Name withheld by request

Y2K Piece A-OK
I have read New Times for almost 20 years. Right on with your Y2K expose ("Grist for the Millennium," James Hibberd, June 3). Especially Greg Fraley, whom I know as a decent, honest and genuine Christian.

Bill Miller

Ranch Blessing
We are 100 percent in agreement with Amy Silverman's condemnation idea for Spur Cross Ranch ("Ranch Handout," Wonk, May 27). We have followed this controversy since its beginning, and are equally tired of the rhetoric. Is there not another venue for all of this energy?

Karin and Joseph Wade
via Internet
The media have lately discussed the subject of the social adjustment of high school students, so your article ("The Teen Commandments," Glenn Gaslin, May 27) will probably draw an extra share of attention. Gaslin covers a large body of material, but he has done a good job of detecting the trends and analyzing the shifting directions of the subject matter contained in movies and TV produced for the young people of today.

Gaslin's article is valuable because it provides a small window for viewing the screen, much as the youths may be seeing it. This is the right way to go--and it might be an example of a beginning step toward understanding what teenage culture is about. He is telling us that today's high school is a complex social environment--constantly evolving, and at a rapid pace. Even the producers are hard-pressed to stay ahead of their own game.

Now, once again, our people are looking for reasons and causes--anything that may be related to the lethal behavior of a few students. The search is not new, but there may be something different this time: Some people seem willing to look beyond the usual attack in games, guns, music, TV, etc., and, seriously, to examine high school life and the social structure in which students live.

The entertainment field is only one area of student life, but it is important, and should be studied in depth. Hopefully, a group of wise people will be organized, and will examine all of the factors in its world that may affect the behavior of our young people. There is a need for study of the real problems and shortcomings. There are certainly some very bad experiences available in the high schools. There are sources of anguish strong enough to push a young person's life into a tragic conclusion, using deadly force, and we need to know more about it.

I don't think any help can be gained from new laws, censorship or technical devices. What we need are some people who can gain some real understanding of the unhappy lives being suffered by so many young students. We need to get hold of some facts, so that we can help.

Glenn Gaslin and New Times have made a good move. You show respect for the young, and a genuine interest in their ideals, opinions and taste.

Howard Griffin

Fast Times
The article in the May 13 issue of New Times titled "Think Tank Warfare," by Tony Ortega, addresses a very real danger to our democratic society in general, and the institution of public education in particular. The danger to our society is that those with money and power, even though representing a minority viewpoint, are able to exercise an influence that is disproportionate to their numbers because the appearance of research is accepted as a legitimate basis for public policy. The danger to public education is that among those who would support vouchers are individuals who want a separate school system for themselves at public expense. Indeed, so blatant have been the proponents of vouchers, some have proposed continuing vouchers for students "even if their public schools improved or their families moved to academically strong districts." (See "Voucher Front and Center in Fla. Legislature," March 24, 1999, edition of Education Week.)

Conservatives have come to understand they may never convince the majority of Americans that their philosophy is sound. "Market-based education" advocates appear to have reached the conclusion that they need not convince a majority, because as long as apathy and the understandable preoccupation with personal matters (job, family, finances, health, security, etc.) prevail, the committed few can control the distracted many.

Few seem to challenge the inconsistency of the conservative agenda, which argues on the one hand that the public's interest is best served when needs are met through the market--while many of those same conservatives are found voting for bills that restrain trade, deny equal-employment opportunity and are among the usual suspects behind efforts to oppose consumer-protection laws.

The danger posed by the call for market control of public schools is a deception within a misguided attempt to solve a real problem. Clearly, public schools need to improve. The problem is finding ways to make improvements without destroying the public schools of this nation. Some, I fear, have no qualms about destroying public education. They argue that public schools are a monopoly; therefore, they are inefficient and ineffective. Many of us who know public schools well--both by training and experience--believe that the motives of many who call for vouchers are suspect.

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