Everything Is Piketty-Boo
Timothy Shenk’s “What Was Socialism?” [May 5] was something you could sink your teeth into. Lefties are ambivalent about revolution. The revolutions of the twentieth century proved to be ephemeral flops that paved the way not for socialism but for a resurgent capitalism. They destroyed traditional societies, created working and professional classes, industrialized their countries and did the work of capitalism in record time. Those who benefited most are the plutocrats studied by Piketty & Co.
Shenk’s article on a revival of Marxism is long overdue. Marx’s analysis of capitalism seems much more persuasive now than it did in the early postwar era. Then we had at least some cooperation between capital and labor. Predictions of the immiseration of the working class appeared ridiculous then, but not any longer. Capital has clawed its way back, and working people have lost much of their safety net.
Peter B. Denison
…And When Did He Know It?
I hold no brief for Donald Rumsfeld, a man I consider a grotesque. But Errol Morris [“Q&A,” May 5] has got it wrong about Rumsfeld and the “unknown known.” The Unknown Known (UK) does indeed mean things you did not know you knew; KK are obviously things you know you know; KU are things you know that you don’t know; and UU (the most dangerous category in security terms) are things you don’t know that you don’t know. Morris’s “things you think you know that it turns out you did not” is not really part of this set.
Teaching in Seattle
I was disappointed to read Alexandra Hootnick’s “Teach for America’s Growing Pains” [May 5]. Her article provides an incomplete picture of the successes our region has had since our launch. The piece does not include our efforts to tailor growth to local needs, our dedication to high-needs students, our commitment to diversity in the classroom or interviews with any of our partners in the community. It also doesn’t touch on the stark educational disparities of race and class that exist for our students. Here is the full picture of our work in Washington State.
Hootnick goes to great lengths to omit the many supportive voices of parents, principals and community leaders. She interviewed a PTSA official who balks at candidates with part-time job experience, but she did not include interviews from the principals who did hire our teachers. Teachers like Sunny Sinco, who in her first year led 73 percent of her middle school ELA students to demonstrated mastery in reading (14 percent above the school average) and 84 percent to demonstrated mastery in writing (18 percent above the school average) on district tests. Or Joanna Daniel, whose students had the highest writing scores in the entire Federal Way school district her first year. None of the voices of our colleagues and partners in South Central Washington are included either.