Scaling Green Mountain
Aw, shucks: Have read and enjoyed the Press for eons now, consider you the finest paper on the planet, and have a serious addiction to your intelligent and penetrating reportage. Now that I've said that, here comes the hammer.
So Green Mountain has made a high-profile commitment to offer renewable energy to Texas, which is not known as a haven of environmental consciousness ["Red Light, Green Light," by Melissa Hung, June 7]. And you spend several paragraphs on its connection, now apparently severed, to some Republican billionaire (Texas wouldn't be Texas without our rich right-wing nuts, God bless 'em), discuss the hazards of biomass (which they're not offering here) and offer some vaguely dire speculations about the disasters that could possibly occur if Green Mountain is permitted to continue, seein' as how Big Oil has given them money and all.
Geez, guys, can't you give 'em a chance to screw up before you nail their hides to the barn door?
I was first in line to sign up for Green Mountain; someone has to make the initial commitment to renewable energy, and I am thrilled that in this good-fer-bidness state someone has the vision, drive and resources to make it happen. Is Green Mountain a scam? I doubt it, but betcha the next one won't be; the legions of Texans who've been waiting too long for clean electricity won't just go quietly.
L. A. Johnson
Good neighbor: As one of the founders and activists of the Save Our Springs Coalition, I offer the following input on one small -- but very important -- aspect of Green Mountain's activities: its choice of office location in the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer region.
Green Mountain sought me out and asked (paraphrasing), "What can we do to soften our footprint on the aquifer?" No individual or company had ever asked me that. Several of us quickly came up with a menu of options, expecting the company to choose one or two items. Chief environmental officer Tom Rawls said, "We'll do all that, and we want to work with you on an ongoing basis to create a model for other companies in our situation to follow."
Green Mountain, in its dealings with me, has made good on its word and continues to be proactive regarding the conservation of the aquifer. It has demonstrated a meaningful commitment to do the right thing vis-à-vis "living lightly" on the aquifer.
I'm glad to know about www.houstonpress.com. Keep up the good work.
Electric prose: Melissa Hung has written an excellent, accurate and Pulitzer- worthy story on Green Mountain Energy and the right-to-choose issue in Texas. I am confident in her accuracy because I spent a considerable amount of time looking into the charges leveled against GME by the boycott group.
Thanks for providing the public with this stellar example of the most important type of journalism there is. More articles on energy efficiency and smart growth would be welcome!
Marie Gibbens Ristroph
Where Credit's Due
College credentials: Your article is interesting ["Credit Check," by Jennifer Mathieu, June 7], but you haven't done much sampling of the qualifications of the teachers involved. I think that most teachers are quite familiar with the standards of college courses, having been there themselves. However, high schools do create constraints upon anything called college-level. We deal with this by allowing only the best students into the classes in the first place. Nevertheless, in my own courses the attrition rate is about 50 percent from the beginning of the junior year to the end of the senior one.
Personally, I would welcome some leadership from the college and my own district that would allow consensus among all of the teachers, both college and high school. When you think about it, we are no different from any other adjunct faculty when it comes to our qualifications; the difficulty is that the adjustments that must be made to fit college into the high school are typically left up to the individual teacher. College teachers are often quite independent-minded and might welcome such freedom. Nevertheless, for the sake of the students as well as the institutions involved, some sort of liaison is necessary.
Thank you for calling attention to this issue. I have often been pleased that the Houston Press offers thought-provoking journalism.
Nimitz High School
Money-minded: Your article shed a great deal of light on the topic. In the fall, dual credit courses will be offered at each of our Clear Lake-area high schools, and I and other teachers there are concerned that the students will be "given" passing grades because the district as well as the colleges want this program to succeed. I have taught school long enough to know that districts don't do joint efforts such as this without receiving some sort of benefit for themselves.
Your article helped me to determine who is getting the greatest financial benefit from such a program, and it certainly isn't the student.
It is inconceivable to think that my 16- to 18-year-old students are anywhere near ready for college-level work. You can hardly get them to turn in a homework assignment or study for a test. I think this is going to be one experiment that is going to fail -- not only the student but also the workforce in general.
Students at my school were urged personally by the counselors to take the dual credit courses because they know that many would struggle in our regular high school course and were quoted as saying to students that "the dual credit course would be easier than taking Mrs. So-and-so's class." That infuriated our department.
I also thought the chancellor is simply trying to sidestep the real issue, which is that college-level work cannot be expected from kids who still attend pep rallies, get detention for tardies and can't chew gum in class. High school teachers are in no more agreement with dual credit than college professors, but not one of us is in administration and not one of us is considered very important in the decision-making. So as time goes on, more and more bad decisions will be made in the hopes that they will aid students, but they will really aid only the pocketbooks of those in power.
I hope that the Houston Press will continue to follow this explosive topic as more districts are enrolling students in dual credit courses and more and more four-year universities decide not to accept these credit hours.
Name withheld by request
Music wasteland: John Lomax's elementary exploration of Houston's lacking of a musical "scene" [Racket, June 7] epitomizes why Houston is capital of the state of cultural mediocrity. His monocasual attempt to relegate the musical problems ignores the mosaic of reasons that contribute to the musical abyss the author so keenly outlines.
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Houston has no history and tries to reinvent itself every other month. Scenes are spawned from tradition. From tradition comes innovation. Zoning, where clubs can be within a reasonable distance from each other, would help as well, thus facilitating the growth of a community. Last and most important, no one is innovative musically. You hear the same crap everywhere you go. The jazz is Kenny G-esque. Most of the rock is outdated by ten to 15 years, and the country is sadly a watered-down Nashville copycat.
Side note: Thank God for the Continental Club and Rudyard's.
"Beat a dead horse" describes the musical approach by most musicians in Houston. The people do not test the boundaries but rather blindly accept and follow whatever is deemed cool by their cohorts. Blaming this problem on Cougar High is simplistic and provincial.