Thank you so much for your article about Kelsey Gadberry (Media, Feb. 23). It is very obvious to me that the media that have so blemished her life with their ink pen abuses have certainly never lost a child. If I were the Gadberry family, I would most certainly focus on 18 years of her church life, being a leader, honor student and loving child that I am sure she was. Secondly, I am betting she is not the only child that ever made a mistake. I cannot imagine suffering tragedy with more tragedy inflicted by the indiscretions of the media.

If there is a lesson to be learned and a focal point for the press, it should be what is happening in our school systems (both public and private) and social exchanges to cause good kids to go beyond expected behaviors to extreme behaviors.
Michael Straughan
Little Rock

I’m pleased that David Koon addressed the Gadberry stories — the glorification of her life and the all-American hyperbole. What really grinds my gears (quoting Peter Griffin in “The Family Guy”) is that I had a best friend die recently at the age of 20. Don’t get me wrong, back in high school, a toxicology test would’ve turned up much more revolting results than a little coke and a lot of alcohol. At his funeral much emphasis was put on the fact that “deep down” he really was a great person who just made a bunch of mistakes. No, he was a cool guy that liked to have fun. People (the older generation, in particular) like to try to hide the fact that kids these days like to experiment with drugs, as well as ignore the fact that there was a chance they swallowed a tainted sugar cube back in their own heydays.

My friend was trying to turn his life around when he died unexpectedly. He’d stopped taking (most) drugs. He was attending school at Pulaski Tech, and he was working all the time — except for the time devoted to court-ordered community service. To this day none of my friends know the cause of his death.

My point is that this glorious life of the all-American girl or boy during this day and age doesn’t exist — just like it didn’t exist back way back when. Pretending someone was a model citizen/student/cheerleader-turned-martyr doesn’t make the pain go away, and if anything, it adds to it. Remember her for who she was, and nothing else. That’s not always the easiest thing to do, but it’s the right thing.
Spencer Campbell
Little Rock

I am really disappointed with this last Readers Choice restaurant contest. Consider that Red Lobster, the top grossing restaurant in the state, isn’t mentioned in the seafood category, but Flying Fish is. Missing are Outback Steakhouse, Friday’s, Chili’s and almost all chain restaurants which attract huge crowds. Do these crowds not read Arkansas Times or do they just not vote? I think the answer is simply that these chains don’t try to manipulate the votes like many independent restaurants do.

It makes you wonder, who are the readers of Arkansas Times? When only two of the top 10 grossing restaurants in Central Arkansas even appear in the poll (much less win) and scores of hugely popular independent operations are omitted there is clearly a credibility problem.

“Best of” polls are a favorite advertising gimmick but credibility takes a backseat to ad revenue. Unfortunately there are many people who believe these poll results actually mean something. I’m not saying that the restaurants that won aren’t good operations, but there is a huge, glaring list of wonderful restaurants that were not listed.
Robert Thompson

A statue of Hattie
Arkansas has a remarkable political history, including the first woman elected to serve in the U.S. Senate. Unfortunately, the election of Sen. Hattie Caraway in 1932 is little known inside or outside of Arkansas. We should honor and celebrate this great achievement. To this end I propose that Arkansas send a statue of Senator Caraway to be placed in the National Statuary Hall Collection.

The National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol comprises statues donated by states to honor persons notable in their history. Currently, Arkansas is represented by statues of James Clarke and Uriah Rose. Since Arkansas sent these statues to Washington for placement in Statuary Hall, much has happened. Important national and international political figures have emerged from our great state, including Sen. J. William Fulbright, Sen. Dale Bumpers, Sen. Mark Pryor, Rep. Wilbur D. Mills, and President Bill Clinton. It is time that Arkansas updates our representation. It is time that we acknowledge the historically significant election of Hattie Caraway.

Federal legislation enacted in 2000 provides that any state may request the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress to approve a replacement statue for display in Statuary Hall. I urge the Arkansas General Assembly to act quickly and begin this replacement process.
Clyde H. Henderson III
Little Rock

The third way
I’m a little dismayed to discover a fine publication such as the Arkansas Times fails to acknowledge the gubernatorial candidacy of local independent Rod Bryan. I often hear talking heads all over this country shame the citizenry with words like “apathetic” and “lazy” to describe a lack of participation in politics. Well it is being fostered by ignoring those who follow the call to public service.

Bryan’s goal is an ambitious one, most certainly, but our education is in shambles, we aren’t taking advantage of our state resources, and we are squandering tax dollars to fly our current governor all over to campaign for president.

None of the major party candidates should deserve our vote — they should earn it. It is a pretty sad commentary on holding public office when one can’t even be taken seriously without being beholden to the powers of party. This state deserves a level playing field, and I would expect the Times to advocate that. All of those who are bitter over Ralph Nader “stealing votes” in 2000 should perhaps blame Al Gore for not standing for something that speaks to young voters. Young people ARE concerned and we should shame any publication that marginalizes even the most long shot candidate (and for governor, no less.)
Brooks Browning
Little Rock

Merit pay
I am concerned about the Little Rock School District and the proposal by the Walton Family Foundation to award teachers bonuses based on student performance on standardized tests during an academic school year. Somehow this message implies that students should be judged on textbook learning only.

It bothers me that some students who readily respond to academic questions or are computer literate cannot communicate well verbally, do not have a clue about social graces or seem not to understand how to show respect for authority figures. Something is missing in this learning process.

The teach-the-test method does not instruct youth about making eye contact, hand shaking or how to greet a person.

I would like to see teachers given merit pay for helping our youth to learn social and behavioral skills as well as knowing answers to academic questions on a national test that may or may not have to do with their life experiences. I have never heard of a person getting a job or being promoted because he or she knew the name of the 42nd president or the square root of a number. However, I have known some who got jobs because of their appearance, how they pronounced “t” and “d” and because they knew when to use “who” and “whom” or “a” and “an” in a sentence.

The public school system is broken, but knowing how to circle “correct” answers on a printed standardized test will not fix it alone.
LaVerne W. Feaster
Little Rock

Wal-Mart’s forum
In the Feb. 18 issue of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, under the headline, “Wal-Mart chief’s forum unveiled,” details are listed about the leaked transcripts from a Wal-Mart Q&A website forum, which included remarks by CEO H. Lee Scott.

At one point he takes a manager to task for daring to query why the lumbering retail behemoth is unable to offer medical retirement benefits.

After responding that the cost would supposedly put Wal-Mart at a disadvantage in the business world, Scott assumes a Snidely Whiplash persona, and suggests (snarls?) that the questioner should consider quitting.

On another posting, Scott quotes Martin Luther King Jr.: “The time is always right to do what is right.”

Oh, hypocrite, thy name is Wal-Mart!

Why is all the good stuff always hidden away in the business pages?
Richard S. Drake


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