We clearly touched a nerve with our cover story about how parents at McKinley Elementary in Compton became the first in the state to take control of a school under a radical new state law ("California's Parent Trigger," by Patrick Range McDonald, Dec. 10). With the school underperforming and parents fearful their children were being poorly served, parents opted to exercise the Parent Trigger law.
William Joseph Miller writes that staff writer McDonald "spins a compelling narrative of heroic parents versus evil teachers unions. However, he forgets Miller's Law — namely, the success of a charter school is directly proportional to the number of students a charter school rejects and the length of its waiting list.
"Unlike public schools, charter schools do not have to admit everyone. Following the basic principles of economics, the more students a charter excludes, the greater its prestige and the higher quality of student it will attract. This inevitably results in sterling test scores."
Robert D. Skeels sees the McKinley takeover as part of a much larger campaign by front groups pushing charter schools and vouchers.
"Wow! A sudden lapse in the normally dishonest dominant discourse by the charter-voucher-sector sycophantic Los Angeles press?" Skeels writes. "The mendaciousness of the wealthy Ben Austin and his junta of school-privatization drones, including Gabe Rose, Pat DeTemple, Shirley Ford and Mary Najera, is legendary.
"It doesn't take much to understand that the Gates and Walton Foundation funded Parent Revolution is still employing deceptive and deplorable tactics. The entire network of charter-voucher front groups for the CCSA and DFER, which are a collection of astro-turf 501(c)3s, including Families in Schools, Alliance for a Better Community, Families That Can and, first and foremost, Parent Revolution, are a despicable collection of liars and thieves."
RobE offers an interesting analogy: "Can someone please tell me why we continue to allow amateurs to oversee education? I am mainly talking about school board members, but now you have parents who haven't even prepared their kids for school properly wanting to manage campuses. Imagine this: 51 percent of a local Walmart's customers get together and, under a new state law, are allowed to seize that store and run it as they like or even force it to close. Of course people would say that is an insane idea. So now why do we allow it with schools?"
RobE advocates allowing teachers the freedom "to innovate on the local level with oversight provided by the state Department of Education without interference from turf-protecting and innovation-phobic school board retards, almost none of whom have ever taught in a classroom. Add to that mandatory but free parenting classes for all first-time mothers and fathers and also allow any child to attend any campus their parent deems fit for them. Then when a school continues to fail, teachers can no longer pass the buck to the school board, and they get the ax."
DEFENDING KEN KESEY
The other article that especially stirred readers last week was David Weddle's defense of the late author Ken Kesey ("Artist as Outlaw: The Legacy of Ken Kesey," Dec. 10). Weddle said author Mark Christensen's new book about Kesey, Acid Jesus, was a cheap shot based on rumors and half-truths.
The piece drew this response from Jason Johnson, who lives, as Kesey did, in Oregon.
"There's been a raging debate here in Eugene among the Pranksters and Ken's immediate and 'extended' family on how to deal with this slimy character Christensen. While we don't want to fan the flames and draw attention to his book, we don't want the lies perpetuated, either. Your article does a great job of framing the argument and delivering the truth."
Jeff Forester writes: "Kindness is not a sleight of hand. Love is not a trick. Ken told us at the beginning of the CAVERNS class to be gentle with our characters, that he had had to pay for what he had done to McMurphy and Joe Ben. I think he was correct, and I thought of this when reading Christensen's fiction and it made me shudder."
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Rachel (Foster) Hamilton writes that while she "never had a rosy view of '60s counter-culture because I grew up in the midst of it, at the same time I could never deny that the values people stood for are enduring. In fact, I would identify with Kesey's statement, 'We're fighting a battle to save the world, whether it wants to be saved or not.' "
The last word goes to Kesey's daughter, Sunshine Kesey: "I have tried to articulate my outrage at this 'assassination.' Words and reason fail, as I feel the low blows and nasty jabs. Thanks for taking up the inky sword for your comrade, as he is no longer able to defend himself."
MORE INKY SWORDS
Please sharpen those pens and write to us at Comment, L.A. Weekly, 3861 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90293. Or you can reach us at laweekly.com. As always, we prefer full names and contact info.