Letters to the Editor

From the week of March 20, 2003

The Inn Crowd

Throwing in the towel:Just finished David Holthouse's article on the Regency ("Motel Hell," March 13). I worked at the Regency in various capacities for several years starting in 1970, so I remember how grand it was. I remember meeting celebrities, sports figures and politicians.

The Oxford Hotel went through the same tough times in the '70s, and to look at it now, you'd never know it. They'd even hand you your towel and washcloth when you checked in and charge you if you didn't return them when you checked out -- that's how bad it was.

I can only hope the Regency can aspire to a fraction of its former greatness, although I doubt it. At any rate, good article, and thanks for the memory.

Michael Staley
via the Internet

Keep it under your hat:I enjoyed "Motel Hell." My friends and I have been watching the Regency go downhill for many years. I guess I'll have to get a belt and cowboy hat to check it out.

Erich William Ulmer
Denver

Hitting below the belt:David Holthouse's article on the Regency gave me a few laughs. I about peed my leather chaps when the Mexican straight cowboy asked if the writer was a faggot for not wearing a belt. I have heard that one before. I go to Mexican gay clubs often and always see gay cowboys wearing big belt buckles, boots and hats, and I have to say that the straight Mexican cowboy is mistaken: Pants can be removed easily with or without belts!

Botas Teran
Boulder


A Class Act

Mentor program:I really enjoyed Julie Jargon's informative and objective article about Denver Public Schools' attempts to improve students' reading skills ("Reading, Writing and CSAP Scores," March 13). I was a teacher in DPS for more than thirty years and worked in a number of elementary schools and with federal reading projects in Denver.

First, let me commend the efforts of Sally Mentor Hay, who is heading up this massive effort. Her child-oriented views are a breath of fresh air in this project. Throughout the article, Ms. Hay was shown to value the students' experiences over that of the teachers and administrators. She seemed to understand that a child's attitude toward reading and learning in the classroom is central to all education. The benefits of good learning attitudes carry over throughout people's lives. And she let the teachers and principals know when they were losing sight of this in favor of classroom control and procedure.

Julie Jargon did not pull any punches, either. Her coverage of the exchanges between Mentor Hay and the teachers, coaches and principals showed realistically that some DPS personnel really get it, and some need more time and training. From my experiences, I can tell you that some never will. I only wish there had been this type of effort and support from central administration when I taught school.

Good luck, Ms. Hay, and thank you, Julie Jargon, for your excellent writing.

Dr. Fred Buschhoff
Denver

The best and the brightest:I am a fourth-grade teacher in the Adams 12 School District, and I loved Julie Jargon's article!

It really got me thinking about "best practices" in literacy and my own teaching strategies in the classroom. I would like to know more about Sally Mentor Hay's thoughts on the practice of displaying student work in the classroom.

My question is: How does displaying student work in the classroom help students? Our school improvement team (a group of teachers, administrators and community members) is currently debating this issue. In order to raise the quality of work (their focus), some want only the best work posted. This concerns me. Any advice?

Name withheld on request

The right stuff:Thank you for the piece about reading and writing. All kids do not learn the same, and Ms. Hay is making the same mistake that the school systems have made from the beginning of education. I am a 59-year-old man with ADD, so I speak from experience. May I suggest you read Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World, written by Jeffrey Freed.

Albert Perrone
via the Internet

Social studies: The parasitic capitalist upper classes, fearing the loss of wealth and power -- and revolution in the streets if the secrets were to become widely known -- are always seeking ways to deflect capitalism's failures onto innocent individuals and their communities.

The "education reform movement" and standardized testing (CSAP) are simply examples of the many political and economic deflection policies directed at working Americans. Teachers are under attack not because they have failed, but because they have succeeded at raising student job expectations that corporate capitalism cannot fulfill.

Nothing is going to change in our society until capitalism is put on the table for analysis and discussion.

John Cassella
Denver

Reading is fundamental: I thoroughly enjoyed Julie Jargon's article on the new DPS literacy system they implemented. Great piece of work! I am currently going back to school to teach and am substituting for Jeffco. I am very encouraged to hear about this system. Have any other districts shown interest? I'm glad to know Jerry Wartgow truly cares about our kids' future and is making the necessary changes to see them succeed.

Kudos to all involved!

Steve Livingston
Denver

Food for thought:When Westword does a review of a restaurant, it doesn't confine itself to taste and place. Rather, the article is replete with the history of the restaurant, its many reincarnations, the pedigree of the cuisine, the biography of the chef and the owner and the origin of the ingredients, complete with footnotes, Web sites and maps.

