Where is Grand Rapids? Thank you for the getaways (October 2003) column about my hometown, Grand Rapids, Mich. I remember spending time on the banks of Reed's Lake with my two brothers as a young boy. My family and I moved from there in 1983. Almost 20 years later, while visiting East Grand Rapids, my wife and I lunched at Rose's outdoors on the deck. One correction, it appears that the map places Grand Rapids in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. I believe Grand Rapids was confused with the town of Big Rapids. Grand Rapids is located in western Michigan, almost directly west "across the state" from Detroit. DAVID RUBIN, Skokie Editor's note: Thank you for your gentle correction. And thanks to the many readers who found our faulty geography. We regret the error Bravo for Kids' Corner I think (Kids' Corner) is a wonderful idea. It's marvelous practice for the children. They have a chance to practice their writing skills and it encourages them to read when they know that they have a chance of getting published and getting a reward for it. KIM JOHNSON, Woodridge Keep U of C midwives Sadly, the proposed closing of the University of Chicago's midwifery program (October 2003) is just one program in a trend sweeping our country. In the past year, closings of nurse-midwifery practices have been announced in New York, Georgia, Texas, California, Iowa and Florida. With the rising costs of malpractice insurance, hospitals claim they cannot afford to employ midwives. How then, can hospitals afford physicians who are paid more and are sued much more frequently? The answer is that childbirth is a business. Increasing the number of billable procedures, speeding up labor with drugs and performing Cesarean sections mean more income per patient per unit of time. Because the midwives' model of care reduces unnecessary medical interventions, midwives bill for far fewer procedures than do physicians. When hospitals make bottom line comparisons, midwives lose. But when women make quality-of-care comparisons, midwives win. For example, The U.S. Cesarean section rate is now a staggering 26.1 percent. Studies show the C-section rate for hospital-based midwives to be less than 10 percent and the rate for out-of-hospital-based midwives to be less than 7 percent. Studies also have documented better maternal and child outcomes with midwifery care. Preserving and promoting the midwives model of care is a complex public health issue requiring innovative solutions. Terminating access to the midwives' practice at the U of C is just one of many obstacles women face when searching for excellent maternity care in Illinois, where laws effectively prohibit freestanding birth centers, and the state does not recognize the Certified Professional Midwife credential. To solve this problem, public health and midwifery advocates must work together to assure health care policy puts the health and well being of women and babies ahead of profits. MICHELLE BREEN, Executive Director, Chicago Community Midwives Algonquin Burdened by fundraising Over the years, fundraising has become an evil creature, both from the perspective of the sellers and of the buyers. ("When fundraising is a full time job," October, 2003) Hardly a day goes by when our family does not come across an organization that is trying to sell something, whether it be at the workplace or in our own home. I realize the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Little League need money, but enough is enough. The time has come to put an end to the involuntary slavery of our children. A polite, but firm, "No thank you" must now be uttered in the face of the virtually endless stream of fundraisers. Then, and only then, will we be able to regain our sanity and put an end to all of this madness. JOSEPH DAUDISH, Naperville Redshirting story on the mark I have a son who has a July birthday. I have been researching kindergarten redshirting for three years and your article by Heather Cunningham (February 2003) was one of the best I have read. My son was well aware he was old enough to be in kindergarten. He was small for his age but athletic. He could read, but he had speech delays. Our deciding factor was him. He wanted to go. He quickly adjusted to behaving. His reading level is progressing rapidly. His speech is where it needed to be. Most important, his self-esteem is huge. He says, "You know, I think I am ready to be a second grader. I am able to do whatever I try." That comment was priceless to me. SUSAN MAGLEY, Asheville, N.C
More immersion schools After reading the article "Bienvenue, les enfants" (Sept., 2003), I wanted to take the opportunity to place the exciting arrival of L'Académie des Enfants on the North Shore into a broader Chicago context for bilingual education. Lycée Français de Chicago, located at Irving Park and the Lake, is a French language immersion school serving students from Pre-K through 12th grade. The school was founded in 1995 by a group of dedicated parents, educators and supporters. From the outset, our goal was to establish a school of such excellence that it would become an international educational destination. Lycée has just begun its ninth year with 412 students from around the world. Our curriculum is accredited at all levels by both ISACS and the French Ministry of Education, and our graduates are earning their French baccalaureate degrees and enrolling in top-tier colleges and universities in the United States, France, Canada and England. The creation of L'Académie des Enfants signals a demand on the part of Chicagoland families for access to the benefits of a bilingual education, and to the rigors of a French/American curriculum. We are delighted with this new resource and look forward to providing a continuation of the preschool experience for those who get "hooked" on the immersion model. SYLVETTE NICOLINI, President, Lycée Français de Chicago Editorial was right Your editorial (Why so few kids.us Web sites?, October 2003) was spot-on. Parents and kids desperately need a variety of resources they can trust for quality information. As you indicated, many Web sites give information on math, reading, science and other subjects, but which ones can parents and kids trust for valuable information—not just slick promotions and pop-up ads? We've developed a resource they can rely on: www.aboutthekids.org. With our Web site, parents and kids will find a safe place to discover Internet links to prescreened, relevant information on educational topics, homework assistance and creative and enriching sites for kids from K-12th grade. Parents can rest assured that what they and their children see has been extensively prescreened. Web site visitors can click on a link without fear of pop-up ads, automatic site transfers, links of no return and sales offers. Quality and ease of use are our primary screening criteria. Approximately 7,000 prescreened links are on our site, with more added each day. I invite you to come and look. JOSEPH A. EKMAN, Founder and President/CEO About The Kids Foundation, Los Altos, Calif. No need