Corrections In the March 2004 issue:
In "Diapers: Still a debate?" Dr. Toni Bark's comments were taken out of context. Bark recommends mainly using cloth diapers, but was joking when she said, "Anything disposable is horrible and we should be outlawing disposable diapers." Also, when Bark was quoted as saying chemicals in diapers can cause maladies, Bark was citing specific studies not giving an opinion.
In the story's sidebar on the book, Toilet Training Begins at Birth, the correct Web site is www.completechildinc.com.
In the story about Chicago's new commissioner of Children and Youth Services, Arne Duncan's first name was misspelled.
Chicago Parent regrets the errors.
Local taxpayers=better schools It is a matter of faith among progressive publications such as yours, that having the state of Illinois more involved in funding and running education and the localities less involved is a good thing. To prove the point you bring out the well documented disparities in spending per school district.
These disparities do exist. To some degree it's a matter of richer vs. poorer districts. But to a greater degree, certain school districts have more money because residents, teachers and administrators have worked hard to create good schools which, in turn, have won the financial support of their communities. In other areas, schools have been poorly run and don't have the community's support and funding that comes with it.
By focusing on the state rather than the local level, overall educational funding could actually decrease over time, given the taxpayers' dislike for funding distant schools and school bureaucracies. Additionally, as medical science advances and the baby boom ages, the state will be paying more for Medicaid, leaving less for schools. With the state and federal government increasingly in debt and encumbered by multiple entitlements, Illinois' schools may be glad to find their star hitched to the local tax base.
Property taxes are not particularly unfair–there are no tax shelters as there are with the federal income tax. In many areas properties are fairly assessed, and the homestead and senior citizen exemptions make the property tax progressive.
The only systemic unfairness with the property tax system in Illinois is that farmland is mainly untaxed–which is the main reason Downstate school districts are so impoverished. That could be changed, although owners of farmland, corporate and otherwise, wouldn't like it.
Better schools means local control of schools means local funding.
LARRY JAKUS, Chicago
Gambling won't hurt town Thanks for the great story on French Lick, Ind. (March 2004) by Cindy Richards. We certainly appreciate it. I wanted to alleviate concerns Richards has concerning the casino, though. It is intended to revive the community's historic roots. The communities thrived on illegal casino gaming until 1949. All the while, the community kept its small-town charm. The vision of the casino now is no different. It will fit the historic themed-era of our heyday in the early 1920s. The long-term vision is to have the district around the casino replicate many of the small-town businesses. For example, I've heard of developing unique shops, an old-time newspaper complete with printing press and an old-time drug store.
ROB DENBO, Executive Director, Orange County, Ind., Convention and Visitors Bureau
More than just a stereotype Thanks for your informative story about bar and bat mitzvah parties and Women's American ORT Party Planning Showcase, (February 2004), which brought together some 1,500 adults and kids with more than 120 exhibitors of party options.
We caution readers, however, to beware of easy stereotypes. Many-if not most-of those who attend the event aren't planning extravagant
bashes; rather, they're looking for cost-effective ways to personalize a celebration and throw a memorable party. For working parents, especially, ORT's party expo offers a unique opportunity to easily gather lots of information, including price comparisons. That's why the showcase, now in its 13th year, has become such a popular event.
ROBIN RIEBMAN, Arlington Heights JERI ROSAUER, Buffalo Grove
Formula is bad for babies I have two comments about your article on the Ad Council breastfeeding awareness campaign (January 2004).
The quote attributed to Carol Kolar should say "that mothers, fathers and grandparents never thought about the risks of NOT breastfeeding."
Addressing the more general issue, ad campaigns that promote health always focus on the risks of doing the bad behavior, not the benefits of not doing the bad behavior. Examples: the risks of smoking during pregnancy (vs. the benefits of not smoking) and the risks of not using a car seat (vs. the benefits of using one)
It is time people realize that the formula companies, just like the tobacco companies, produce a product that is harmful to people's short and long-term health. These risks should be widely publicized, and the companies that produce the products should be held financially liable for the costs incurred in treating the diseases caused by their products.
It took a major campaign to educate people about the risks of cigarette smoking to change a culture from in which many people smoked-on airplanes, in businesses and schools-to one in which fewer people smoke, and those who do are stigmatized. It will also take a major campaign to educate people about the risks of infant formula (NOT the benefits of not using formula) to turn around the culture from one in which many people use formula, and do so in public, while breastfeeding mothers are stigmatized for breastfeeding in public, or for longer than a few months. to one in which fewer people use formula and everyone is supportive of breastfeeding mothers.
KATHERINE A. DETTWYLER, Newark, Del.
Nothing wrong with Nick I think some of Nickelodeon's programming is unsuitable for children, but I laughed hysterically at the letter you published in March 2004. I compare it to this: I don't like green beans, but I am not going to ban them. I just don't buy them.
The comedy segment the writer referred to is part of a show on "Teen Nick." Parents should know not to allow young children to watch that line of programming.
