We the Outraged
Isthmus' cultural journalism has always pointed the way for Wisconsinites to seek out new artists. Case in point is Rich Albertoni's clear report of the local band We The Living ("After the Profits", 5/4/07). But you printed an undignified letter (6/15/07) by Ron Witt that engaged in unwarranted generalizations and childish name-calling. (The letter was titled "The Bubblehead"!)
Mr. Witt decided that founder of We the Living, John Paul Roney, has a "Christ complex" all due to the "unhealthy" influence of novelist Ayn Rand and singer Bono. Not content to smear a musician without in any way discussing his art, Mr. Witt then goes on to sweepingly denounce a disparate collection of "whack jobs," including a "the youngest generation of adults."
I am disturbed that Isthmus lowered the bar of its culture reporting to print this letter.
I manage We the Living. While I rarely would take the time to respond to such a note as Ron Witt's, I won't allow John Paul to stoop to such lows.
While most young rock bands list fame and fortune as their primary objectives with seemingly no substantive beliefs and no real understanding of how or when they're going to achieve any of their goals, We the Living is taking the path less traveled, touring the country incessantly in hopes that their music will be embraced by an audience and just maybe garner repeat visits and lifelong fans.
It is my job to find new ways for intelligent, hard-working kids like John Paul to survive in the ever-changing music business so that their music and their point of view can be shared with the masses.
Dear reader, please don't shut down a generation of young adults who want to think beyond conventional doctrine and who might actually make changes that infringe on your self-righteous and safe little world.
Scott Austin, CEO/creative director, Authentik Music Group, Los Angeles
Since 1971, the Madison Metropolitan School District has had a working model of the "small high school movement" - an alternative public school that exemplifies the qualities described by Marc Eisen in "Learning From Milwaukee" (6/15/07).
Malcolm Shabazz High School, created during the open education movement of the 1960s and 1970s, has evolved over the decades to meet the changing needs of its student body. The school's core values, however, have remained consistent, especially the emphases on student self-responsibility, positive interpersonal relationships between students and staff, active learning, meeting individual student needs, diversity and non-harassment.
Shabazz offers high school students a very small community (approximately 150 students and 20 staff at any one time). Because everyone knows everyone else, students feel recognized and appreciated rather than anonymous. The personal relationships and the school's vigorously enforced non-harassment policy create a safe and stable environment for learning.
Malcolm Shabazz High School has too often been overlooked and ignored in this district. Rather than just "Learning From Milwaukee," I hope that Supt. Art Rainwater and the High Schools of the Future Task Force will involve the educators and students already experienced in the structuring of an authentic small high school.
(The writer taught at Shabazz from 1982 to 1999.)