Letters: West Point, Male Teachers And Cindy McCain

Listeners comment on last week's shows: they discuss the West Point class of 2002 and the Sept. 11 attacks, the need for more male teachers in elementary school, and Cindy McCain.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, and time to read from your emails and blog comments. Last Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we talked with Bill Murphy Jr. about the West Point Class of 2002, the first to graduate after 9/11. His new book, "In A Time of War," tells the stories of several members of that class, including Todd Bryant. He went on to serve in Iraq and was killed in action in October 2003. His story brought this email from Terry Mosher. I'm the aunt of Captain Timothy Mosher, who graduated with Todd Bryant. I even met Todd once or twice. Tim was killed on April 1st, 2006 outside of Baghdad when his helicopter was shot down in combat. As much as we thought we were prepared, you never are. I will always carry in my mind the story of my sister-in-law being home alone when the officers came. And her neighbors, who realized right away what was happening, running to be with her. Two years later, on December 26, 2007, we went through it again when my son-in-law of only seven months, Sergeant Benjamin Portell, was killed in Mosul. Our daughter was visiting us in Jacksonville, and it was our turn for the officers to come to our house. Both of these young men, all of the young men and women who have served and died as well as those who have survived, deserve our support and our thanks. Hopefully, this war will be over soon.

Derrick Jackson was on the opinion page a week ago. His argument: We need more male teachers. Becky Lloyd(ph), in a comment on our blog, agreed. My daughter had a young male teacher in kindergarten. In my opinion, he was and is the best teacher in her elementary school. He was motivational, fun, caring, and with a great sense of humor. He also coached baseball and hockey and encouraged parent participation in the classroom. We still talk about him to this day, five years later, and know that our daughter had such a great first experience in school.

During the conversation, Derrick Jackson made the point that many men who do go into teaching have to deal with unspoken fears of sexual abuse. Mike Chao(ph) in San Bernardino, California, added: It's not just elementary school teachers; male college professors are also in danger of allegations of sexual misconduct. When I started my job, one piece of advice I got from my colleagues is to always keep your office door open. I think it speaks to the nature of our paranoid and litigious society that this is something we as educators actually have to worry about while practicing our trade.

We got several complaints after our conversation with Ariel Levy of the New Yorker Magazine about her profile of Cindy McCain. Caroline Crook(ph) wrote: Ariel Levy was outright rude and sarcastic about everything having to do with Cindy McCain, from the color of her suits to the appearance of her eyes to the conclusion that Cindy McCain doesn't really want to be on the campaign trail with her husband. Is that news? In what way is this helpful or informative to your listeners? This was a childish, petty story far below the level of journalism I once expected to hear on NPR.

If you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is talk@npr.org. Please let us know where you're writing from, and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. And coming up, a new website lets students download their professors' old exam. Is that cheating? Stay with us.

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