Letters to the Editor

From the week of May 18.

People who don't like the language employed by these two wonderful programs are those who are stuck in their own little world and don't like to look outside their safety zone and the little box that they live in. That's great for them. They are entitled to live their life any way they choose. But don't diminish the effectiveness of a program simply because you don't like the fact that it doesn't jibe with your views. Some people need a new way of looking at themselves and their approach to life. The answer of the powers that be, including our new governor, is to have the youth take even more tests when they have already proven very adept at failing those they are currently taking in the first place! DOH! So which would you rather have your money go to? A program that teaches individuals how to overcome their past and the obstacles that they have to deal with on a daily basis and to reach for the brass ring, or one that simply provides more tests to fail (that is, if you can get the kids to school to take the tests in the first place!)?

The individuals involved with CYAR and the Landmark Forum are some of the finest people you will ever come across in Denver -- or the world, for that matter. Consider yourself lucky that there are programs and individuals such as them and myself who are out there taking the time to actually attempt to make a difference rather than be like those just sitting around enjoying the economic prosperity.

No, we aren't all Columbine! Some of us have it figured out, and we are working to make sure it doesn't happen again!
Brian Kennedy
via the Internet

Many thanks for Julie Jargon's piece on P.S.1. I have had friends who've gone through Landmark's program, and I've seen how they've changed -- and not for the better. These people were adults, too; I can't imagine what happens when teenagers become involved with a similar program. Why is the Denver Public Schools allowing this to happen?
Name withheld on request

All that Julie Jargon "unmasked" in her article was her own naiveté and Westword's desire to disparage a charter school during National Charter Schools Week. A more experienced reporter would not have built a story line on the quicksand of such an obvious personal vendetta and would have killed it when it became clear that none of the "concerns" held water.

Here's the scoop: All other things being equal, teenagers who are fearful, angry, suspicious, cynical, isolated, hopeless, emotionally inarticulate and powerless to change their condition do not learn as well as teenagers who feel effectual, can control their emotions, can trust others, are optimistic, know where their strengths lie and have the courage to manage and take responsibility for their emotions. Impotent victims, blamers, grudge-holders, haters, whiners, bullies, intransigents and hysterics not only don't learn much, but they undermine communities in which learning tends to flourish. Every good teacher and every good school knows these things and tries to orchestrate some kind of dance between the personal and the "academic," the emotional and the cognitive. There's no news here.

At P.S.1, we have always tried to attend to the needs of the whole student. We are as committed as ever to teaching them to read, write, reason, do math and make art. We continue to offer them history, science, literature, challenging real-world projects and interesting electives. We continue to offer them opportunities to learn at sites around the city of Denver and throughout the United States and Latin America. The Steps Ahead mentoring program represents no "new direction" at P.S.1. It is just the latest in a series of efforts to help students think clearly, communicate candidly and take some responsibility for their lives.

By the way, if anyone knows how to brainwash teenagers, please contact us. On some days, we'd sure like to try it.
Rexford Brown
Executive Director, P.S.1

Fair Trade

I am a regular reader of Westword, and Michael Roberts has always been one of my favorite writers. I was disappointed to read that he was going to be leaving his position as music editor and would be helming a new media critique page, but I looked forward to him moving the crosshairs of his stinging critiques from the (for the most part) abysmal music scene to take aim at the laughably shallow and ineptly played game of "candyland" that is the mainstream media in Colorado.

I have found, though, that in the Message, he has more often than not chosen to adopt a more low-key tone. He seems to be confining himself to simply stating facts and (fairly) indulging both sides of any given story. Which, I guess, is the ideal journalistic tack, but I miss the "I don't give a shit if someone doesn't like what I have to say" editorial nature of Roberts's best work, and I hope that he eventually brings this to his new pieces.
Eric Martines

Whatever happened to that idiot Michael Roberts? Checking out your site, I didn't see him around...thankfully! Did he go north to Wyoming?
Ty Longley
via the Internet

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