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Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.
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Are There No Veterans in Austin?

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 16, 2011

Dear Editor,
    Wow, I think that you missed the boat. You had a wonderful opportunity to make a hit to a huge part of the Austin population with a front-page splash honoring our vets. It is really hard for me to believe. I'd like for the Chronicle staff to acknowledge and perhaps give a plausible explanation as to why you did not pay homage to our current warriors and those who gave their lives to keep this country free. Within last week's issue, I saw no veterans' information except that you may have remarked about several restaurants offering free meals – I don't recall.
    A short time ago, you published my letter [“Postmarks” online, Sept. 28] about the absence of Click and Clack (my side comment of the saddle stitch was just that I noticed a difference). And I never did get a specific explanation about the elimination of Click and Clack, except I believe that it was Louis Black who basically stated that changes will happen. Really, was Click and Clack too expensive? Was there not enough favorable feedback?
Paul Birdsall
   [Editor's note: In general, the Chronicle does not do annual anniversary coverage of any kind, and we mean no disrespect to veterans or any other honorable occasion.]

IDEA Partnership Can Work

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 16, 2011

Dear Editor,
    Re: "Not Everyone Keen on Charter IDEA" [News, Nov. 11]: Eastside neighborhood parents and Austin school leaders recently took a day trip to IDEA Public Schools in the Rio Grande Valley, and they came away impressed with the spirit and focus of the students, teachers, and staff. The tour was intended to give them an authentic look at what it would be like to have IDEA partner with the Austin Independent School District.
    For the past five years, all IDEA students have been accepted into a college or university. That's something we can't say about students enrolled at Eastside Memorial now or at any time in recent history. Despite the best efforts of all involved, the district is searching for a way to support Eastside Memorial, and surrounding schools, in providing college-ready results. The AISD IDEA plan deserves thoughtful community support.
    IDEA knows how to get low-income students college ready and has a proven track record of doing just that in its valley schools. East Austin parents should keep an open mind and view the proposal as a real chance for student success. The in-district charter school would be a true partnership with the school district and the neighborhood, not a takeover as some have suggested.
    This partnership can work – and it can transform the lives of thousands of East Austin students who deserve a shot at the best public education we can provide. Similar partnerships have worked in Houston, Galveston, San Antonio, Dallas, and many more districts around the state. AISD is right to put forth an innovative plan that embraces best practices from a proven public charter school system.
Josie Duckett, Texas Charter Schools Association, VP public and government affairs
Matthew Randazzo, IDEA Public Schools, chief growth officer
   [Richard Whittaker responds: Having spoken to several people that took part in the trip to the IDEA school, and also having watched testimony during citizens' communication at the most recent AISD board meeting, it is clear that not everyone was "impressed" by the experience. There are still many questions to be answered about the proposal to let the writers' employers take over several AISD campuses.]

Will District Support Neighborhood Schools?

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 16, 2011

Dear Editor,
    An Austin ISD brochure states, "AISD Teacher of the Year serves as an advisor to the superintendent during the next academic year." I guess they weren't talking about me. That brochure was published a year before I was named AISD Teacher of the Year.
    Though I am a teacher in East Austin, the district Teacher of the Year, and a resident of East Austin, I was never invited to have a conversation with anyone in the superintendent's office regarding the in-district charter school plan for the Eastside Memorial High School and all the schools that feed into it [“Not Everyone Keen on Charter IDEA,” News, Nov. 11].
    Carstarphen's proposed plan would allow charter school program IDEA from the Rio Grande Valley to come into East Austin and set up a school within the district. The IDEA program reports high levels of graduation and college completion. Sounds great, right?
    Well, only 100 students per grade level would be served. I can assure you there are more than 100 kids in each grade level on the Eastside who would like to go to college, who would like a high quality education, and who deserve it.
    Students would enter the IDEA school through a lottery. How can teachers and parents support a plan that will not benefit all students?
    Every East Austin teacher wants something better for her students. All of us want our kids to have the opportunity to go to college, not just the lucky 100. A teacher doesn't advocate for a chosen few. East Austin teachers advocate for all students.
    There will be students who never apply to enter into the IDEA school. Some will apply but won't get picked. Some might spend just a year or two in East Austin, perhaps not really knowing about IDEA, before moving away to a different part of town. Who will educate these children? Who will push them toward college? Who will make sure that learning is meaningful despite unstable test scores and district pressure?
    I will. The teachers on the Eastside will. With this proposed plan, the future of the neighborhood schools is uncertain. We don't know if the district will support us. We don't know if funds and resources will be diverted away from neighborhood schools and into the IDEA school.
    We want something better for our kids, but we don't want the consequences this plan will bring for a large group of kids and the neighborhood schools.
Caroline Sweet
AISD Teacher of the Year
Fourth grade bilingual teacher at Metz Elementary

