I read "The Truth About Adult Stem Cells" (1/21/11) with interest, as a researcher who works with both embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells. There is quite a bit of difference between the two, and one cannot simply be substituted for another because it appeals to conservative ideals.
Your article does convey some of the more serious problems with abandoning embryonic stem-cell research in favor of relatively unknown iPS cells. However, in the last section, you quote state Sen. Glenn Grothman's inflammatory comment, "Some people enjoy creating babies to experiment on, but I don't."
Let me be clear. Nobody creates babies "to experiment on." The embryos are produced so infertile couples can get pregnant. There are always many left over.
Sen. Grothman's comment reflects not only the divisive rhetoric that plagues our political discourse, but also a fundamental misunderstanding of stem-cell research. Sen. Grothman: If you are as pro-life as you claim, your true enemies are fertility clinics, not academic institutions that conduct meaningful research with embryos that would otherwise be discarded.
E. Michelle Capes, Ph.D.
Belated good advice
"Walker Plan a Boon to Bad Care" (Watchdog, 1/21/11) is a reminder that voting has powerful consequences. It's clear from your article that the changes proposed [and promptly passed] will make it harder for victims of nursing-home wrongdoing to get justice.
Gov. Walker and other supporters of these changes may have a legitimate claim that in some cases, certain businesses suffer under excess regulation. If they want to make this case, they should do so clearly and honestly, citing precise examples of how businesses are harmed and jobs are lost. And they must craft the legal response carefully so that it doesn't absolve nursing homes of their liability to care for patients, or allow other businesses to abuse their patients, customers or vendors.
West story side
Thank you for Lynn Welch's story on the continuing controversy at West High ("A Rebellion at West High," 1/27/11). As a member of a school parent group who was quoted in the article, I would like to clarify some points:
- 1. The Madison school district has been violating state statutes for gifted education for 20 years. Families of talented and gifted children are happy that Superintendent Dan Nerad is pushing to rectify this.
- 2. West's English teachers have designed good options with thoughtful curriculum for 9th- and 10th-grade students. Next year's freshmen and sophomores may choose between regular English, embedded honors or honors English.
- 3. West's social studies options for next year are inappropriate. Of all Madison's high schools, West alone will use AP U.S. history and AP European history as advanced programming for 9th- and 10th-graders. These courses are not recommended by gifted education experts. West chose them not to meet students' needs for high levels of inquiry and critical thinking, but to scare students away from advanced levels.
Childcare does it already
I would like to offer a friendly amendment to the opinion column by Jami Collins and Vikki Kratz ("Why 4-K Is a Good Idea," 1/28/11). Many Madison childcare programs and their professional staff have been providing high-quality early childhood care and education for over 30 years. Programs like these have formed the basis of the research referred to in the article.
The City of Madison Accreditation Program supports this quality childcare. Participating agencies take seriously their commitment to prepare children not only for success in school but for success in life. Accredited programs already offer "a rich stimulating environment" to children at a critical time. They will continue to do so during and after the 4-K debate.
Monica Host, City of Madison Child Care Program
Are Isthmus' "cartoons" supposed to amuse? If so, the cartoon concerning Restaurant Week ("Off the Square," 1/28/11) gets an "F." Not only was it not even vaguely funny, it was mean and off-putting. Surely you can do better than this.