By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Not happy: One of the great benefits of living within the HISD boundaries has been parental choice ["Don't Worry, Be Happy," by Margaret Downing, December 15]. As a former teacher and parent in the district, I loved the idea that the district would respect my choices as I mapped out and carefully selected what type of learning environment I felt my children would benefit from the most. Unfortunately, it's true that the Vanguard programs and even some of the more exclusive magnet programs do seem to have some sort of "elite" flair to them. But hasn't it always been that way?
By third grade, I was bused from a regular school program, which some 30 years later is still just a regular school program, to Pleasantville VG. My parents were among those advocates who fought for my choices. Back then, HISD had minority-to-majority transfers and the sibling rule, which allowed my siblings to follow me on to Lanier VG and then Jones VG, which is now Carnegie. I think you have to be a Vanguard parent, or even one trying to get your child in, to understand that the opportunities that children have within the programs may be comparable to those in the best Houston private schools.
I do hope that this is an eye-opener to improve the academic settings of neighborhood schools so that the minority population would be better served, but this seems to be a long and difficult task. The bottom line is that parents want the best education possible for their children, and the district should be able to respect that. As a parent, you attend the magnet fairs and plan campus visits only to realize how much your child is missing out on. I hope that if the issue is the inequities that exist between schools (like this is a new issue), that Abe Saavedra puts teacher and administrator teams together to tour the so-called elite and bring back what they can to their campuses.
Until then, Saavedra, why don't you go spend a Saturday at one of the GT testing sites and ask the parents of four-year-olds how much they're willing to sacrifice so that their children could attend a VG school? Talk to parents who have their children tested every other year in hopes of their child finally qualifying for the program. Talk to students participating in clubs and other activities that are not normally available at other campuses. Okay, so maybe Saavedra won't go, because that would be a distraction. Send Terry Abbott. He always seems to say just what parents want to hear.
My sympathies: Surely the events set forth in Josh Harkinson's restaurant review "Suburban Import" [December 8] can't be based in fact. Am I to believe that some diners actually have the audacity to visit an ethnic restaurant without a thorough knowledge of the dishes served? I can only sympathize with Harkinson and his party's being subjected to such a pedestrian environment. Imagine a customer having the temerity to ask the waiter a question about dal -- and another diner not even knowing what chicken biryani is! I am truly embarrassed that such dining neophytes are allowed to venture out and engage in an evening of culinary exploration. There should be a law against this! I feel that Harkinson is owed a debt of gratitude for his courage in bringing this appalling event to the public's attention.
Opportunity knocks: Enjoyed the "Free Booze" article immensely [by Keith Plocek, December 1]. It reminded me of my old scamming daze. At 47 with a wife and two kids, opportunities such as these rarely present themselves or do they?
Dead wrong: Taking anything that is alive and dropping it in boiling water is not right ["Care and Feeding," Hair Balls, by Richard Connelly, December 1]. If you have nothing positive to say about the lobsters, then how about not saying anything at all? Or at least give Whole Foods some positive publicity -- the lobsters never asked to be born.
Go back to Cali: This may be the worst review I've ever read [Rotation, by Rossiter Drake, October 6]. I have every Beatles album and every McCartney post-Beatles record. McCartney II was easily one of his worst solo efforts. Chaos is a strong album. You obviously have no idea what you're talking about. Stick to something you know a little more about, like LL Cool J or the Backstreet Boys, so you don't embarrass yourself.