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The real threat?

December 3, 2013 Letters to the Editor

Having spent 36 years in the classroom (the past 34 as a teacher), I’ve always had a special place in my heart for teachers.

Most teachers are very concerned about the health and well being of the children they work with. That’s why I wasn’t terribly surprised when I was confronted on two separate occasions while I was leafleting just off the road in front of Moraine Elementary in Prospect.

In both instances, a teacher asked who I was and if I had the proper permission to be doing what I was doing. The principal also “checked us out,” as did a state trooper.

On both occasions, we (I was working with others) had taken great care to position ourselves off of school property and made it a point to never approach a vehicle if it looked like our presence would cause a safety issue. That being said, I can certainly understand the concern expressed by the teachers; things being like they have been, I probably would have “checked me out” if I were still in the classroom. One can’t be too careful.

But here’s the rub: I was leafleting Moraine Elementary to advertise a meeting of Protect Our Children — a group formed to try to safeguard the children in our schools.

The Slippery Rock School District is considering leasing 1.3 acres to allow XTO to extract shale gas. Gas extraction is an industrial activity and there are inherent risks, which XTO readily admits to its stockholders. Among the risks outlined in an XTO report to stockholders were: personal injury, property damage, spills, discharge of hazardous materials, and other environmental damage. A recent explosion at a well pad in Texas led authorities to evacuate anyone within one mile of the pad.

I’m not suggesting there will be a pad on school property and I pray that no accident occurs anywhere.

I can only hope the school district is half as vigilant as its teachers. When a pudgy sixtyish grandfather passing out pieces of paper is more alarming than a company that acknowledges its business practices kill and destroy, someone needs to ask, “who do you think you are and what do you think you are doing?”