Letters

Grade Charade
The TAAS test should be a comprehensive barometer of a student's scholastic aptitude ["The Fix Is In," by Shaila Dewan, February 25]. By someone's changing the answers given, students have no idea how much they are learning. While improved scores may translate to more funding for a particular school, they shortchange a child's education. It would be a shame to see children passing tests without being able to read the questions. Aren't these kids worthy of the truth? You bet they are.

Chris McKown
via Internet

Test Answer
The beast of a law that has Texas education cornered is the section in Texas SB 1 which mandates, "...a statewide assessment program [TAAS] that is primarily performance-based." This one statement is forcing Texas, as we speak, to transform its TAAS tests from objectively scored instruments into subjectively scored assessments (What do you think...? How do you feel...?).

The legislature could set our schools on the right path just by changing the wording to read "primarily knowledge-based." Then tests would be based upon knowledge skills with right or wrong answers -- an essential requirement for such a high-stakes, state-mandated test.

When multimillion-dollar real estate deals are decided upon a school district's TAAS scores, the idea of subjectively scored test questions will only lead to further erosion of the public's confidence in the TAAS data.

Donna Garner
via Internet

Cult-ivating Followers
Insider: This article ["The Devil, You Say?" by Tim Fleck, February 25] is such a refreshing change from Mark Smith's stolid, redundant, narrowly focused reports in the Houston Chronicle!

Lynn Crook
via Internet

Eating It Up
Until today, I have never cut out an article written by any of your staff and belabored my friends with bits of it as they were trying to eat their lunches. Brian Wallstin's article "Fatal Illness Claims Renaissance" [February 25] was cleverly written and told the tale well.

Toni Rudersdorf
via Internet

Buy and Bye
When I heard what Houston Renaissance was doing a few years ago, I started buying property. I work for a living and make only a decent wage, but I was able to borrow a little bit here and there. When all was said and done, I owned one nice house, two small buildings and a six-unit apartment, all in the Fourth Ward area. Am I to believe that Houston Renaissance, which had all that money, doesn't own half of the ward by now? What a sad, sad situation. Shame on Lanier, Julio and all the rest involved.

Jack Holman
via Internet

Abuse of Power
Your article [Insider, by Tim Fleck, February 18] on City Councilman Michael Yarbrough is one of the reasons I appreciate the Houston Press. You presented facts and issues with frankness, substance and clarity. I can relate to Ms. Smith and how the councilman took advantage of her.

I experienced something along these lines. Yup. The creep is still there, too. I guess these kinds of men like us inexperienced girls. And, if allowed, they use anyone (and their money) to slide into positions of power.

Thank you for presenting the story. I believe it. Keep up the good work.
Name withheld by request
via Internet

Crayon Compulsive
I share Wendy Grossman's concern for oppressed minorities ["Eh Oh," February 18] but wish to draw attention to the one oppressed group which both the Gay Coalition and the Press have pretended to ignore: Men who use crayons as sexual objects.

Typically these men are made the object of ridicule, derision and job discrimination, for example: an Air Force major who required surgical removal of the crayon. He was referred to me for a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether it was safe for him to work with atomic munitions. I explained to the Air Force that there is a difference between crayons and nuclear devices and recommended that he be returned to duty. Another psychiatrist opined that because he lost control of the crayon, he might lose control of a Type M nuclear device and destroy, say, downtown Vladivostok, thus ending his career.

Society should afford these men equal protection under law. They harm no one by what they do with consenting crayons in the privacy of their own homes. Moreover, little boys who wish to play with crayons should be taught in school to "find themselves" (but to not discriminate among crayons of different colors).

Readers who wish to learn more about these subjects should watch for subliminal messages of PBS's Couch.

John D. Griffith, M.D.
Houston

Decomposing
I find it hard to keep my composure after reading Stuart Eskenazi's "rendition" of what Texas Monthly is all about ["Why Are These Men Dull?" February 4]. I happen to love the magazine and feel it's better than ever. It almost seems that the author of this Houston Press article is jealous of Mike Levy's success. Perhaps Texas Monthly would be interested in hiring Mr. Eskenazi as an assistant editor.

Sarah Stephensen
via Internet

Rid of Rodman
Thanks so much for your article on Texas Monthly. My husband and I were wondering if we were the only ones who thought that they were doing everything in their power to lose subscribers! They lost us with the cover of Dennis Rodman (Most intriguing or influential? Puh-leeeze!). Our subscription was up for renewal that month. Believe me, the renewal notice was trashed.

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