How DART Missed the Target
I read “Can DART Be Saved?” [June] with great interest. The politics of the DART board are indeed intriguing and were thoroughly covered by Kit Bauman and Bill Bancroft.
But the story is too apologetic about the mistakes of the past, and too complacent about the problems of building a rail system in a city that has been shaped by the automobile. Every major philosophical assumption about rail has to be re-examined in light of the data. D’s list of critical numbers leaves out the crucial ones. How many passengers will be carried on the rail? What will it cost to carry them? How many transit riders will switch from less expensive bus to more expensive rail? That number will give you a reading of how little traffic will be reduced. Does a rail system mean that Dallas will do little or nothing to improve roads and highways where 95 percent to 98 percent of the trips will continue to be taken? And if so, what are the economic consequences of not improving the traffic flow? Where is the growth in the Dallas area? Will mass transit have any effect on it?
The article by Kit Bauman and Bill Bancroft [“Can DART Be Saved?’1] seems to be a plea to hang in there for a few more years. I am not impressed with the research your writers did on the financial materials. For example, they say on page 69 “a set of financial estimates related to revenues and costs was developed. Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co., a prominent financial consulting firm, and various business minds gave the document a close read and said it looked solid.”
Peat, Marwick, Mitchell did not say this. In fact, Peat very carefully qualified its report with such words as “The actual results achieved may vary from the projections and the variations could be material.”
Peat, Marwick, Mitchell terminates its six-page letter with the sentence: “Because of the uncertainties noted above, we are unable to evaluate the assumptions taken as a whole. Therefore, we have not determined whether these assumptions constitute reasonable bases for the preparation of the projections, and we do not assume any responsibility for their reasonableness.”
I was one of the businessmen who evaluated the financials related to the DART issue, and I concluded the revenue projections were overly ambitious. However, DART people did not want to hear my analysis and started calling me names for being so inconsiderate.
Francis W. Winn
Kudos to Mary Candace Evans [“Hothousing Kids,” July]. She explained various philosophies of early childhood education succinctly. I appreciated her references to research (or lack thereof in Doman’s approach) and her discernment about the many ways the Montessori method is interpreted in practice.
However, I disagree with Evans’s conclusion of matching the kid to the school. Mothers who stay at home and have good rapport with their children would make better use of their time and energy by providing experiences for their children at home instead of double-schooling them. Reading to them, doing things together, and talking together provide a preschool education rich in experiences and reading readiness.
Learning at home in an unpressured environment with other siblings is the most natural and effective education for young children. (You can’t beat the teacher-student ratio!) As a specialist in early childhood education and elementary education and the mother of a nine-month-old, I endorse and practice preschool education at home.
Sandra N. Hines, Ph.D.
As chairman of the board of the St. Alcuin Montessori School and founder of the school, I would like to say that the picture you give of the school is totally inaccurate. As for the description of Alex Francis, first of all, Alex Francis has never attended St. Alcuin, therefore, he could not possibly come to the school and leave to go to another school. Let us assume, however, that you are describing someone else in the kindergarten group, which is our primary grade. They do not sit around as five-year-olds in a circle, “doing mostly what the teacher tells him to do, some free play with building blocks and Legos, a few songs, and some art work. Then exercise on the playground and a snack.”
We have all kinds of children in this school and therefore your quote of Mr. Hicks, headmaster of St. Mark’s, is totally inaccurate. I do not believe that you quoted him correctly or in the correct context when you quote him “. . .and it is just as bad to keep the really aggressive learner at St. Alcuin when he should be at Meadowbrook.”
A. A. Taliaferro
Mary Candace Evans replies:
“Alex Francis ” is a student at St. Alcuin. The child’s real name was not used at the request of his parents. The quote from Mr. Hicks is accurate and was not intentionally critical of St. Alcuin. To the contrary, St. Alcuin was set up as an example of the type of school that is not being criticized by the experts who disapprove of hothousing.
For the Record
Mike Shropshire wrote an enlightening article on the liability insurance problems in your July issue [“Hit Me, I Need the Money”], but I would like to correct a couple of points. One is his assertion that the insurance industry is part of the Texas Civil Justice League (formerly referred to as a coalition). While agents are admitted as members, companies are not. There is no insurance company participation in the work of the league. The other is the implication that the league is involved in Supreme Court political races. It has nothing to do with that issue, but it is devoted only to lobbying the Legislature for changes in the civil justice system.
Crossfire on Gun Control
We would like to commend Chris Tucker on an excellent “Parting Shot” [June] concerning gun control. While humorous, the piece was frightening-frightening because of the ludicrous justifications the National Rifle Association has contrived and frightening because we haven’t been following the NRA campaign closely enough to help prevent it from happening. We reproach all of us who let it happen, especially our elected officials.
Laurie Windham & Mark Ratcliff
All of my friends, as well as most other Texans, own firearms. Let me reassure you that we do not belong to the “National Cop Killer Bullet Association” or the “National Pocket Cannon Association.” No one, I hope, is ignorant enough to think that if all handguns are banned, crime will make a remarkable decrease. If a law were passed, it-like all other laws-could not be totally enforced. I do agree with the article in one respect-anyone obtaining a gun should be subject to a background check, This check should take no longer than a week at most.
Sean P. Kerr
How DART Missed the Target