This letter is in response to Kelso mayor Nancy Malone's comments on the front page of August 11 TDN, article titled "Mayor comments on gun letter." I take issue with her comment of "don't understand why people can't just try to get along." This remark, while clearly impassioned, comes off sounding a bit callow and sophomoric.

My conclusions are not research-based, only observations made from teaching elementary school (locally) for 30 years. Children with emotional and mental disorders, challenges and even documented diagnoses are often woefully under-served in society and unfortunately in the public school system. It all comes down to money. While counselors, teachers, psychologists and well-trained support staff work tirelessly to facilitate help for these troubled children, all the while trying to maintain a safe and positive learning environment in the classroom, it simply is not enough. We see this increasingly growing and unstable population slipping through the cracks.

Some schools now only have half­-time counselors. The time these professionals can spend with students in need is often minimal. When teachers see a child who is still in kindergarten but already acting out disruptively, violently and without a conscience, they can only hope that this child will not grow up to be the one who "can't just try to get along". Hope, while a positive and powerful emotion seems tenuous at best and needs to be supported with practicality. 

Cathleen McNelly


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