By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Failing all children
In the September 10 issue, your cover story "Some fly, some die: How DISD betrays children of color," by Jim Schutze, was mistitled. Based on the numbers within the article, DISD is failing all children. This is not a racial issue. Even the last sentence of the article states, "White students in Dallas failed at more than three times the rate of white students in Houston." Black DISD students failed at a rate of 1.7 times the rate of black students in Houston. Was the title chosen for sensational value? Does this kind of title stir up racial division? More good would come from a title that could bring together people of all races to solve a common problem.
Editor's note: The article focused on children of color because they make up the great majority of DISD's student population.
Although anyone would agree that the DISD and public education in general has its fair share of deficiencies, your article and other recent debates about the subject fail to address the true problem that no amount of money or teacher training can cure: parental apathy, inability, or unwillingness to be involved in the early education of their children.
It should not be a teacher's or school's responsibility to teach youngsters how to read and write, as the classroom should merely be a proving ground for the development of a child's academic and social skills. On one hand, this is a problem stemming from sociological maladies that reach beyond the scope of the story. However, it is not confined to the socioeconomically disadvantaged, as many affluent parents shirk responsibility under the notion that sending their children to a "good school" will provide the optimum educational environment.
As a young adult who attended DISD schools, this is an issue that often weighs on my mind, as I hope not to make the same crucial errors in judgment as many of today's parents.
I knew kids in high school who graduated with honors at the top of our class who could not read a single sentence aloud without stuttering and starting over, mispronouncing everything along the way. Many other top students could not even pass the TASP test in order to graduate.
Remember, it's not the kids who have the money, it's the parents. Money buys good schools, not good test scores. Education cannot be given, only received.
Your role in our community cannot be understated. Because The Dallas Morning News is so politically compromised (and indifferent to the resulting effect on its readers), your newspaper must continue to gather and publish the real stories of living in Dallas. Keep the pressure on City Hall--Mayor Ron Kirk needs a newspaper questioning an Olympic bid ["Going for the gold," September 17] when the streets are a dentist's best friend.
In short, there are many, many people in Dallas who believe in, and support, a journalistic approach that runs counter to the shameful Morning News. And by the way, the IOC will never award the Olympics to a globally warmed Dallas.
Hooray for Phyllis Glazer! ["Chemical warrior," September 10.] Very few people are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Fighting not just a polluting hazardous waste company but the Region 6 EPA office in Dallas is what makes Phyllis a real hero in North Texas.
Too bad the Region 6 EPA doesn't have the backbone to perform the most basic of functions it is supposed to provide--a reasonably safe place to live, without fear of toxic exposure by business entities. Mr. [William] Sanjour of the Houston EPA office is right on--the EPA's bias to promote business and "to reduce the environmental protection below the federal standard...may be breaking the law and is certainly corrupt, immoral, and unethical."
Strange that The Dallas Morning News doesn't have the backbone to publish such a strong and important story. Maybe DMN is too busy patting itself on the back for screwing the public on a 30-year give-away on the Trinity River "project." I can hardly wait for more highways, more flooding, and more sewage smells at our future Trinity River Park. (Who in their right mind would go to a "park" bombarded with auto exhaust, sewer stench, mosquitoes, and who knows what else in such polluted water?)
Just make a hard copy
I was both intrigued and humored by Rose Farley's August 27 cover story, "Bugged by the millennium." Intrigued in that I am curious to see just how many computer systems will actually fail as we enter the 21st century.
I, too, am prepared for the worst. I've planned not to pay any bills for the month of December 1999, just so I will have plenty of cash on hand before month's end should my bank's ATM system collapse. Plus, I will make certain my truck is filled up with gas. I was humored upon reading statements by those who believe the nation's infrastructure will be destroyed and have made preparations. If people listened to the likes of Gary North and Bruce and Phyllis Hopkins, there would be more hysteria than concern. Throughout world history, such self-righteous doomsday lunatics have caused more harm than good, creating atmospheres of panic and disorder--the same conditions they say they want to prevent. I would be more than happy to see these folks head for the hills and caves in the woodlands. That's where they belong anyway, with their backward-thinking, bigoted selves.
Personally, I look forward to the turn of the century with more excitement than trepidation, and intend to spend New Year's Eve 1999 quietly with my parents. Those who try to breed fear are more weak than cautious. If they were truly spiritual, they would place their faith both in the power of God and in the goodness of humanity.
Just remember to make paper copies of everything you would normally place on your hard drive.
Lazaro De La Garza
And wrong besides
Ordinarily, I wouldn't take time out of my capitalist efforts to respond to your publication, but Buzz/Patrick Williams is such a smarmy, cynical smartass liberal, I couldn't help but write in to correct his placement of Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico. It is, of course, in Nevada, as all of us right-wing conspirators well know.
Editor's note: Buzz apologizes for the error.
As one of the "nobodies" mentioned in Zac Crain's review of Stellar Occasion [Night & Day] in the September 17 Dallas Observer, I have to thank Mr. Crain for his perceptiveness in seeing the horrors of the science-fiction fanboy. Lord knows, I've made the same arguments in print time and time again: The main reason science fiction isn't taken seriously as a literary genre is because of the actions of a few humorless and obsessive dweebs who throw fits when asked to move out of their parents' basements and try to do something constructive. However, I noted a strange tenor in Mr. Crain's screed.
At first, I thought it was a classic case of the Dan Burton Syndrome: Mr. Crain went on and on in the hope that bashing on Trekkies would conceal his urge to "come out" and show up to work at the Observer in his official "Next Generation" uniform next week. After all, it's not as if his comments were new. I sometimes expect to find that all newspapers across the country have the same smarmy story that they pass among each other in order to avoid doing any real coverage and maintain the perception that even journalism majors are above fanboys on the evolutionary ladder.
"That's the problem," I thought. "Here's a guy whose big dream is to get his ears bobbed so he can pass for Vulcan or elf, but he's terrified that the rest of the Observer staff won't think he's cool anymore."
Paul T. Riddell
The word "delusional"
As I read the letters from the Log Cabin Republicans complaining about your article ["GOP to gays: Butt out," September 3] in a recent issue, I had the same feeling I almost always have when I read the comments of Republicans.
Do they even read newspapers, ever watch PBS, or have any relation to the real world where most of us live? The word "delusional" comes to mind, but I shall point no fingers at specific LCRs.
Presently, the GOP controls the Senate but not the House in Austin. Yes, we have Republicans as governor and senators (one of whom is openly hostile to gays; the others simply vote against us). But that does not make Texas a "Republican" state, as Democrats still outnumber the GOP in registration and hold many statewide offices.
Do most gays support Democrats, which your writer seemed to say and one of the LCRs disputed? With Republican leaders in the U.S. House and Senate calling gay people names, such as sinner and kleptomaniac, it does not take a rocket scientist, as some say, to conclude the truth your writer wrote.
With today's Republican party controlled by Christian Coalition types, the average person knows the GOP is not supportive of equal rights for all, be the person gay, black, a woman, and most significant, the seniors. President Clinton did carry Florida in 1996!
The bottom line, as I read recently and have repeated many times since, is that a gay person voting for a Republican is like a chicken voting for Colonel Sanders.
David A. Gershner
Last week's cover story, "Smoke-filled room," transposed the original tobacco settlement amounts for the states of Florida and Mississippi. The correct figures are as follows: Florida, $11.4 billion; Mississippi, $3.3 billion. We regret the error.