Flap on the Gap at HISD

Bright whites: Robert Kimball danced around the obvious ["HISD's Ethnic Gap," July 1]. On the whole, white students are not treated differently from their minority peers; they simply perform better. More gaps Kimball should have included are in the areas of discipline, behavior, expectations and attitude.

Oh, but that would have ruined his argument.

Malcolm Frierson

Succinct: Thanks, Dr. Kimball.

Elaine Bluitt, B.S., M.Ed.
Former HISD mathematics teacher

D-grading: This was remarkably ill conceived. Mr. Kimball did not explain how any HISD policy might be covertly discriminatory. His policy analysis is based solely on student demographics and outcomes, with no insight into cause and effect. District-wide Vanguard enrollment figures would not back up his arguments because qualified students are chosen for Vanguard in a totally random lottery. This ensures that all qualified applicants have an equal chance at acceptance.

The real questions we should ask are why do so few qualified minority students apply to the Vanguard program; why are so many students not attending school; why do children of poor families tend to achieve below average in school; and how can we improve these situations?

It's a pity that Mr. Kimball chose not to access the wealth of research that provides real answers. He receives an "F" for writing this article, and the Houston Press receives and D-minus for its failure to properly vet a guest column.

Matthew Miller
Fresno, Texas

Equality fight continues: Such irony that I should view this column just a couple of days before July 4. Reading such statistics regarding the plight of minority children in Houston schools makes it clear that there is little to celebrate. Quality education, the very tool that makes it possible for humans to provide a decent life for themselves and others, is clearly being systematically withheld from minority students.

But I must say, what do we expect? This country still has problems understanding that all people are created equal regardless of color, national origin, language, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or any other superficial label. Until that lesson is learned by this country it will continue to ask the disingenuous question "Why do they hate us?"

More important is the necessity for the students and parents to take those words of equality to heart and develop a will and strategy to achieve an education of principle, depth and excellence. It's not impossible. Throughout this country, there are oases of minority educational achievement that give lie to the inability of minority students to achieve educational excellence. We, as relatives and concerned parties, etc. must be the ones to turn around the horrendous situation described in HISD's "Ethnic Gap." Thank you for sounding the alarm on this Independence Day.

Imara Hyman

Parental sacrifice: As a former dual-income family, my wife and I decided that it would be best for our children if only one of us worked and the other raised each of them until they were of school age. I have been the primary provider for the last six years. Early intervention by the staff at Ashford Elementary School, along with the extraordinary effort of my wife, has resulted in two of our children -- they had been qualified for "special education" -- being enrolled in a Vanguard program at another HISD school.

HISD provides strong programs for its broadly skilled and diverse student population. It lays the foundation for success for its special education, regular, Vanguard and magnet students. However, the key that opens the door to children's success is the sacrifices and commitments that their parents make.

As an Air Force Reserve Officer who has been performing active duty in San Antonio since last August, I commute every week and spend time with my family on weekends. When told that I will be needed for work through September 2005, we considered moving to San Antonio. After an extensive review of the school districts in Bexar County, the decision was simple: Keep the family in HISD!

A quick review of HISD academic performance over the past years shows that all black, white and Hispanic students are learning, as demonstrated by the district closing the achievement gap.

Enough of the negativism! Mr. Kimball should put his carefully crafted words into action and open a state charter school so he will have the opportunity to implement his proposed education policies.

David S. Sanchez

Seeking solutions: Why did the Houston Press give column space to someone who just wants to bitch about education problems? I suspect that many HISD students sense the disparities mentioned in the column, even if they can't quote raw data about test scores or graduation rates.

Any student, parent, teacher or administrator can prattle on about disparity in public schools. What we need are solutions. How about finding someone who knows how to implement policies that educate all students equally, eliminate the achievement gap and reinstate high school equivalency programs? That's something worth reading about.

Chris Martin

On the John

Campaign woes: Concerning the "Kerry Camp" letter [Letters, July 1], it is refreshing to read of the lack of financial and logistical support to the local Kerry presidential office from an insider of that effort, not the version hyped by "journalists." There may be hope for our country yet.

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