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BLACKING OUT HISTORY

Last Tuesday, the Springville School District administration took a piece of history away from its students when it decided not to turn on televisions and let the kids see what was happening in New York City and Virginia. It was not a wise decision.

What the district did, in effect, was deny the students a chance to share in a historical moment that will almost certainly be one of the defining events of the 21st century. History, as painful as it may sometimes be, cannot be denied.

Administrators felt that televised coverage was too intense for all Springville High School students. And while they may have a case for younger students, the older kids deserved a chance to experience an event that will shape not only their lives, but the lives of all Americans.

It is reasonable to monitor information given to elementary students. Parents should make that judgment call, and they have the right to make it within the confines of their own homes. Perhaps an argument can be made, as well, that middle school students may require their parents' presence when viewing such disturbing footage.

But older students deserve a chance, whenever possible, to experience major current events as they happen. This is their country and their history. They should be a part of it. To have school administrators remove the very tools that would help educate students reflects a narrow vision.

Superintendent Thomas Markle said there are some impressionable ninth-graders not yet ready to deal with those issues. Also, the students had access to the Internet, he said. He also said he was concerned about students viewing the televised reports in study halls and student congregation areas, where there was no adult intervention. Still, that's a poor reason to shut off the televisions. Many high school students, though not yet adults, are mature enough to deal with information from outside sources.

Markle said he was concerned that some of the students may have had relatives and friends in the areas of the terrorist attacks. But the way to reduce fear is to provide information, said Thomas Frantz, professor of counseling psychology at the University at Buffalo. The information may be painful, but at least the coping process can begin.

We don't doubt that the superintendent had the best interests of the students in mind when he made this decision. The horrific events that occurred on Tuesday were chilling, and there's always a natural reaction to want to protect children.

But, in this case, the decision to turn off the high school televisions robbed Springville high school students of a piece of history that rightly belonged to them.

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