Schools and Scandal
Wick Allison’s thoughtful expression on the state of the Dallas Independent School District (“Publisher’s Page,” May) must surely reflect the frustration and disappointment shared by many who have watched the deterioration in reputation and accomplishment of our schools. Dare we hope with any optimism that the Board of Education will accept the challenge to return local public education to eminence?
I hope that more voices like yours will be heard and that this opportunity to get back on course won’t be lost or further delayed.
Jack C. Bailey
I wonder why it was necessary for the DISD budget to increase from $76,420,000 in 1968, when Nolan Estes became superintendent, to $266,208,000 for the 1977-78 fiscal year, especially when enrollment has declined by 23,000 pupils.
Isn’t it strange that, with so much money being poured into education, we have one of the nation’s lowest academic ratings? Dallas needs a superintendent to raise the levels of our children’s Three R’s. Let’s raise our standards by getting a back-to-basics man.
Mrs. Stephen Breedlove
Congratulations on the best commentary I’ve ever seen in a city magazine. Fred Schmidt
Your recent editorial statement or diatribe on the Dallas Independent School District was both devastating and disturbing and, in my opinion, a grave disservice to the Dallas community. That is so, not because it was vociferous and opinionated, but because it contained many un-examined assumptions, half-truths, and uninformed assertions.
No city in the United States has achieved its Shangri-La regarding the education of increasingly differing populations of urban youth. The Dallas community and the DISD in a collaborative effort structured a model which, as indicators suggest, matches and more often than not, excels similar efforts in other American cities. You seem to ignore the reality that schools are a microcosm of the society of which they are a part. Denigrating urban public education, which undergirds normative structures in this nation while middle class black and white America retreats to suburbia and/or private institutions, seems less than a scholarly and perceptive analysis of the issue, particularly since the sanctuary of private schools has often been hastily established. While I am acutely and disturbingly aware of the unfinished educational agenda in Dallas, I am also aware that we have made valuable progress and that we are positioned to move forward with increasingly informed perceptions, expectations, and results.
A public debate is most appropriate. However, in my opinion, the issue of the replacement of Dr. Estes is but the prelude to inquiries into the substantive survival issues of this society and their impact on and relevance to public education.
I should like very much to join you in planning for such an exemplary forum to address salient and critical issues which confront us all.
Yvonne A. Ewell
East Oak Cliff Sub-District
Mr. Allison replies: The crux of Ms. Ewell’s argument, I think, is that the problems of our schools only reflect the problems of our society. Having considered the social pressures with which the DISD must contend, she seems to conclude it’s done a pretty good job.
I don’t find anything in her letter which even suggests that the Dallas schools can – or should- be concerned with excellence. That’s very depressing to me. Maybe we live in depressing times. Maybe the best thing the DISD can do is to throw up its hands and blame its woes on somebody else.
But I don’t think so. In fact, I believe exactly the opposite. I believe that blaming one’s lack of performance on the ’ ’problems of society’’ is the last refuge of the mediocre.
From the Fort Worth Bureau
I doubt if Mayor Hugh Parmer had much, if anything, to do with our being selected to do a public relations job for the city’s Stockyards area (“Bloodletting in the Bureaucracy,” May). Rather, I believe we were chosen primarily because we have the skills and expertise to do the job, as well as a great enthusiasm for the project. A contributing factor may have been the fact that I had already demonstrated an interest in this historic area by making personal and business commitments to its development.
“Bloodletting in the Bureaucracy” was remarkably free of inaccuracies, with one glaring exception.
This is to inform you, and to make it abundantly clear to your readers, that I made neither statement nor comment concerning the dietary preferences of Dallas. The alleged quote to the effect that I did make comment thereon is an absolute fabrication. I prefer to assign such an error to the impatient enthusiasm of youth rather than to any deliberate design on the part of the writer. Further, I consider the inclusion of such a quote to be in exceedingly bad taste.
With this one exception, the young man did an excellent job.
S. G. Johndroe
Mr. Stiteler responds: Mr. Johndroe’s specific reference to the culinary fare, or perhaps the political tastes, at this end of the turnpike was ’ ’Dallas eats shit.’’ His statement exemplifies a device the former Fort Worth City Attorney used for years to avoid answering reporters’ questions. He assumed that if he answered a question with profanity, the net result would be no answer, because no journalist would quote him literally. And he was right, until now. The quotation was used because it sums up Mr. Johndroe’s outlook and style. He is still right in one regard, however: His statement was in bad taste.
