Previous issue's letters | Nov/Dec
Contents | Gazette home
feeling left out, Perelman Quad complaint.
WORKS BEST IN
article The Education of Pedro Ramos
and the From the Editor column
in the September/October Gazette note that Mr. Ramos once marched
in favor of bilingual education. As I read that, I recalled an article
in a recent Washington Post by a California educator extolling
the success of non-bilingual (monolingual?) education that was dictated
in California by one of its famous voter propositions. The author said
that, despite his skepticism and disapproval, English-only education was
many years I have believed that English immersion education for non-English-speaking
students is the best solution. I came to this conclusion after hearing
of a young (pre-teen) non-oriental girl who defended a Japanese immersion
program in Fairfax County, Virginia, in very credible Japanese. My question
then, as now, is why is immersion considered the best way to teach foreign
languages to American students, but is not the best way to teach English
we assumed that, because foreign students struggle in American classrooms,
it is because of the language, rather than because their prior education
was not up to U.S. grade level? In other words, how can you do multiplication
in any language if you havent yet learned to add and subtract?
would like to hear Mr. Ramos thoughts.
William D. Sieg, Parent
UNIVERSITY CITY NEW SCHOOL
an educator and a Penn alumna, I was annoyed by Susan Lonkevichs article
The Communitys Schoolhouse
in the September/October Gazette. The article was well-written
and informative, and the school Penn is building sounds like an excellent
educational environment for both students and teachers.
Lonkevich neglected to mention that in order to build this school, Penn
displaced an existing school, University City New School, which had been
leasing its facility from the University. UCNS also is a pre-K-8 family
school with a racially and economically diverse population, small classes
and fairly low tuition compared with that of other independent schools.
Rather than working with and building on an existing school, possibly
enabling more low-income students to attend, Penn chose to end UCNSs
lease, causing disruption in the education of many children. In addition,
Penns lack of clarity about its plans left UCNS and its families in limbo
for about two years, thus causing disruption in the very community Penns
school is intended to serve.
It is only after
an agonizing, prolonged period of emotional and financial strife that
UCNS will open next fall at a new West Philadelphia campus. Elizabeth
Ratay, head of UCNS, and its board of directors deserve an enormous amount
of credit for their dedication to UCNS and its families. Penn, on the
other hand, needs to be more sensitive to what it disrupts when attempting
to serve the community.
Terry R. Clark CGS71
HEAD: TIME WE SPOKE UP
two years we have suffered the insult of implied non-existence as we struggle
through a major trauma in the life of our school. Your most recent article
touting the new Penn-assisted community school has let go another arrow,
and it is time we spoke up.
In the two years
since the University announced its intentions to build this school, the
property on which we sit has been variously referred to as the former
Divinity School site, the block bounded by 42nd, 43rd, Spruce and Locust
Sts., the 4200 block of Spruce and so on, as if it were a vacant lot.
In your most recent article,
you finally make reference to the Parent-Infant Center, which will continue
to offer childcare on the site after the new school is erected and to
the Penn Childrens Center, which Penn has relocated. Both institutions
have thrived on the property for a long time and both were accommodated
so as to ensure their continued existence. Never has there been a mention
made of the third educational institution that has operated on the property
since 1975 and whose existence has been significantly threatened by this
City New School is a small, progressive independent school that has made
a significant contribution to the life of West Philadelphia since 1973.
Founded on the principles of John Dewey (the theoretical basis of much
of the instruction at the Penn Graduate School of Education), UCNS has
offered a comparatively economical independent school education to many
University City children, as well as to children living in other parts
of the city and in the near suburbs. The school offered personalized education
long before it was the norm, provided a model of parental involvement,
dedicated itself to offering a financial aid program well above the national
norm, and offered a model of a widely diverse, yet peaceful and dynamic,
community of parents, children and staff. We have been Penns tenants
since 1975, and the University has made many contributions, both philosophically
and monetarily, since that time. Despite that aid however, we have struggled
financially over the ensuing years. Never large (the highest enrollment
was two years ago at 115), UCNS has always been what is referred to as
a tuition-driven school, in part due to the generous financial aid program
we offer (50 percent of our children, 18 percent of the overall budget)
and in part due to the lack of any endowment. That we continue to exist
is a testament to the dedication of many staff members and parents over
the years. What we offer to our families, however, is priceless, especially
in light of the current educational climate.
then, we have felt ignored, unacknowledged and hurt by the constant lack
of reference to our small but vibrant school in every article written
about the project that has originated from the University community. We
do understand, of course, that it is bad press to make reference to
the fact that ones exciting new project threatens the existence of a
1ongstanding educational alternative in the same neighborhood. Perhaps
that is why the University writers would rather skip over the fact that
we are here. Nonetheless, it is the right thing to do to tell the whole
story, and University City New School plays a major role in that story.
