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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Change on the way: I am a member of the Houston Press Street Team, and I am also a founding member of Texans for Kerry and a volunteer at the John Kerry for President finance office in downtown Houston. Imagine my surprise when the two worlds collided on me when Hair Balls blasted the John Kerry office ["No Help Needed," June 17] and came back with another anti-Kerry diatribe ["Kerry -- For That Not-So-Fresh Feeling," June 24].
Well, let me tell you, I just worked the Texas Democratic State Convention, and I attend various weekly Kerry events. Kerry has a huge following right here in Houston, Texas. I would be more than willing to give Hair Balls an opportunity to find out what a lot of people are finding out coast to coast and even in the "backyard" of George W. Bush: Kerry is the real deal, and he is going to shock the world in November -- especially when he wins Texas. I'm dead serious.
Get down over getup: I sat near you during most of your visit to Helios ["Gay Play," by Catherine Matusow, June 24]. You could have acted like a responsible, careful journalist and asked me to tell you that my "African getup" is called a dashiki. If I'd worn obviously Jewish attire or obviously Muslim attire or been in drag, you wouldn't have called my clothing a "Jewish getup" or "Muslim getup" or "gay getup," would you? No, you respect (or is it fear?) those cultures.
Perhaps you think it's culturally savvy to say shit like that, as if real life were a hip, modern Shirley Temple flick in which white folks feel free to crack wise about blacks while giving them the elbow; and the Negroes are supposed to put their tongues in their cheeks and wink back. But I'm not in on the joke. Your disdainful reference to my attire demonstrates a form of this culture's legacy that's always been hell-bent on at least poking fun at anything of African origin. This flippant attitude is pervasive in white culture today -- including too many white folks in "progressive" or "liberal" philosophical "getups."
Good guys spurned: Did you not think about the wife of Ron Kelly driving the truck out to the barn and unloading items for their daughter's livestock ["Not a Mooooot Point," by Margaret Downing, June 24]? It seems as if you have painted a one-sided view. Yours is a sad column about a man who is a problem, and that problem was taken care of. The awards-banquet issue is the low point of your column; you did not mention one thing about the other students who received awards. Third place is wonderful, but did you check out all the facts about the show?
This is what is sad about education. One parent gets upset because he cannot get his way, so he runs around trying to get anyone to listen to him. You go about painting the FFA program and the Alief school board as the bad guys. You did not ask the other parents what the program has done for their children. Not once did you say what joys these kids have while in this program. The people who know Mr. Mott and the FFA program will be laughing or scratching their heads, wondering how you came to this conclusion.
If you do not know the people in this column, you might think something is wrong, but if you know them you know something is wrong: the facts!
I am the brother of Mark Peak, but I chose not to write about him because it would be one-sided, and I could not do that.
Problems for the FFA: As a parent of five members of the Alief FFA, I am offended by the fact that your writer did such a one-sided and biased column. She listened to a single troublemaking parent who for over a year has caused nothing but pain and suffering for the other students and parents who use that facility. The fact is that parents, many parents, went to the school about the problems with the Motts and their care of the facility and their animals for a very long time.
However, until the incident with the cars at the barn -- which my children and spouse were there for -- the school was reluctant to sanction Mr. Mott. It was only because he endangered children with his driving that night that they finally did something. Mr. Mott is not concerned about the FFA or the other children that his nonsense affects.
If anyone has been shown favoritism, it has been the Mott family. Did Mr. Mott mention that the courtesy extended to Mrs. Kelly, who is also a teacher for the district, was not any different from what would have been done for any of us in an emergency situation if we had asked the adviser? No, I didn't think so.
Moore or less: Wow, Gregory Weinkauf reviews Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 ["George of the Bungle," June 24] and gives it a glowing review. What a surprise! Since he can barely get through a review of anything without mentioning how much he hates George Bush, the only positive thing I can say about this review is the fact that I did not see the phrase "I'm cumming!" at the end of it, since if there was a film made to give this clown wet dreams, this would be it. Hopefully, the Press has a great benefits program, since Weinkauf will need it to get his lips surgically removed from Moore's gigantic white ass.
Also, WTF was that horrid creature on the cover? I'm sure all the gays and lesbians out there who crave mainstream acceptance just loved the Press digging up drag queens and leather freaks to show the rest of the world how gay people live. Congratulations, Press, gay people everywhere will be thanking you when they get put at the end of the adoption list again.
Also, Richard Connelly rocks, and I love your food reviews.
9/11 bravo: Thank you for a well-written review of Fahrenheit 9/11. I suppose Michael Moore will find another cause. I can recall The Awful Truth and TV Nation. There is plenty to ridicule. Just because he has not thrown dollars on the NY Stock Exchange floor does not mean he won't elicit change. I think Abbie would have been proud.
Annie Up for This Menu
Food stuff: Haute cuisine is legendary for its miserly portions ["Food of the God," by Brian McManus, June 24]. Does it really take a quail entrée at $14 and a lamb chop entrée at $44 to make a decent meal at Cafe Annie?
Good sounds: John Lomax's radio needs to be replaced if the dial can't go any lower than 90.1 [Racket, June 24]. I agree with his column about Houston radio's best offerings being "scattered hither and yon across the dial," but he missed a couple of gems. Listener-supported KUHF (88.7 FM) offers Celtic music with Thistle & Shamrock and inspiring New Age music on Hearts of Space. Both programs air on Saturday night as part of their excellent programming.
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