There are no bad teachers here
Isthmus proves once again that it can do muckraking journalism even in the absence of demonstrable muck ("What Happens to Bad Teachers?," 2/26/10). Just assemble a few grievances and anecdotes, add a cartoon depicting your target misbehaving, stir and rake!
After working as a volunteer tutor in Madison elementary schools for the past 10 years, I believe that while "bad teachers" make a convenient target, they exist in vanishingly small numbers in our district and have little or nothing to do with the problems facing our schools.
In a society that has child poverty rates exceeding 20%, public schools necessarily become sanitariums. Many qualified teachers who might seem "bad" really suffer from post-traumatic stress, burnout, depression, disappointment and disillusionment. They must cope with an endless march of child tragedies through their classrooms.
Yes, many educators would love to retire or find less stressful jobs. Those jobs don't exist anymore. One doesn't leave a career with benefits - particularly health care - for low-pay McJobs. We won't rescue our children, families or teachers until we develop a viable health-care system.
Raising ire, not awareness
I'm dismayed by some of your recent stories. First, at a time when the Madison public schools are looking at a $30 million deficit, your cover story on getting rid of bad teachers features an image of a newspaper-reading teacher ignoring misbehaving students. As a teacher and a parent of children in three Madison schools, I know this image grossly misrepresents what happens in schools.
Then you featured a story on the biggest house in Madison ("Big House on the Prairie," 3/5/10). Again, there seemed to be no real substance to the story. All I could see was a vaguely populist tone: "Someone has a bigger house than you."
Both stories feel as if they work to raise the ire of readers, instead of working to inform/raise awareness/provoke thought.
Chris Vander Ark
From the Monona side
Your article about Monona Drive ("A Widening Rift," 3/5/10) implied that the project is only taking land from the Madison side. It would take at least five-and-a-half feet from my condo's front yard/driveway and eliminate trees.
The sidewalk would be increased from five to eight feet to enable bikers to ride side-by-side with their children. It was opposed at two public hearings and three city council meetings by all the residents of Monona Drive living along the route, including a petition of 65 residents.
Bikers want to be able to bike on the sidewalk in both directions, not ride in the street in the same direction as auto traffic. The proposed two-mile sidewalk crosses 37 driveways with some 200 residents coming in and out. It is unsafe.
Bikers have said that they do not feel safe riding on Monona Drive and will not in four-foot bike lanes. Perhaps increasing the lanes to five-feet should be seriously considered. But the proposed eight-foot sidewalk is unsafe.
Peggy Wireman, Monona
Leno no laughing matter
Does Dean Robbins watch TV or did he just win some sort of contest ("The Right Tonight Show," 2/26/10)? Jay Leno is not funny. Has never been funny. He is a backstabber who hid in closets to gain information against rivals. It has always been about his fragile ego.
Conan failed to get ratings due to a crappy lead-in (Leno) and ends up losing his show. Leno is the same guy who failed to thank Carson. I'm looking forward to him bombing once again.
Correction: Last week's cover story said Brandon Beebe is guitarist and vocalist for Meteorade. He is guitarist and vocalist for the Bombshelters.