Letters from the Issue of May 15, 2008
The Language of Madness
Carlos Suarez De Jesus's article about outsider art, "Madness and Art" (May 8), was often beautifully written. But on these occasions, it was not:
"The mentally ill": I am not an advocate of this form, whether expressed as "the" Jews, "the" Blacks, or as a stereotype or diminishment of any group.
"Insane asylum" and "madhouse": These words are archaic. They were not asylums (places of safety), nor were they hospitals (which also appears in the article). People were not treated as patients.
"Echo is autistic" and "Losa is a schizophrenic": The proper form is "has autism" or "has schizophrenia," avoiding labeling.
It was beautifully presented otherwise; Suarez is a gifted writer.
Harold A. Maio
Advisory Board member, American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
School for Scandal
"F-School Bomb" by Francisco Alvarado (May 1) is a brilliant, masterfully written piece. The horrifying fact is that the events described in the story have, to one degree or another, become standard operating procedure in the American public school system.
American students' academic performance in relation to industrial and some Third-World nations continues to decline, as measured by a plethora of analytical devices. CNN recently reported our students rank 21st in their ability to solve mathematical word problems. This ranking is reflective of a decadent bureaucracy co-conspiring with its administrators, principals, and teachers to maintain their paychecks, positions, and power. The few competent and caring educators fearfully remain silent and eventually coalesce with the corrupted majority. Educational excellence in this nation's schools is a joke compared to the rest of the world. The public school system has created a shameful legacy that humiliates and disgraces all Americans before the eyes of the world.
Francisco Alvarado asked many teachers and administrators at Allapattah and Miami-Dade County Public Schools to comment for "The F-School Bomb," and they all refused. What does that tell you? If they had any real interest in defending Allapattah, they were given a chance. They chose to make this article one-sided by refusing to get involved and hiding in their ivory towers because administrators in MDCPS and at Allapattah do not care about children in the ghetto. They care about money and power.
As only normal, intelligent human beings would be able to infer, this article was not about every student at Allapattah. It was about my horrific experience and the fact that MDCPS and Mr. Costa and his incompetent administration couldn't care less about their teachers and students. The chaos they perpetuate with their "let's look at the positive and ignore the problems" attitude is the problem.
I had intended to stay to help my students succeed, as many were doing, against insurmountable odds. Instead Costa decided to put a first-year, uncertified, untrained teacher in that classroom as my replacement. It was a blessing in disguise, because I am in a much safer, better environment teaching children who go to Ivy League schools. It's no utopia, because all schools have issues; however, I am safe and very much appreciated. And I am really teaching, instead of acting as a behavior monitor/social worker.
I understand that many teachers and staff in MDCPS don't have the freedom I have to stand up and fight. Many people are justifiably worried about losing their jobs. I understand. However, the frightening fact still remains that until most teachers in MDCPS stand up and say, "We're not going to be abused like this anymore," the corruption will exist.
Via Web Commentary