You implied that The Old Spaghetti Warehouse has intentionally not provided parking for its customers (“Q&A,” May). I would like to set the record straight. If parking could be found near our restaurant, we would definitely be able to do more business. We are in the same boat with our customers in terms of finding parking so we may come to work.
If you really want to be of help, why not urge the city government to extend the mini-bus routes? Why not address the city’s plan for the West End district mall, which, if not changed, will virtually eliminate the already meager amount of parking? Why not solicit the help of city government in aiding the West End enterprises to obtain property for parking?
The Old Spaghetti Warehouse
Wade Leftwich’s article about bicycling as good exercise (“Pedal!” May) should make non-riders sit up and take notice that this is not only a good way to get and stay in shape, but also an economical way to go to work (if you remember that most auto drivers look upon bicyclists with disdain).
Bicycle riders are a lucky group. They hardly ever have circulatory, respiratory, or back ailments, and their general “psyches” are very good.
Leedom Pleads Guilty
In keeping with my conical means of expression. I feel David Bauer’s article (“What is John Leedom Trying to Tell Us?”’ June) was certainly very perceptive and I can assure you that the many personal friends and business friends and political friends that have read it and commented concur that my speech patterns at times are as complex as reported.
John N. Leedom
Dallas City Council
Of course, it is important to inform the public about city and county officials who take advantage of the taxpayers” money, but is it necessary to inform the public about the easiest way to avoid paying speeding fines? (“Up Front,”June) If it is D Magazine’s purpose to condemn the city for stealing from the people, is it right to teach the people how to steal from the city? Fortunately (or unfortunately, as the case may be), the new Speedy Trial Act may have some effect on reducing the time before the appeals come to court. If not, let’s hope some people forget that beating the system can also apply to criminal prosecution and sentencing. If we continue to use the system to avoid punishment for our own crimes, how can we expect the system to punish those whose crimes threaten our own safety?
(We meant only to point out that these abuses do indeed occur in Dallas. If the tone of the article suggested that we encourage these practices, we regret it.)
I am disappointed with D Magazine. It has consistently failed to represent, even present a minority person’s viewpoint of Dallas life.
In the April issue’s column, “The Media,” Jim Atkinson refers to two interview talk shows, “Crossroads of the Seventies” and “Black Forum,” as “no better than a test pattern.”
Your writer has stepped outside his boundaries by making any comment about Channel 8’s “Black Forum.”
Until your magazine reflects viewpoints other than those of Dallas’ white elite, your staff has no business evaluating any other media.
I am a black journalist who manages to interpret rather than overlook the white culture in this city… why then can’t you see the black, brown and red?
“The Baptists’ Last Stand” (April) isn’t very accurate and definitely isn’t up to your high standards.
Someone else must have been speaking and voting against legalized gambling prior to 1943 because Dr. Criswell wasn’t in Texas. Your statement that “Baptists have managed to control past elections through seemingly limitless campaign funds” rather grossly overstates our power and expenditure of funds against pari-mutuel gambling. Churches of Christ. Methodists and many other denominations prevalent in the state feel as strongly as we do on the subject.
As a native Louisianian (who became a Texan in 1946), I was brought up with slot machines, horse racing, liquor by the gallon and similar “sports” and I’m deeply convinced that these activities are about as useful as ticks and frequently as dangerous as adders. It saddens me to see Texans lured down the same swamply path.
Finally, your title is misleading. This won’t even come close to being our “last stand.”’
Ned P. King
Director of Marketing
World Service Life Insurance Co.
I attended Hockaday from the fourth grade through the fourth form and adored almost every minute of it as a day student. I have heard all the old jokes about the “snooty,” “wild,” Hockaday girls, and I was curious to know which ones Prudence had heard (“Why Hockaday Girls Are Different,” June). I was relieved to see that she captured the true gracious-ness of Miss Hockaday and “her girls,” for whom she lived. Ms. Mackintosh was a little rough on Miss Grow, but I’ll let that slide.
Amy Worthington Jenness
The Motley Cemetery
I was pleased to read the coverage of the old Motley cemetery in your April “Q & A.”
The graveyard contains the remains of the arm of John Motley (my paternal grandfather) and not the arm of Zachari-ah Motley. John Motley lost his arm in a gin accident when he was a young man.
For many years, the cemetery was in a state of ruin. Largely through the efforts of my father, Joe B. Motley, and Jack Motley, the graveyard has been restored.
In November, 1977, this graveyard was designated a state historical site; the Motley family purchased a historical marker and had it erected at the site as a memorial to our family ancestors.
Schools and Scandal