"A Confederacy of Jerks," By Jim Schutze, October 23
Step Up, Mr. Mayor
Schutze's proposal to solve the DISD problem by recruiting civic-minded parents to seek election to the school board is wishful [thinking]. The powers-that-be that Schutze himself has already identified, including the construction industry and the school district staff, and other centers of entitlement in Dallas not yet so well exposed by Schutze, would crush the ordinary, well-intentioned parent/citizen.
The problem is more systemic. There is no accountability. A well-compensated superintendent has no motive except to hang on. And the school board, as noted, is simply overwhelmed and overpowered. The solution lies in accountability and therefore in political leadership—because, remember, Dallas will not be great until DISD is great, no matter how many new police are hired, or how many condos we have in downtown, or city-owned hotels or parks along the Trinity.
Schutze pointed out a couple of articles ago a startling fact: Less than one-third of DISD's schools have functioning PTAs. Our political leadership (the mayor, especially) should be cajoling, challenging and demanding that all parents in Dallas join their children's PTAs—and empty-nesters should join too! Parents and citizens pushing from the bottom, from their local PTA, can do more than parents trying to push from Ross Avenue. In Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago, accountability was restored to the school systems by transferring responsibility for the schools from the school board to the mayor's office. If the mayor wants to succeed in those cities, then the schools must succeed. In Washington, D.C., the mayor hired a superintendent who did not fit into the historical ethnic and racial calculus of that city's power-politicking; instead, a person of Korean background with an extensive and proven track record in the business side of education was hand-chosen by the mayor to run the school system.
Anyway, Dallas has a mayor with a successful business background, and it is shameful that we have not heard a word from him demanding that DISD get its business workings in shape and, for that matter, suggesting what DISD must do. DISD needs more from Dallas' political leadership and its mayor than meager help for a few scholarships and summer jobs and weak (but well-publicized) calls for the proverbial corporate donations.
Norton Rosenthal, Dallas
"Beer is Good," by Robb Walsh, October 15
Homesick for Brew
Thanks for the article. As a recent transplant (August '08) from Portland, Oregon, my only disappointment with the metroplex is the woeful lack of local breweries, and the article explains the unfortunate local politics. I can get by with periodic trips to Whole Foods, which carries a few Oregon beers, but that a state the size of Texas is throttled down to Lone Star and Shiner is a big disappointment.
Curt, via e-mail
"An American in Florence," by Elaine Liner, October 30
Not all mayhem
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I beg to differ with some of the comments with regard to The Pocket Sandwich Theatre. I, personally, only tolerate the melodramas and their popcorn-tossing mayhem, although I work there and they are what have kept PST in business for almost 28 years. It's beyond me, but even the actors love doing them. We do have a large fan base of customers who enjoy our "non-melodramas." In fact, our last comedy, Moon Over Buffalo was a tremendous success and was enjoyed by both by our patrons and critics alike. Check 'em out...you might be pleasantly surprised.
Shanon from Plano, via dallasobserver.com
The Dallas Observer is looking for an experienced reporter and writer for a full-time staff job. The ideal candidate is...well, the ideal candidate is Bob Woodward, but since he's busy, we'll settle for someone with a strong reporting background and demonstrated ability to dig up insightful, unusual stories about Dallas. Applicants should know how to tell Shinola from that other stuff and possess an eye for detail and a talent for long-form, narrative-driven writing. If you think that's you and have the clips to prove it, mail them and your résumé to Mark Donald, 2501 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite 700, Dallas, TX 75219 or email@example.com.