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Pandemic Vaccine Si, Pandemic Vaccine No

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No one can really deny knowing what is going on around the world as the Covid-19 (and its variants) Pandemic continue to tighten their grip. Everyone in North America who reads a newspaper, watches television, uses a computer or talks to a friend knows about the division of American society over use of existing vaccine as a preventive mechanism against the Covid-19 disease and its dangerous variants.

When I first commented in the Blog/Newsletter on the Pandemic (August of 2020), the scourge was overcoming American and worldwide medical capability – resulting in illness and death rates not seen in over 100 years (including wars). Now, thanks be to God and tremendous efforts by healthcare workers and many others devoted to keeping us all going in spite of disease, we have several vaccines which have proven again and again to be effective in 1/ preventing the disease; and 2/ if a “breakthrough” case should happen, lessen the severity and increase the survivability of illness.

Yet, a huge portion of American society (at this writing – virtually half of U.S. adult population) currently refuses to take the vaccination even if they are “health-qualified”. I find this personally frustrating and terribly disappointing because my wife (known to many readers – Bryane Miller Lickson) cannot take the vaccination for valid health reasons. So, now she is in Day 521 of a self-imposed lock-in. When we do go out to shop, bank etc., she and I are both masked.

The other morning, I was listening and watching the news on television. A young woman in Alabama was interviewed and she expressed her view that vaccination was not necessary. She was 22 years old and, in very good health (in her opinion). She saw absolutely no reason to take the vaccine. Many people – especially in the U.S. – and other countries where vaccines are plentiful – are wrestling over a decision:

Vaccine – Si or Vaccine No.

Credible scientific sources have said many times at the highest levels of government and public health (including my own Alma Mater – Johns Hopkins) that the vaccines are both safe and effective. But there are people also all over the world and very out-spoken here in the U.S. who would make a two-pronged argument against taking the jab. They would assert 1/ that they have heard that the vaccines are not only not helpful, but may cause serous long term negative side effects – both physical and psychological. 2/ And they argue also that no one is going to compel them to take a vaccine.

A good and very bright female friend of both Bryane and me went on to say: “If you can compel one to take a vaccine, we can no longer call ourselves a democracy.” The case against compelling the vaccine reflects in many minds, the issue of freedom of choice – a freedom that they hold dear. In the United States, this includes half the adult population – not yet vaccinated and probably many people who have been vaccinated at least once.

Those of us who also hold that freedom dear, but also hold that human life has a dear value, would hope and maybe even plead for the U.S. to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can. Medical and legal evidence is clear; without vaccination – maybe even by compelling it as many employers, schools and others do, we won’t win this battle – very possibly the biggest battle (including war) we will ever face.

As pointed out by Professor Lawrence Gostin of Georgetown Law (my law school alma mater) speaking about the possible clash between health and human rights – Gostin is an accepted expert on both Public Health and the Law – He has said the greatest value offered by government here or abroad is equity. He is quoted on the Smerconish CNN TV Show and Blog: “We need heath that is fairly allocated to everybody – health with justice.”

It is a fact that so far the courts have upheld the ability of a private company and even school districts to compel vaccination. The only exceptions that have so far been recognized, have been acceptable religious or valid health reasons not to vaccinate.

Several states have tried to limit the legal right of private companies to compel vaccination. Laws banning compulsion to vaccinate or offer proof of vaccination have been routinely over-ruled. It may be that the very survivability of life is at stake here. I’m afraid that many so-called “patriots” do not recognize the crisis the Pandemic has presented.

This Newsletter is about opinion, so, my opinion is: While I have great respect for our freedom of choice here in America, I value the continuation of human life in this country. I think – wish it were not so – that compulsion may be required and must be considered to force Covid vaccination or ban people from many positions, cruises, schools and maybe in serving in the military or other government service.

