The sweet spot in government and education is well read
J. Layne Smith
Q. Judge Smith, what is the appropriate size and role for government? Meg
A. We the people decide the roles and size of our state and federal governments by electing the policy makers – the senators and representatives who serve us in Congress and the legislature. Thus, we bear the ultimate responsibility for it.
Concerns and differences over the appropriate role and size of our federal government are older than the republic. After shaking off the tyranny of King George III and Parliament, our founders chose to limit the scope of government to prevent other tyrants from ruling us all.
However, over time we have chosen to expand the reach of national state governments to ensure the common good.
The best metaphor for the size of government is the story of Goldilocks. Few of us want a government that is too big or too small. Instead, we’re looking for the sweet spot – the “right” amount of government.
So know the issues and vote because this call is in the eye of the beholder, and only you and our collective ballots can decide what that means.
As a judge, I cannot comment on what our decision makers should be doing. Instead, I vote my conscience by secret ballot and pray for our nation and its people.
Q. Judge Smith, when you talk to students, what do you insist on? Melinda
A. I stress the value of an education. Our children have access to high quality publicly funded education. The opportunity exists and I encourage them to take full advantage of it. I also stress the importance of their teachers. School teachers have challenging jobs, and I thank them for their service.
While I was your juvenile court and truancy judge, I saw too many kids dropping out of school or not doing their best to learn when they went.
In general, these children faced difficult circumstances that diverted their attention from academics.
The juvenile court, lawyers and social workers take into account the situation of each child. Then, instead of punishing first, we try to help these children and their families by providing them with services. Frequently, meeting basic needs or teaching coping skills reduces behavioral problems.
Labor markets and economic trends favor employees who can read, write and communicate effectively. Therefore, I encourage students to read books and explore their interests.
How else will they know what appeals to them or what career options are best for them? Also remember that being well read can lead to being paid well.
How can I help you? Glad you asked this question! Be a good family member, neighbor or friend and read aloud to children. Awaken their minds to the possibilities and take them to libraries.
The Honorable J. Layne Smith is a circuit judge, author and speaker. Send your questions to [email protected]
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