Correction Lauren Williams was misidentified in the "Ready, Set, Create" story in the January edition. Chicago Parent regrets the error. Use better judgment When I read the recent (January 2004) Chicago Parent, I was excited to see an article detailing the strides addressing the needs of children with epilepsy. However, I was stunned by the title of the article "Schools seize opportunity to help." Was this completely insensitive choice of titles a lame attempt at humor or juvenile cleverness? I cannot fathom how it made it past the editor's desk of a magazine that frequently addresses serious matters affecting children and parents. I hope better judgment is used in the future. DEBORAH GANA, LaGrange Park
Editor's note: The headline was not an attempt at humor or cleverness. It was a mistake. Chicago Parent regrets and apologizes for the oversight.
Editor seems a weak parent Editor Susy Schultz' column (January 2004) was an example of weak parenting. Her children are testing her to see how strongly she believes the words they are using are offensive. By allowing them to listen to offensive music and use the language while she is there, she is implying it's OK. There is nothing wrong with telling children that using offensive language and listening to offensive music is wrong. It is imperative that parents provide a clear moral guide for their children. Schultz should ban offensive material in her house and car. Sometimes children need to be told "that isn't how our family talks, believes or behaves." We don't let our children make racist comments even if they are "just words." Neither should we allow sexist or violent remarks. Certainly children will experiment with rebellion outside the home. Certainly we must talk about the sexism and violence that makes some music offensive. But, we don't need to play the CDs in our car for a group of friends. As for the park district, someone should talk with the director to ensure that music with explicit lyrics not be played to 10-year-olds. That is why the rating system was developed.
We can't be afraid to speak out to our children and those who influence our children about what we believe is blatantly wrong. CHRISTINE HIDES, Grayslake, Illinois
Partly cloudy and wrong Susy Schultz's column (December 2003) bashing President Bush for not worrying enough had me checking to see if maybe I was reading the Onion. In every silver lining, she sees only clouds.
Take the time to read what Bush said in London-this is not a man removed from human suffering. And $87 billion is a bargain to bring freedom to people who have been deprived of it, and guarantee its future here. In fact, it is our most precious commodity, and without it life has little meaning. But freedom comes at a price. To tell our men and women in uniform and their families that our cause is not worthy and they're fighting this war in vain says more about Schultz than President Bush. MAGGIE HITTIE, Algonquin
End divorce discrimination I am so glad to see Chicago Parent address the myth of divorce (January, 2004) damaging children. I have faced discrimination in my child's preschool because of my marital status. She has been treated differently because she has been labeled as a child from a divorced family. I love the school my child attends, but she has a teacher who does not hide that she expects to have problems with children of divorced parents.
My child's father and I have struggled long and hard and consulted with psychologists to figure out the best way to handle this. He and I have a great relationship and our child is doing extremely well.
Divorced families represent 50 percent of American households and children of divorce with both parents actively involved in the child's life are no more likely to be poorly behaved than a child in a nuclear family with unhappy parents. Discrimination is unacceptable in an educational environment.
Our bi-nuclear family is a happy, healthy one. We have a licensed psychiatrist who helps us and our child through an amicable divorce. And we take great pride in our mutual respect for one another as parents.
Assuming a child's behavior is based on parental marital status is not only wrong, it is inconsistent with the values educational institutions are supposed to be instilling. JENNIFER BROWNING, Chicago The magazine surprised me I work with girls in "at risk" neighborhoods, so I picked up the January 2004 issue. Usually, I find Chicago Parent is geared to overindulged, overscheduled and affluent families, so I avoid it. I was surprised to actually find three stories I related to.
Your cover story ("Gang culture as pop culture") brought up many good points. However, the solution that has been working so far in our home is for my husband and me to act like the adults in charge. We have never bought rap or hip–hop music or clothes for my son and always point out how silly it looks and sounds. Our son is now 11 and thinks "gang wear" is ugly and ridiculous. If our son or one of his friends is with us and turns his or her hat around, we insist they correct it or give it to us. I know our son listens to objectionable music at times, but we talk about it and never allow it in our house. It all comes down to the fact that we are the parents and no child has suffered from loving discipline and being told, "We do not allow that."
I identified with the story "Overscheduled babies" because I gave children's music classes. I quit when it became obvious that children expect to be passively entertained instead of taking part in musical activities. Between the parents who were upset that I did not dress up like a television character and children who would not participate, it became more work than fun for me.
Finally, your story "National breastfeeding campaign under review" about the Ad Council breastfeeding ads struck close to home. My sister is a lactation consultant and I am a past member of the La Leche League International. We boycott products made by formula companies because of the way they have undermined breastfeeding for years. Women have been breastfeeding for centuries. If so many women have "problems" breastfeeding, the human race would have ceased to exist years ago. SANDY CERVENKA, Berwyn
Fired up in Portage Park I am a loyal reader of Chicago Parent and mother of two girls: 11 years and 10 months old. Since my oldest was born, I have used your magazine as a resource of fun and affordable things to do.
