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OH YEAH, AND
Howard Blume’s cover story on charter schools Horizon and one2one [“No Classrooms, No Teachers, No Playgrounds, No Standards,” November 10–16] was a real piece of work.
Here’s an example of what happened to me and other parents of my acquaintance. Horizon requires that all magazine orders be in by September 1. Surprise, here it is mid-November, and no one has received any magazines. Parents turn in orders for supplies and textbooks, and, wow, here it is mid-November, the first quarter is already over, and, yep, you guessed it, Horizon still hasn’t provided the required texts for core subjects such as chemistry. (Last year, Horizon actually managed to get some textbooks to students a whole six weeks before the end of the school year.)
As for traditional public-schooled students and their parents, all those extracurricular-type activities you hear about charter-school students getting to take advantage of . . . Well, if the supplier is Horizon, forget it! Small-group instruction can take six months or more to set up, and by then the school year is almost over, so why bother? That is, if they haven’t lost the paperwork, or scared the vendor off with their requests for yet one more form to be filled out.
Charter schools should not be run by big for-profit outfits. Control should stay at the local level.
I’m writing to comment on the story about home-based charter schools. I’m afraid the writer made it sound as though all such schools are as hands-off as Horizon, etc. I’d like to know whether he investigated any of the home-based charters that are run within local districts. Our district — the San Lorenzo Valley District in Santa Cruz County — has a number of these, most of them with some classroom time each week, and all of them very different from the ones described in the article.
Also, the annual standardized tests offered in the California public schools are not “mandatory.” Any parent can request that his or her child not be tested. It’s therefore not surprising that more home-schooled children — many of them are following nontraditional curricula for many reasons — are not tested.
Ben Lomond, California
Re: Harold Meyerson’s “Unsafe at Any Speed” [November 3–9]. If any good has come of this election mess, it’s that it has exposed America’s addiction to speed. We drive at reckless speeds, we speed-dial, and we use computers to shop so we can have semi-instant gratification. On November 7, it was the television networks, each trying to be the first to declare a winner, that moved at reckless speed and projected winners in states by using exit polls and not bothering to wait for actual votes to be counted.
If you hark back to your high school civics class, you may recall something about our constitutional system having checks and balances. Remember that part about “how a bill becomes law”? It turns out that one “check” against unjust laws is the simple process of slowing things down. A bill that is born of vindictiveness will usually run out of steam before it gets through the gauntlet of committees, the House, the Senate, the conference committee and the president’s desk.
Speed kills. A government that operates with the consent of the governed is legitimate only when the ballots of the governed are accurately counted. And if that means a hand count of hanging chads, well, that’s what the Founding Fathers intended. Sort of.
—Ronald H. Ross
TALKING THE TALK
This is in response to Doug Harvey’s “Godawfulism” article [November 10–16], at least analogically. The necessity of the New, the Radically Different, the Parricidal Progeny, the irruption in its many guises and dispositions as conscience in the history of Western painting, is an entirely Romantico-Modernist moment, or at least its penultimate expression. Why is it our critics will paradoxically condemn our painters for their “romantic” impulses, for “exploiting the last recombinations of Modernist aesthetics,” etc., when it is they who continue to issue this teleology? These critics are value-primers of an economic genre of the “New and Improved,” both in rationale and effectively. How ’bout it? They are small historicists writing impassioned endorsement copy. Fuck them to hell.