The State Board of Education appears to be waning, due to a lack of leadership ["Basic Ballard," by Brian Wallstin, March 13]. The board has a mandate to set policy for public schools. That is a difficult mandate to carry out if one does not believe in public education.
Donna Ballard, who has probably never seen herself naked and whose child was probably conceived by immaculate conception, appears to be better suited for a board that deals exclusively with parochial schools.
She would benefit from listening to the professionals at the Texas Education Agency, those involved directly in public education and knowledgeable board members rather than simply being a pawn for right-wing Christian conservatism, which smacks of bigotry and thrives on hyperbole.
Perhaps it is time to return this body to [being] an appointed one, rather than an elected one.
Volly C. Bastine Jr.
Moderation in All Things
As a shareholder in 97Talk, I appreciate Tim Fleck's announcement of our programming day [The Insider, "Middle-of-the-Road Talk," February 27], which I'm sure will be much favored by many Press readers. I would like to clarify a few points, however: There are plaintiffs' lawyers among our owners, but they are balanced by not only the two prominent Republicans mentioned in Fleck's piece but by a homebuilder, a car dealer, a title company president, two corporate lawyers and management executives of the Houston Aeros.
Finally, while I can't disprove Fleck's opinion of our format's moderateness, as an on-air talent I certainly hope that he's wrong and that our programming day is challenging, newsworthy and contrary to the sleepy boosterism of Houston's dominant culture.
Hook-ed on Stupidity
What a wonderful way to alienate administration, teachers, parents, students and board members [The Insider, "Hook-ed on Model-Netics," by Tim Fleck, March 13]. How incredibly effective! How stupid.
Did You Get the Number of that Mack Truck?
Say, I'm a Model-Netics graduate, too! Now all I need to do is find someone in HISD management, and we can sit around and yak about the Mack Truck Theory, the Tomato Plant Problem and the Two Tyrannies.
Yeah, there is a certain amount of psychobabble to Model-Netics, and I can't see a lot of the concepts being relevant in a not-for-profit setting. The biggest drawback to Model-Netics is that everybody has to go through the training, or it's all for naught. My old department did it, and we actually did use those terms in conversation about situations and decisions in day-to-day management. Now I'm in a new department of 160-plus people, and maybe 15 of us have had Model-Netics. If I told my new boss that we need a North Wind, she'd think I was nuts.
Model-Netics Model No. 152: "Visceral Reaction"
Model No. 153: "Kissing Behind"
I am an HISD administrator who is participating in an intensive, 11-week Main Event Management (MEM) training program. Model-Netics, when viewed in isolation by someone who has no contextual reference, may appear unusual. However, the models provide memory cues for important management tenets, and they allow administrators to instantly recall concepts vital to the decision-making process.
The MEM program includes systems programs, some of which address improved policy communication, improved procedures and the control of scarce public fund expenditures. Surely your publication cannot be against the enhancement of services to HISD constituents and the careful monitoring and disbursement of tax dollars, which the adoption of the complete MEM management program will provide. Would you have the district maintain the status quo and not explore ways to improve these areas? Did your reporter examine the success and growth of American General Corporation during the time this program has been in use?
I am disappointed that the Houston Press would publish Mr. Fleck's negative diatribe based on the apparent bias of two disgruntled employees from HISD and AGC. I urge you to require a more balanced "investigation" from your reporters before publishing their "stories" in the future.
Robert C. Farquharson II
Editor's note: This publication is all for the "enhancement of services to HISD constituents," if that means what we think it means, and "the careful monitoring and disbursement of tax dollars." We just don't understand why HISD administrators have to waste their valuable time and taxpayers' money learning a whole new "language" to accomplish those ends. English isn't good enough?
I was extremely pleased to see the article on DJ Screw in the February 27 issue ["Swangin' and Bangin'," by Megan Halverson]. It was needed to let others know about the thriving underground movement of the Screwed Up Click (not a gang, but a rap group) and the thousands of youths following this way of life. The thing that displeased me, though, was that Halverson wrote about a way of life lived by the Southside Playaz and made it seem like some little fly-by-night fad. Her article turned out to be a poorly researched, watered-down, vanilla attempt to make sense of the movement by barely scraping the surface.
Screw is the man. His tapes are in demand. Halverson slightly captured DJ Screw and his way of being, but her poor research did not go in-depth to find the true fans and the people that really made this so popular with the young people. Those cheesy guys she interviewed were a waste of ink. They seemed like "wannabes," which is okay to show fans of all types to prove the wide appeal of Screw and that that way of life is catching on. If Halverson hadn't gotten so caught up with how cute Mr. Gutierrez and Mr. Guzman were, maybe she could have written the story like a real reporter. The real Swangers and Bangers drive $40,000 cars. These are the men at the core of the movement.
Damn Those Speakers
I'm writing to thank you for your insightful article on "Swangin' and Bangin'." As an inner-city resident I have been wanting to understand this "subculture" of "Screw" for some time. And although your article dealt with the serious "players" who participate in this activity late into the weekend nights with alcohol and some drugs, it did offer an understanding of the men who have these speakers and who disrupt entire neighborhoods, at all hours of the day and night, for attention-getting.
I find it rather discouraging that a group of peers would find status in having big bass speakers in a car. And unfortunately, the drivers of these cars are not even high school kids, but are grown men. And even more discouraging is that in your article, you interviewed parents who are aware of this late-night weekend subculture and are not overly concerned about it. At least with low-riders and other types of "hot-rod" cars of their parents' generation, a semblance of art and a lot of hard work could be found. Nothing is impressive about buying and installing bass speakers from the local auto store. It's a shame that they find cruising through a neighborhood with large bass speakers some kind of thrill.
The state of Texas or Houston's City Council should ban these bass speakers. Certainly they are breaking the city's noise ordinance. And if a loud muffler is a violation of the state's law, these speakers should be. There have been many evenings and nights when I have been disturbed and awakened with these vehicles rumbling through our peaceful neighborhood.
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SHOW ME HOW
Sheila Jackson Lee and local politicians who are concerned about rehabilitating/revitalizing our inner city communities should help in quieting these speakers.
A Question of Assault?
It sounds like more than "A Question of Competence" [by Michael Berryhill, February 27]. Philosophical differences over teaching styles aside, Beverly Goodie allegedly grabbed and threatened a child, hit children on the hands with a ruler and bruised a child with a rolled-up softcover book. These charges were never investigated by an assault investigation team. Do we want teachers to send children home with the message that violence is an effective and acceptable means of control?