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Letters to the editor

Created date

April 26th, 2011
  • ' A real student advocate, April 2011 issue

Inexperience the problem I am an 80-year-old retired educator. [Former chancellor of D.C. schools] Michelle Rhee s idea of how to respond to student failure in Washington, D.C., was to get rid of teachers without the due process that one would expect of a major school system. I believe that her intentions were good, but her actions in dealing with people caused most of her problems. In my opinion, she simply needed a little more experience and the capability to trust those around her to do their jobs.

Richard H., email

Bring back educational tracks Ms. Rhee s views reflect the presumption of many educators that all students can be trained to perform at a high level. Thirty to forty years ago, students were trained and expected to enter occupations requiring higher to lower intellectual capability. Many school districts had tracks or curriculums intended to qualify high school graduates for higher or lower occupational levels. When I was practicing law in Washington, D.C., I recall in Ms. Rhee s own Washington school district when the tracks were proudly abolished and when all students were put on the same academic track. This meant that all students had to fulfill the same intellectual levels and cover the same subject matter. What we have is a high level of high school dropouts who cannot achieve or are not interested in the academic program. These students would be best served by re-instituting educational tracks. Unfortunately, politics prevents American education from making this logical choice.

Fred F., email

  • ' Sanitizing Huck Finn, March 2011 issue

How did the n-word originate? Ever since all of this controversy over the n-word, I ve been trying find out how it originated. I read a book on the building of the Panama Canal, and it said most of the laborers were from Nigeria and throughout the book they were referred to as nigers. The Irish were called micks because a lot their last names began with Mc. Some Italians were called wops because when they came over to America they didn t have papers. So WOP meant With Out Papers. The English were called limeys because the English used to carry a lot of limes on their ships to prevent scurvy. I wonder if during Mr. Twain s writing, the n-word was just another slang word for a Nigerian. How did the n-word come about?

Robert W., email

Using God s name in vain Using God s name in vain and profane language have always been considered inappropriate. Yet we are bombarded with this language in TV, movies, and literature and are told it is acceptable today. Why is there no similar outrage over this language?

Charles H., Baltimore, MD

Humiliation and insensitivity I think the editors should change the original text, if you want my son to read it, no matter how good the book is. The critics are insensitive to the fact that, as African-Americans know, there is no word in the American language as hateful as the n-word. It also insults the intelligence to think that we, of all people, don t know of the hostility that existed in Twain s day. I was forced to read Huckleberry Finn in 1967. I ll never forget the silence and the eye contact that went around the room; it gave you shivers up your spine.

Arthur S., email

We re all Americans It doesn t mean a thing but that you are black. In fact, why don t we drop the African ? I am an American. I am black, not African. My ancestors came here centuries ago, so I am American. Does color matter? No.

Grace S., Centennial, CO