The Wrong Lessons
Fear and intimidation: You did an outstanding job on the Katy ISD story ["Watching You," by Margaret Downing, March 18].
The policies and actions of those school administrators are unfortunately typical today. Quick to action, short on individual thought and long-term consequences and solutions. Alternative school placements are a quick and easy answer and provide "good" statistics demonstrating how aggressively the school addresses disciplinary problems. Unfortunately, the "preset" sentences often make no sense in an individual case. The result is little more than a loss of respect for the system and due process along with a healthy dose of cynicism for the hypocrisy.
Schools and their disciplinary systems should be measured using the same standard as Texas nursing homes: Did the school allow the child to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental and psychosocial well-being? Under this standard, most schools would fail. Local school districts in many respects appear to operate on intimidation and fear. "No child left behind" and similar laws have made schools desperate to provide "objective" numbers supporting how wonderful they are. Yet, in many cases, the numbers are fudged, as in the case of HISD's dropout rates. In many other cases, the standardized scores do not reflect the population of the school and frankly do not measure the contribution made by the school.
Actions speak louder than words; children are clearly not a priority!
Cut it out: As a high school student, I was outraged by the behavior of KISD. Unfortunately, I am familiar with this sort of overreaction to pocketknives. Many times I've taken my pocketknife to school or summer camp, just to hear that knives are not allowed or are strictly prohibited.
Our society needs to grow up and teach children how to use knives and other tools in a responsible manner. My parents taught me knife skills and basic sense; all children should learn the same. Maybe then society can stop having such gross overreactions to simple, innocent pocketknives.
Katie Jo Glaves
Re-education camp: Congratulations on a great thought-provoking story. The real lessons being taught by Katy ISD are scary, laced with intolerance and fear. I shudder to think about how children raised in such an environment will think as adults.
Such ideas as presumed innocence, the rights we each should enjoy, such as those in the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments, will probably become just another bunch of "technicalities," much as the roles, responsibilities and authority of parents seem to be in Katy.
Their fear of basic freedom, including the freedom to make mistakes and not be subject to unreasonable punishments, is shameful. Next thing you know, even adults will face outlandish fines or punishment for minor infractions like using license plate frames and such. Oops, forgot. Uh, never mind, didn't mean it -- please don't cite me for questioning the fairness, care and concern of the government. Please don't send me to the re-education camp.
Over the top: This article certainly revealed the blind eye of KISD administrators applying their "zero tolerance" policy. As a former high school math teacher, I feel that our children are too precious to be subjected to judgment where the circumstances are not taken into consideration. The punishments Ms. Downing described are truly unequal to the laws by which we judge adults.
Live and Loin
No big deal: I'm afraid I missed the "Rocket Man" issue [by Craig Malisow, March 4] when it was on the stands, but now that I've stared at the cover for a minute, I'm scratching my head. Hell, there have been underwear ads that were more salacious. I've seen more skin in newspapers.
To the citizens who wrote in to complain [Letters, "Skin and Bones," March 18], I leave you with a famous line from Lenny Bruce: "If you believe that God made your body, and that you can do something dirty with that body, the fault lies with the manufacturer."
Help for deckhands: I read with great interest your piece "Masters and Commanders" [by Josh Harkinson, December 25]. I went on a cruise two weeks ago, Royal Caribbean out of Galveston. I took your article to heart and tipped more than the suggested amount and gave all the help the highest marks -- which they deserved.
Yours was an excellent story, and you made a difference in the lives of some people, which is the goal of good reporting. Keep up the good work. I had my wife read it and am passing it on to a pal in Indiana.
Security feature applause: Great article -- long overdue ["All Aboard," by Josh Harkinson, March 18].
Help on the Way
Nonprofits' plight: I thought this article ["Charity Cases," by Sasha Blake, March 4] was an outstanding example of how to get young people excited about volunteering. I will be contacting some of these people as soon as I can. Thank you for all the good information.
Veal Good Deal
Terra haute: The diatribe written by Robb Walsh concerning Terra Bosco's restaurant ["Terrible Ciao," February 19] was grossly unfair and inaccurate. Hidden in the maze of invective regarding the red sauce were positive comments about the red snapper and pizza, and if he had tried other signature dishes, such as the veal and eggplant, he might have realized that most of the food at Terra Bosco's is excellent.
The inappropriate comments directed at the sweatbands Richard White requires his kitchen staff to wear constitute a criticism of the practice of good hygiene.
Methinks Mr. Walsh doth protest too much! Could there be a not-so-hidden agenda in his article?
Miss manners: It is obvious that your "food critic" knows nothing about good Italian food and has no manners. I don't understand how he could write trash. Terra Bosco's has good food. The owner is the chef.
I think there should be a retraction made, or better yet, fire the food critic!
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