Letters from the week of February 22, 2001


Letters from the week of February 22, 2001

On the Ball
He got game: Thanks for including Greg Hall regularly. His Sportswaves Web site was my favorite morning fix. I particularly enjoy the Off the Couch quotes and comments at the end. Never understood how someone could listen to all that talk radio, but he seems to pick out the best and/or most interesting quotes from the week.
Lee Goodman
Prairie Village
Class Dismissed
Teachers fret: I enjoyed Tony Moton's article about Southwest Charter School immensely ("Unchartered Waters," February 1). I was the Spanish teacher at Southwest from August 30, when I replaced a teacher who quit on about the second or third day, until the end of December.

When I was hired, I was told about the Behavior Intervention Strategy Team system and that, simply put, students would be told once to stop their disruptive behavior and then there was a quick procedure to get them out of the school if they did not shape up quickly. That turned out to be a fairy tale. The lack of organization in this school is incredible. Most obvious is the lack of buzzers or bells to mark passing periods. It was impossible to start classes on time.

When I started, I had about two hundred students who were grouped together by grade level rather than by their previous study or exposure to the Spanish language. I had students who had studied Spanish for eight years together with students who had no previous study of Spanish. After several weeks, I managed to achieve a more rational division of students according to their ability. I still had many classes that were divided into two groups based on their abilities. It was a very difficult situation.

If a parent was to call trying to find out where their son or daughter was at any given time, the front desk would be unable to tell them where they were supposed to be. Many of the tasks normally performed by school administration were delegated to the teams. The result was a lack of organization in which no school can function and be successful. There was one period of about ten days when we could not use the only copy machine because we had run out of toner. In Kansas City, there had to be many places where toner was available. Finally, ten or twenty cases arrived. Guess what? They had ordered the wrong size cartridge.

The school has an unusually high number of very new teachers. I believe that there are two reasons for this: 1) a cheaper work force and 2) teachers less likely to understand the level of incompetence of the administration. The administration was very up-front about the fact the school did not have a union and did not think one was needed. Sadly, several teachers had been cajoled into believing that they were prohibited from having a union there. Teachers at Southwest Charter are hired on an at-will basis. There is no binding contract that commits the teacher and the school to each other during the school year, unlike what occurs in nearly every public school.

Southwest Charter has no reason to exist. Parents who are looking for a better school for their children would be better served by keeping their children in the KCMO School District, assuming they cannot afford a private school.
David Young
Kansas City, Missouri

Viewer's Review
Film noir: I saw Malèna at the Fine Arts, and it was so good and so totally different from the review that ran in the February 1 issue that I am prompted to write about how rotten the Pitch's movie reviews are these days.

Obviously, Jean Oppenheimer must have watched Malèna on a VCR, shuttling through to get to the "good parts" and not paying any attention at all, concentrating instead on what she would write to try to appear witty and erudite, as opposed to informing the public about the movie.

Of course, Malèna is a movie you have to pay attention to. Contrary to what your reviewer said, it is not a comedy, although there are some amusing parts. It gets into the emotional horror of war and explores hypocrisy, lust and fear and juxtaposes those emotions with love, honor and courage.

Some movies deserve to be trashed (Battlefield Earth comes to mind), but when Oppenheimer unfairly tromps on an excellent movie for no reason other than the fact that she didn't get it, then she does a disservice to the filmmaker, the theater owner and the Kansas City viewing public. Fortunately, I seem to be the only person in town who read the Pitch review, since the theater was packed for an early showing, and the movie has been held over for another week.
Bill Pryor
Kansas City, Missouri

Good Guy
And the band played on: Just a quick note to thank the Pitch for alerting me to the Guy Forsyth Band playing at the Grand Emporium (Night & Day, February 8). I recently moved back to KC and was eager to see what was happening in the music scene around town when I read about Guy.

It was the first and only time I had ever seen the band play, and I must admit that now I am completely hooked. Not only because the mix of blues and rockabilly were amazing, but Guy mesmerized the crowd by playing the harmonica and even the saw. Yes, he actually played a toothless saw, and the wavy sounds were incredible. During one song, his projecting voice carried so well that he left the stage and strode among the audience during his song -- even way far into the back to involve those seated in the further recesses of the packed house ... packed even with this wonderful icy weather we're having.

Thanks very much again to the Pitch for alerting me to this amazing blues experience that I would recommend to anyone. From what I hear, Guy is a KC native, so it was neat to see our blues tradition carried on so well by one of our own.
Rob Wheat
Overland Park

No Place Like Home
Living here in Allentown: As I read Deb Hipp's story about Modern Concepts, my eyes filled with tears and my heart with sorrow for those people who lived in a hell hole ("House of Horrors," January 25). As I continued to read I became so enraged with SRS, I could feel my blood curdle. Why the hell weren't these people removed years ago? This is clearly a case of neglect! Yet the people in good ol' Wyco keep giving this woman provisional licenses. All four of my dogs live better than those people did. What an outrage!

Thank God for Trooper Alex Petigna, who was clearly the real angel in this story. Trooper Petigna, if you see this: Thank you! Please Pitch, do NOT let up on this woman! If she opens again, please let your readers know. I wouldn't trust that woman to care for a snake!

Hey, Wyandotte County! Wake up and start doing your job! Take away her city license -- are you people stupid or what?

Ms. Allen, if you see this, I am going to do everything a concerned citizen can do to see that you are shut down for good. Is anyone out there with me?
Mark Kloster
Kansas City, Kansas

Home of the rage: Thank you for Deb Hipp's article on Christine Allen and her "business," Modern Concepts. My life was touched by Ms. Allen many years ago when she "acquired" my mother's house, the very house written about in the article.

I thought at the time the woman was a smooth-talking operator. She had big ideas back then for that house, none of which included running a business from that address. The house was going to be a place where she could raise her kids in safety. Through legal manipulation, Ms. Allen, with the aid of an attorney and the courts, came to own my mother's house. That was when Modern Concepts was born.

Although I have no firsthand knowledge of the day-to-day operation of her business, I had heard horror stories from neighbors over the years about people residing at the house. I guess we don't pay close enough attention to things around us that aren't quite right. For that reason I feel some responsibility for not speaking up when I heard those rumors.

I believe Ms. Allen truly thinks of herself as an angel of mercy. How sad it is when people don't recognize their own sickness. I hope that Hipp's article will shed some light on the heinous nature of this person who is preying on the less fortunate among us. Perhaps the reason Ms. Allen didn't like dealing with the mental health agencies in Wyandotte County is because she was afraid they would recognize her own neurosis.

Again, thank you, Deb.
Gayle Brown
Kansas City, Kansas


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