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I was disheartened by the recent News article announcing that Gary Vara of Hamburg lost his coaching job as the result of two parents' complaints. While I do not know Mr. Vara personally, I can empathize with him. He has been successfully teaching and coaching for years, and all is now lost because of a few disgruntled parents and a very shortsighted school board.

As both a teacher (in Buffalo) and a parent (in Akron), I often walk a fine line between the two roles.

As a teacher, I have learned that any time a parent's wishes are exerted over those of a teacher or school official, the parent who thinks he has helped his child has forced the school to abdicate its authority.

As a parent, I have felt the urge to protect my children from anything negative, be it consequences, punishment or even those things in life that just don't seem fair. Fortunately, I realize that my job as a parent is not to protect my children from such things, but to teach them how to deal with them in a socially acceptable way.

This is not to say that there are never times when mistakes are made and need to be corrected or true injustices need to be righted. It only takes a little wisdom to see the difference.

It seems that within our schools, parents are given the authority to undo what the school system and teachers are supposed to do -- prepare students for adulthood. When parents call the shots and do not let their children take responsibility for their actions or deal with life's inherent inequities and unfairness, they are doing them a great disservice.

When school boards and administrators allow this to happen, they are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. An angry parent has been placated and no lawyers or newspapers will be called, but the child has learned that things can be "fixed." No personal responsibility has been acquired.

My heart goes out to Mr. Vara and to those students who have not learned anything about the real world, how it works and how to deal with it.


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