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Going Postal 

Impoverished testing
The Aug. 5 Scrawls cartoon depicting the student who failed his CRCT to get a teacher fired is both very poignant and ironic. The elevation of standardized tests to deity status is both sad and detrimental to real education reform. High stakes testing should not be used as the only criteria to judge a student, nor a teacher. Rather testing should be used as a tool to improve teaching and learning.

The labeling of schools, children, and educators as failures because of test scores alone ignores other important factors. The bottom 10 elementary schools in Georgia as rated by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation in 1999 had a poverty rate of 87.2 percent. The top 10 rated schools had a poverty rate of 6.3 percent. Real education reform will have to deal with real inequalities so that all children can be helped.

-- Ralph Noble, GAE President

In the zone

From Philadelphia, Tray Butler ("Philly, the GOP and me," CL, Aug. 5) offers yet another regretful shrug on what one city has and Atlanta hasn't -- lack of this and that, bad transportation, nowhere to take out-of-town visitors, not enough cultural venues. But Tray fails, understandably, to hit on "urban atmosphere" because it's so elusive and probably because Tray is too young to remember any, which is not his fault.

Twenty-plus years ago someone published a photo-reportage on Ponce de Leon Avenue, as it was then, for a good reason. Ponce was what I like to call a "zone." And every great city needs at least one zone -- if for no other reason than the anonymity of escape, and that's one of the things big cities are all about. Great cities need a sleaze belt, a place where more or less everything goes. This is unspokenly one of the things conventioners look for, whether they are Republicans, Dragon-Cons or Southern Baptist.

It sounds like I'm promoting prostitution, and maybe I am, because prostitution is just one sign of a zone of tolerance -- the sort of place one looks for in Amsterdam, Paris and San Francisco. And, yes, Philadelphia has one too.

Core Atlanta is getting sanitized and suburbanized to an alarming degree. With their high-priced "villages," urban pioneers are bringing Alpharetta to town. We need a zone marked by the eye-winking diversity of "anything goes as long as it stays here." More work for the police, yes. But at least it's confined to one area.

Lots of people come to cities for escape, for the feeling that they are out of time and social constraints for a short break. Instead they get the tedium of antique shops and restaurants where a shot of rum costs $5. We don't have a dockside, but maybe we could let one develop naturally somewhere. It's all about tolerance.

-- Gary Kolar, Atlanta

Plugs for slugs

I wanted to take a minute and comment on the article "Slugs for Snitches" (CL July 29) written by Hollis Gillespie.

I enjoyed the article very much and I feel that Hollis' style of writing not only captures one's attention, but also tells the story in such a captivating way, that much of her writing compels one to read the same story over and over. In today's fast-paced world, reading is often only done if the attention of the reader is captured over and over.

As I said, I very much enjoy Hollis' style of writing and look forward to more articles from her in the future. Also, thank you for working to make Creative Loafing such an interesting, and informative paper for all to enjoy without bias or prejudice.

-- Will Mathis, Atlanta

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