If there is one word to describe my reaction to the article on the Los Angeles Leadership Academy, it is "outrage" ("Reading, Writing and . . . Revolution," by Richard Lee Colvin, Oct. 5). How dare these wobbly minded liberals--school founders Roger Lowenstein and Susanne Coie--use the students as slaves to bolster their own egos? How can the people of Los Angeles afford to help pay for a school such as this with municipal tax dollars?
Many of the students are children of immigrants. Immigrants do not come to this country to destroy it; they come to be part of American society. But Lowenstein and Coie may be condemning the children to lives of shadowy left-wing revolutionary operations rather than productivity. If many of the pupils cannot even read a newspaper or library book properly, how can they form opinions on world affairs? Give the students good reading, writing and math skills by time-honored educational means, and they will do just fine as adults.
I am a former inner-city school teacher with experience in both Harlem and Los Angeles. More recently, I volunteered at the Los Angeles Leadership Academy. I was disheartened to read Colvin's article, which, while trying to appear objective, was quite derogatory. Colvin seemed to hammer on the words "taxpayer-supported school" as if he thought the school's efforts toward creating new ways of teaching and learning were not worthy of our tax dollars.
It should be emphasized that the academy receives less government dollars per child than public schools do, while it pays for its own buildings and equipment. Considering the current atmosphere of underfunded public schools, with their rampant violence and overtaxed, apathetic teachers, I would think that Colvin and taxpayers would be dazzled by the passionate dedication of Lowenstein and Coie. The article did a disservice to people who are role models for public service.
This school tells children that they can get whatever they want by protesting. Instead of teaching them "social justice," we're teaching them to have tantrums every time something doesn't go their way. The school not only indoctrinates intolerance, but also self-serving empowerment and hate. What's next? A lesson in how to burn the U.S. flag or how to use an AK-47 or bombs to kill people they don't like?
As one American among millions who understands that political dialogue and social activism are the heart and soul of democracy, I believe the implications of the phrases "We shall overthrow" and "Reading, writing and . . . revolution" on the magazine's cover were inaccurate and mean-spirited when applied to the work of the courageous founders of this experimental effort in education. Teaching America's youth to critique their government's policies and to speak out against the resulting injustices has nothing to do with overthrowing the government and everything to do with promoting a just society.