Paul Only Pro-Peace Candidate

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 16, 2011

Dear Editor,
    I remember when the president declared that Saddam Hussein had 2,000 gallons of anthrax, 5,000 gallons of botulinum, and an ongoing nuclear weapons program. He asked Congress to pass a bill making "regime change" in Iraq a national priority. He also wanted to spend $97 million to begin sending war material to Iraq. The Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill. Representative Ron Paul was the only member of the House who stood up to argue against the bill. Bill Clinton's Iraq Liberation Act passed in October 1998. Two months later Clinton ordered the cruise missile bombing of Baghdad. Four years later President Bush cited the Iraq Liberation Act in his request for authorization to send in troops. Sen. Hillary Clinton supported Bush's expansion of Bill Clinton's undeclared war.
    Recently I heard the Republican presidential candidates asserting their readiness to make war on Iran – except Ron Paul, who disavowed any intention of starting any wars. Shortly after the debate ended, President Obama made a statement that "everything is still on the table" if and when he decides to make war on Iran. (That means that he will nuke Iran if he feels it is necessary.) His chosen secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is doing everything possible to ignite a war with Iran.
    Are Democrats going to re-elect a known warmonger? Can the Chronicle say anything nice about the only pro-peace candidate? Ron Paul is also the only candidate who opposes torture, bailouts, NAFTA, debts, corporatism, and the war on drugs.
Sincerely,
Vince May

Isn't It About Time We Come to Terms With Teens Having Sex Before Marriage?

RECEIVED Wed., Nov. 16, 2011

Dear Editor,
    I appreciate your cynical reporting of Rick Perry’s views on sex education in our terribly sexually uneducated state [“Just Say No!,” News, Oct. 28]. Isn’t it about time that we all come to terms with the fact that most teens will have sex prior to marriage? Abstinence simply is not a realistic policy. How can Perry claim “abstinence works” and that it is the best way to “teach our children” when nothing is being taught whatsoever? Teenagers are going into the process completely blind because they have not been taught how to do it safely and intelligently. Surely he must realize that as the number of teen pregnancies continues to climb, a policy change must go hand in hand. As a fresh college student myself, my somewhat recent experience with sex education in high school consisted of a simple chapter of information in a textbook followed by the required signing of an “abstinence card.” Of course, most of these ended up in the trash can by the end of class. Perry’s beliefs as well as those mirrored by the current state of sexual education are outdated and unrealistic in a state with such a high teen pregnancy rate.
Tansy Stobart

Think of the Children It Will Benefit!

RECEIVED Tue., Nov. 15, 2011

Dear Editor,
    Re: "Not Everyone Keen on Charter IDEA," [News, Nov. 11]: Missing from the debate about turning over Eastside Memorial Vertical Team schools to IDEA Public Schools charters is the one thing we should be talking about – the children it will benefit.
    The Eastside schools in question are struggling and consistently receive unfavorable school accountability ratings. Despite the efforts of committed adults at those schools, these schools just aren't getting the job done for their students, who are predominantly low-income both African-American and Hispanic. IDEA schools in the Rio Grande Valley have shown success in serving low-income Hispanic students in particular.
    Communications and collaboration between the district, the community, and families is critical to any school's success. Charter schools are not an answer in and of themselves, nor are they better than traditional schools in all cases. However, IDEA is a strong charter network that engages parents and students alike. With its strong model and proven results, I believe a partnership between AISD and IDEA would help these students receive a better education. I applaud Superintendent Meria Carstarphen for taking bold steps and being innovative to improve student achievement and school performance. That alone is reason enough for me to support this effort.
    I am a parent of public school kids and the executive director of Stand for Children, an organization that is supportive of efforts like these to try something new in schools where the status quo just isn't working for kids – lo mismo, no sirve! Our kids can no longer be satisfied with incremental improvements to their education. I encourage you to speak up and get involved if you feel strongly about this issue.
Jerel Booker
Stand for Children
Texas executive director
   [Editor's note: Stand for Children is a national nonprofit advocacy operation, based out of Oregon and Massachusetts, with nine state affiliates. Before joining the organization, Booker was associate commissioner for Educator and Student Policy Initiatives for the Texas Education Agency.]

Perry Resign!

