I survived Adamson High

As a teacher at a feeder school to Adamson High School ("Lost and found," April 6), I will have to beg that you not publish my name. No surprise there.

No surprises in your article also. I have so much respect for many of the teachers there. We send them such wonderfully creative and vibrant students who are often reading and doing math at levels three grades lower. They hit high school so far behind that they never catch up. Is middle school the problem? Yes. Is elementary to blame? Yes.

Do you remember the phrase "I have seen the enemy and it is us?" Our students often come to us speaking languages other than English, and too many people (teachers, principals, downtown administration) see this as a barrier or handicap to learning. In my experience, ESL (English as a Second Language) students are less likely to get the really good teachers (they're most often stuck with whatever body can fill that position); are less likely to be placed in honors classes (though most can certainly qualify); and are less likely to be tested for those problems that may impede learning and are excluded or forgotten way too often.

Until this attitude about "What can we do about those ESL students?" changes to "How can we help our students succeed?" that graduation rate won't get better.

I send out kudos to all of us who believe we're fighting the good fight and challenge us to go even further. The rest of you need to jump on board. Look at yourselves. Wouldn't you rather say you helped students such as Sonia, Anthony, Lydia, Armando, and Gerardo instead of hoping they learned despite you?

Sign me an ESL Teacher in DISD.

Name withheld
Via e-mail

Thank you, Dallas Observer and Jim Schutze, for printing one of the most inspirational pieces I have read in a long time. "Lost and found" struck me on many levels. Besides being informative about the local inner-city educational system and giving testimonials of students who have succeeded despite their disadvantages, this story demonstrated that success can be achieved with a positive outlook and hard work. It also reminded me that there are some educators who still do care about changing the lives of their students. In that, I find inspiration to work harder and help others in my own life.

Blake Hamilton
Via e-mail

Here we go again. Another nice story about Hispanic kids with a killer headline: "Poor, brown, and inner-city. These Adamson High School kids..."

And again, the unnecessary use of a beautiful color: brown. When are people going to understand that kids are kids no matter what color they are? When is everybody going to learn to look beyond skin? It appears that, in this country, if you are poor and "brown" and you graduate from a school and also succeed, you are an extraordinary case worthy of an article. Let's for a moment change the color in the headline. Now it's three poor, white, inner-city kids...what is the difference? I don't see any...do you? Sadly, you do, and also the majority of the readers, including the "brown" ones.

In my country, nobody is "brown" or "white" or "black." We are simply people. Let's start acting like 21st-century people: Let's eliminate the skin factor in every aspect of our lives.

C'mon, folks, it's already difficult to be a good human being, let alone have to be concerned about what color we are. The achievement here is that these kids graduated and succeeded. That's what matters.

Claudia H. Volpi
Via e-mail

Your interview with the young people from Adamson High again reinforced what I have learned from seven years of teaching -- there are those who will always succeed regardless of their circumstances. I admire each student's courage to choose for themselves.

Michael Banta

Via e-mail

Judging Joe Kendall

Mr. Al Lipscomb and Mr. Floyd Richards admitted to the exchange of money long before the trial in Amarillo. So Mike Uhl simply presented what everyone already knew.

Our love for Mr. Lipscomb has nothing to do with "guilt" or "innocence." It is a deep appreciation and respect for all he has done. Whether the exchange of money was a "bribe" or "friendship gesture" is between the two men involved.

Some of us in the African-American community have been suspicious about Judge Kendall ("The art of the touch," April 13) from the beginning. So your story of his wife's political involvement comes as no surprise.

Most of the lessons that minorities in politics have learned were from their nonminority teachers. The unfortunate part is that they did not get a Ph.D. in Politics 101.

Many of us now believe that the FBI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and the judiciary are as political as any other elected government. That was our last hope, but not now.

