Re E.L. Doctorow’s “Our Virtual Hell,” his wonderful comment about the Internet [Dec. 23/30, 2013]: there is a way to fight back:
Don’t do Facebook, don’t do Twitter
Clear your mind of all that litter.
Or, as Eve should have asked the serpent when he offered her the fruit of knowledge (lately known as the Internet), “Did you wash it?”
new york city
The Scourge of Gentrification
Re Michelle Goldberg’s “Solving Gentrification” [Dec. 23/30]: zoning cannot fix what inadequate income taxation is causing, not only in New York. But I wish the best to Mayor
de Blasio anyway.
I know how it feels to suddenly be surrounded by crowds of new, young, ambitious, monied people who start describing my hometown to me in terms I’ve never heard before. Generations of experience and know-how are suddenly thrown out the window, and I am the odd man out in my own home. It feels like I’m dying while I’m still alive. And they don’t realize what they are doing. It’s the monied classes I am really starting to resent, hotly.
Tax heavily all homes that are not owner occupied and put the money into a public bank that makes home loans. The higher the tax, the more gentrification will go down. But the money must not be touched by the government.
Fighting School “Reform”
It’s great that teachers, parents, unions and community groups are finally making their voices heard on behalf of public education [“Reclaim School Reform,” Dec. 23/30].
However, if public schools are to be protected from the privatization predators, teachers and parents will have to take on the most insidious lever of corporate control—the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), along with the elaborate computerized testing systems and curriculums that go with them.
Hatched in secret and with limited input by classroom teachers, these new standards are being railroaded to adoption by states very fast (incentivized by the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program).
Since they are copyrighted, the standards will be difficult to change. Once the tests are fully implemented, Big Ed (Pearson, testing companies, etc.) will not only benefit greatly, but will likely have a role in nearly everything that goes on in the classroom. Teachers will have limited autonomy to tailor instruction to the needs of students, and high-stakes testing and data crunching will continue to have their abusive effects.