make an oath to vote the will of her constituents, her pastor or God. The oath is simple and straightforward.
The constitutions of this state and the United States, while allowing majority rule, protect against the tyranny of the majority and safeguards the liberties of the individual and the minority. This was fundamental to the framers of the Constitution (see James Madison's Federalist Paper No. 10), although it may be beyond the scope of 'Democracy for Dummies' (Letters to the Editor, June 8).
It's important to recall that our elected officials have failed to safeguard rights countless times in history: enslavement, women's right to vote, segregation. Jefferson is both recognizing and allowing for the tyranny of the majority. Either she is failing in her oath to the constitutions, or the 'best of her ability' is sorely lacking. Whether someone agrees with the proposed gay marriage ban or not, one certainly has to recognize the deficiency in Jefferson as a legislator.
Race Not the Issue I wish that people like Dyan French Cole ('Board and Circuses,' June 15) and the various school board members that believe that a black superintendent of schools would save this school district would wake up and face reality. Superintendent Anthony Amato's race does not have any bearing on improving the education of this city's children. We have had many black superintendents before (Morris Holmes, Al Davis, Everett Williams, to name a few), and none of them were able to turn this district around.
I find it appalling and an embarrassment as a black man and educator in this school district that board members are so bent on racism. If this school district were 90 percent white and we had white school board members saying that we needed a white superintendent to best educate our children, the NAACP, National Urban League and ACLU would all stand up and scream racism. We would have tourists boycotting the city. Essence Fest, which draws an enormous amount of black people to the city, would leave, and New Orleans would be the laughingstock of the country.
I hope that the future elections will eliminate all of the present board members and bring people with fresh ideas that are compassionate and understanding and do not let race play a part in choosing the leaders for our children.
Art as Therapy Your commentary on teaching the arts ('Why Teach the Arts?' June 1) might be expanded to include the use of all the creative arts therapies (CAT).
Dance/movement therapists, art therapists, drama therapists and music therapists use the arts in schools to build self esteem, to improve concentration, to generate skills for coping with stress and trauma, to develop clear thinking habits, and to help students acquire the ability to be aware of and express feelings in safe ways.
As a dance/movement therapist I have had opportunities to work with children in several parish school systems and currently in the Jefferson Youth Foundation after-school program. Instead of focusing on dance as a performing art, I encourage dance as a safe, healthy way to be aware and in control of strong feelings, to communicate without needing to always find words for what we want to say, to respect the personal space of others, and to respect ourselves by building strong muscles and healthy bodies. These few opportunities to use dance movement therapy in the schools are always short term due to funding.
Shirley Trusty Corey, an early advocate of the use of the creative arts in schools, encouraged many of us to find ways to use dance in education 30 years ago, but it has been an uphill battle. Perhaps if we broaden the concept to include trained, certified and registered therapists, we can educate and heal.
Susan Kierr Dyer
Avoiding Eye Injury I would like to add an additional category to your excellent article, 'The Mackie Report: Avoiding Athletic Injuries' (June 8). Roughly 40,000 sports eye injuries occur every year. The majority of victims are children, too many of whom suffer permanent visual impairment. Yet most of these injuries are preventable with the proper protective equipment.
For young athletes, baseball and basketball account for the largest number of injuries. Little League pitchers may throw the ball up to 70 mph -- fast enough to break bones and do serious damage to the eye. Many other popular sports, such as tennis, soccer and football, also put unprotected players at risk for serious eye injury.
Athletes need to use protective eyewear because eye injuries can be devastating -- not just career-ending, but life-changing. Eye injuries are a leading cause of visual impairment in children.
Studies show that more than 90 percent of eye injuries can be prevented by wearing the right protective eyewear. Regular street glasses and contact lenses do not offer enough protection; each sport requires its own type of protective eyewear. Most of this eyewear -- including goggles, face shields and guards -- should be made of polycarbonate plastic. An eye doctor can recommend and fit the appropriate eyewear for each sport.
Athletes can now choose from a variety of sturdy, lightweight, effective and fashionable eyewear. There's no evidence that eye protection hampers athletic performance. Many famous athletes, including NBA All-Star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson, have excelled while wearing protective eyewear. Despite the risks, most sports leagues and schools do not require their athletes to wear eye protection. Until there is mandatory eye protection, it is up to parents to ensure the safety of their children. Parents must insist that children wear eye protection every time they play and set a good example by wearing eye protection themselves when they are on the court or field.
We at the LSU Eye Center urge all athletes to wear appropriate protective eyewear for whatever sports they play. Eyesight is precious and irreplaceable, and wearing protective gear is a small price to pay to preserve it.
Donald M. Bergsma, MD
Director, LSU Eye Center