As a postscript,
I would like to add that UCNS has not given up, although the road ahead
is a challenging one. We are relocating to a neighboring church in January,
at which time we will commence a campaign to obtain a new site and to
construct a school building of our own. We are dedicated to continuing
our contribution to the life of this community.
Elizabeth A. Ratay, Head
The photos of
the newly-completed Perelman Quad project featured in your September/October
issue [Perelman Quad, Complete] filled
me with mixed feelings. Like President Judith Rodin, I too feel a strong
attachment to Houston Hall [From College Hall]. I spent my freshman
and sophomore years helping to put myself through Penn by working in its
kitchen and I ate many a meal in both the distinguished dining hall and
the upstairs sandwich and coffee shop. On a visit several years ago I
felt that the collection of fast food eateries and warren of basement
shops that then occupied the structure did nothing for its dignity.
So to the extent
that Houston Hall has undergone restoration, renovation, and rejuvenation,
in President Rodins phrase, I am pleased, and likewise am glad about
the many improvements to Irvine Auditorium.
the central feature of the new quad, the outdoor Wynn Commons, is another
story. I remember the space between Houston and College halls as indeed
outdoor venue for lunch breaks, but it was more than that.
It was grassy, leafy respite from the hurly-burly of city traffic and
the crush of crowded pavements.
It was an aesthetic
treat and a refreshing interlude between classes. In spring it was bursting
with flowers. Now all I see is a cheerless sterile expanse of concrete
gashing its way in patterns of rigid regimented squares. As I look with
sadness at the photo on page 34 the words that spring to mind are oppressive,
uninviting, totalitarian. Its disappointing and frustrating to think
that after all the puffery and promise and after the expenditure of millions
of dollars this was the best a great university could come up with.
A few weeks ago
I had the pleasure of strolling through Harvard Yard and can report that
there continues to be a lot to be said for grass and trees. I realize
that at Penn we dont have that kind of green space but shouldnt we be
doing everything possible to preserve what we have? Let me just say that
if this is what we can expect from supposedly sensitive architects such
as Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, please keep them far away from
the front of College Hall and the area stretching to Van Pelt Library
and Walnut Street.
v Had I been
able to view an artists conception of the plaza before all the concrete
was laid, my feeble input might have done some good, but even though I
inquired during a number of visits to Penn none seemed to be available.
I would be interested to hear how students present and past are reacting
to the new Wynn Commons.
Jacob R. Sherman C64
to page 16 for a related story on Perelman
Quads Grand Opening.Ed.
ON DANCE AT ANNENBERG
the artistic director of the annual Dance Celebration/NextMove Series
of contemporary dance at the Annenberg Center, I naturally read with great
interest Monica Anke Hahn-Koenigs article, Audience
Participation Requested [September/October].
The series is
in its 18th season at the Annenberg Center, and I am celebrating 30 years
as a dance presenter in Philadelphia. Naturally, I am very familiar with
all the challenges the center has faced financially, artistically and
culturally. However, were proud to say that the dance series has been
phenomenally successful, both in artistic quality and in ticket sales.
Such an established and well-regarded cultural asset deserves more than
just a quick passing mention of dance as being among the featured
programs at Annenberg Center.
We have a stellar
2000-2001 season coming up, starting this fall with a provocative rendering
of tango by the all-female TangoMujer, the incredibly exciting Elizabeth
Streb Ringside Performance and a world premiere by the Paul Taylor Dance
Because I have
a significant role in the production of this series, I was quite disappointed
to have been left out. The dance program deserves better. During the
past 17 years, 121 dance companies and 22 solo companies have been presented
in 647 full-length performances, with nine new works commissioned by and
premiered by Dance Celebration Series. In 1999, the series was selected
as a Best of Philly winner by Philadelphia magazine. Perhaps
a feature article can appear in the near future to remind all alumni of
this valuable cultural resource.
Randy Swartz C67
Nusbaums excellent article East West
Marriage Test [Alumni Voices, September/October] is sure proof
that she is perfect Peace Corps material. Like my wife Lynn, whose response
to my question, How would you like to live in Afghanistan? was Give
me three days to get ready, Marci was also gung ho. We enjoyed our two
years in Kabul so much that we extended twice, to live in Swaziland and
then India. But I dont know what Marci would do with her husband, Gary.
