Children line up for polio vaccine shots at the Woodbury...

Children line up for polio vaccine shots at the Woodbury Avenue School in Huntington in 1954. Credit: Long Island History Project

Teachers can share their political views

The incident in which a teacher criticized two students for wearing “Make America Great Again” T-shirts demonstrated that the teacher and the school administrators were ignorant of our Constitution and Supreme Court rulings [“Great Again shirts grate Ga. teacher,” News, Sept. 5].

Since when are campaign slogans from an election forbidden in public schools? The school superintendent who said teachers should not share their political opinions with students was just as wrong. If a teacher cannot share opinions on an issue, a valuable teaching opportunity is lost. However, the teacher should make clear that what she is saying is her opinion.

The superintendent violated the teacher’s civil rights.

Jay Becker, Syosset

Editor’s note: The writer is a retired social studies teacher.

Americans on all sides oppose racism

Newsday’s editorial “Left must stop violent tactics” [Sept. 5] was disturbing to me, a proud left-wing liberal.

It would be wrong to assume that anyone who showed disdain for racists carrying Nazi and Confederate flags in Charlottesville, Virginia, was from the left. I’m sure there were many conservatives who came out to protest the racist and neo-Nazi gathering.

I believe protests against racism, fascism and neo-Nazi propaganda should not be considered protests by the left, but by Americans who stand up for human decency.

Frank Conroy, St. James

Vaccine benefits outweigh the risks

Regarding “9 out of 10 metro area parents vaccinate kids” [News, Sept. 6], I was very pleased to read that the majority of parents chose to follow the recommendations of their pediatricians and vaccinate their children.

However, it doesn’t surprise me that 40 percent question the benefits. Our vaccine programs have significantly reduced or eradicated the incidence of many diseases associated with life-threatening consequences and even death. This allows us to forget, for example, that before the polio vaccine, children stricken with the virus developed lifelong neurological defects. Some were unable to breathe, requiring an iron lung, the precursor to ventilators.

The article made me think back to my infectious-disease rotation at Kings County Medical Center, where I saw gravely ill children from Asia with diphtheria struggling to breathe because thick mucous occluded their airways, and a child with life-threatening encephalitis caused by measles, and a child requiring a ventilator because he developed pertussis, coughing so fervently he could not catch his breath.

There certainly is a health risk when vaccinating anybody, but the scale of risk versus benefit is definitely tipped to the benefit side.

Dr. Glenn Messina, Setauket

We cannot erase history we do not like

I’m dismayed by the ridiculous demands of New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and others who question whether statues of Christopher Columbus should remain [“Where to draw line on monuments,” Opinion, Aug. 29].

Don’t they realize they cannot erase the history they do not like? Many egregious acts were committed during times when these acts were the norm. We don’t have to accept them, but we shouldn’t erase them.

Statues are only representations of people who did great things, as well as perhaps not such meritorious things, to our way of thinking. Many of the Founding Fathers had slaves. Evil in today’s thinking, but not everyone thought so then.

Arthur Bernstein, Massapequa Park

What right do we have to judge and tear down history and heroes from decades ago?

We should study, learn and hopefully evolve from the past, but never erase or tear it down.

Was Christopher Columbus a flawed man? Who doesn’t have flaws? To many after 1492, he was a hero.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is a hero of our time. Imagine 500 years from now that people might tear down his statue because he opposed homosexuality.

We are heading down a slippery slope. What’s next? Do we burn books? Do we tear down the pyramids in Egypt built by slaves?

Patrick Nicolosi, Elmont