DISCRETION AND RESPECT
I JUST FINISHED READING MARC FISH-er's "True Concessions" in the April 25 Magazine [Potomac Confidential]. Let me see if I have this straight (so to speak): Fisher knocks on his headmaster's door late at night, invading his privacy (not the other way around). The headmaster and the history teacher run down the stairs to offer help without taking the time to get fully dressed. And what is the thanks they get for their concern? Mr. Fisher accuses them of being "evil" for flaunting their sexuality!
Frankly, the only person with anything to apologize for here is Mr. Fisher. He should be ashamed of himself not only for confusing private sexual conduct with anything that was his business, but also for sheer mean-spiritedness. How ironic that he chose to end a column supposedly devoted to the importance of respecting people's feelings with such a blatant invasion of privacy.
STEVEN ALAN HONLEY
A WINNING HOME TEAM
AFTER READING JOHN FEINSTEIN'S "Losing Streak" in the April 25 Magazine [In the Game], I was surprised by what he left out of his piece. I suppose it takes an outsider to remind D.C. of its current sports gem: soccer team D.C. United.
Feinstein comments that "no one even remotely connected to this city can seem to play any game with any consistent degree of efficiency."
Is he looking for a team with a winning tradition? United has that. D.C. won the first two Major League Soccer championships (1996-97). In 1996, the club pulled off the rare "double," winning the U.S. Open Cup in addition to the MLS championship. Last season, D.C. won first the club championship for North and Central America and the Caribbean, and then defeated the storied Brazilian team Vasco da Gama to capture the InterAmerican Cup, symbolic of the best team in the hemisphere.
In discussing the Redskins, Feinstein mourns their move from RFK Stadium, "a place that literally shakes" during games. It still does! RFK on a United game day is more of an experience than any NFL game: The stands still shake, now under the influence of eager fans singing, blowing horns and banging drums to support their club. It's a wonderful atmosphere. Perhaps Feinstein should check it out sometime.
South Charleston, W.Va.
I NEED EXACTLY TWO WORDS TO REBUT the rather predictable and tiresome article by the almost always excellent John Feinstein: D.C. United.
Shall we do the math together . . . three seasons, two championships and a loss in the finals. Hmm, sounds like a winner to me. This is one way to diss an entire sport and, sadly, once again marginalize the Latino community -- by not even listing D.C. United as the sole exception to "Feinstein's Formula for Failure."
IT IS REGRETTABLE THAT MICHAEL
Dobbs's article on Madeleine Albright ["A Woman of Influence," May 2] concludes with her appointment as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. What might be in store for her after the departure of Warren Christopher is left unstated, and one has to speculate whether a very different portrayal might later emerge in reference to her abilities as secretary of state. The impression Dobbs leaves with me is of a woman who recognized the "importance of proximity," who wanted to make it to the top, and who "caught an intelligent man from a very good family with money" -- a shrewd and calculating angler rather than an impressive diplomat. One who, for me, has failed miserably in replacing her predecessor.
Warren Christopher, who went so quietly into the night without a word of praise for his conscientious endeavors, was, for all his deferential demeanor, a real, albeit unacknowledged statesman.
HOW TRAGICALLY IRONIC THAT AS WE sit in the comfort of our homes reading your fluff piece on the rise of Madeleine Albright through the ranks of the Democratic Party, the people of Kosovo are paying in blood and terror for her extraordinary ineptitude in misjudging the character of Slobodan Milosevic and his fellow Serbs.
PAUL N. WENGER
PARENTS FROM HELL
I WAS SURPRISED BY THE LETTER AND policy that Jay Mathews described in "The Parent Trap" [Class Struggle, May 2]. I wonder if this action is in response to too much parental involvement with their kids' schooling. Those parents he described as "overdosed on Ivy ambition" too often expect (and even demand, lest the GPA suffer) that their bright child get the same grade in the harder class as he would have in the less demanding. Too often the student fails to accept the challenge and wants parents or teachers to bail him out: "What can I do for extra credit?" "Are you grading on a curve?"
I am very much in favor of raising standards. Part of this is setting expectations and not backing down.
STEPHANIE W. RENUART
I THINK THE ONLY WAY A PARENT could possibly understand schools and teachers is to spend time as a teacher. Even then it is hard sometimes for parents to separate being a parent and being a teacher. I know many teachers who are excellent teachers and often comment on parent behavior; yet when it comes to their own kids they can't seem to put themselves in the teacher's place.
I found Jay Mathews's comment about the misspellings on his son's homework paper interesting. Ideally, a teacher would never send a paper home with a misspelling. Unfortunately, very little in a public schoolteacher's day is normally ideal. Teachers do not have their own personal secretaries nor always the time to prepare material properly. It really doesn't bother me as a teacher or as a parent. My first concern is my students and my time with them, and I hope my own kids' teachers put them as the priority.
I like for parents to be involved and ask questions. I have no problem explaining my philosophy or methods to a parent. But please be aware of what you say about teachers. We are a very sensitive bunch. Would you want your child's teacher to be any other way?
WHEN MY SON WAS IN GRADE SCHOOL, he came home one day and informed me that the Pyramids had been built by slaves and they had been "motivated" by mean guys with big whips. As a student of archaeology, I immediately wrote his teacher a note and informed him that he had been watching too many Cecil B. DeMille movies; that, while some slaves had been used, many of the workers were in fact paid in food for their labors. In other words, a sort of ancient version of the WPA.
I received a reply to the effect that if I thought I could do better, then I should come and teach the class myself. Since I had recently returned from a trip to Egypt, I agreed and taught his class on ancient Egypt. After I was done, I informed the teacher that I had also spent some time in Greece and would be glad to appear and teach it also. I never heard from him again.
While on one hand I blame school systems for their indifference, I also believe that we should expect no more in a society that sometimes seems to value its trash collectors more than its teachers.
JEANETTE I. DAVIAS
HANNA ROSIN'S "GERM WARFARE" [What Works? May 9] questions the efficacy of the latest fad of antibacterial products. We are told that these are what consumers demand, but no one has said that, increasingly, consumers have no choice in the matter. A lifetime of old-fashioned hand washin' is good enough for me. Not long ago at Target in Alexandria, I wanted to buy some regular bottled hand soap. Out of 30 products from which to choose, not one was plain soap. All were antimicrobial. I would gladly have bought regular hand soap if I'd had the choice.
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