Betty Culbreath-Lister
Via e-mail

Your article is so ridiculous, it's laughable. Ronnie Kendall has done an outstanding job as a member of the city council in Southlake. She raised a ton of money for her campaign because people wanted her to win! Her supporters knew she would do a great job in our city, and we gladly donated to her campaign fund.

She could have won the election with much less money than she raised because she is honest and hardworking. The fact that she is married to a judge is merely a coincidence and has nothing to do with her abilities to govern our city. In our city, Ms. Kendall is the star. In fact, many people don't even know she's married to a judge.

Shame on you for trying to make a mountain out of a nonexistent molehill! You owe the Kendalls an apology for attempting to slander two fine public servants.

Linda Pavona
Via e-mail

Elian's kidnapping

Lisa Singh's article ("Elián's choice," April 13) attempts to draw parallels between her childhood and that of Elián. However, there are several glaring omissions:

1. Elián's parents enjoyed a joint-custody arrangement, as did the author's. Elián's mother's actions closely resemble those of Singh's father. The child was removed from his home and undertook a dangerous voyage without the consent of the other parent. Yet she draws no parallels of Elián's kidnapping to her own. In fact, the author does not refer to Elián as a kidnap victim.

2. The author is an American citizen. Elián's mother attempted to enter this country illegally, thereby circumventing the laws of this country.

3. Elián's living condition in Cuba was not as bad as the starving people of Africa or other Third World countries. In fact, there are places in America that resemble bona fide Third World countries now.

4. The author does not acknowledge Juan Miguel González as she praises her mother. The parent-child bond is perhaps the most sacred of human connections. This bond kept Lisa's mother longing for her and Juan Miguel yearning for his son.

Michelle Majors
Via e-mail

Clearing the air

Hey folks, that's not just any "boy in an oxygen mask" featured in Sierra Club ads slamming Governor Bush and described by Miriam Rozen in her Wyly brothers article ("Clearing the air," April 6). That's little Billy Tinker, formally of DeSoto -- a local boy. And Billy's using his asthma-medication inhaler in front of our very own TXI, which the governor's appointees recently voted to make the largest hazardous-waste incinerator in the nation.

Before its use in the Sierra Club ad campaign, Billy's picture had a long history of being used locally. It's the unofficial logo of Downwinders At Risk, the group of us doggedly trying to roll back pollution from Midlothian cement plants that emit about 50 percent of all industrial air pollution in DFW.

That someone on the Dallas Observer staff didn't know this is not surprising. Since you gave great and deserved coverage of the TXI hazardous-waste permit proceedings a couple of years ago, DFW's worsening air pollution problem has gotten scant attention in your pages. That's a shame, because both you and the issue could benefit from knowing each other better.

I thoroughly enjoy Jim Schutze's de facto beat coverage of the ongoing Trinity River boondoggle. If you'd had the same editorial wherewithal to follow the area's ozone crisis and the government's response, you'd have lots of good stories to tell and you'd know what Billy Tinker was doing in that picture.

Jim Schermbeck
Via e-mail

Chaos on Lower Greenville

While phony haughtiness and a nose-in-the-air attitude may be part of the makeup of a good food writer, this reader thinks Dish scribe Mark Stuertz should keep his "wit" confined to food writing and keep out of neighborhood issues. I point to Mr. Stuertz's comments in his Hash Over section (April 13) regarding the efforts of Avi Adelman and his Barking Dogs of Lower Greenville: "Pretty soon the only parking left on Lower Greenville will be on the tip of a tow-truck hook." That's the kind of attitude that makes Mr. Adelman's efforts so necessary and welcome.

Maybe if Mark Stuertz's dinner parties were crashed by a horde of drunken frat boys breaking bottles on his lawn, pissing on his house, and beating up neighbors several nights a week, he might feel differently about the voluntary efforts of a man seeking to protect his home, family, and neighborhood against this horde and a city government that turns its back on the area's residents.

Mitchell Crenshaw
Via e-mail

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