Letters

Quit Pickin' on My Friend Fraind
The recent article by Paula Park smearing [school district deputy superintendent] Henry Fraind was anything but amusing ("Not Just Another Pretty Bureaucrat," January 29). I suggest that Ms. Park or anyone else writing about alternative education (a.k.a. "distance learning") might want to educate themselves first about a rather complex field. It is important to distinguish between the hundreds of legitimate schools throughout the world that grant "external degrees" and the "diploma mills" that prey on gullible students. This information is not obscure -- it's out there in books, on the Web, et cetera. Distance learning = no attendance. Get it?

I suggest that Ms. Park also do her homework about accreditation. In the United States, accreditation is voluntary. Degrees granted by legally operating schools, whether accredited or nonaccredited, are equally valid under the law. It is up to the student to determine whether a nonaccredited degree will suffice for his or her needs. Many corporate employers and government bodies accept such credentials -- they even subsidize tuition. In my opinion, it is better for a school to declare up-front that it is not accredited by a recognized agency than it is to claim accreditation from a phony agency, as many do. Pacific Western University is a pioneer in alternative education, with many satisfied students.

After a previous article in which Superintendent Roger Cuevas's degree from the University of Northern Colorado was incorrectly characterized as bogus, New Times should be more careful. In my view, Dr. Fraind is owed an apology.

David P. Burkart
Miami

Editor's note: Paula Park's previous article, "How to Succeed in Education Without Really Studying" (September 25, 1997), did not characterize Superintendent Cuevas's degree as "bogus." The University of Northern Colorado's degree programs offered through its Center for Special and Advanced Programs were, however, described by Harvard educator Stephen K. Bailey as "the used-car lots of higher education."

Building a Better Profile
While working in Savannah, Georgia, with my Florida International University students, I read Paula Park's profile of me ("The Quintana Plan," January 22). What can I say! It was beautifully written and clearly communicated the passion and constant searching that have always motivated me. Her work has deeply moved me. There are, though, three basic points that require clarification to put them in their historical context.

First, I was not appointed by Fulgencio Batista to my job as director of the master plans of Varadero and the City of Trinidad de Cuba. That appointment was made by architect Nicolas Arroyo, acting as president of the Junta de Planificacion de Cuba, with the approval of all its directors.

Second, the architectural firm Moenck & Quintana was not commissioned to design the National Bank of Cuba project during President Batista's government; the firm of Perez Benitoa was commissioned.

Third, after President Batista's downfall in 1959, Moenck & Quintana was selected to design a new project for the bank, based on a different program structured by the bank's new president, Dr. Felipe Pazos. I personally worked on that project as partner in charge of design until I left the country in 1960. My surreal and fortunately short relationship with Ernesto "Che" Guevara, posing as the bank's president, occurred later, after Dr. Pazos had resigned that position.

Nicolas Quintana
Miami

Building a Better Architect
Thank you for "The Quintana Plan." Mr. Quintana is indeed a treasure of architectural experience. The City of Miami Beach is fortunate that he has offered himself for service on our Design Review Board. I hope my colleagues will join me in enthusiastically appointing him to the board so we may put his expertise to good use in the service of our community.

Commissioner David Dermer
Miami Beach

Clueless Is the Hunter
While passing through Miami, I read Sean Rowe's article "Hungry Is the Hunter" (January 22) and I felt compelled to write. I am a physician, not a hunter or a yuppie environmentalist or an ecologist. From this neutral position I can see objectively and must mention that the article was incomplete and that these hunters are at best disturbing and at worst frightening in their viewpoint of those whose opinions they don't understand.

Like the long path of abuse that finally leads to symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke, the Everglades is at the end of a long history of abuse and neglect that involved robbed water, polluted water, and a continuing human population explosion. How can anyone expect the days of the Indians to compare to this? Heart disease and the state of the Everglades are similar in the sense that chest pain, like the core of Mr. Rowe's article, presents itself as a symptom after many years of abuse and neglect that could go unnoticed. It must be viewed in the context of passing time, not as a snapshot.

If this is where we are now, where will the Everglades be in 50 years? The picture is dismal. I side with the yuppie environmentalists.

Peter J. Walton, M.D.
Clearwater Beach

Sean Hits the Bull's-eye
Sean Rowe's "Hungry Is the Hunter" rates as one of your very best stories.
Tom Rich
Miami

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