By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Kudos to Erin Aubry for her magnificent article ["Unsocial Studies," May 1420] on the painfully sad situation unfolding at Hamilton High School. Aubry is to be commended for her courage to tell the truth, even when that truth tested many of her own presumptions and loyalties. Amid a complex scenario rife with personal animosities and petty resentments, groundless accusations and race-baiting lunacies, bitter sanctimony and self-righteous anger, an inflexible group of parents (and teachers) and a turgid bureaucracy, Aubry retains her objectivity, delivering a version of the story that has escaped the slavishly politically correct mainstream press. What's more, she does so with impressive style and insight.
Aubry perfectly captures the smug wrong-headedness of Wil Wade and his incendiary coterie of parents. By accusing Alan Kaplan of "brainwashing" the children of color in the magnet, Wade insensitively dismisses their deep and enduring love for this gifted teacher and the effect he has wrought upon their lives. Alan Kaplan has "brainwashed" these kids? Yeah, right: He has "brainwashed" them into Harvard, Brown, MIT, Howard, Columbia, Stanford, Spellman, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt, Morehouse, Princeton, NYU, Penn State, Clark/Atlanta, Reed, Sarah Lawrence, Fisk, and on and on. Ooh, evil man!
The AAPCEE blames poor grades and low test scores garnered by African-American children on racist white teachers, carefully ignoring the fact that many of these same children are also getting poor grades in classes taught by African-American teachers. In addition, the AAPCEE utilizes the old guerrilla tactic of immediately discrediting any person or party who disagrees with them, rendering ineffective all sincere attempts at viable dialogue and, maybe, a practical solution to the very real problems facing educators today.
Please convey my gratitude, appreciation and respect to Erin Aubry for her insights into what has been going on at Hamilton High School. I am a big fan of her writing, and I value her contribution to the cultural life of Los Angeles in general. But "Unsocial Studies" was absolutely wonderful: deeply insightful, objective and nuanced -- to say nothing of courageous -- reporting.
--Jonathan Gordon Los Angeles
I agree with Ms. Aubry that what is happening at Hamilton is a microcosm of what is happening in our society, in general. My concern, as a parent of an 11th-grader in the music magnet at Hamilton, is that the climate there is red-hot and out of control and is about to explode.
If such an eruption takes place, more damage and disruption will occur. If the teachers are terminated, the only people who lose are the students. It is my experience that the good teachers are the ones who disrupt the numbness that happens to our teenagers, who oftentimes need to be shocked into having to think and form opinions. Nowadays, teachers sometimes have to resort to extreme measures to wake up our kids -- and unfortunately, at Hamilton, such efforts have been distorted by calling out the "race card" to prove a fallacious point.
--Patricia Duran Los Angeles
As a recent graduate of Hamilton Humanities Magnet, I have witnessed firsthand the ongoing assault by a few misguided people against Alan Kaplan and Gregg Beytin, two wonderful, intelligent and passionate teachers. Their classes are not centered on crossword puzzles and map coloring, but bring to life the problems that we, as a society, face today, and show us how race, as a social construct, has very real and problematic consequences in society.
I have also seen the unfortunate disparities that exist between magnet schools and community schools. The AAPCEE has a legitimate concern when it questions why students of color are not performing as well as their white counterparts.
However, the AAPCEE's solution to this problem, facilitating a witch-hunt against a list of white teachers, is not going to address the problem of educational inequity. Removing competent, caring and compassionate teachers such as Gregg Beytin and Alan Kaplan will only eliminate what public education cannot afford to lose: good teachers.
--Tam M. Ma UC BerkeleyDEAR EDITOR:
Leaving aside the personal anguish suffered by faculty members who, despite their proven effectiveness in the classroom, happen to have been born with the wrong skin color, the ultimate casualties of those teachers' victimization will continue to be the students themselves, whose intellectual development is being grievously com-promised. Empty rhetoric and ä bumper-sticker slogans will never produce academic excellence.
--Miriam Elkins Los Angeles
The clarity and thoroughness of Erin J. Aubry's story brought to mind the high level of journalism that wins awards or works its way into high school and college English anthologies for its quality and style. It was reminiscent of Clifton Fadiman's excellent journalistic pieces. I hope L.A. Weekly receives some awards for it.
One important theme stands out for me: We should never suspend due process. Human interaction is so complex that, no matter how familiar an issue may seem, it must be examined on its own merits. Some think that to merely hurl a charge of racism is the same as catching someone in the very act. As soon as the charge is uttered, they want to proceed straight to punishment -- like a lynch mob. This tendency is all the more frustrating because, although there has been much progress in this country since the advent of the civil rights movement, racism is still with us. However, bogus charges of racism only add to the problem. If racism is to be defeated, it cannot be with self-serving lies or dishonesty.