Charles P. Lickson
Front Royal, Virginia


(Charles P. Lickson, President of LALO, is a former practicing attorney turned mediator and writer He has stated his opinion here and invites reasoned opinions from readers. If you have something to say about the Pandemic or another subject – which might cause us some “conflict of choice”, please send your thoughts to: Webmaster@lalopublishing.com) First appeared in Lickson’s “Ironing Out Newsletter”)

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Opinion

Republican Heroes

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It is about time we recognized the true heroes of the Republican Party.  They are not the dopey louts who rampaged through our nation’s capital and the moral cowards who still cover for them.

They are not the ranting demagogues exploiting the emotions of the resentful.  They were the unsung people not seeking attention, but doing their jobs: from poll workers to police officers.  They were Republican state legislators and governors who did not bend to pressure to overturn the elections in their state.  They were Republican judges who did not allow mere allegations unsupported by credible evidence to deny votes that happened.  They were a Vice President who stayed loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law above any man.  They were Republican congressional representatives and senators who did not fear to try and hold their own president accountable and dared to stand on their conscience instead of following the majority in their party.  They did not win.  But they showed more bravery than the majority in their party who did.

It is Republicans like those who could save the soul of the party from being lost to a band of fascists if they find the nerve to do so.  My father was a lifelong Republican who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.  After the sacrifices that generation made to defeat fascism, I’m glad he was not alive to see his party dishonored by America’s Mussolini.

James Tweed
Ocean City, NJ

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Appreciative parent supports Funk for School Board in Happy Creek District

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I am writing this letter to extend my support and endorsement to Dr. Antoinette Funk for Warren County, VA School Board-Happy Creek District.

As a parent of a former Ressie Jeffries student, I would like to share my experience of having Dr. Funk as assistant principal during my child’s elementary education.

Dr. Funk is a conscientious professional. Her decisions were always based on what was in my child’s best interest. We were not always in agreement; however, she always gave explanations regarding her decision and willingly listened to our concerns (including those of my son). She provided other options as she deemed available and made final decisions based on the needs of my son, providing support at school and at home.

Dr. Funk understands the relation between having a strong bridge between school and home. She was fair and respectful. My child benefited tremendously throughout his school years and into adult life due to his time at Ressie under Dr. Funk’s educational and social guidance. Being a parent of a special needs child herself gave her insight into the daily challenges of students and teachers. I found her to be honorable, thorough, and supportive. I knew my son was being academically challenged.

I say without reservation that Dr. Funk is dedicated and commits herself to serve the educational needs of each individual student. Her expectations and consequences were always made clear.  Her commitment to education is a priority, and she remained a source of support and education well into his middle school years.

I ask you to make an informed decision in your choice in the upcoming election.  If you want an experienced, dedicated individual, committed to making decisions and standing up for what is best for the education of your children, vote for Dr. Antoinette Funk for Warren County, VA School Board-Happy Creek District.

Juanita Shafer
Warren County

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Opinion

We need Angela Robinson on our school board

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Angela Robinson – a person who will fight for your child.

I am writing to share my experience with Angie Robinson as a teacher, advocate and now friend. My daughter had begun to show signs of learning difficulties when she was in elementary school. I had known Angie through the school, but had not had her teach my child. When my daughter made it to fourth grade, she had fallen behind, and I just could not get the services needed for my daughter.

Angie assured me that she would do whatever she could to help my daughter and to address the concerns that I had. Angie was able to do that and even more. She made sure my child got her special services through an IEP, and she continued to follow through with my child throughout her years in Warren County schools. She offered to go to IEP meetings after she left the elementary setting. She even went as far as to continue to tutor my daughter throughout her high school years.

Angie cares about our children. She cares about their journey and their future. She dedicated her time to fight for my daughter. This is why we need her on our school board – to fight for the students who need to be fought for. She understands how the system works and how important it is to make our students successful. I am proud to say that my daughter graduated from Skyline High School, and we couldn’t have done it without the support of Angie Robinson. She cares about our students, our families and our schools. We need Angela Robinson on our school board.