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 14, 2011

Dear Editor,
    Texas has elected some truly embarrassing governors, but never before has Texas been so embarrassed and humiliated as it has with Rick Perry as governor, let alone regarding Perry's nuclear meltdown so-called presidential campaign. Perry should quit the campaign trail, return to Texas, resign as governor, and head back home to Haskell and the "African-American head" hunting ranch. Immediately if not sooner. Perry: resign!
Sincerely,
Thom Prentice

Thoughts on Bag Ban

RECEIVED Mon., Nov. 14, 2011

Dear Editor,
    I am writing in regard to the proposed plastic bag ban in the city of Austin. On the surface, I really could care less either way, but I do have some thoughts and concerns. So today, without further ado, I am writing this short editorial about my thoughts on the proposed plastic bag ban.
    My wife and I do use cloth bags, but we do like to get a few plastic bags. At home we can use these bags in the small trash cans in the bathroom and bedrooms.
    The mayor's proposed banning of them will not eliminate plastic bags. Sure maybe it might eliminate plastic grocery bags, but not plastic bags. Such a ban (or a charge for use of such bags) would only force my wife and I to buy plastic trash sacks that we can't afford – something we don't have to do now because we can get them free when we shop. Thus because we would now be forced to buy trash bags, all the city has done is to trade one plastic bag for another and put a tighter strain on my family's already strained budget, which means they have defeated their whole purpose in the first place. Way to go, mayor, for not thinking this thing through.
Kevin Surbaugh

Thanks for Saving Dr. Puggles

RECEIVED Sun., Nov. 13, 2011

Dear Editor,
    I am writing to share a quick story and commend a fellow citizen. On Saturday, Nov. 12, I walked my pug down to the Spyglass TacoDeli. I go there often because the tacos rock and the patio is pet-friendly. Things took a surprising turn when my dog was attacked by another dog there. He latched onto Doc's neck and would not let go. The owner managed to pin his dog down, but we could not get him to let go. One of the servers, Patrick, jumped right in the middle and gave orders to the owner while hitting the dog in the head. After a horrible few moments, the dog did release his grip. My dog and I were shaken, but the vet said no permanent damage was done. I just wanted to publicly express my gratitude to this man Patrick. He certainly did not have to throw himself into a dog fight, especially since he and I were strangers. But he did, and I am very thankful. It's beautiful to see people do the best thing in a situation and help out. I am truly grateful.
Regards,
Kim Dowd and Dr. Puggles

What Everyone Knows: It's Reprehensible

RECEIVED Sat., Nov. 12, 2011

Dear Editor,
    Regarding the pedophile scandal at Penn State University, I would summarize what everyone knows: It's reprehensible. Most people, if witnessing a child being sodomized, would intervene, if not cause serious bodily injury to the perpetrator. (Also ridiculous was the riot that occurred when the coach was rightfully removed; this was Idiot Drunk Jock Syndrome, which is not to cast aspersions on drunk jocks per se.)
    Society in general is very repulsed by this type of crime. A person I know exclaimed, "He [the perp] is married?!" as if he could only have been an exclusive homosexual. Pedophiles are opportunists, the majority being heterosexual, and often do not discriminate in the gender of their victims.
    There is a pervasive worldwide child sex ring network. The mafia, which in the past has scorned this particular perverse proclivity, has reportedly been more recently involved. This is perplexing because more women have risen to the top echelons of organized crime.
    I admire Ashton Kutcher for being an outspoken activist in this issue, with his beautiful wife at his side in related press conferences. He ran afoul of The Village Voice for criticizing its back page ads, claiming it promotes child prostitution. He caused a firestorm when he Twittered support for the offending coach, without any of the facts in the case. The derision directed at him for that mistake indicates society's disdain for these people, whom, if they could be magically and justifiably eradicated from the world, would cause a perceptively larger dent in the population than most people realize. And I am referring to true pedophilia, abuse of very young and prepubescent children. Adolescents, while they should be protected, are a different consideration; as sexually mature individuals they usually have some choice in the matter, regardless of the letter of the law.
Sincerely,
Kenney C. Kennedy

The Oldest and Sadest Joke in Austin

RECEIVED Fri., Nov. 11, 2011

Dear Editor,
    It's the oldest joke in Austin:
    Q: What do you call an Austin musician who just broke up with his girlfriend?
    A: Homeless.
    As they say, funny because it's true. But for a few decades now there has been the one respite from that, the Wilson Street cottages [“Dead End for Wilson Street,” News, Nov. 11]. And now that Ely Properties has finally lowered the boom and ordered everyone out in 30 days, an entire troupe of Austin musicians is going through just such a breakup. Charlie Faye and her group are hoping to save at least a few of the cottages, but just where do you store entire buildings while looking for a permanent spot for them? I'm thinking it's time for a financial angel.
    So how about it, Richard Garriott? You've spent millions diving to the Titanic and orbiting the Earth, got a few extra bucks to preserve some Austin history, maybe nurture another generation of musicians? Or how about you, John Paul DeJoria, I know you helped keep Antone's afloat. Have a little extra hair-care money to invest? Hair bands just might make a comeback …. Or you there, at the top of the heap, Michael Dell! Think you might could … uh … umm … uhhh …. Oh hell, nevermind. We're screwed.
Jim Vest
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