As a single charge to our state and national governments:

In the odd moments that youngsters choose, for parents, we do not explain the technicalities of the English language, neither can we always explain the fine points of ethical, moral and religious concepts. We do not take history or science from the classroom to make either part of private, occasional evening, weekend or holiday intrusion.

If these fine points, including values, are treated as afterthought the youngster is justified in considering the issues unimportant. There is a major chasm between youngsters choosing to do either right or wrong in not knowing the difference.

If a youngster decided not to learn about English or history or science, there isn’t a well-organized informal alternative instruction system, possibly harmful, within our society to mislead them. Many alternatives, often greatly promoted, some harmful, do exist in our cultures for ethical, moral and/or religious issues.

With respect to the teaching of moral values, social responsibility and/or historical concepts in a non-religious atmosphere, a religious atmosphere or any other atmosphere, the diversity of our nation requires accommodation.

Each parent should have a practical and effective, free and unhindered choice of atmosphere in which he would expose his children to these issues as part of their complete education. Additionally, if our young truly want to misbehave, we can’t hire enough police to stop them.

The only real practical solution for our children lies in their “self-policing” for their own benefit via an understood, consistent values system — whatever that system’s base. We have to have citizens who understand that self-policing” of one’s behavior is a very beneficial part of our existence.

Thus, I would urge our governments to work out a way for us to provide a moral and ethical component, supplementing the secular parts of our children’s and out youngsters’ educations. These are very important and we ignore them at our peril.

About 200 years ago, Horace Mann covered these issues in his book The Republic and the School, the Education of Free Men; his thoughts are one place to start a conversation.

James L. Keen

Riverside