Gnome Grown

Waldorf wonders: I was so saddened to hear the writer portray Waldorf as if it were a cult ["School Spirit(s)," by Michael Serazio, February 5].

I am very intelligent and have searched high and low for the best educational system for my four-year-old child. I live in the prestigious Medical Center area, yet I drive all the way to Shining Star Kindergarten so my daughter will be allowed to create and express herself without the commercialism, high-tech, non-nurturing, non-self-expressive day cares and pre-Ks I have witnessed.

What my NASA engineer husband and I both said with our mouths dropping to the ground, "We wish we both had access to this kind of education when we were growing up."

My daughter was invited to join prestigious private schools. When I explained to the teacher that I wanted to keep her in Waldorf for another year, she exclaimed, "But she'll get too far behind." How does a child of three to six years of age get "far behind"?

I only wish the writer had access to a Waldorf school. Maybe he would have been able to portray the truth. I challenge all parents to research this incredible schooling. Houston should not be without a full K-12 system that will allow the nurturing and a caring place for children's minds and bodies to grow without fear and disgrace. May God help bring us peace and love to our precious children as they grow to be the kind of adults we wished we were.

Christine Bennett

Other choices: Thank you for your informative article about the Waldorf program. I have been searching for a (non-HISD) school for my son once he is old enough to attend.

I received Waldorf promotional information but had not had a chance to go to the school to check it out. Your information has saved me gas money and time. The program seemed a bit sketchy at first; now it seems downright crazy. I will look elsewhere to educate my son.

Cristina Graze

Persuasive pamphlets: How little you understood about our school. The information package you received contained brochures on the results of Waldorf education, yet your article doesn't reflect that awareness.

It feels insulting to me as a parent that you chose to make a satire out of our school. It is disappointing to see that you have allowed so much space for the criticism without giving the data that shows so much positive and powerful information. You have shown little insight and no ability to write a well-balanced article.

It is obvious that you approached this assignment with a preconceived notion.

After everything you've said, the least you should do is apologize to Ms. Dorothy Ogle and consider writing an objective article about Shining Star School and Waldorf education.

Daniela M. Trifan-Garcia
Sugar Land

Religious roots: I'm an accredited Waldorf teacher, and taught in several schools throughout Canada and the United States over a period of 12 years.

Given the philosophical foundation of Waldorf education is anthroposophy, and given that Rudolf Steiner stated at the beginning of his autobiography that "Anthroposophy in all its aspects is an investigation into Christ," it makes it difficult to argue -- as Miss Dorothy would cheerily have people believe -- that Waldorf is "not religious at all, no!"

Bruce Angus
Mace Bay, New Brunswick, Canada

Beware of the critics: While Mr. Serazio's article was quite balanced in its perspective, it is entirely possible that the Houston Press may receive letters to the editor attacking Rudolf Steiner, his philosophy known as "anthroposophy" or Waldorf education.

A handful of critics centered in San Francisco are inflaming a small group, People for Legal and Non-Sectarian Schools (PLANS), into conducting a defamation campaign using hate-group-like tactics.

I'm sorry that I have to write such a letter immediately after the publication of such an article -- no one would like to be informed that they might experience harassment. However, I thought that you and your staff at least ought to know of my concern, and I also wanted to offer to be of help if necessary.

We attempt to be a credible resource to publishers and Internet service providers, and we have specific material refuting the misquotations, outright lies and defamation which have been offered to unsuspecting publishers. Knowledgeable contacts include the Anthroposophical Society (www.anthroposophy.org) and the Council of Anthroposophical Organizations (www.spiritworking.org).

My hope is that you would include us in your fact-checking about allegations having to do with Steiner, Waldorf education or anthroposophy. Please don't let our critics put their words in your mouth.

Jean W. Yeager, administrative director
The Anthroposophical Society in America
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Honors abound: The Houston Press has done a disservice to parents in the Houston area by printing Michael Serazio's caricature of Waldorf education. Given the condition of public education in Houston, parents deserve better; for example, to know that Waldorf education was honored by the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or that Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express, is an enthusiastic Waldorf graduate, or that Nobel laureate Saul Bellow has stated, "If I had a child of school age, I would send him to a Waldorf school."

"The proof is in the pudding" is what many Waldorf parents have said to me. If a kindergarten filled with imaginative play rather than worksheets is how we can get happy, enthusiastic students who love to learn, then that is the bottom line.

David Darcy

Anal over Ahriman: Bravo for a masterful article! Pure brilliance. Maybe investigative journalism isn't dead after all, but shouldn't Ahriman be capitalized?

Love the cartoon! It just hit the nail right on the head.

Keep your thinking cap on as you go forward in the world. We need you.

Debra Snell
Grass Valley, California

Head for the hills: I had two children go from K-12 at the Waldorf School in Austin. Neither read until the third grade. They scored 1420 and 1470 on the SAT. They were accepted to all the colleges to which they applied. They are smart kids and would probably have done as well if they had been in public school.

But I do believe their sense of who they are, their ability to look at the world and draw valid conclusions about what is going on, and their sense of responsibility for the planet and all of its inhabitants were nourished in the unique environment that is a Waldorf education. I have really enjoyed knowing them as humans, even through their teenage years!

There was a negative tone to the article by Michael Serazio that most likely came from his reading of the PLANS Web site. There are always people who get upset with any organization that deals with their children. In this case, the parking-lot talk has been transferred to the World Wide Web and seems almost larger than life.

