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Letters to the Editor 

TOTAL IMMERSION

As a co-founder of Audubon Montessori, the first immersion school in the New Orleans area, and an active advisor in the formation of Hynes Elementary and Haynes Middle-School, I was impressed with the dynamism of the founders of the International School of Louisiana (ISL) in their double initiative of seeking the International Baccalaureate and Louisiana charter-school statuses ("Hard Lessons," May 6).

In the first days of ISL, the possibility of my being the first director was mentioned, but I could not respond affirmatively because of my own confused situation in Louisiana's bizarre retirement regulations at that time. So I had to let ISL drift out of my mind.

Your story was therefore a surprise, but I want to state that in my 25 years of working with immersion schools, there have never been complaints of mistreatment. On the contrary, the students typically are well respected and well prepared in every area, including English and math. By the fourth grade, the immersion-school students statistically do better than their non-immersion peers.

The vision of the founders of the ISL is well-established around the world. In fact, New Orleans has actually lagged behind other cities like Tulsa, Okla., and Silver Springs, Md., in the establishment of an International Baccalaureate school. The ISL board has responded appropriately to an exceptional situation, and the parents are clearly ready to become more involved. In New Orleans, no school ever succeeds without the parents.

I congratulate you on an objective article about a delicate subject.

--Robert Desmarais Sullivan

ISL PARENTS RESPOND

We would like to make it clear that as parents at the International School of Louisiana, we are thrilled with the classroom instruction of our children ("Hard Lessons," May 6). We find the teachers to be consummate professionals, each overcoming the personal and professional challenges of adapting to a new school (for many in a new country) while attending to the educational demands of the ISL mission and the emotional demands of our children. We would like to underscore that all of the current teachers dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to their vocation. ISL students on the whole are thriving in this challenging and supportive environment.

The incident featured in your article concerns just one teacher, and your reporter neglected to include the opinions of non-complainant parents of children in the classroom in question. Not only that, but the reporter did not seek input from parents of children in other classrooms to give balance to the article. The impression is one of general discontent with the school; that is simply not the case.

There is a tremendous level of commitment among the parents, and especially among the teachers and assistant teachers, to see that the mission of ISL is carried out. We have constant, easy communication with the classroom teachers, the administration, the Board of Directors and fellow parents and would like to ensure that your readers know of our support of and pride in this fabulous educational institution. Where else in metro New Orleans do young children of such diverse backgrounds have comparable daily exposure to languages, cultures and people from all over the world? And what other public school will prepare children to interact with and work in the international community?

We would be happy to share our ISL experiences, and we invite your readers to see for themselves what ISL has to offer at the ISL Fest on Saturday, May 17.

--Nancy Bowden Stewart and Elizabeth Van Saint
Co-Chairs, Faculty and Staff
Appreciation Committee of the ISL

EILEEN LOH HARRIST RESPONDS: In "Hard Lessons," I reported that "[s]ome parents who spoke with Gambit Weekly on condition of anonymity said they considered [this] case to be atypical of the school as a whole." I repeatedly asked the ISL board to put me in touch with parents who would speak in support of the school, but the board denied my request. I independently located some supportive ISL parents, but all declined to be interviewed.


NAGIN'S WELFARE FOR THE RICH

As a lawyer representing destitute clients holding unpaid judgments against the City of New Orleans, I am chagrined to see Gambit Weekly hand a bouquet to Mayor Ray Nagin for his latest scheme to transfer our tax dollars to the well-off (Bouquets & Brickbats, April 29). Handing a $25,000 "staying incentive" to hundreds of highly paid Exxon executives may cost us millions. The mayor has also been supporting the creation of additional "tax increment districts" to funnel tens of millions of tax revenue to fat-cat developers in return for creating poverty-level jobs. It seems as though the only kind of welfare left in America is welfare for the rich, which is neither just nor sound business policy. At the very least, the city should first pay its just debts before larding the affluent.

--John J. Sullivan

 


OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH ...

Scott Jordan began his blurb on the Bob Dylan Gospel album (Jazz Fest CD reviews, April 22) with this bone-headed statement: "Bob Dylan's 1979 announcement that he was a born-again Christian provoked the usual spectacle associated with Dylan's previous radical career changes."

Good grief! Bob Dylan never announced any such thing (ask Aaron Neville), and it is absurd for your music critic to write such a flat-out falsehood. Dylan did a couple of Christian-themed albums and spoke in interviews at the time of Jesus Christ as a biblical leader worth emulating, which is hardly the same thing as what your esteemed writer attributes to him.

Is it asking too much that your scribes know at least a bit of what they write about?

--Jackson Williams
Austin, Texas

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