Kids in the Clink

Letters published January 25, 2001

Good parents'd whup 'em into shape: Regarding the cover story "The Age of Innocence" [January 4]:

Why make an idea like this into law when it is projected to affect only six kids? Why not treat these children on an individual basis; give them the specialized care they need and deserve? The kids quoted in your piece can't even spell correctly, and we want to put them in prison? They're more concerned with Pokémon and what to play after school.

The cases that don't fit into this somewhat carefree category -- disturbed kids with developmental behavioral concerns -- should be dealt with differently. They should have a set of responsible, aware parents to take proper care of them. This, instead of the problems escalating, being overlooked, being excused. This, before they become uncontrollable.

It used to be believed that boot camps or military schools were acceptable alternatives for troubled kids. But that doesn't fix the hurt, the ungodly abuse, that some of the children have experienced.

A final idea: How come all the discussion on where to send the kids who are ruled incompetent? Where the hell are their parents? Don't legislate stupidity. Raise them right from the start.

Shannon Bokman

Reader yuks cause cubicle clucks: I just wanted to tell you how hilarious I thought your "Precious Moments" article was [December 28]. I especially loved the comment, "By allowing more criminals to roam the streets, visitors have a greater probability of getting mugged and thus receiving a big-city vacation experience." I had to laugh out loud and then explain my outburst to fellow cubicle residents. Nice work.

Sunana Batra

Taxpayers can waste school funds as well as the state can: Charter schools may be new, but can we really say they are unimproved ["New Yet Unimproved," January 4]? I think not. I'm a board member of a charter school organization that is looking to open a school in Cleveland. This organization has a proven track record, and it will blow away most Cleveland public schools academically. They conduct parent satisfaction surveys, because, after all, aren't the parents the customers? The curriculum is excellent and features a back-to-the-basics approach, a longer school day, structured discipline, moral focus programs, and a focus on parental involvement.

I'm a parent of three schoolchildren, I live in Cleveland, and I feel the taxpayer deserves this option. This is a wonderful chance to create something special in our area. After all, by creating competition, you will better all schools. It's the taxpayers' money, and our current system is not working.

Frank Dzik

Charter school challenge II: I want to express my sincere concern about the fact that a very narrow view of charter schools was presented. It sounded as though David Martin visited only one school. I am vice president of the board of the Citizens' Academy, a charter school for Cleveland children in grades K through 3. (We will add a grade each year until we are K-12.) Located in University Circle, we have 160 children and a superb staff of more than 20 excellent professionals.

A visit to our school will reveal happy children in a lovely setting, busily engaged in age-appropriate, interesting, and motivating instruction. Our teachers are active and eager to teach, and have an array of rich resources with which to do so. We have parents who are actively involved in the school. We offer before- and after-school child-care/enrichment programs, social services, health consultation, and other services that respond to family needs.

Our mission is to graduate highly educated youngsters who are critically thinking, skilled problem solvers and are productive, responsible, competent, and happy citizens, as well as active participants in community life.

Are there some charter schools that aren't as excellent as they would like? -- I'm certain there are, just as there are good and better schools in any school district. It is very dangerous to brush an entire district with a negative brush because one or two schools are performing less than optimally. The same is true of charter schools. One thing is certain: The funds provided by the state are inadequate to meet the needs of the children in our school. As a result, all of us on the board are committed to a very active fund-raising agenda, just as all of us are committed to developing a model of public-school educational excellence for children from Cleveland.

Dr. Nancy K. Klein, Vice President, Board of Trustees, Citizens' Academy