The mother who wrote that letter is the only person I have ever heard who assumed they were stereotyping Appalachians. I asked my daughter what she thought and she said, "They are telling silly knock-knock jokes, Mom, and they don't even make sense."
Children are taught to see stereotyping and prejudices. Those who are not taught at home will learn them after starting school. Since trying to shield children does not work, why not prepare them in a positive way for what they will experience? Television cannot teach stereotyping, only people can. If I don't like the program, I turn the station.
Parents, please stop relying on television to babysit your children. How long and what they watch is up to you. Their morals and values are up to you. Stop blaming everything else, turn off the television and read them a book.
LYNETTE PITTMAN, Gurnee
Our girls deserve better Kudos! Kudos! and more Kudos! to Laura Bayard's article on sexy kids' clothes in the March 2004 issue of Chicago Parent. Finally, the truth is being told. Advertising's negative and sexual images negatively affect girls and women alike. Any female, but especially young, sexy and thin females, are on display, as objects, for male consumption. Selling an "item" is no justification for objectification. The only one that benefits is the company. Believe me, they do not care about social responsibility; money is the bottom line. In several European countries, Sweden is one of them, advertising may not be directed at children. I hope we wise up and put a ban on it here as well. Our girls deserve better, and we must demand it. Two good online resources I highly recommend are:oneangrygirl.net and media-alliance.org. Thank you, Chicago Parent!
TERESA CHILETZ, Joliet
Thanks for mentioning it I read the online version of Chicago Parent and was excited to find that you included the concept of infant potty training in your Great Diaper Debate article (March 2004). I've been researching, advocating, mentoring and writing about this topic for 25 years and until recently, few publications had the courage to even mention it. Thanks, Chicago Parent.
For anyone interested in reading more on this topic, here are a few links: www.white-boucke.com/parenting.html and www.timl.com/ipt. Here readers can learn the gentle art of infant pottying-–with or without diapers. You can start at any age, even at birth.
LAURIE BOUCKE, Boulder, Colo.
Disposables, too much trash In your recent article on cloth vs. disposable diapers, I found it interesting that an EPA engineer seemed to argue that since the 3.3 million tons of infant and adult diapers thrown out annually accounted for only 1.4 percent of total waste generated that it was an insignificant amount. I think the flip side of this is to think that if we are throwing out more than 3 million tons of diapers each year and this comprises less than 2 percent of our trash that we are perhaps producing too much trash. I don't think it's "wrong" of us to use disposable products, but perhaps we need to examine when they are worth using and when we should find reusable alternatives (especially in the age of the disposable dishcloth). Doctors quoted in the article who said that cloth was more likely to cause diaper rash should know (as should parents trying to make a choice about diapering) that better cloth diapers exist today than in the past; in addition to diapers that are fitted like disposables with snaps or Velcro, fabrics lik e microfleece wick moisture away from the skin and keep babies drier than old-fashioned cotton diapers, and hemp blend fabrics purportedly have antibacterial properties.
BETH LEISTENSNIDER, Chicago
Diapers, an educational tool I am an 8th grade science teacher in the Naperville School District currently teaching a unit on plastics. In this unit of study, students learn about plastics/polymers to investigate the advantages and trade-offs of using plastic bags over paper bags.
I am thoroughly impressed with your March, 2004, article, "Diapers, Still a Debate," because your writers clearly exposed both sides of the debate and showed no bias. My students are taught to look for non-biased articles and to recognize a biased article, which they probably will encounter throughout their life.
As part of our plastics unit, we also discuss and investigate through a laboratory experiment the "great" diaper debate. Your article is an excellent source for my students to learn about some of the issues behind disposable vs. cloth diapers.
Thank you for writing a non-biased article that exposes both sides of an old, yet still pressing, issue: What diaper would you choose?
JENNIFER DUNHAM, North Aurora
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... What's your idea of a perfect mom's day?
In May, we celebrate moms. What is your idea of the perfect Mother's Day? A day at the spa? Breakfast in bed? Fun with the kids? (If we run your response, leave a copy of the May issue where someone else can find it.) Deadline: April 12.
In June, it's dads' turn. Tell us about the perfect Father's Day. Does it require complete control of the television remote? A day on the links? Or a game of touch football with the family? Deadline: May 10.
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.
Flaunting flower power April showers bring May flowers. Send us photos of kids stopping to smell the roses, picking a dandelion bouquet or otherwise reveling the beauty of nature. Deadline: April 12.
June brings the freedoms of summer. Send us pictures of your kids playing at the park, swinging on the swings or otherwise enjoying in the summer sunshine. Deadline: May 10.
We will keep all photos and may use them in future issues of the magazine. By sending in your child's photo, you give us permission to run it now or in the future and post it on our Web site. Send prints to: The Gallery c/o Chicago Parent, 141 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302. Send digital photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the first names of everyone in the picture, children's ages, the town in which you live and a phone number for verification.