Stacey Sprague
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Response to ‘Open Letter to Warren County voters…’

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The writers assert the reason for the relatively high percentage of private and home-schooled children in the community are generally failing standards in state and this county’s public school systems. This assertion ignores the impact of a half century of location of private, Catholic educational institutions into this community, prominent among those Christendom College, Chelsea Academy and Seton Home School. Those institutions, among others like Human Life International, have been followed into this community by an expanding Catholic population of a generally conservative outlook, an outlook that might blur the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state for some.

Many families within that community have their own preference for a religiously based education for their children, regardless of the quality of the public school system here. Add the even longer-standing private school option of Air Force Junior ROTC and Methodist-sponsored Randolph-Macon Academy, now at the middle and high school levels, and you have an even greater private school alternative to public education in this community that predates current debates over educational and social policies and standards.

Whether one receives a better quality education publicly, privately, or in the home is matter of opinion and debate that will reflect the perspectives – religious, social and political – of the involved parties, as Mr. Waller’s and Lundberg’s letter illustrates. But leaving relevant facts out of the debate to promote one’s opinion as factual analysis is too often a symptom of advocacy, as opposed to objective exploration of the topic under scrutiny.

Roger Bianchini
Royal Examiner Editorial Board member

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Opinion

Setting the Record Straight Re: School Budgets

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On October 19, the Royal Examiner published an open letter from two concerned citizens regarding their opinion that the entire Warren County School Board needs to be replaced. Many things were said in that letter to which a person might choose to respond, but one thing, in particular, stood out to me: “…it costs $64 million annually to educate 4,958 students in the Warren County Public School (WCPS).  That means Warren County taxpayers are paying almost $13,000 to educate one public school student a year.  That seems excessive!”

Is $13,000 per student excessive? I decided to compare some numbers to find out.

Firstly, as reported by the Royal Examiner on May 6 of this year, the budget approved for 2021-22 was $63,944,829. Divided across 4,958 students, that would be $12,897 per student.

The national average for public school spending is $12,612 per student. This is a difference of $285. Put another way, Warren County spends 2.25% more per student than the national average.

Excessive, indeed.

Ah, but excess is not determined solely by the grand total. We could spend a fraction of this budget, and if it was allocated poorly (spent frivolously to paint fences, perhaps) then it could still be considered excessive. The website for Warren County Public Schools helpfully has a link to the full budget; on page three, we can see that 76.31% of the budget ($48.8 million) is explicitly allocated for instruction.

Is that excessive?

Also interesting to note, near the end of the Warren County Public Schools budget (on page 38), the School Board has helpfully compared Warren County’s per-student spending to the state average. Since 2017, Warren County Public Schools has consistently spent almost $2,000 less per student than Virginia’s average.

Is it excessive to have a budget in line with the national average, a budget BELOW the state average, with almost all of the budgeted funds being explicitly directed to educating our children?

I suppose we will learn what the people think on November 2.

Joe Plemmons
Front Royal, Virginia

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Opinion

Grateful classroom grandparents endorse Melanie Salins, Stephanie Short and Al Gunn for Warren County School Board

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As grandparents and residents of Warren County, we are grateful to have Melanie Salins (North River District), Stephanie Short (Happy Creek), and Al Gunn (write-in candidate Fork District) running for the Warren County School Board.

They are all parents, and teachers with varied teaching experience who genuinely care about students’ welfare, what is being taught to school age children, and all that pertains to what is in their best interest.

These individuals are strong supporters and advocates for parental involvement in their children’s education. A primary heart-felt desire of theirs is to listen to, empower, and engage parents in discussions addressing curriculum concerns.

These candidates understand that parents know their children the best, and are the first and primary educators of their children.

We strongly encourage you to cast your votes on November 2nd for Melanie Salins, Stephanie Short and Al Gunn.

Sincerely,

Tim and Jean Hart
Warren County, Virginia

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