Mountains of praise: I've been a Westword and Patricia Calhoun fan for years. As a "minor" publisher myself (Westword actually receives my weekly paper, the Mountain Jackpot), I have to say that Calhoun's February 7 column, "Tape Worms," was one fine piece of editorial journalism.
You are appreciated, especially by us mountain boys who only get stuff like the Texas 7 dropped on our doorstep once in a lifetime -- and even that was pretty lame. Keep the shiny side up.
Class dismissed: I were cooling my heels down to the Vitamin Cottage, frettin' over which free newspaper to read, when out of the weeds leaps none other than Buffalo Patty Calhoun! Jabbing the muzzle of her Colt Peace Keeper into my ribs, she rasps, "Do you wanna read my rag, or take yer chances with one of these others? Well, do ya? Punk?" My copy of the January 31 Westword held in plain view, she goose-stepped me into a nearby caffeine purveyor's and then sat, cold and immovable as a Republican's heart, and forced me to read every word, right down to the very last enticement from a massage parlor promisin' "genyouine Asian girls!!"
Now I know exactly how many in Colorado's home-schooling community must feel.
It's clear from Julie Jargon's "Reading, Writing and Refrigerator Raids" article on Colorado Virtual Academy (COVA) that public-school districts across the state have a new hiring category: bushwhacker. Apparently, home-schooled kids are now frog-marched to computer screens provided by this public-schools-operated program and forced to use it.
Typically, this is the kind of overwrought twaddle you hear from the left. Here, though, it's the (mostly) right/conservative types who are running in circles and screaming about dislodged chunks of sky. Sorry, folks, but from where I sit, it looks like a sunny day with no chance of acorn blizzards. Those wailing that COVA will be the end of home schooling as we know it (TEOHSAWKI?) are engaging in exactly the same kind of fear-mongering they've long accused the public schools and their professional highwaymen of. Those so vehemently opposed to COVA are adopting the elitist stance of the educrats who've always patted us educational peons on our collective curls and assured us that they "know what's best for us."
I don't have a burro in this race -- I send my kids to a private school. But if someone chooses COVA, what business is it of the Christian Home Educators of Colorado or other home-schoolers? For years we alternative-schooling proponents have screamed that the public schools are afraid of the competition, and then, when the pubs start competing, instead of giving it an objective chance, many of you home-schoolers turn into puling hypocrites.
The best I can hope for is that Doc Calhoun didn't get the drop on your kids like she done me. I'd hate for them to see y'all make such braying asses of yourselves.
The 14 percent solution: Thank you for your story on home schooling and COVA. We don't think the problem is so much public or home-based education as it is quality and accountability. The home-based schoolers, according to a Colorado Springs information packet, have an unreasonably low standard of 14 percent as passing. Any good parent will go way beyond that, because, let's face it, 14 percent is unacceptable.
We think what worries people, and what we would like to hear about, is the other kind of parent -- the kind who thinks 14 percent is great. Their children are visibly not being educated and are borderline illiterate, and they have been doing it for years. Who do you call? Well, we spoke to superintendents, school administrators, legal defense groups, etc., and we were finally told by the governor's advocate for education that the agency to call was the already overburdened and overworked social services. Very rarely do they know about home schooling, and then they will once again get behind on the already existing abuse cases. Yes, it is abuse through lack of education.
So let's see: We have low standards and no separate body to check into violators of this growing "entity." As we know, violators can go unchecked for years, especially if no one knows they exist.
We were also told that when they reach age sixteen, they no longer need to go to school. We would like to hear the wonderful success stories from Linda Dobson about these kinds of families that go into society with their 14 percent education and diploma in their hand, written by Mom (oh, yes!). Better yet, next time they need to see a doctor, ask for the one with the 14 percent degree.
Cheryl and Nick Campbell
Home is where the heart is: I wanted to thank you for a well-written and thorough job on the subject of virtual schools. I am a conservative Christian home-schooler and believe education is a parental responsibility, not a government responsibility. It doesn't mean governments cannot help, but they are not the authority in the matter.
The best part of the virtual academy is that it offers yet another avenue for parents in taking some control back in educating their kids. I would put it in the same category with other charter schools. Parents should realize that there are stipulations. If a parent does not feel comfortable with those stipulations, then don't do it.
It is important that in the end, our state continues to help parents understand that education should not be driven by the state, but by the parent. Parental involvement is the leading factor in success, regardless of which type of education is selected for the child. Colorado's open home-schooling laws have helped in teaching that critical point.
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Picture imperfect: Julie Jargon's story on charter schools was interesting, and I was glad to hear what some others were saying and facing. I feel she properly represented the things I had to say. However, my name was under a very nice picture of Treon Goossen. It may be confusing to those who know us, and she, who has worked so hard for our wonderful home-schooling law, should be properly identified.
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Who's who: Just so you know, the picture that you say is of Kin Griffith in your article about virtual schools (which is a great article), is actually a picture of Kevin Swanson, the executive director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado. He is a good family friend, and I recognized the picture as being him. Hope you can clear up this mistake.
