"Queer Warriors," Kyle Harris, April 24
I feel so empty and sad. I am only a decade or so older than most of the folks in this story, but it seems like a huge decade. (I didn't get e-mail until after high school, and they seem to have grown up with screens in their faces.) What makes me feel so empty and sad is that they appear to not have the tools necessary to make the changes they want to see in the world. Their anarchism is less a political worldview and more of a consumer/style clique. Where are elders in their world to show them examples of how to make change, how to invest in each others' strengths and hopes, and how to find purpose?
It sounds as if these folks have much to offer and that somewhere inside of them is a yearning to repair the world. It's interesting that they are simultaneously connected to the entire world by their computers while appearing completely disconnected from each other and the larger community. Perhaps they just need to grow up. Perhaps we've failed them. Or maybe a little of both.
I'm not really sure, but I'd suggest they check out some of the wonderful anarchist practitioners and communities throughout history as potential models from which they could draw inspiration.
This was supposed to be about fighting for equality online? I seemed to have missed that among the drunk, high, living-in-a-mess, not-doing-a-damn-thing-but-playing-video-games stuff. If you were shooting to make people not want to get interested in playing a video game ever again, then mission accomplished.
LeAnn Nuss Lavato
Posted on Facebook
"Wrong Answer," Melanie Asmar, April 10
Character-building, not reduction in building (RIB): Teaching should have meritocracy stamped all over it. The greatest teachers are teachers of souls, and the knowledge they impart is a byproduct of caring.
Laying off, or moving to another school, a priceless, caring, great teacher for no real reason at all is tantamount to killing the family dog!
Bring education back to the classroom and out of politics of one kind or another. Our public educational system ranks virtually last in the Western world because it is hamstrung with disenablers at every level, but especially in the classroom itself!
P.S.: If you didn't run such interesting articles, I wouldn't feel moved to respond to your wonderful brand of investigative, primarily local, journalism.
Gene W. Edwards
I was one of those teachers who was RIBed from DPS. I taught Spanish at Henry Middle School for eighteen years; never had a bad review. Was I a tough teacher who made kids work hard? Yes. We were informed that we would be RIBing teachers, but not because enrollment was down. I interviewed and was cut. I was told in the middle of class that I was cut, then sent back to class.
I went to the job fair. Needless to say, I was never given an interview, and found out by e-mail from the district that I was placed at Martin Luther King. When I arrived for new-teacher orientation, I was told that I would be teaching English. I was not qualified to do the job.
The students at this school were horrible. We had guards to remove and keep students in line. I was sworn at regularly, bullied by students and administrators; finally, I was physically assaulted by students. The list goes on. In January 2013, I was called into the principal's office and told that a student had accused me of calling him "retarded." I was told that I was being put on paid administrative leave for two weeks. After two weeks of "investigation," I was called back to MLK and told that I was found guilty, that I was fined three days' salary, and that I was to return to work that very day.
Needless to say, I never returned to that horrible, dysfunctional hellhole of a school. I went out on a medical leave that lasted until the end of the year — at which time, after eighteen years and no written warnings, with nothing but positive and good evaluations, I resigned from the district.
I currently live in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where my husband and I have teaching jobs at the American School of Ulaanbaatar. I also teach the president of Mongolia's son — imagine. I was recently given my evaluation by my principal, told what a professional and dedicated teacher I was, and given a thank-you for doing the great job with the kids and the school that I do.
Kathleen Frances Polly
Editor's note: One of Westword's editorial staffers can vouch for Kathleen Polly's skills as a teacher; her son was in Polly's Spanish class at Henry Middle School. "She was one of those raise-the-bar teachers who expected a lot from her students," says the staffer, "and they learned a lot in return." Find many more comments on Melanie Asmar's story in the online version of "Wrong Answer" at westword.com.
"Bloody Ludlow," Alan Prendergast, April 17
Mining for History
The Westword article on the Ludlow Massacre was without a doubt one of the most comprehensive recountings of this unresolved historical tragedy yet published. Thank you, Alan Prendergast. As participants in the hundred-year observance, we saw the impact that Westword's story had on all who read it! The forceful cover made Westword a centerpiece.
David Antonio Garcia
Editor's note: The story — with that cover art — remains online at westword.com, where you can read it before the United Mine Workers commemoration events for the Ludlow Massacre on May 17-18. Watch for more details.