I never saw an American Club in our travels.
Jack Cole M41
PRAYERFUL VIGILS WILL
AT ABORTION CENTERS
was sad to read that Penn alumnus and physician, Dr. Wayne Goldner M78,
would choose to perform abortions [Alumni
Profiles, September/October]. I am one of the many people who go
to abortion centers to pray/protest. Most of us are there to pray for
the baby that is being brutally dismembered and killed in the name of
This is not an
issue of forcing our religious views on pro-choice persons. It is a scientific
fact that life begins at fertilization. When the sperm and the ovum meet
to form a single cell, a new human life is created. All characteristics
of each personsex, eye color, intelligence, etc.are determined at fertilization
by the babys genetic code in the 46 human chromosomes. At three weeks
the babys heart begins to pump blood. The blood type is often different
from the mother. At six weeks the baby has brain waves that can be measured
with an electroencephalogram. The end of human life can be defined as
the cessation of brain waves, but many ignore the scientific evidence
of brain waves in unborn babies.
Those of us who
pray at abortion centers will continue our peaceful, prayerful vigil as
long as this abomination is permitted. In my opinion the people outside
the abortion centers are nonviolent and peace loving. It is unfortunate
that Dr. Golden feels the need to have 18 halogen lights come on when
he drives into his driveway, when the light of the world is so close at
hand. However, I suggest he focus security concerns on the father of the
dead baby, who may have been denied a choice in the decision to kill the
baby. Also, the father, husband, or boyfriend of a woman who has been
mutilated or has died as the result of abortion.
Robert J. Walsh WEv68
AD NASTY AND UNFAIR
advertisements for The Economist on pp. 7-8 of the September/October
issue portraying presidential candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush were
in poor taste, to say the least. It looked like the liberal establishment
at work with an attempt at humor in both cases, but nasty and unfair concerning
Donald M. Solenberger W46
is in reference to the Gazettes explanation of the Daddy song
[Letters July/August]. The Pennguinettes
synchronized swimming group (founded in 1946 and now in their 50th year)
used the music described in their aquatic musical of 1962. The show had
a nightclub theme and was titled, Neptunes Rendezvous.
Enclosed is a
photo of the swimmers as they appeared on the deck of Hutchinson Pool.
Doris D. Beshonsky, coach emeritus
I enjoyed the
article on Lily Yeh [Lily Yehs Art of
Transformation, July/August]. May I point out, however, that my colleague
Malcolm Campbell to my knowledge never was designated director of Fine
Art. He has been a professor in the history of art department, chairman
of the department at least twice, and was for a few years before his retirement
acting dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts. Currently, he is an emeritus
professor in the history of art department.
Michael W. Meister, Faculty
is proud of the accomplishments of John Wideman C63 Hon86, and justifiably
so [Wideman on Campus, July/August].
Unfortunately, my personal impression of him is not so high, as the following
10 years ago, Mr. Wideman came to Houston, my new hometown, as part of
a tour to promote his new book. The book signing was held at Rice University,
and I very excitedly traveled to the campus and located the table where
he was signing copies and discussing his work.
As I approached
him, he was surrounded by a group of students. I dutifully waited my turn,
then went up to him and introduced and identified myself as a Penn graduate.
He barely acknowledged me before turning away and starting up another
conversation with the students. I had brought along a copy of one of his
books for him to autograph. This he did, and when I tried to engage him
in conversation, he made light of what I was saying and again turned away.
Wideman was more interested in talking with the brothers who surrounded
him, and I really felt shunned. I cant say he was doing this because
I am white, but given the tenor of his books until that time, I, perhaps
unfairly, came away with that impression.
least in his earlier works, one can see why he might be justified in exhibiting
a degree of coolness toward the white race. Hopefully, experience and
maturity have tempered his feelings in this regard, and he is more realistic
about (and at ease) with the realities of the black persons experience
in society at large.
Michael Brown C69
Previous issue's letters
| Nov/Dec Contents | Gazette
Copyright 2000 The Pennsylvania
Gazette Last modified 11/1/00
them to: Editor, The Pennsylvania Gazette, 3533 Locust Walk,
Philadelphia PA 19104-6226.
You can also
reach us by fax at (215) 573-4812, or by email <email@example.com>.
refer to material published in the magazine and may be edited for
clarity and length.