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Hiking helpers

Independent reporter L.D. Russell well described the John Lawson-Enoe Will Reenactment hike [Feb. 21, "One More River to Cross"]. But, by this letter we would amplify two essential aspects of the hike which through no fault of Mr. Russell need amplification.

First, and most amazing, was the miracle of over 60 property owners granting permission for strangers to trek across their land. Second, and nearly invisible to the hikers, the success of the venture depended entirely on a cadre of selfless volunteers.

For the record, the volunteers who made this hike possible were: Diane Magnuson, Holly Reid and Rich Shaw, Bill and Gwen Reid, Tom and Gail Fowler, Steve Rankin (the "young man [who] waded"), David Southern, Bryan Carey III, Gordon Warren, Cindy Shaw, Annette Jurgelski, Walter Rogan, Eric Block, Robin Jacobs, Milo Pyne, Peter Klopfer, Gustavo Ocoro, Indy the Intrepid Fare Collector, the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, and Chris Pope and Kent McKenzie of Orange EMS.

Furthermore, the hikers in particular and the community in general owe a special debt to the wonderfully generous but necessarily anonymous landowners who shared their piece of the rock with us. Several segments of the hike are in the hands of extremely responsible landowners fully aware of the wondrous treasure they possess. The owners who weren't aware before the hike, were afterward, and perhaps that new knowledge will provide a degree of protection for a wonderful artifact in our midst.

Thank you all for contributing to a moment of grace none of us will soon forget. tom magnuson

trading path preservation association

durhamO brother

In his review of O Brother, Where Art Thou? [Feb. 14] Daniel Kraus writes about the (obvious) connection between the film's plot and Homer's Odyssey. That's all very nice, and it's even mentioned in the credits. It is disappointing though that (as a movie critic) he failed to mention (or even notice?) the not quite so obvious connection with the 1942 motion picture Sullivan's Travels, written and directed by Preston Sturges and starring Joel McCrea and Veronica Lake. In that picture, McCrea plays a successful film director who decides to make a film about poor people instead of the glamorous material he had become famous for. The title: O Brother, Where Art Thou? To learn about the life of the homeless, the director becomes a drifter. His experiences are in many ways similar to the adventures of the trio in the Coen brothers' movie. In the 1942 film, McCrea ends up not making his movie. The Coen brothers made it. A reviewer should know that.andrei state

chapel hill You decide history

Recently, The Independent has printed information regarding proposed revisions to the social studies curriculum that is taught in North Carolina's public schools [Feb. 21, "Home Schooling"]. I would like to have the opportunity to offer some clarification regarding the social studies curriculum revision.

First, let me assure your readers of three things:

· No changes have been made to the social studies curriculum at this time.

· The curriculum that is taught must reflect the wants and needs of the citizens of this state.

· The Department of Public Instruction will not recommend any curriculum change that de-emphasizes North Carolina history and civics in our schools.

The scope and sequence of topics to be covered in the social studies curriculum, kindergarten through 12th grade, has been prepared by a committee of teachers and other educators. This list of topics provides a framework for the complete curriculum revision that will be written later in the year. A series of information sessions has been scheduled to receive citizen feedback on the scope and sequence framework. This is standard procedure for every curriculum when it undergoes its five-year revision, and feedback from these hearings helps the writers of the final curriculum revision do a more thorough job. A final draft of the complete curriculum revision is scheduled to go to the State Board of Education for its action in the winter of 2001-02, and changes to the curriculum would be implemented in 2003. The State Board of Education will receive an update on the social studies curriculum revision process this week at its March meeting.

Second, the scope and sequence framework that has been proposed does not eliminate the teaching of North Carolina history or the teaching of civics. The proposed changes do recommend that some social studies content be taught at different grade levels or in a different combination.

Third, teachers and many other individuals are involved heavily in drafting the entire curriculum revision--from developing the framework of topics to fleshing out the final document. Teachers are the backbone of any curriculum revision activity. This work began in November 2000 when a committee of teachers, university professors, professional organizations, parents and central office leaders reviewed surveys of teachers and others to determine if there was a need for revision and development in specific areas of the social studies curriculum. Another panel of similar representatives met in December to draft the scope and sequence outline. This panel developed the proposed scope and sequence framework that is generating responses now.

After the information sessions in March, the information gathered there will be used to help a panel of teachers and other curriculum professionals as they draft the complete curriculum revision. This activity will focus on sorting through the information provided from the hearings, from experts in the field of social studies, from professional organizations and from teachers and other individuals. The curriculum writers will reach consensus on what the curriculum should include and will complete a draft of the document. Then, the complete draft will be presented to the State Board of Education for its action.

Seven information sessions have been scheduled to explain the proposed changes and to gather public input. Any citizen is welcome to attend and to speak. A session will be held in Durham Wednesday, March 21, at the Professional Development Center on Hillandale Road. The meeting will be held from 3 to 5 p.m.henry johnson

associate superintendent

instruction and accountability

n.c. department of public instructionCultural context

After reading James Morrison's review-cum-manifesto of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ["Compassionate Fascism," Feb. 28], I'm finding it difficult to say which I find more disagreeable: Morrison's smug self-righteousness or his appalling ignorance.

I suppose it's asking too much to hope that Morrison should strive for even a modest appreciation of the cultural and artistic context from which Ang Lee's (wonderful) film springs. If he had, he might understand the profound cultural insult he has delivered in the first few lines of his piece. Or perhaps he really does mean to imply that the Chinese martial tradition, with its mytho-historical associations with Daoism and Buddhism, is nothing more than several thousand years of fascism?

I am still scratching my head over the assertion that the "celebration of the warrior spirit" somehow equals fascism. Of course, Mr. Morrison has no idea what the political philosophy of fascism entails; he's simply using it, as irresponsible and ignorant people tend to do, to mean "anything that offends my sensibilities." In any case, if "celebration of the warrior spirit" is the sine qua non of fascism, then every culture on the face of the earth, past or present, is a fascist regime. It is screamingly ironic that Morrison should have cited Orwell in his piece, since one of the things Orwell inveighs against in his famous essay "On Politics and the English Language" are people who abuse such pejoratives as ... "fascist."

In the version of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that I saw, there was a recurring motif of the importance of individual integrity, duty and bravery, particularly the honoring of personal and interpersonal obligations--the "faithful heart" of the film's proverbial epigraph. This is, of course, in opposition to the ideals of fascism, which subordinates all matters of personal conscience to one paramount ideal--service to the State, usually as embodied by the Great Leader.

This is all by the by, though, since there is obviously nothing even remotely redolent of fascism in Lee's film. I have the sneaking suspicion that it served as nothing more than an arbitrary springboard for Morrison to deliver a hysterical and hyperbolical rant. Look, I didn't vote for Bush either, and I'm not skipping with glee over the outcome of the election, but equating the Republican administration with Nazism is absurd exaggeration, and the necessary implication (that the roughly 50 percent of the electorate who voted for Bush are crypto-fascists) is gratuitously insulting to Mr. Morrison's fellow citizens.

Surely The Independent can do better than this. jonathan mccall


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