Skateboard Park

Broadly Opposed

Some of the recent coverage and letters to the editor on the Reston Community Center's skateboard park proposal are missing the point ["The Great Skate Debate," Fairfax Extra, Nov. 14].

There is strong opposition in Reston to using Reston Community Center funds to build a facility that belongs in a Fairfax County park and which should be constructed with Park Authority funds.

The tax district that supports the Reston Community Center and its excellent programs is the wrong source of funds for a skateboard facility that will draw 80 percent of its users from outside the tax district.

Opposition to the expenditure of Reston Community Center funds for the purpose of building a skateboard park is broad. The funding question is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. Neither is it a NIMBY issue with reference to those Restonians who live in the Reston Town Center.

There is not a single homeowner in my Lake Anne neighborhood who supports the Reston Community Center Board on this matter, and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce is vigorously opposed.

Karl J. Ingebritsen

Reston

Leukemia Article

Was Misleading

I was pleased to see an article about fundraising for leukemia research ["A Stranger's Selfless Strides," Fairfax Extra, Nov. 7] but dismayed to find factual errors.

The lead sentence contains the phrase "ALL, an incurable disease." The seventh paragraph says, "Although there is no known cure, remission is possible . . . ." ALL [acute lymphoblastic leukemia] is actually one of modern medicine's greatest success stories. More than three-fourths of children diagnosed with ALL in the United States are cured.

The National Cancer Institute Web site says: "Seventy-five percent to 80 percent of children with ALL survive at least five years from diagnosis with current treatments that incorporate systemic therapy (e.g. combination chemotherapy) and specific central nervous system (CNS) preventive therapy (i.e. intrathecal chemotherapy with or without cranial irradiation).

"Ten-year event-free survival of multiple large prospective trials conducted in different countries for children treated primarily in the 1980s is approximately 70 percent."

My daughter is a 12-year survivor of ALL, and I know hundreds of other long-term survivors of this disease. I worry that such misinformation will raise the anxiety levels of parents of newly diagnosed children.

Nancy Keene

Annandale

Library Complaint

Has No Standing

Our Fairfax County public school libraries are under attack. Why? Because two parents think it is up to them to decide what books are appropriate for the school libraries.

They think some books in our libraries today are "bad" and therefore elementary and middle school children should be "protected" from exposure to them.

This is at best presumptuous and at worst an attempt to institute censorship.

While I support the challengers' right to "protect" their own children from these "bad" books, I would consider our superintendent and School Board derelict in their duties if they allow these two people to drive countywide decisions on library content which affects all children in our schools.

The last time I checked, county school libraries did not contain self-opening, child-chasing books.

I implore school officials to institute changes to existing regulations to permit only a parent/guardian or teacher/administrator directly impacted by the material in question to bring forth a challenge regarding its appropriate use.

Discussions about making this change to the regulation will be on the School Board's agenda in the coming weeks. If you agree this change needs to be made, I urge you to make your position known by e-mailing your School Board member or sending a message to board@fcps.edu.

Unless this change is made, we will continue to see challenges of this nature in which neither the challenger nor their children are directly impacted by these books. Limited school resources are being spent to process these challenges; county school officials estimate that processing the most recent flurry of book challenges will cost over $50,000.

These books are school library books, not assigned classroom reading.

According to a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982), "the use of school libraries is completely voluntary on the part of students. Their selection of books from these libraries is entirely a matter of free choice; the libraries afford them an opportunity at self-education and individual enrichment that is wholly optional. [School boards] might well defend their claim of absolute discretion in matters of curriculum by reliance upon their duty to inculcate community values. But we think that the [school board's] reliance upon that duty is misplaced where, as here, they attempt to extend their claim of absolute discretion beyond the compulsory environment of the classroom, into the school library and the regime of voluntary inquiry that there holds sway."

Each family has its own set of moral values and guidelines and each family may restrict their own children's reading materials as they see fit.

We cannot allow an agenda driven by a one family's set of values to be used as a means to undermine our public school system and divert our ever-decreasing financial and staffing resources away from the classroom, especially when no legal standing can be demonstrated.

Destiny R. Burns

Centreville