Not enough love for Leon
From the preview write-up of Leon Russell (To-Do List, Oct. 22), who graced our city with a visit last week, you wouldn't know the author was talking about one of the great rock 'n' roll musical talents. Whatever one thinks of Russell's voice or "style," or "the '70s," for that matter, the man deserves more respect.
Leon Russell started as a session musician, recording piano for such greats as Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin. He was the bandleader on Joe Cocker's phenomenal "Mad Dogs & Englishmen" touring revue in 1970 and also "anchor[ed] the house band for George Harrison's Bangla Desh benefit in 1971." (From the website of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 2011).
His songs have been covered by, among others, Ray Charles, George Benson, Dusty Springfield and Willie Nelson. He has played and/or recorded with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Elton John, Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.
As a producer, he "launched the careers of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, J.J. Cale, Phoebe Snow and Dwight Twilley. It was on [one of his labels] that venerable Texas bluesman Freddie King revitalized his career." (Same source)
If his hits "A Song for You," "Delta Lady" or "Stranger in a Strange Land" aren't your cup of tea, perhaps his rendition of George Harrison's "Beware of Darkness" would strike a chord.
Great musicians think he's one of the great rock pianists of all time. And millions of fans, like me, find his music and performances charged with musical virtuosity and emotionally and sensually engaging on the deepest levels.
Anti-choicers war on Roe
The Oct. 26 editorial cartoon in the state newspaper illustrates women's loss as a result of defunding Planned Parenthood. It balances somewhat the Inky Wretch's Sunday attack column. The Pulitzer Prize winner based his negative comments on the discredited "body parts" video.
Rather than write about the unfairness of a clandestine, edited video taken in a lounge, let's consider the real problem — abortion. "Right to Life" members, and there are many, absolutely consider the moment an egg and sperm unite, a human with all the rights of a minor child. They insist on calling the zygote a baby. There is no room for compromise.
Nature causes between 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies to miscarry. We accept that sad event, but cannot accept a woman doing the same thing for whatever her reason. There is no compromise because they see no qualitative difference between a blastocyst, fetus and human. If these folks stuck to their convictions, we would not have enough space to entomb the recovered clots of miscarried "children."
As Roe v. Wade approaches 50 years as the law of the land, there is a realization it will not be changed. Anti-choicers now use guerrilla war schemes such as the edited smear video with the ultimate goal of making abortion illegal. There is no regard for the female carnage caused without the availability of medical abortions. Nope, if you remove the conceptus, you are a murderer. Causing a woman to die from a back alley abortion, well, that's OK. The murderer deserves it.
Roe v. Wade gives deference to fetal growth allowing essentially unregulated abortion during the first three months, more regulation during the middle three months and rigorous regulation (for example, to save the mother's life) the last three months.
Rather than improving on these regulations, anti-choicers continue to push the limits of the law in an attempt to destroy the law. One of their favorite tactics is to impose pointless and unnecessary medical requirements on abortion clinics. At some point, one hopes the anti-choice folks will realize that their uncompromising position does not respect life.
From the web in response to "eStem branches out" (Oct. 22):
Sen. Joyce Elliott hit the nail on the head. Self-interest is healthy to a point and then it becomes pathological. Our society is so ultra-competitive and mean-spirited. We expect oppressed people who work at two or three crappy jobs just to keep food on the table to drop their kids off at eStem. We should reject the designation of failing when it comes to the schools where kids aren't doing well. Of course, they are not doing well. Their families and their neighborhoods have been set up to fail, and they have been shunted into schools that distinctly segregate on the basis of income and race. It's just short of criminal. Bernie Sanders is right. Things and status will never make up for basic decency in a country. We would do well to follow the Scandinavians and care about the society as a whole. Am I blaming parents? Hell no, the waters are so shark infested in this nation, a person would be a fool not seek an edge for their children. Is that a good scenario? Hardly.
Polk Salad Annie
It's funny to me that after eight years the Little Rock School District is still crying over the opening of eStem. Dr. Roy Brooks, the former superintendent of the LRSD, was trying to implement the philosophies used at eStem today, but met much resistance from the district and staff. When Brooks helped prepare the community for the opening of this fantastic charter school and set the foundation for eStem, many parents were excited to hear that we had options for the education we wanted for our children. The LRSD had a great leader with a great vision, and the LRSD blew it! LRSD needs to fix their own problems and quit attacking the charter schools.
I am a proud parent of three students at eStem public charter schools and wouldn't let them go back to the LRSD if you paid me.
Charter schools are not under the control of local school districts. They are not required to follow all the rigorous standards that public schools do. They are usually financed and run by those who have the money to do so. For example, Walter Hussman (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette owner) finances eStem. The Waltons finance Quest in West Little Rock.
The original intended purpose of charter schools was supposed to be that they would try new and innovative techniques and attempt to teach kids that were struggling in traditional schools. Then, those techniques were supposed to be shared with and used in more traditional schools, if they were proven effective.
This has not happened. Many charter schools recruit and retain the better and best public school students and put out the kids who are struggling academically, behaviorally, etc.
Michelle Cantley Mills
Charter schools give Republican leaders a way to get their hands into the public school funding cookie jar because, of course, someone who can run a successful business surely knows how to educate children. These schools are the current version of the old voucher system they have been trying to sell for the last 30 years. We have always known this would be the downfall of public schools in Arkansas. Sounds very similar to separate but equal. I'm sure they are concerned about the whole child and believe every child can learn.
Lisa Taylor Lawrence
And all you haters of charter schools, you must have never had your child in a terrible school! We have been in Maumelle Middle and High School, and the years spent there were a complete waste academically. I am so thrilled to have my kids at eStem! They are actually learning, and excited about it. The teachers pay attention and provide help and tutoring where needed. If a child is not being challenged, they will move them up a grade. My senior gets to do an internship with a design company during his last two periods of the day. It's been amazing!
And they offer "regular" classes. It is not AP or nothing. I am a huge fan of the Arkansas Times, but when you guys just bitch and moan about charter schools it makes me crazy.
Libra Shepherd Snyder