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Musicians Out in the Cold; Springfield: Look at Detroit; Charter Schools: A Cudgel

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Musicians Out in the Cold

James Heflin missed one part of the local music economy in his cover story last week (“Can Music Pay?”, June 12, 2014): the many open stage nights where musicians sign up to play a few tunes for no pay. The venue gets a night of free music and fills the room with eating and/or drinking money-spending fans of those who come to play. The performer gets “exposure.” You could die from exposure.


Springfield: Look at Detroit

Regarding Tom Vannah’s piece about urban blight last week (“Bleak Stagnation,” June 12, 2014): excellent article. Springfield’s vacant, collapsing homes are a shame. In Detroit, the local government is converting hundreds of acres of vacant buildings and pavement to farmland. Maybe this could happen on a smaller scale in Springfield.

The Massachusetts governor and Legislature should raise taxes on the rich and use the money to turn some of the vacant homes in Springfield into attractive, energy-efficient apartment buildings with affordable rents and good access to high-quality public transit, sidewalks and bicycle lanes. In New York City, rich people live in apartment buildings.


Charter Schools: A Cudgel

Juan Williams’ recent guest column (“Liberals Are Lost on Education,” June 5, 2014) is not a plea for improved educational models. Charter schools do not perform any better than public schools, and in some ways they are worse, mostly because they are not intrinsically different than public schools–except in one respect: their teachers are non-unionized. Mr. Williams’ real beef is that teachers’ unions generally support Democratic/liberal politicians, which he characterizes as liberals acting as “props” for the unions at the expense of education. Rubbish.

Juan Williams wrote this piece in an effort to erode public support for teachers’ unions, not to advocate for charter schools per se. He knows that undermining the unions might rob liberal candidates of campaign money. His column has absolutely nothing to do with education and everything to do with politics, which is ironic considering that that is what his piece accuses “liberals” of. Well, at least Mr. Williams is not lost on education: he has never been looking for it.





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