In response to your Aug. 2 commentary ("The Consequences of Failure"), I wish to state on behalf of the school board that we have a very clear vision of what we must do to make New Orleans Public Schools a system of which we can all be proud. The first step is to get the system's finances in order, and we must do so as we diligently work to improve the quality of education for all public-school children. As you stated, the school system is in crisis, and though we intend to work as hard as possible to improve what we can as rapidly as we can, it is unrealistic to expect significant improvements in the short term.
Unfortunately, one of the most difficult perceptions that we as school board members are continually dealing with is the expectation from the public that there are "quick fixes" or "silver bullets" that can fix public education. I assure you that is not the case. What we must do is precisely what we are doing: building a fiscal foundation and the systemic framework for success now and in the future.
We can't change the past, but we can aggressively work together to change the future, and we are doing just that. Alvarez & Marsal is rapidly getting its arms around our financial and systemic problems, and we all know that we are dealing with some longstanding issues. I can assure you without hesitation that the steps we are taking to ensure fiscal integrity are necessary steps to ensure the future of New Orleans Public Schools.
Dr. Ora Watson accepted a difficult task when she agreed to step in as acting superintendent, and both she and the board are committed to working through any issues or differences of opinion that might impact the successful opening of school. Everyone is focused on making sure that we have as many of our students as possible in school and ready to learn on Aug. 18.
We do agree with Gambit Weekly that arts and music are valuable learning tools, and it is our duty and responsibility to ensure they continue to be part of our essential curriculum. Still, we must also face the fact that our school funding has been drastically cut as our needs have drastically increased due to higher accountability demands, facilities in deplorable condition, violence, corruption, inefficiency and incompetence. We are fighting to preserve as many of our essential services as possible.
The stakes are very high -- the future of our children and the future of our city. Great cities require great schools, and we are all committed to doing our very best to ensure that our schools remain the heart of our communities as they help create futures for our 62,000 children.
The Orleans Parish School Board can't do it alone. We need our parents, our school communities, our faith-based communities and the business community to help and support us as we begin to build the future.
President, Orleans Parish School Board
I would like to add to D. Eric Bookhardt's comment ("Minimum State of Mind," Aug. 9) on the current backlash from the streets against postmodern conceptual art. It's not just from the streets, but all across the board, as evidenced in, for instance, the 2005 Berkeley commencement speech against the idea of a "one true art world" by Lawrence Rinder. (Google "Berkeley commencement 'one true art world' Lawrence Rinder.")
Also, I would like to suggest that the term "postmodern" shouldn't be understood as denoting any monolithic "ism" but only as a period of time that follows the modern-art period. The art world is too big and diverse. No single genre can define the postmodern period, no matter how popular that genre is. Quantity is only one criterion among others.
Treating it as an "ism" with only one defining genre is narrow and suffocating. And it doesn't help that there is no agreement as to what its defining criteria are. It's the suffocating narrowness mentioned that causes Bookhardt to desire escape, as evidenced in his past proclamation that it's no longer postmodern but post-postmodern. Equally telling is where he declares at the end of this article that "the current lack of any genuinely new genre should make this a period of profound freedom in the art world -- and freedom is always grand!" If the term "postmodern" is only treated open-endedly as a period of time, then it won't feel so suffocating. None would be bothered if it's called "postmodern" or "post-postmodern." Those outside of the mainstream, such as me, won't feel so unacknowledged.
Anyway, I would like to second Bookhardt in hailing the brave new art world.
Nique Le Transome
Shout Out to Womack
I just wanted to give y'all super props for talking up my girly Erin Womack ("The Golden Touch," Sept. 14, 2004). She is an amazing woman and deserves a weekly column in your paper, so she can really let New Orleans in on some of the beats hittin' off in hip-hop. That girl's vinyl collection is grandiose and chosen with impeccable taste. Maybe if someone was letting your readers know what the hot wax is in every edition, it would help strengthen a hip-hop scene that has some seriously talented musicians that are down at that corner spot every weekend, spinning out a good time from their ones and twos.
The bitch can sing her ass off, too.