to deride Tibet After reading your editorial, "Pedophiles should be shunned, not rewarded" (May 2003), I was compelled to respond. While I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of Misters Polanski and Kelly, I do take exception to one point. I am unsure as to why you found it necessary to deride such causes as freedom for Tibet and the call for honest and fair representation of gays and lesbians in the media to make your point regarding pedophilia. Perhaps your caustic tone at the onset of your editorial was meant only to demonstrate your contempt for the liberal base of the Hollywood establishment, but it suggests a profound insensitivity to and disregard for those living under tyranny in Tibet and for gays and lesbians within this country and without who, too often, are stereotyped by popular culture and mainstream media and, as a result, deemed acceptable targets for ridicule and worse. At their core, the issues of freedom for the Tibetan people and equal rights and fair treatment for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, are not so far removed from your fight for the rights and protection of children. Fundamentally, we as critically thinking people, should be striving toward one goal: the creation of a world wherein all people, be they Tibetan, homosexual or 13-year-old females in a male-dominated society, are free from abuse of all kinds. In the future, I hope that you will not dismiss so offhandedly such important human rights issues simply because you take exception to "those people in Hollywood." D. JANELLE GOIN, Wheaton Soy should not replace milk I'm writing in response to "Advocates want to know: Got soy milk?" (August 2003). As a registered dietitian, I am confident that Americans-especially school-aged children-should not replace regular milk with soy beverages. More than 70 percent of girls and 60 percent of boys ages 6-11 fail to meet calcium recommendations set by the National Academy of Sciences. America is in a calcium crisis, making milk's importance greater today than ever before. Milk contains more than nine essential nutrients, including calcium, vitamins A, D and B12, protein, potassium and phosphorus. Beverages made with soy, while nutritious in their own right, are no substitutes for the benefits of milk. It should be noted that the advocacy group referred to in the article, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, does not have science on its side. The group has repeatedly been denounced by such credible organizations as the American Medical Association, the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the American Council on Science and Health. While lactose-intolerance was cited in the article as a reason to provide milk alternatives at school, it's important to note that lactose intolerance does not mean dairy intolerance. When milk is consumed with meals, most children tolerate it well. The article also refers to children with milk allergies. In fact, milk allergy affects only 1 to 3 percent of children during the first two years of life. In the majority of cases, children outgrow the allergy by age 3. Credible research shows that three servings of milk, cheese and yogurt a day not only helps build stronger bones, it may also play an important role in weight management and blood pressure control. As noted in the article, the school lunch program does provide special accommodations for individual students with specific health problems. This process involves obtaining a doctor's note, and for a very good reason: health professionals should be the ones deciding what is nutritionally best for growing children's diets, not special interest groups. MELISSA JOY BUOSCIO, Manager of Consumer Communications Midwest Dairy Council-Chicago Division More recovery tips I would like to add a few more bits of advice to Diana Dionosio-Pieczynski's "10 tips to a good recovery" (October 2003). First, I wish that someone had asked whether I react well to narcotics before administering them. A small dose of narcotics completely devastated me emotionally while not really controlling the pain. A family friend who has enjoyed social drug use enjoyed the narcotic experience thoroughly. You know who you are-and that should help you make the pain-easing choice that's right for you! Point 10, "Savor your time with this child," points out that the hospital offers many amenities that are not available back at home. After childbirth, you may suffer from incontinence and other disabling conditions upon your return home. After realizing that I could not turn over in bed, walk at more than a snail's pace or deal with some basic bathroom-related activities, we had to hire a nanny on Day Two to care for my new child so my husband could care for me during his two-week paternity leave. One more small point: I complained in writing about some unnecessary pain I went through as a result of the hospital being short-staffed the night I gave birth. To my surprise, one of the physicians acknowledged my complaint, apologized and discounted my bill. I would have rather had the care than the cash, but it is worth mentioning that it's not necessarily useless to follow up on mishandling of your birth if it happens. LORIE CHINITZ, Skokie
Next month In December, tell us how your kids say thank you. Do they write or call? Does it take a battle? Deadline: Nov. 3. In January, we're thinking about gangs. Do your kids use gang symbols, sing rap songs, wear their pants too low? Do you think it's a problem? How are you handling it? Deadline: Dec. 1. If we run your response, we'll send you a $10 gift certificate. We'll print your first name, the town in which you live and the names and ages of your kids; please provide us with your full address and phone number for verification purposes only. Send submissions to: Sandi Pedersen, Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. E-mail: email@example.com; fax: (708) 524-8360. Fun in the snow In December, our thoughts turn to snow. Send us photos of your kids building snowmen. Deadline: Nov. 3. In January, send us photos of your kids keeping warm-sipping hot chocolate, sitting by the fire or dressed up in 12 layers. Deadline: Dec. 1. Send all submissions to: The Gallery c/o Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. Provide the first names of everyone in the picture, the children's ages, and the town in which you live. Include a phone number for verification purposes only. Sorry, we can't return photos. Digital photos must be submitted by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Letters: Chicago Parent welcomes letters from its readers. In order to publish a letter, we must have the name and phone number of the writer, and the name of the town in which he or she resides. Please send letters to: • Susy Schultz, editor, Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302 • Or fax them to Susy at (708) 524-8360 • Or e-mail them to email@example.com. We may edit letters for space or clarity. We will not divulge the addresses or phone numbers of letter-writers or forward messages to them.