Regarding Robin Chotzinoff's "Class Dismissed" in the January 5 issue:
I just wanted to commend Westword for having the courage to print the story you wrote on Hillary Adams. I'm a retired teacher who worked 25 years for DPS, and the sad truth is that this is not an isolated situation. Incompetent principals seem to be running rampant in the district.
Name withheld on request
As a former teacher myself (although not in the Denver Public Schools), I found your article on Hillary Adams very moving. Teaching is a very stressful occupation; it's made doubly difficult when you are not supported by school administrators.
Last week's tragic cover story regarding the death of a dedicated DPS teacher, Hillary Adams, had a profound impact on many teachers and employees of the Denver Public Schools. The descriptions of the dysfunctional climate at Barnum School made many of us realize that there is a surprising commonality of harassment styles and lack of support to teachers by principals throughout the district. The modus operandi of Judy Chavez fits that of many other ill-prepared, incompetent principals appointed within the last five years, leading one to wonder if there is some central direction to push competent teachers out of the system.
It is clear that from the very top, DPS administration lacks a moral imperative. Although lip service is given to "putting children first," children's needs are overridden by power and political needs of administrators. Achievement is merely a platitude in many places, masked with feel-good, artsy-craftsy activities which do not empower children with skills or knowledge. Bromides such as "you'll have to understand the child comes from a dysfunctional background" do not support teachers on the front line dealing with serious, hardcore, often bizarre discipline problems that destroy the learning environment for all children. Such non-support not only paralyzes teachers' abilities to teach, it gives tacit permission to all children that outrageous behavior is tolerated. Dysfunctional systems are the norm at DPS, and teachers are the scapegoats.
It should be noted that last year 45 grievances were filed against principals, and the DPS office of management relations decided on behalf of teachers in only two cases. We hope that Westword's story of Hillary Adams will prompt further investigation into the decay at the core of our schools' administration.
Our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Hillary Adams.
Several DPS teachers who need to remain anonymous
Once More With Fooling
This is in regard to your December 29 issue. The front page says "Year in Review." What do you think we are, a bunch of idiots? We just went through the entire year. We know everything that happened the last twelve months of 1993. Do we really have to go over it again one more time?
Kudos for your blatant ripoff of National Lampoon's "True Facts" in the Year in Review issue. I didn't know that murder, rape, child abuse and mental illness could be so funny. Why be sad when you can be sardonic!
As always, I found your "Year in Review" hilarious. Thanks for helping me start the new year with a belly laugh.
I am writing to express concern about two items in the Year in Review issue. In the "Strange But True" section, two incidents of animal abuse are described in a way that unsuccessfully implies that there is something humorous about inflicting pain on animals. A description of a cocker spaniel being kicked to death is headlined "Pepsi Had a Crappy Day All Around." In the "What's in a Name?" section, there is a description of pranksters burning the fur and whiskers of a cat named Smokey. These were violent criminal acts.
As a volunteer at the Denver Dumb Friends League, I have personally helped care for animals that have been burned, starved, beaten and injured in a multitude of ways. I guarantee you that there is nothing amusing about this reality. As a society, we should not condone violence against animals, children or one another. I hope that in the future if your writers address the subject of animal abuse, they will do so in a responsible manner.
Bloe Your Own Horn
Why on earth is Michael Roberts the voice of local music for Westword? He never goes to see local shows. When he reviews local music, he always compares it to national bands or specific genres rather than describing the actual content of the music. And every word he does print about the local scene is tinged with enough sarcasm to get across what a joke it all is to him.
There are a lot of people right here on Capitol Hill who would love to have his column. People who would benefit enough from the free press admission and the exposure to not even need a salary. Get someone in there who is genuinely into the Denver/Boulder music scene, and leave the Kate Bush expose to Michael Roberts.
Three for 2 Regarding Patricia Calhoun's "Grave Doubts" in the December 15 issue:
It astonishes me that there are nearly 90,000 lesbians and gays in the Denver area and that only a handful of them support the three people indicted by a grand jury in connection with the Mt. Olivet cemetery situation. Are they ashamed of what they claim to be--lesbians and gays? Or are they afraid because of Amendment 2? Well, for the time being, the amendment is over. It's time to stand up and be counted!
I have heard of how ashamed some of the local gays and lesbians are because of those three people who stood up for their convictions. I have heard some say that what those three people allegedly did was nothing more than a "black eye" to the gay community. Well, those lesbians and gays need to wake up and smell the roses!
I really think that gays and lesbians need to come out of their closets of fear and support the Denver 3. If the Denver 3 are guilty, they are guilty of caring too much for others. They may truly be guilty of caring too much for a community that would rather be trampled on and remain ashamed for no good reason.
When will lesbians and gays come together instead of stabbing each other in the back?
Blame That Tune!
Regarding the December 8 Off Limits:
Thank you for recognizing the local and national performers who were honored to sing the National Anthem at the Rockies' home games last year--they are all to be congratulated.
However, I would like to point out a small oversight. As opening day approached, the Rockies organization apparently realized that they had neglected to arrange for the singing of the Canadian national anthem for the visiting Montreal Expos. They eventually decided to fly in a national Canadian performer for the opener, but the honor was left to my a cappella group, The Diners, to sing "O Canada" for 65,000 fans at the second Rockies home game on April 10.
Since the team was scheduled for six home games against the Expos, it is apparent that other local performers have also been left off of your honor roll. I hope this honest oversight can be corrected in a later issue.
Incidentally, due to the last-minute scrambling by the Rockies, The Diners had exactly four days to find and learn the Canadian anthem. Fortunately, it continues to come in handy: We will be singing both the U.S. and Canadian anthems at the upcoming Olympic hockey warmup between the two teams on Saturday, January 15, at Mc-Nichols Arena.
Thanks, and keep up the good work!
Jeffrey B. King
Editor's note: The complete list of National Anthem singers--including the "O Canada" crooners--is included in Lew Cady's book They've Got Rockies in Their Heads. Westword offered only a sampling of the screechers, as the Off Limits item made clear. Nothing personal, Mr. King--Wendolyn Harston, a woman with a great set of pipes who happened to be in the same Girl Scout troop as Westword's editor, didn't make the cut, either. And for the record, the Elvis impersonator who assayed the "Star-Spangled Banner" was not Charles Kelly, but Charles King. No relation to The Diners, however.