Public schools need the spotlight

This letter is in response to your recent piece about a boy from the South Bronx attending Deerfield Academy, an expensive private school, on full scholarship ("Boy in two hoods," Learning, Aug. 12).

The program he attended at the East Harlem School to groom him for this scholarship is commendable in that it recognizes kids with potential for high-academic achievement and prepares them for more-challenging high school programs. High-achieving students, however, should and do have options available to them in the public education system. Private schools should not be glorified as the educational pinnacle in this country. One of the great benefits of our democracy is public education, and every effort should be made to support and improve it.

Why doesn't the Monitor write something about the dangerous high school in the South Bronx that Emmanuel would have attended? What is being done there to improve the situation? What about the educators there who battle the worst conditions in the country? Or why not feature the best of the public schools in New York City?

The push to marginalize and dismantle public education through vouchers and privatization is a huge threat to democracy. Skimming out the best students from public schools and sending them off to private ones is an example of this, and the "isn't he a lucky boy?" tone of the article was dismaying.
Amy Bannon
Ludlow, Vt.

The heart of Liberia's civil war

Regarding your Aug. 8 article "For Liberians, old ties to US linger": Thank you for your coverage of Liberia's troublesome situation. I encourage the Monitor to take the path least traveled in journalism with regard to Liberia: Please discuss Liberia as a country established not only by former enslaved Africans from America, but also by the indigenous ethnic groups that inhabited the region before the Africans from America did.

The history of the relationship of these two groups is at the heart of the civil war. We cannot ignore the arrogance that Africans from America showed the Vai, Mende, and other ethnic groups in their attempt to Christianize, civilize, and Westernize them. The segregated society created by the American expatriates - and the resulting hostile environment - made the civil wars of the 1980s, 1990s, and today possible.

The Americo-Liberians replicated (somewhat) the slavocracy that American colonizationists advocated. The city of Buchanan in Liberia is named after the man who masterminded the Ostend Manifesto in the 1850s, which sought to expand American slavery into Cuba. The ethnic Africans of Liberia - their story, their plight, and their goals and aspirations - are central to understanding the true history of this troubled country.
Sam Livingston

To every hemisphere, there is a season

Regarding your Aug. 15 article "Behind this summer's wild, tragic weather": I'd like to point out that this has not been a "weird summer worldwide." Those who paid attention to geography will know that in the Southern Hemisphere, we've been having a weird winter. You may think I'm splitting hairs, but those of us who live in the South take offense at the general assumption that the world is the North.
Mandi Kraft
Johannesburg, South Africa

A wireless - and withdrawn - world

Regarding the Aug. 14 Opinion "In a crowded airport, virtually alone": Thank you for Joe Honig's piece on our cellphone mania. Let's hope it will be a passing fad and we will once again interact as social beings.
Don Wysocki
Moon Township, Pa.

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