Inbox — Aug. 26, 2009

Letters to the Editor

Aug 26, 2009 at 5:00 am

LEO culpa

Last week’s cover story “The Kids on the Bus” named The Courier-Journal as winner of a Pulitzer Prize for photos associated with busing. The Louisville Times won as well. Also in that story, Gina Gatti’s ex-husband was identified as Tim Vice; his name is Steve. LEO regrets the errors.

What Was Not Said

Thank you for your attempt to address the complex issue of student busing in the Aug. 19 LEO Weekly. I was disappointed that no families of the infamous “Area A” were interviewed, however. While two “Area B” families were given voice, it was curious that no lower-income families — white, black or “other” — had an opportunity to share their perspectives on the policy and its evolution.

Meanwhile, the testimonies of two middle-class families were described at length; one Highlands family was pictured and described as “the sort of parents any public school would covet.” (As a teacher at a low-income JCPS school, I can attest that there are many involved and concerned parents across class lines; you don’t have to have money to love your kids, have high expectations for them or join the PTA.) The mother of the other profiled family, a St. Matthews resident, described her difficult decision to put her daughter in private school. Her generalizations about lower-income families were appalling, and while her outreach to “at-risk” and “minority” children may have been well intentioned, it smacked of a certain Kipling poem.

These families’ perspectives are important to acknowledge, but they are not the only experiences within Jefferson County. The silence in this article spoke more loudly to me than the author’s closing words about “the whole community.”

Sarah Yost, Germantown

Segregated Pride

I have noticed that most of the stories about school desegregation in Jefferson County begin with the lawsuits, as if the American Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society initiated the process. While they both did good work and deserve praise, they didn’t initiate the move.

The Newburg Community Council complained to the Jefferson County Board of Education and met with Mr. Van Hoose and others on numerous occasions, presenting several options for integrating the Newburg School with surrounding all-white schools. These talks ended with the board representative stating it was already spending more per pupil on Newburg and that was all it could do. The council contacted the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare and furnished the evidence to show segregation was de jure not de facto, and Hew ordered Jefferson County to desegregate its schools. Van Hoose responded by announcing the Newburg School would be closed. The original school had been built by Newburg residents in the 1800s, and it was a source of pride in the community. The closing announcement angered Newburg, and the council decided only total, city-county desegregation was acceptable. The action that followed resulted in countywide busing.

Stanley A. Stratford, Frankfort, Ky.


The White & Brown Debate

Regarding “The Kids on the Bus” (LEO Weekly, Aug. 19): The point that always escapes everyone in this debate is diversity in the school system is good for white children. Diversification is essential for capitalism to work. The more groups you can understand, the more people you can sell to. Every U.S. numerical minority knows and understands the ways of white folks. But most white folks who attend all white churches, live in all-white neighborhoods and socialize with only other white folks need diversity in school more so than brown folks. Without some daily interaction with brown people, white folks reduce people to tacos, egg rolls and fried chicken. Without diversity, brown people are reduced to caricatures. White folks: You need to know the brown folks, because soon you will be surrounded.

Felicia J. Nu’Man, East End

Love The Guy

I greatly enjoyed Dominic Russ’s “Guy Davenport: The Last American Jack” (LEO Weekly, Aug. 12). The article is insightful, thought-provoking and well-written. I look forward to more feature stories of this quality in your publication.

Lydia Lyshevski, Jeffersonville, Ind.


Keeping the Family Together

Thank you for your story exploring research published by the Metropolitan Housing Coalition (LEO Weekly, Aug. 19). Cathy Hinko and other leaders in homeless and housing advocacy should be applauded for their hard work and unwavering dedication. The findings shine a bright light on the changing face of homelessness in Louisville.

This growing need is evident every day at Volunteers of America’s Family Emergency Shelter. More and more two-parent families with children need our help. As out-of-work and underemployed parents struggle to keep a roof over their children’s heads, they often face the decision to separate the family between local shelters.

Fortunately, families facing this difficult reality have options in Louisville. Our Family Emergency Shelter applies best practices to help the whole family. Both parents and their children are welcome in one safe and supportive location. Here families eat meals together around the same table, and supportive services address the needs of parents and children alike.

More than 40 homeless children were living at our Family Emergency Shelter when school began last week. These children will experience the new school year much differently than others, but we know setbacks in their educational and emotional development will be minimized because their family — albeit in an unfamiliar setting — is still together.

This is just one promising yet temporary solution among many deserving our community’s attention and support. We join other service providers in encouraging our community leaders to develop and make available more affordable housing for low-income families. That is the permanent solution.

Jane W. Burks, president/CEO, Volunteers of America of Kentucky


Let’s Get Along

Last fall, I was sitting three cars deep at a red light on Chestnut Street at Second. In my rear view mirror, I watched a cyclist weave between stopped cars, then ride through the red light and up onto the sidewalk, scattering several people who were waiting to cross the street. Imagine my surprise when the cyclist, now facing in my direction, turned out to be Jackie Green. I’ve met Jackie several times. I like him. I admire his energy and, as a cyclist myself, his cause.

The surprise, disappointment and irritation I felt watching Jackie in traffic that day emerged again when I read his militant “us against them” piece (LEO Weekly, Aug. 19), in which he compounds the “cars vs. bicycles” problem about which he complains. What Jackie doesn’t seem to get is the damage done to the cyclists’ cause by riders who weave through traffic, run red lights, disrupt pedestrians on sidewalks, ride two and three abreast at a fraction of the speed limit — well, you get the idea.

Accidents aren’t just drivers’ fault. And as long as anger on both sides is inflamed by bad decisions of drivers and cyclists alike, problems will continue. Jackie, cars aren’t going away anytime soon. You’d best learn to get along with them.

Gray Smith, Highlands

Edit, Revise, Rewrite

I am writing in response to Rob Crehan’s response to Mike Cosper’s response to Joe Phelps (LEO Weekly, Aug 12):

Crehan’s comments seem to be fairly indicative of the general sentiment shared by most of my atheist friends, which, quite frankly, is just annoying. Classic rhetoric: Deconstruct your opponent’s position after you have redefined it. Besides, the commandment Crehan appears to be talking about belongs to Jainism, not Christianity or Judaism.

The heart of Crehan’s argument seems to be the presupposition that the Bible has been heavily edited and revised to serve the purposes of those with the ability to do so. Here again common opinion is just frankly ignorant of careful scholarship. Secular and theological academia agree that the Greek New Testament is the most accurately preserved ancient document known to man — with more than 3,000 surviving fragments and documents and mostly miniscule variations. Every indication is that the scribes responsible for the transmission of these texts had the highest respect for maintaining the accuracy of the message.

Ironically, Crehan also seems to be doing a little cherry pickin’ of his own; but maybe that’s the point.

Michael Butterworth, Shelby Park