Disabled Kids Can Offer Much in Programs, Classes

Regarding the article about the difficulty enrolling a disabled child in after-school programs, I want to support and encourage Mia Madison in her valiant efforts ("Unmet Needs," Currents, March 1). It has been so difficult to have special-needs children accepted in our education system; without laws, it wouldn't happen at all. Our culture does not see the disabled as having value, financially, culturally or interpersonally.

If those who manage and teach the after-school programs could see the gifts these children have to offer--opportunities for joy, open-heartedness, creative ways of seeing the world and teaching every child about building a loving community--after-school programs could potentially become a valuable asset to the overall education system. Everyone wins!

V. Claire McKenna

Parents of Autistic Kids Have the Same Rights to Dump Their Kids

How terrible that Mia Madison and her boyfriend, Chris Jensen, have to cope with having a child with autism. Mia is absolutely right in thinking that just because she has a child with special needs, she should also have the right to dump that child off at school, just like thousands of other parents. The state, and we as taxpayers, are absolutely obligated to ensure that someone other than the parent is qualified to handle the day-to-day care of every child equally. It's obvious from the school-retention rates and child-health statistics that children are positively thriving by being raised mainly in the school system.

Thank goodness there are parents like Mia Madison who advocate for her child's well-being, completely sacrificing her own needs in the interest of what is best for her son. I'm sure that the workers at the YMCA are very impressed by her dedication and desire to spend time with her child's picture while she is at work. It's parents like Mia who contribute to making Tucson such a special place to live.

Lizz Maurici

MOCA Board: We Support Our Executive Director

The Museum of Contemporary Art was founded to ensure a permanent home for new ideas in Tucson ("Getting Toole'd," Currents, Feb. 22). MOCA--like other contemporary art museums across the globe--was created to provide a forum for cutting-edge artwork that is deemed too risky and too avant-garde for other institutions. MOCA's specific mission is to provide a forum for the development and exchange of ideas about the art of our time. MOCA supports the critical interpretation and display of the highest quality of contemporary art in service to our community.

It is critical for Tucson to have an institution with this goal. We are committed to the mission of this institution, and we are committed to providing a voice and a venue for new ideas, however challenging they may be.

We actively support artists from Tucson and around the globe. Currently on display at MOCA are 12 Tucson artists (and one Phoenix artist) from our burgeoning permanent collection. Many of these artists participated in our Artist in Residency program and were given free or partially subsidized studio space to help them create their work. We will continue the program, continuing to work with artists from Tucson and around the world.

We are pleased to support our current executive director, Anne-Marie Russell, who is doing an excellent job of fulfilling MOCA's mission. We are further grateful to our previous director, Elizabeth Cherry, and to the founders of MOCA and the Toole Shed Studios--James Graham, Julia Latane, Dave Lewis and David Wright--for their vision, ambition, dedication and hard work.

We are grateful to all of our members and supporters who sustain the institution, and to the leaders in government and business who see the value of establishing a permanent cultural institution devoted to contemporary art.

As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public-benefit corporation, we operate with full transparency. We invite everyone in the Tucson community to engage with MOCA--come visit, participate in our programming and ask us about our activities.

The MOCA Board of Directors

TMA's Raffle House Promotes Sprawl, Consumer Culture

The Tucson Museum of Art is holding its "Designer Show House" ("Designer Show House and Chef Demo," Noshing Around, March 1). I have challenged the museum's artistic wisdom in raffling off a house that represents an unsustainable model of development that creates the nightmare of urban sprawl. ArtFare the Muse in downtown Tucson is currently exhibiting my photography on the fallacy of the house.

It is a house that only the rich can afford and is built by a labor force that can't afford to live in it. There is nothing architecturally innovative about this house; it symbolizes a consumer culture, so car dependent that it has resulted in a country that has gone to war for its addiction to oil.

Shouldn't a museum of art be supporting and promoting an architectural design that showcases a new model of sustainable community design, affordable for all? Don't our future happiness and peaceful co-existence with the environment depend on it?

Libby Hubbard

Support Efforts to End Public-Lands Rec Fees

No one who values the protection of our national parks and forests likes the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act ("Fee Flurry," Currents, March 1). This law favors the ambitions of the recreation industry over the preservation of our natural resources. Its only redeeming feature is the restrictions it places on the U.S. Forest Service's fee authority. The service can no longer shake down visitors engaged in low-impact activities that do not require facilities: hiking, rock climbing, birding, back-country camping, etc.

We see, however, that getting the Forest Service to honor the law is another matter. As Chris Wallace's case gets tossed from one judge to another, the Forest Service goes on collecting fees and using them, astonishingly, to close down facilities that do not turn a profit for the agency.

Thankfully, some members of Congress have become wary of escalating fees (the parks pass increased this year from $50 to $80) and Forest Service policies that marginalize the public.

Greg Lewis

By Bashing the Dailies, the 'Weekly' Has Harmed the Media Image

Has it ever occurred to Jimmy Boegle that journalists bear some responsibility for their own image? It should, since the moment you portray yourself as a victim, you have disempowered yourself ("Proud to be a Journalist," Editor's Note, March 8).

Think about it: If the general public has such a low opinion of journalists, it stands to reason that this opinion has been developing for some time. It would do a lot more good for you to consider yourself in charge of your own fate. Every profession faces challenges.

I've been reading the Weekly since its inception, long before Boegle took the helm, and one constant theme has been disdain for Tucson's other "mainstream" media. The stream of criticism has been unending and, frankly, the Weekly has whined like a little girl. Journalists seem to have a habit of eating their own young, all in the name of ratings or in the attempt to seem "alternative."

Think about it. And thanks for the compliments you actually give to the mainstream media in your column. This is what you should be doing. It goes a long way toward building back public trust.

Dan Starr


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