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Editor's note: Our apologies for the very real screw-up on the photo cutlines for the virtual schools story. To read Julie Jargon's story online -- and to see those people correctly identified -- go to www.westword.com.
Rave notices: I am amazed that some people's idea of community action is to take signs down in their spare time. Not just take them down, but put others up trying to get others to join in. With all of the problems in the world today and in our city itself, from unemployment to homelessness, it strikes me as a feeble attempt at community service.
As stated in Laura Bond's February 7 "Signing Off," the city itself has a task force for these horrible crimes -- so let the city take care of it. Get a hobby, help out at a food distribution center, volunteer at the Red Cross.
The fact that some of these signs actually generate income for people and provide some sort of hope even in our crippled economy should be enough. The main concern seems to be that they do not look good in the neighborhoods. It would be interesting to find out how many of these signs have actually caused any accidents.
Get a grip on reality, you do-gooder wannabes.
Flier-by-night enterprise: I would like to congratulate Laura Bond on her recent snapshot into the sick, sad minds of those sign-slasher guys. Wow! Get a life, geeks! (Or, better yet, a job!)
I notice that, in addition to yard-sale signs, they don't touch real-estate signs or campaign signs or political fliers. However, they do rip down local band fliers or paste them over with their own fliers advertising their own useless Web site. That tells me that they are not interested in enforcing any ordinance, only in for-cing their opinions on us through the use of violence and intimidation. They are, then, fascists in the crudest sense. Many self-employed, small-business owners are faced with the daunting task of competing with huge corporations. They have a marketing budget of zero against a corporation's budget of billions. Their only hope of success is to come up with creative and affordable ways of reaching their niche.
By vandalizing signs, fliers and anything else they can get their hands on, these fascists are the unwitting pawns of huge corporations. They help them maintain the corporate stranglehold by eliminating a small-business owner's chance to share the market. I have done research on some of these advertisers that the fascists attack and have found that some are not-for-profit organizations that help small businesses in need. They certainly provide much more support than any yard sale. But I suppose talking sense to these fascists would be the same as talking sense to an abortion-clinic bomber.
Name withheld on request
Skating on thin ice: Thank you for giving the University of Denver hockey program the positive publicity that it deserves. The Pioneer faithful have known all along what others are now starting to see.
However, I would like to correct a couple of inaccuracies in Bill Gallo's "Pioneers Fly High," in the January 31 issue. First, a simple check of the ticket prices will reveal that student tickets go for four dollars, not five. Second, the article quotes attendance figures for two games earlier this season against Boston College and Vermont; it should be noted that neither of these games were played at Magness Arena. Instead, they were part of tournaments that took place in Alaska and in New Hampshire, respectively. Again, a quick fact check would have shown this.
It seems that a little more attention to detail, and perhaps actually attending a DU game, would have avoided these errors. Nevertheless, GO, DU!
Ticket to snide: I suppose I would have had an easier time with Bill Gallo's snide tone in his January 17 "A Plan for Shanny" had he not debased journalism and this publication by misspelling Jarious -- not Jarrius -- Jackson's name.
The little battle of Big Horn: I am writing to you from Story, Wyoming, a little village of 600 people nestled against the Big Horn Mountains, twenty miles from Sheridan. I recently read Michael Roberts's January 24 "Tower Failure." Boy, it really struck home for me.
I have a pottery shop right on the edge of our town, and this winter, my neighbor to the east of me got a 500-foot radio tower approved by our county commissioners, even though there was a great deal of protest from our town. (The town, obviously, is not wealthy.) We made all of the points that were mentioned in Roberts's article concerning Lookout Mountain: health, safety, lifestyle, visual impact, etc. The commissioners just blew us off and sided with a radio monopolist from Maryland. It was very discouraging, to say the least.
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High ideals: As a resident of the Mount Vernon Canyon area, I am glad to see renewed attention to the controversial issue regarding antenna-tower location and the risks associated with current sites and proposed new ones. I appreciate Westword's devoting space so that your readers can follow the discourse. The fact is, the antenna wars are finally reaching a climax: In the next two or three months, the Jefferson County Planning Commission will be reviewing what should be the last proposals from the organizations behind the Eldorado Mountain, Mount Morrison and Lookout Mountain sites. After that, our county commissioners will make a decision as to where future high-definition television (HDTV) "supertowers" (between 400 and 600 feet high) will be located. They have to: The Federal Communications Commission has mandated that Denver (along with 49 other markets in the U.S.) be HDTV-compliant by 2006. (They were supposed to be "ready" for such changeover at the end of 1999.) As Michael Roberts noted, the clock is ticking.
This controversy has been looked at in many ways: money-hungry, selfish landowners/broadcasters versus environmentalists; supporters of progress and technology versus not-in-my-back-yarders; and HDTV users versus the health-and-safety radicals. What the public and Jefferson County commissioners must do is sift through the hyperbole and allow this decision to be based on what is best for those who live or work near such antennas.
I urge readers to get informed and get involved. We choose to live in Colorado and, more specifically, in the foothills for many reasons; certainly, health, safety and aesthetics are among them. We all care about our community and maintaining its qualities for our children and future generations.