Susan Dodge and Laura Putre's articles (January 2004) on baby activities struck a chord. As an early childhood educator and mother, I know it's important to find a balance and expose young children to a wide variety of experiences. But I'm tired of having to drive out of my Portage Park community to enjoy early childhood programs in other neighborhoods.
If you drive around Portage Park (no matter what season), you see children of all ages playing or strolling along our streets and parks. But this area lacks early childhood programs that other neighborhoods enjoy. Don't get me wrong-our school-age children enjoy many wonderful city programs, but what about our wee ones? It's time our neighborhood parks and libraries start offering more programs for the youngest members of our community.
You've ignited a flame! Anyone interested in helping me get more out of our community can e-mail me at email@example.com. EDNA VIDAURRE, Chicago
Christians not bigots The headline for Vic Grace's letter, "Where are the Christians?"( January, 2004) is well-said, since a Christian attitude is clearly missing from the letter. While the point of an overemphasis on toys at Christmastime is valid and worthy of consideration, Grace's attitude toward those who are not Christian is nothing short of bigoted.
The Chicago Parent cover story about Ramadan (November, 2003) was not proselytizing in any way. It was a presentation of facts and experiences about a time of year that is very important for those who practice Islam. It is also important to learn about this time of year for those of us who do not practice Islam. To say that this is the equivalent of "kissing up" to other religions shows a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to learn about others.
By Grace's standards, any article about the practice of religion would not be allowed-and this would include Christianity. KATHY MORGAN, Glenview
Guide gifted children Public education has been watered down to the lowest common denominator and the brightest among us have been handicapped by it. ("Gifted education for all" December, 2003)
Smarting up the curriculum is a good idea for all students and a more differentiated approach is also a good idea for all students. But these things are not going to happen because schools are still forced to focus on the lowest common denominator to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind. Schools cannot afford the increased staff and extra materials for such a program.
Gifted students have always fought for validation. It is a false logic to argue giftedness doesn't exist because it can't be quantitatively measured.
Introducing a more rigorous curriculum and using differentiation techniques are good ideas, but they are the mental equivalent of expecting a cheetah to chase a rabbit. Gifted students need gazelles to chase or we will never see their potential.
As public education neglects the brightest students, an increasing number of them will be taught at home where they can receive a more rigorous curriculum differentiated to meet their needs. And where they can chase gazelles every day. JULIE BROW, Oak Park
Immersion schools We at Language Stars were delighted to read about new institutions that share our passion for children's foreign language immersion. ("Bienvenue les enfants," September 2003). We applaud L'Académie des Enfants and the Lycee Français for furthering the goal of bilingual education in the Chicago area.
As children's foreign language experts, we are excited to see the growing numbers of parents who recognize and understand the benefits of learning a foreign language young. Young children have the luxury of learning naturally, absorbing the sounds, structures and intonation patterns of the new language as easily as they learned their native tongue. Young children are also able to pick up native accents flawlessly. These innate abilities greatly diminish as a child nears puberty-unfortunately just when most conventional U.S. language programs start.
And in today's global community, children who learn a second language young expand their world view early on, as well as opening themselves to expanded job opportunities in the future.
As our mission has always been to foster a new generation of bilingual Americans, we are thrilled to see new Chicago organizations adding to Chicago's immersion landscape. LESLIE LANCRY, Founder & President, Language Stars, Chicago
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Please tell us ... We want your thoughts and photos In March, we'd like to know what you do when spring fever hits. Do you have a favorite spot where your kid go to bounce off the walls? Deadline: Feb. 2. In April, the reader poll takes a new tack, suggested by reader Joan Drummond. We'd like parents to answer the question: "Now that I have kids, the one thing I know for sure is..." Deadline: March 8. If we run your response, we'll enter you in a drawing for a family membership to the Chicago Children's Museum. 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 all submissions to: Sandi Pedersen, Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. E-mail: email@example.com; fax: (708) 524-8360. For the love of Seuss Beginning this month, we will keep all photos and may use them in the future with stories in the magazine. By sending in your child's photo, you are giving us permission to run it now or in the future. On March 2, we celebrate the 100th birthday of the wonderful Dr. Seuss. Send us photos of your kids reading his books, waring a big striped hat, eating green eggs and ham or otherwise sharing the joy of his fabulous words. Deadline: Feb. 2. In April, we celebrate spring. Send us photos of your kids spring cleaning, on spring break or singing in the spring showers.Deadline: March 8. 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.