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Lesson Plans


Mannheimer attack

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Ken Rohrer (kenroar)
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 23:33:03 -0600


I thought that some of you on the list would like to see an update on the
Mannheimer article attacking art in the elementary school. His letter was
in response to the superintendent of IPS schools recommending that 125 art
and PE teachers be cut from her school system. Several of our letters from
the list group have been printed in the Letters to the Editor in the
Indianapolis paper.

In today's Indianapolis News, they say that "many have speculated for weeks
that Zendejas (superintendent of IPS) might consider quitting after the
rejections of her recent proposals to cut more than 100 art and physical
education positions to stem a budget crunch". She is indeed talking of
quitting.

This points to a victory. I don't know how much people on the list had in
helping the backlash against her, but I'm sure it didn't hurt.

It's not as positive with the art professor at Herron School of Art, Steve
Mannheimer, however. He printed up another article this past Sunday in the
Star. Below are portions of his rediculous letter:

*************
"Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about Indianapolis Public Schools
Superintendent Esperanza Zendejas' erstwhile proposal to eliminate 125
physical education and art teachers from the ranks of IPS."

"Perhaps contrary to some expectations, the column did not decry the idea.
Instead, it suggested that if IPS needed to cut costs somewhere, art should
be sacrificed before reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. (I wouldn't touch
athletics with a 10-word metaphor.)"

"Such budgetary cuts would hardly affect the smooth operation of the art
world at large, the column continued. Nor would they likely upset its
mostely upscale inhavitants or institutions."

"My editor warned that the column was going to upset lots of folks. Get
ready for the firestorm, she advised."

"Five letters have arrived: one pro, four con. Not exactly a fire-storm-
but not without some heat."

"The four protesters were united by their displeasure at my arrogance, to
use a recurring word, and a general desire to see me fired from any jobs I
might hold. Myra D. Mason, director of the Diversity Resource Office at
Purdue University, wrote, 'the tone that your article communicated to me
was superiority and smuggness. These attitudes are reasons for our
continuing racial problems.'"

"Other protesting correspondents alluded to the non-aesthetic benefits of
art education. After suggesting that real art professionals and their
schools would never espouse such attitudes, Marge Dickinson, and
educational consultant from Galva, IL., wrote, 'Free speech
notwithstanding, the man is biting the hand of all the people who send him
students- and don't think it isn't all over the art chat lines and the
Net.'"

"An old newsroom formula equates each letter received with 199 never sent.
In this case, that would mean 800 unhappy readers versus 200 happy."

"On Sundays, when my column appears, The Star sells approximately 400,000
papers, each read by approximately three readers. Does this mean 1,199,000
readers scanned the column's headline and turned the page?"

"Hard to say, but compare five responses with the leterally hundreds of
letters The Star received regarding class basketball. Why?"

"Yet, we in the art world seem to be constantly complaining that American
society doesn't care enough- and that all we need is a little more support,
some slightly more broader forums to convince America that art is crucial
to a full life"

"If you've read this far, you are probably convinced, as am I afer nearly
40 years of making, teaching, looking and writing about art. But the rest
of the country obviously isn't."

"After exposing two generations to this systematic support, when should we
ask if our message isn't getting through because of the systems themselves?
Maybe its time we went about things in a different manner- or faced the
fact that what we're pitching can't compete with television, computers,
movies, even jogging trails and vacations, and all the other venues of
visual experience to be found in the world."

**************

A few thoughts as I read his letter... He assumes that 1,199,000 readers
ignored his article because it was about the arts and not because he is a
poor writer. The "system" as he calls it is made of people like Mannheimer.

If any of you would like to add to his list of "cons", feel free to e-mail
a letter of protest to:

stareditor

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