Taxi big time

I recently finished reading “Taxi Cab Confidential” by Nick Davis, which appeared in your issue of April 19-26. It was excellent! It was on par with nationally circulated magazines like the New Yorker, etc. I think the copyright owner (author or newspaper?) should submit it to a wider- circulation publication. Congratulations on a well-conceived and executed article. P.S. I have not written to a publisher in many years.

Lee Silliman


Novel solution

How can an English curriculum abandon the classics? (“Wither the novel? High school English teachers question a new curriculum,” April 26.) My senior year alone, in Ohio, I read Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. My junior year, I remember reading Animal Farm, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye. Sophmore year was Canterbury Tales, Diary of a Young Girl and Moby Dick. These books are still very much vivid in my memory and lessons taught through them. If a curriculum ignores such classics, it will truly decrease the quality of education and also personal discovery. What a shame. I hope voices are heard to correct this disservice.

Ronald Barker

Losing ground

My concern about the American educational system is that where you live determines the kind of education you get. All children living in America should graduate with the same quality of education behind them. We should hold schools, teachers and students to the highest standards we can. We are losing ground to other countries in the quality of education received.

Colleen Matson

Canned curriculum

This proposed change to the English curriculum appears designed for lazy teachers and is apparently aimed at the average student. It’s certainly not geared for a creative teacher or high-achieving students. A creative teacher needs to teach all levels of students in a given class. It’s a lot more work than a canned curriculum!

Marilyn Bruya

The better end

At the end of the day, this was the biggest shitshow in the state (“Etc: So long, Testy Fest. It was (almost all) a ball,” April 26). And that’s saying something. I went to several of the first ones. Then it got too big and the attitude and everything else went downhill. I’m glad that Mr. Powers has pulled the plug, but he should have done so long ago.

Vini Stafford

Wronging writing

As an alumna of the University of Montana’s MFA program in Creative Writing (’13) I read with dismay President Bodnar’s early statements regarding his vision for the future of the university, but I never imagined that things would get this bad (“Brooks: Bodnar’s business-speak obscures UM’s true challenge,” April 25).

The fashion for running after marketable majors is shortsighted and does a profound disservice to both the university as an institution and to students, as existing gluts of lawyers, MBAs and communications majors can attest. Selling a degree to students and parents as a token to be collected in the quest for employment has had the perverse effect of devaluing these degrees and rendering thousands of young Americans less employable than they might otherwise have been. Today’s popular majors will go the same way, and the university will find itself forever shifting on the sands of trend-driven marketing, never building up depth of expertise and tradition.

Meanwhile, as an investment in expertise and tradition, the creative writing program gives high value for money. The program is relatively inexpensive to run properly (needing little in the way of equipment or specialized facilities), and the University of Montana’s MFA carries weight throughout the literary world. Even within my own recent graduating class, names like Andrew Martin, Khaty Xiong and Alice Bolin are widely acknowledged as up-and-coming stars. I myself have had the honor to receive several awards and distinctions in the past year, and when I do, the name of the University of Montana goes with me. To toss this away in a short-sighted and probably ineffective quest to nudge up enrollment numbers is like smashing grandmother’s china because you prefer the convenience of paper plates.

This program also has specific and positive effects on the Montana economy. Submittable, one of the most significant and successful start-ups to call Missoula home in recent years, is located here in large part because of the influence of the creative writing program, and employs a large number of alumni.

Frankly, to seek only economic benefits from a world-class university is perverse. But even on economic terms, this proposed cut fails.

Carrie Laben

Astoria, New York

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