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Special Defects 

Letters published May 3, 2001

Special-needs children suffer in our schools:

While reading your article "Law Schooled" [April 5], I got the impression that you were trying to be evenhanded in discussing the issue of parents suing their school districts to receive services for their children with special needs. Unfortunately, many of the special education cases you used made me think of the "welfare queen" stereotype -- that a small percentage of people taking advantage of the system were used as a means to question the validity of the whole.

In fact, most parents aren't asking for that much for their children, but many schools are unwilling to deliver even small accommodations. I've spoken with parents throughout northeastern Ohio who found that the whole process of helping students receive special services was regarded by their systems as a major and unwanted imposition -- or worse, an afterthought. In my own relatively affluent system, I've heard too many stories of teachers unwilling to make even the smallest efforts to accommodate Individualized Education Plan needs, such as providing students with copies of notes from class or allowing them to use calculators.

The prevalent attitude seems to be that learning disabilities, processing disorders, and attention deficit disorder are maladies dreamed up by child psychologists looking for business and belligerent parents seeking to rationalize their lazy children's poor performances (blissfully unaware, I suppose, that research by pediatric neurologists and other practitioners of "hard" science has pinpointed physical differences in the brain functions of children with these problems).

Our area has a reputation among special education advocates for being weak both in availability and delivery of services, but some states have developed programs that work without compromising the overall education offered. I've spoken with several parents who are considering moving out of state to get better educational services for their children, and these are all highly educated, well-off people -- exactly the sort that the local media bemoan losing to "brain drain." If improvements aren't made, we will suffer a double loss: those families who relocate and those remaining children whose potential is never realized because their educational needs aren't being met.

Wendy K. Hess

Enough with the AC/DC-ripping:

It seems Jeff Niesel has once again proved his ignorance and mediocrity as a writer with his contrived lambasting of AC/DC [Soundbites, April 12]. Not only did Niesel misreport various facts (i.e., Angus Young was 19 -- not 15 -- when he joined AC/DC, their last tour was not announced as their "final tour," and Angus still shows the audience his bare butt when the mood strikes), but he didn't even bother to write an original article.

He obviously picked up a few tidbits from the concert and added them to his own tired formula of bashing AC/DC for how many times the band has turned in the same performance and greeted the crowd with the same familiarity. God forbid that one of the most enduring bands of all time should treat its fans with respect, play its biggest hits, and put on a show that sells out arenas around the world.

If he had bothered to interview the band, he would have realized they make no bones about playing the same show they've played for 21 years. They make no bones about not being artistic or "creative" or introspective. They even joke that they've recorded the same album 15 times.

But what hamfisted, slow-witted scribblers like Niesel don't take the time to realize is this: AC/DC is possibly the most unique thing going in rock music today. They've stayed true to their genre. No ballads, no causes, no excuses. They've stayed true to themselves and their fans.

If Niesel bothered to listen to their February 2000 release, Stiff Upper Lip, he'd hear that, although the band has not changed style, it has not "recycled" any material. In fact, tracks like "Can't Stand Still," "Hold Me Back," and "Meltdown" sound nothing like anything the band's ever done before. If you took the time to analyze the music, you'd see there's more than just power chords and sex to the songs.

Ryan Cornell

A grandmother by any other name

I didn't have a reason to pick up your paper until I was introduced to the writing and reviews of your food critic, Elaine Cicora. Now I make it a point to read her column -- and your publication -- every week. Regarding the review of Curcio's in Lakewood [March 29], I believe the reference to an Italian grandmother in the cutline of the photo should be "Nonna" (the word in Italian for grandmother), not Nana.

Michael Martaus
Rocky River

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