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To the Editor,

I read with utter amazement Tom Danehy's recent article against home schooling ("Poor Sports," November 11). Although the pretext for his vitriolic, unfounded attack was a sports-related issue, home schoolers playing varsity athletics, the story was about his obvious hatred towards home schooling and those who choose to educate their children in a positive environment without any aid from the government. I can't speak for all home educators, nor do I intend to, but I feel my family's situation has been besmirched by his vendetta on home educators.

I, like Danehy apparently, am a Catholic parent. Unlike Danehy, perhaps, I live in the TUSD school district and the elementary school my children would attend is so bad, with both drugs and weapons, four TUSD teacher friends advised us not to send our children there. Not that we were considering it strongly anyway -- just look at the recent AIMS results as proof of the failure of our public school system.

We wanted our children to attend the local parochial school which I attended, and signed our daughter up at age 2. Much to our surprise, she was beat out of a spot by all of those who signed up their children at birth for the few spots available, which is true citywide for the Catholic schools, I understand. We then had no alternative except home schooling with a Catholic curriculum which we have now done through sixth grade for my daughter. She and her brother recently took the Iowa standardized test and excelled enough so that our school had them each skip a grade!

This does not sound like child abuse to me. As for the intolerance of home schooling mentioned by Danehy, we belong to a Catholic home-schooling group which is 38 percent Hispanic, so my kids are playing with and going on field trips with known Hispanics, and I have seen no incidence of racism. As for religious intolerance, perhaps Danehy is not up on the Catholic canons on education. I am no expert here, but I understand one of the first canons states it is the parents' responsibility to raise and educate Catholic children, not some public school or day-care center. Perhaps Danehy would like us to have a version of Hitler Youth which immediately took away children from their parents and sent them to day-care centers and then to public schools. They may have been good soldiers, and obeyed orders, but I think the world would have been a better place if those kids would have been raised by their folks and not Hitler's henchmen.

I do agree with Danehy in one respect. We are supposed to be able to have our children use the music programs at the public schools but we were refused by TUSD, so we pay for that too. Sports is a better lobby than music, apparently. And in case Danehy thinks I am in some kind of commune, we pay over $3,000 a year in property tax, the bulk of it going to TUSD for no personal benefit. I don't fear for my children, there has not been one incident of drugs found in their classroom nor weapons confiscated. God save us from bigots who buy their ink by the barrel.

-- Jeffrey J. Hill


D Is For Dagestan

To the Editor,

Regarding Tom Danehy's geography gag ("World Beat, November 18): Let's not forget the ebony nightingale from Dagestan. Dagestan declared sovereignty in 1991 in the wake of the Soviet collapse.

-- Tony Eckstat


Staff Support

To the Editor,

It is inevitable that policy-making power would flow from the City Council and towards the permanent bureaucracy for the simple reason that elected officials do not have the resources to compete with staff. From economic development, poverty, budgeting and land use to traffic, crime and gangs, the issues a city must deal with require competent, theory-based research, and our city staff has the education and the time to do that research. I am saddened that our local politicians have not had the inclination to hire the staff capable of competing with a well-educated city bureaucracy; I have always believed that the more information a population has, the better decisions they make. The only way to improve the decision process is to develop alternative sources by which to gather and analyze data relevant to our city's problems.

The educational and other resources available to do just that are astounding, and it is disheartening that they are not being used and, in fact, are actively ignored by many of our elected officials.

-- Kurt Cooper

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