Competition Breeds Losers

Letters published December 26, 2001

Kate & Leopold
Stop treating our students like products: Thank you for the superb article about private school welfare ["Plaid Skirt Welfare," November 29]. For some reason, elected officials and citizens have abdicated our responsibility to the public school children of Ohio.

The basic premise of allowing "competition" is flawed in so many ways. First, competition means there are winners and losers. Saying it's the school that loses (not the child) is shallow and ridiculous. Nearly 90 percent of all children attend public schools. That is where our attention and limited resources ought to be going, not to some nonregulated profit center or religious organization. We seem to find resources for building prisons, but not the resources to help prevent people from becoming criminals. The prison population is overwhelmingly illiterate.

Second, when we apply market forces to public schools, we illustrate that the clash is between democracy and capitalism. The former is for community and the latter stands for itself. The whole discussion of competition ignores the premise that schools are a vital and necessary component in a democracy. Schools should not be profit centers. Children are not commodities, to be traded on the open market with a price on their heads.

The idea of common schools allows people from a variety of backgrounds to learn to celebrate their differences and to embrace their common responsibilities of involvement in and knowledge of our unique government and society. It happens in no other place in our society. The public school is not a disposable item that America can afford to abandon. To do so is to turn our backs on that 90 percent. John Adams said, in 1758, "The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expense of it." I agree with John.

Jodie Grasgreen

Perhaps there are others to blame: I really enjoyed your article about the problems with the groundwater contamination ["While the EPA Slept," November 15]. I have three questions, however.

Didn't the Ohio Department of Health know about the well testing being done by the EPA? Did the fellow who drilled the new well get a permit from the Ohio Department of Health before doing the work? Was any Kent State University geologist questioned about the EPA claims of not being able to predict the travel routes of groundwater contaminants?

I have no doubt that the described chemicals could cause severe health problems. I do, however, have great concern regarding the Ohio EPA's and the U.S. EPA's ability to be mind readers of the previous owners, who in all likelihood permitted their chemical waste to be deposited who knows where.

Unfortunately, it is always the newcomers who catch the down elevator. This includes the EPA and the local health departments, who, like all government agencies, have very limited budgets, but are expected to be able to pull out the Wooden Stake and remove the stain of Original Sin.

If the Ohio EPA's geologists did not follow accepted scientific procedures in making their assessments of the situation, then they should be hung out to dry. If, however, these geologists did follow generally accepted procedures, then perhaps sparing of the Lance and removal of the Cross might be in order.

Edwin D. Dieringer

No signs of the lovable, cuddly Wolstein: There must have been a page missing from my copy of the December 6 issue, because I sure didn't see Bart Wolstein's "lovable rogue" side in your cover story ["Menace II Suburbia"] about the controversial developer. Even if there is a lovable quality to Mr. Big Box Development, I have this bit of metaphorical advice: Should genetic engineers someday develop a creature with the head of a cobra and the body of a baby duck, you'd do best to treat the thing as if it were a snake, because that's exactly what it is.

Glenn Landers
Cleveland Heights

There's new soil to plunder: Regarding "Menace II Suburbia," the Bart Wolstein saga: So the East Side has had enough of Mr. Wolstein's antics? Go west, old man, especially to North Ridgeville and Lorain County. The current city administration will welcome him with open arms. Developers have been effortlessly raping the landscape with the wholehearted approval of City Hall. Bring your bulldozers, Mr. Wolstein. You won't be sorry, but the residents will.

S.A. Merhar
North Ridgeville

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