No such attention is paid when the topic is Denver Public Schools. The current recentralization and attempt to standardize curriculum can only be understood in historical perspective. Twelve years ago, then-governor Romer imposed an experimental system of site-based management on Denver Public Schools under the guise of preventing a teachers' strike. The so-called CDM was formulated during secret contract negotiations between the governor, the district and the DCTA. There was no public vote. The system, which allowed committees at each school to make budget and program decisions for that school, was promoted as a means of improving student achievement, although no proof was offered then, nor exists now, to substantiate such a claim.

The Denver school system was balkanized. Each school was a country unto itself, with its own curriculum and sometimes language. Children who were moved were lost. Some schools cut music, art, P.E. and closed libraries. Some students got textbooks, a lot didn't. Affluent schools were sometimes able to compensate; poor schools could not.

There are sad parallels today. While the CDM is losing some control, it still remains a vital part of DPS. Indeed, thousands will be spent in April on something called "CDM Gathering III." Perhaps Westword could send its restaurant critic to cover the event. I understand it is to be a catered affair.

Joanne Marie Roll
Denver

The shock of the new:Mary's in fifth grade in Gerald "call me Jerry!" Wartgow's Denver Public Schools, and goes to school for six hours every day. Three of these hours are taken up with the new-new "literacy" program. Then there's an hour a day for the usual changing class, settling down and discipline issues and another for lunch/recess. Hmmm. That leaves one whole hour for math, science, social studies, library and "specials" (P.E., art and music). Every day! Jerry thinks that's plenty.

From District HQ down to every first-year P.E. teacher, low CSAP scores do not suggest to "educators" that they are incompetent bums. Rather, it's a clear sign that a goat is needed. Or, better, a New Program! Like a legion of Eddie Haskells caught with their collective hand in Mrs. Beaver's cookie jar, "educators" always seek fault elsewhere. Must be a seminar they get on one of their many in-service days. It's the "language" barrier! It's poor diet!

It's the nasty, smelly brats or, if not the parents, it's the kids! In the last few years, they've had a ready scapegoat in our eeevvviiilll Republican governor, who wants them to (gasp!) earn their paychecks. If they can blame someone else and get an expensive new program, too, why that's just peachy, Mrs. Beaver!

Buried near the end of Jargon's article is the word that identifies this New! Improved! Gets kids brighter! Program in Denver for what it really is: a "trend." Another educational fad foisted on another hapless generation of kids by an educational establishment that sucks the fat, powerful ass of national educational interests better than most states. This latest chapeau being modeled in the front window at Jerry & Company (but echoed in every Colorado public school) is simply another in a long, long line of educational fashions -- the New Math, the New, New Math, Whole Language and Self-Directed Learning, etc. -- designed to enrich textbook writers and consultants, make it appear as if administrators and teachers are actually doing something and, above all else, keep the funding flowing. Never mind the fact that while the educational "professionals" get to strut on the avenue in this snazzy -- if gauzy -- new raiment, kids get to huddle in dark, cold alleys wrapped only in the moth-eaten, flyblown sackcloth of their schools' perennial failure.

JM Schell
Arvada


The Write Stuff

Making book:Regarding "Planet Clare," in the March 13 issue:

Many thanks to Michael Roberts for giving Pamela White the press time she so deserves. I had the pleasure of working in the newsroom with Pam at the Colorado Daily -- and have known firsthand her brilliance and passion as a writer.

Congrats to Pam on her new book, her tenacity as a stoic journalist and her persistence in standing up for what she believes in. She's one of the reasons I became a writer -- and I know she's touched the lives of many others.

Keep up the good work!

Amanda Hill
Arvada


Crash Course

You auto know better:For several years now, I have been trying to convince the local news media to address the auto-insurance ripoff, which was only superficially touched on by Alan Prendergast in his March 13 "Leave the Driving to Bill."

Imagine the outrage if the NRA really had the GOP in its pocket and got a law passed that said that everyone had to buy a gun -- and if you didn't have a good credit rating, and industry-created actuarial data suggested that you might be more of a risk, you had to pay double for that gun! Or if you couldn't prove prior "continuous" gun ownership, you would also pay a much higher price for that gun!

Yet we allow the auto-insurance companies to buy our legislators, so that we are forced to buy their private-industry product?

Those who want to get a ballot initiative going to set the insurance industry in its proper free marketplace should contact CitizenRevolt@aol.com.

Daniel King
Aurora


The Man Who Would Be Mayor

Ari head:After reading Stuart Steers's "Imagine a Great Campaign," in the February 27 issue, I thought I'd write concerning one of the candidates, Ari Zavaras.

Zavaras is a lawman's lawman, and it is clear from his track record that he believes civil rights should always yield to law enforcement. So if you want to see more spy files and no-knock raids, elect Mr. Zavaras. Take it from someone who grew up in Philadelphia under Mayor Frank Rizzo: The last thing Denver needs is a trigger-happy lawman turned mayor.

David Noland
Denver

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