Letters 8.6.08

School daze

Re Nat Hentoff's 'No Child Left Unhealed' [July 30–August 5]: I don't remember United Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten speaking much about the kids when I was teaching at-risk students in Brooklyn. She mostly spoke about teacher pay and always seemed to work the crowd up into a tizzy, getting most of us to believe that we were undervalued Mother Teresas.

Well, now she seems interested in the community. I guess that's a good start. The system described in this article sounds like paradise. But that's not going to solve what goes on educationally. And what reform is needed there? Discipline. Create an environment where students will face punishment if they throw a chair across the room or threaten to sexually accost a teacher. Create an environment where teachers will fear losing their job if they fail to teach day in and day out. This kind of discipline did not exist when I was a teacher.

And what is wrong with No Child Left Behind? It is off on the state level. The tests are poorly designed. If a test is well designed, there is no need to teach to the test. One is just teaching the important skills that the test will cover. Accountability is very important, and testing is one way to measure success and delinquency within a school.

via internet

Just following orders

Re Tom Robbins's 'Cops Rip Up Rappers' [July 9–15]: Those creeps got what they deserved. Cops have a tough job, and I don't blame them for reacting decisively when somebody butts in or becomes belligerent.

I am white, but I am anything but wealthy. I was stopped recently by the NYPD when I happened to be in a park after a curfew I was unaware of and appeared to the officer to be taking evasive action. I wasn't, of course, but I stayed cool and respectful while the officer did his job. We ended our encounter with friendliness and respect. Don't step on a cop's toes, I have found, and you will be treated with courtesy. Get mouthy or brash, dumb-ass, and take the consequences.

John F.
via internet

Getting To the Point

Re Nat Hentoff's 'What's Wrong With WNYC?' [July 23–29]: I personally am a music listener, as angry at the loss of daytime classical music on WNYC-FM as is Mr. Hentoff about To the Point.

But my anger is eased by the advent of wnyc2, our 24/7/365 classical-music stream, available also for HD radio.

While we do not share content interests, Mr. Hentoff and I do share the use of a very high-quality public-radio service. I am a WNYC fanatic, and maybe Mr. Hentoff is also, or at least was until the end of To the Point. But the Internet has made public radio no longer local (the Times reported that the second-largest audience for KCRW is New York City), and I am sure this is not news to Mr. Hentoff.

He can probably get To the Point easily: All he needs to do is consult publicradiofan.com. I would think that To the Point has podcasts available.

Hey, it's a new world. We need to get up to speed with a lot of this stuff.

Richard Mitnick
via internet

Hugs for Roman

Re Ella Taylor's 'Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired's Dizzying Leaps to Judgment' [villagevoice.com, July 9]: The incompetent and awfully biased review of this documentary needs to be corrected.

Taylor must have walked out in disgust somewhere in the middle, missing half of the movie. Maybe that's why she obviously has nothing to say about the other half of the movie, which explains why Polanski has become "desired" in Europe and in the rest of the world, in spite of his being "wanted" in the U.S. This happened precisely because he chose to escape from the American judicial system and was able to create a great body of work abroad. This choice to escape, in hindsight, has won the approval of the actual victim and even of the prosecutor of the case, but not of your vengeful reviewer.

You needed someone who could write about both sides of this excellent and complex movie without using this assignment as a pretext for rubber-stamping the American judicial system and only lamenting that Polanski has not been rotting in a U.S. jail for the past 40 years.

Allen Smithie

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