I look forward to Jernigan Pontiac's twice-monthly column, Hackie. His slant on us humans is refreshing, and his writing style is delightful. His short pieces could be used in high school English as vocabulary builders while slipping in common-sense views and how to be respectful of others.
I began last week's cover article, "Back to School — Or Not" [August 27], eagerly. It too quickly fell prey to an unsurprising bias against schools. So, in addition to our excellent and hardworking "unschooling" parents, I would like Cabot to be known for our outstanding K-12 "institution."
Public schooling in Vermont does not oppose our ability to raise freethinking, curious and joyful children. Unlike the characterizations of schooling as a "monoculture," "oppressive" or "diminishing" of natural curiosity, Cabot School offers roughly 180 students 12 years of learning as a community. Twelve years that aren't absent of angst and fear or pain, surely. But, to be fair, it's only 175 days each year, leaving plenty of time for family values, rituals and activities to mend with the experience.
Cabot School manages each year to graduate a cohort of young women and men with talents and interests as diverse as the produce at your farmers market: our future musicians, artists, mechanics, doctors, anthropologists, engineers, farmers, veterinarians. What a thrill! Those who spent the years together first explored the beautiful world around them in kindergarten. In the sixth grade, they embarked on their first adventures to Boston and branched out by 11th grade to France or Belize. International students pass through the halls while the high school band tours cities in the Northeast. A dynamic, project-based learning approach seeks a balance between mind and hand, the individual and the team.
While Vermont schools aren't perfect, a case for unschooling shouldn't be built on caricature.
Lars Hasselblad Torres
[Re Fair Game: "Comcast Calling," August 27]: It's no wonder Shumlin backs a corporate merger bordering on a monopoly: He is one of the wealthy who suffer from the addiction to money. Like so many others, he cannot get enough money to fill the inner void. Why else would a smart man, who two years ago opposed fracking, make a deal with the gas companies to escalate the threat to Vermont's beautiful environment by building a pipeline to carry fracked gas under Lake Champlain and through the state? At the same time, scientists are boldly warning that carbon emissions need to be reduced by 80 percent by the year 2050 in order to protect the sustainability of life on Earth.
Instead of hoarding more dollars for the wealthy, Shumlin, Comcast and the gas companies should be devising ways to super-insulate all buildings in Vermont to reduce our carbon footprint by 80 to 90 percent. They have money and influence to do it. Do they have the will to protect life? Our environment? Our future? If not, the voters have the power to remove Shumlin from office. Vote for noncapitalists. Any newcomer can do no worse than Republicans and Democrats have done to this Earth.
[Re "Bacon Wars: Why Did the Sneakers Bistro Incident Go Viral?" August 27]: Hate to pour fuel on the grease fire, but I must say that as an English teacher I am deeply offended by the Sneakers sign that accompanied your article. To wit: "7am - 3pm everyday." It seems that every day I see "every day" written as one word when it should be two! So I must put my foot down in this Sneakers case, although I'm certainly not asking the place to take its sign down.Word usage notwithstanding, I'd give Sneakers an A+ for its superb food, as well as for its friendly staff and its community-minded owner. Very sad to learn about all the Sneakers-bashing comments that were laced with invective. Come on, folks, wake up and smell the bacon.
I have a few comments on the recent article regarding the need for trained culinary professionals ["Looking for a Few Good Grads," August 27]. I was in the IT industry for many years and ran a successful catering business on the side. I was laid off and decided to take the Community Kitchen Academy course in Burlington and graduated. One of our field trips was to NECI. During the trip I asked, "What could someone expect for a salary after graduation?" The answer was $22,000. I still had the love of cooking in me (been on Food Network twice) so I went to work in several of Vermont's best eateries, where I was paid $11 an hour. Quite frankly, I was making more on unemployment than when I was working. Luckily, I scored another job in IT and quadrupled my salary. I can't see spending tuition for a career in a field where you are paid minimum wage. I guess maybe if your family owns a restaurant, but that's about it. Without better pay and benefits, this trend will continue.
Matthew Roy's article on Cheryl Hanna's suicide, "Cheryl Hanna's Suicide Confirms Mental Health Problems in Vermont" [August 6] was thoughtful and well written. However, the headline writer missed the mark. The suicide of a very public and beloved person is at once a tragedy and an opportunity to educate people about depression and its worst-case outcomes. However, it does not take a suicide of someone well-known to "confirm" mental health problems in Vermont.
Many Vermonters deal with depression every day. Just ask patients at any of the state's underfunded and over-subscribed mental-health clinics and hospitals, or those not receiving any treatment. It does not take a person of Hanna's renown to "confirm" their struggles. From everything I have read about Hanna's commitment to social justice, I doubt she would have wanted her death to be characterized in this way. I notice that the link for this article uses the word "illustrates," instead of "confirms." That would have been a better choice.