Apr 1 2011

Letters to the Editor

A Student’s Take on Education Issue

After reading September’s issue of Extra!, I had to say that this was my favorite issue and one that I felt a personal connection to, being that I’m a high school student. The idea that tests and charter schools are beneficial to students like me is ridiculous. (Is anything whose goal is profit beneficial to a large number of people?) FAIR’s analysis of this subject was extremely helpful for me in understanding the structure that our educational system has.

One idea that particularly struck me was Jonathan Kozol about tests and how they limit creativity in the classroom. And to me, that’s what makes a good teacher: one who doesn’t teach class by the book, who doesn’t spend days going over test questions, who doesn’t teach standards that a system decided was good for us to know. It was the teacher who can explain everything to you without looking the answer up in some book, who can make class fun and entertaining without sacrificing education, and who challenged you when he/she knew you could rise up to the challenge.

Yes, I agree there are bad teachers out there (who may be very good people, not to get that confused). But I think there are bad students out there as well who just don’t want to learn. And no amount of, as Kozol puts, “drill and kill” will be able to help them, because they don’t want to help themselves.

I remember one friend in my class reading a Glenn Beck book (Arguing with Idiots) that had a joke in it that went something like: “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can’t, thank a teacher’s union.” And I find that kind of misinformation, especially to a fellow student where educational decisions affect him directly, very troubling.

Thanks for a great analysis. I continue to look forward to reading FAIR’s blog every day, as well as Extra! every month. Because I often don’t know the whole or most of the truth on some topics in the world, I rely on you and other independent media sites, like Democracy Now! and Truthout, to get me up to date. Sort of. Sometimes I still don’t understand. But I try.

Justin Gramley

Willoughby, Ohio

Alex Jones Is Not Alone

I appreciated the sidebar exposing Midas Resources’ sponsorship of Alex Jones’ right-wing radio show (“Selling Doom—but Really Selling Gold,” 2/11). Jones is not alone in his advice to listeners to stock up on gold coins in preparation for the impending economic meltdown. Sadly, progressive talk radio host Thom Hartmann is sponsored by ITM Trading, whose website states: “We believe in long-term ownership of precious metals and believe a portion of everyone’s financial portfolio should contain them. We also maintain that now is the time to own them, for your goals now and for what may lie ahead.” Endorsing gold investments is not only a dangerous legitimization of right-wing conspiracy theories, it also provides positive PR to the gold industry which, as Hartmann must be aware, is one of the most environmentally destructive industries on the planet.

Erica Etelson

Berkeley, Calif.

Fox’s Violent Rhetoric

Thanks for your SoundBite called “No. 1 in Murder Fantasies” (1/11), about Fox News’ violent rhetoric. I assume the suggestion by Fox’s Bob Beckel that Julian Assange be assassinated [Fox Business News, 12/6/10] happened after you went to print. The recent events in Tucson make your piece all the more poignant.

When the Tucson shootings happened, I hoped that the July 18, 2010, incident where Byron Williams was involved in a police shootout in Oakland would be discussed in the press. He had been on his way to shoot workers at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU, spurred on by the (untrue) rhetoric of Glenn Beck. That incident was largely ignored by mainstream media then, and it still is.

The words of demagogues have real consequences. Thanks for shining a light on them.

Shel Neymark

Embudo, N.M.

Depressed by Pseudo News

I’m depressed by the pseudo news commentators on television, a.k.a. corporate media, repeating propaganda about unions causing the daunting deficits facing state and national governments. You don’t need a high IQ to figure out that our problems were caused by greedmongers who exported hundreds of thousands of American jobs, and by the politicians they support who have shielded them from paying fair taxes. Michael Moore warned this was happening with his 1989 documentary Roger and Me about the betrayal of American auto workers in Flint, Michigan.

The same greedmongers are corrupting our government by spending countless hundreds of millions of dollars supporting politicians who obey them, and with dishonest attack ads targeting honest candidates who oppose them. Have you heard or read one news story detailing how much money the billionaire Koch brothers spent to elect Scott Walker governor of Wisconsin? Has any journalist written or spoken about what they are getting in return? That’s because corporate broadcast media has become an echo chamber for the greedmongers. Now they and their puppets in Congress want to hobble PBS and NPR, because they report the truth and how it will affect our future.

Bob Fisher

Encinitas, Calif.