For a real view of what Waldorf education is, travel to Austin to see a beautiful Hill Country campus with 350-plus students enjoying their education. There are gnomes here, too, but also a classic education.

Mark Swope
Dripping Springs

Fools rush in: The Waldorf school proves that you can always fool some of the people some of the time. For my money, this touchy-feely nonsense is the worst educational fraud around.

Marsh Kaminsky
Buffalo Grove, Illinois

Breast Works

Bad taste: The article "Turkeys Fly" [by Richard Connelly, February 5] was written very distastefully. It was not above the stunt pulled by Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl.

I wouldn't think that kind of writing would be good for your newspaper.

Melissa Mathieu

End of an Era

Times with Tim: With Tim Fleck gone, my interest in the Press is gone -- so I have unsubscribed. Sorry. I hope I can find him, as I understand he may do some kind of newsletter.

Eleanor Culberson

One of a kind: I'm very upset to hear that Fleck is leaving and the reports that he was fired. Unbelievable! He is the best political writer in Texas. I and my friends are all around 25 years old, and we read the Press for music and everything else, and we love Fleck.

Did y'all do some wack-ass poll that said to do this? So sad. Keep a local political column.

Andrew Wallace

Ad nauseam: Without Tim Fleck your newspaper is just a vulgar version of the Greensheet.

Spence Kerrigan

Bring back Fleck: We miss The Insider and Tim Fleck! We have no or little idea of what goes on at our City Hall -- actually, more is going on there now than before he left. Why not invite him back? Having more readers never hurts!

John Heard

The Blasters

Truck target: "Free-Fire Zone" -- what a great report of drive-by scumbags getting their truck laced with bullet holes [Hair Balls, by Richard Connelly, February 5]! But I think your reporter does not know a thing about guns and shooting.

Hitting a speeding truck using a handgun, at night, with all sorts of distractions like being shot at yourself, ain't bad shootin' at all.

I certainly want those deputies on my side in a gunfight.

Jay Bute
El Lago

Taking the Rap

Lay off the hip-hoppers: Let me guess that the writer of the letter "Hip-hop Slop" [Letters, February 5] is a middle-aged Anglo-Saxon male who listens to classical and easy-listening music.

But to be fair to the Hip-Hop Summit, hip-hop culture and rap music, let's get a couple of things straight, MFs. The purpose of the summit was to get people registered to vote and give them some insight into the business from artists in for the Super Bowl ["Bling Thing," Hair Balls, January 22]. Now, the culture and the music are not one in the same, MFs. The hip-hop culture is a way of doing things, a way of carrying yourself, a way of communicating and a style in itself.

It was created by the youth of the black race, which was okay. Then the Bobbies and Suzies of the other race, living in the Kingwoods, Sugar Lands and Woodlands of the world, decided that they liked it. And their parents hate it (really the god-awful music)!

Who do you think buys and downloads the majority of rap music? And would the media please stop taking these one-liners out of rap songs as the battle cry for more censorship?

Give me a break, narrow-minded-thinking MFs. The music was just fine when a few listened, but now the whole world wants to listen and some people just don't like that idea. Hair Balls and the letter writer both sound like that typical suburban MF who knows nothing about rap except what you see/hear in the media. I have no problem with criticism, but please educate yourselves before you criticize next time.

So Hair Balls, did you make it to the summit, cowardly MF? "Hip-hop Slop," give me a break.

David C. Garner

Reel Uncertain

Lighten up: I liked Legally Blonde ["Legally Bland," by Robert Wilonsky, January 22]!

Robert needs to lighten up and not be so hypernegative. The whole review of Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! read like one long rant.

As for the Win a Date movie itself, I haven't seen it (I'm too poor to afford the modern "movie theater experience"). Maybe Robert is correct, but maybe the readers would like not to experience his unrelenting negativism.

Robert needs to be carefully watched (that is, read), and I suggest everyone study his reviews carefully. I know I will.

So, yes, I am going to see the movie! Robert convinced me. (Well, when it comes out for rental, that is.)

William Mickelson

A Break Away

Fondue delight: I agree with about 90 percent of what you said in the Fondue Monks' Live review ["Local Rotation, by Bob Ruggiero, January 29]. I personally think "Lovely Lady" is one of their best and well-written songs, but that's why we're here: to voice our opinions. I've followed that group for almost ten years and truly believe they are one break away from big things. I highly suggest to any music fan and especially a Texas music fan to do yourself the favor and see them live at least once -- you'll be hooked.

Nicholas Servos

Humble Monks: Thanks for the support and warm review of Live. This was a straight-up review, and I expect nothing more from you. I appreciate all the support you have given us, and we really are thankful for all the mentions and coverage.

Rozzano Zamorano

Imperfect Score

On the Matt: Good review of The Perfect Score ["College Bored," by Luke Y. Thompson, January 29]. I especially liked your comments about Matthew Lillard; he often seems as if he just wandered on set and the director was too nice to ask him to leave. Personally, I like Lillard.

He is, if nothing else, interesting to watch on screen. I just wanted to let you know that Brian Robbins, the director, did not helm Summer Catch. It was in fact Robbins's friend Mike Tollin who directed Lillard in that mess. Other than that, good review. I like your style.

Chip Erickson


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