Letters: October 2007

The Grades Are In
We were happy to see an article helping parents navigate the preschool options in Greater Boston [“Junior Achievers,” September], but feel that including more top-notch schools with lower tuition rates would have been a better focus. There are many schools, including ours, that work hard to keep tuition affordable and offer scholarships. It’s also important to note there is federal money available through local community partnerships if a school has received accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

While your article highlighted some fine programs in the area, we hope it did not leave readers with the impression that if they don’t spend a lot of money on preschool education, their children will be at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives. There are many excellent options within reach of the average pocketbook.

Barbara Sullivan, Paula Dolan, and Katie Donovan
Directors, Auburndale Community Nursery School

Your article on the top Boston nursery schools was very informative, but I did not see any reference to NAEYC, the most widely recognized accreditation system for early-childhood programs and childcare centers. NAEYC accreditation—which gives parents the assurance that a school offers a high-quality program that provides a safe and nurturing environment while promoting the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of young children—is an extremely helpful guide for parents when selecting a preschool for their kids.

Ginny Smith Alterio
Director, Wellesley Nursery School in the Hills

Michele Orecklin’s article “The Truth Hurts” [September] is a sure sign of the times. Though parents today strive for the “best,” they don’t always understand what the “best” is for different ages, especially very young kids. Preschool is clearly important, but the type of school matters far less than the experience it offers, as the experts in Orecklin’s article noted. And it’s interesting to see how the various preschool experiences play out in elementary school—because the truth is, you can’t tell who went to a “pricey” preschool and who went to a “budget” preschool.

Preschool is for two-to-five-year-olds and, as the name suggests, the teaching is aimed at developing “pre” school skills. What do preschoolers need? Space to explore. Space to have fun. Space to be kids. This can be done in many types of environments, but, regardless of the price tag, the outcome will be the same.

Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, M.D.
CEO and chief editor, Pediatrics Now

We were startled to see Michele Orecklin’s characterization of John Winthrop’s application process as onerous and involved. We have a one-page application form (no essay), and parents of prospective students are required to take a tour of the school. That’s it! The entire process can probably be completed in under an hour.

Marcia Lewis
Director, John Winthrop School for Young Children

Go on to the next page to see what our readers thought of "The Other Side of Enlightenment"… 

Laquidara Responds
Catherine Elton’s article [“The Other Side of Enlightenment,” September] left the impression that my wife and I embraced the Dahn Yoga organization out of panic and a need to connect with our son, Ari—which is far from true.

Upon hearing that Ari had chosen Dahn as his means to make a living, our initial reaction was to try to “rescue” him. I made several TV appearances expressing my fears—which greatly strained relations with our son. At that point, we felt that we should take a close, impartial look at Dahn. If we had come to the conclusion that Ari really was in trouble, we would have continued to take whatever steps were necessary to get him away from the group.

Nearly all the slurs on Dahn are based on the entries of two “cult-busting” websites. I spent much more time investigating Dahn Yoga groups than Steve Hassan did from his office, talking on the phone to disgruntled ex-members while crafting his “destructive cult” model. Steve may mean well, and he may be the world’s foremost expert on brainwashed Satan-worshippers, but he is way off the mark with his allegations against Dahn. My wife told the author that in this particular instance Steve was simply a “misguided white knight.”

Over the past two years, we have come up with what we feel is the most accurate, objective information possible: that, like any other company or organization, Dahn may have its downsides, but the group is working hard to fix what is broken, to open its books to public scrutiny, and to continue to focus on world harmony and healing.

As a guy named Elvis Costello once said, “What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?”

Charles Laquidara
Santa Barbara, CA

Quack Fiends
I was totally engaged, entertained, and interested when reading Jason Feifer’s “Duck, Duck…Lawsuit!” [August]. His story was a funny and factual rendering of “ducks gone wild’ in Boston.

However, he lost me with the last paragraph, when he descended into judgmental mode. Who cares about his opinion on the duck boat wars and their participants? Let the story unfold as it will and give us just the facts, please. Yahoo for competition!

Leslie Connelly

Unwelcome Overture

I must agree with the writer from Waltham: The Pops concerts are going down the tubes [“Letters,” September]. Ever since Keith Lockhart became director, the quality has been going, going, gone. This year we had the weird Blue Man Group pounding on plastic pipes. We got several of the standard and traditional pieces, and then rock ’n’ roll for the rest of the night. But the ultimate insult was that no service songs were played for our brave men and women on duty, and our veterans. I hope that in the future Mr. Lockhart realizes this concert is a tribute to the United States and not to his personal taste in music.

Leo E. Mellyn

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