All-American Troy

THANK YOU, SKIP HOLLANDSWORTH, for showing who Troy Aikman really is: a fierce competitor, a team player, and most of all, a human being [“The Real Troy Aikman,” December 1998]. What he has done on and off the field has made him the best quarterback in the NFL and is one of the reasons that the Cowboys are America’s Team. I wish him the best of luck and hope to see the ’Boys win it all again.
Javier Perez

IN A SPORTS ERA PLAGUED WITH FAILED paternity suits, failed drug tests, and failed expectations, Troy Aikman offers a twinkle of hope to a decaying sports world. He’s been beaten by the microscope of the media to within his last breath but continues to stay alive. His life has been extraordinary: blessed and cursed at once. With every pat on the back for each Super Bowl victory comes the tidal wave of punishment for every missed pass. The Cowboys are a Ferrari in the garage, and Troy Aikman is not only the Castrol Syntec oil that fuels the demonic velocity but also the driver commanding the vehicle down an uncharted highway.
Scotty Coppage
Wichita Falls

AS A TEXAS RESIDENT WITH A LONG-STANDING dislike of the Dallas Cowboys and their organization, I have endured the overblown media coverage that promotes these over paid crybabies as some kind of idols, in spite of their criminal activities and an egomaniacal owner who embarrasses the game of football on a regular basis. They continue to claim the self-imposed title of America’s Team, even while their performance slips year after year. While most of this behavior is good for a laugh, Texas Monthly has crossed the line with its proclamation of Troy Aikman as “the most famous quarterback in America.” Ask anyone on the street, football fan or not, who the most famous quarterback in America is, and they’ll tell you…Joe Montana.
C. J. Paysen
Flower Mound

HAVEN’T YOU GUYS HEARD of John Elway or Dan Marino? What records has Troy set compared to those guys? No wonder many of us non-Texans think Texans are a little too big for their britches. Barbara Umbreit
Snowmass Village, Colorado

Editor’s Note: Don’t take our word for it, but do check out the annual Harris Poll of America’s top ten sports figures for the year, which appeared in the Dallas Morning News on December 25: Troy Aikman finished third, behind Michael Jordan and Mark McGwire. Brett Favre? Fourth. John Elway? Fifth. Dan Marino? Eighth. Joe Montana? Ninth.

School Work

IN PAUL BURKA’S ARTICLE on the State Board of Education [“The Disloyal Opposition,” December 1998], the entire subject was well stated by Jack Christie’s remark, “This isn’t about religion. This is about power.” The article serves to put up a red flag to the entire state to be vigilant in exploring the agendas of those we elect to any board in our state, most of all a board that will influence the thinking of our students for many years to come.
Dorman Stanley

MR. BURKA FAILED TO MENTION HOW THE FAR RIGHT has nearly destroyed quality health education in Texas’ public schools. If you don’t think that’s true, take a gander at a high school health textbook and notice the almost complete lack of information on sex education.
David C. Wiley
Professor of Health Education
Southwest Texas State University
San Marcos

City Limits

I WAS DISAPPOINTED IN THE LACK of insight presented in Carol Flake Chapman’s article “Dow Town” [Cities, December 1998]. I guess her glass is half empty. My firm handled the design of the museum’s exhibits. I had the pleasure of working with the Historical Association, learning the town’s history—good and bad. The Dow Park that Ms. Chapman shared such great memories of changed drastically after she left, in 1965, very much to the displeasure of the “pioneer” residents responsible for the sale and transfer of funds to build a museum. Although everyone wanted to hold on to the gracious past, the majority realized the past could only be preserved fully through a state-of-the-art museum—not in a run-down piece of land full of memories. 
In closing, Ms. Chapman’s last sentence referred to the museum’s logo falsely. The big oak tree from the park is the city’s logo. The museum’s logo, which takes up a full wall in the museum, used a design created by Alden Dow—a window to the future.
John R. Lowery
President of Design at Work Creative Services

I TOO GREW UP IN LAKE JACKSON and remember Dow Park as a special place. The deal that destroyed it was truly an act of greed and selfishness. Although I love history, I don’t plan on visiting Lake Jackson’s new museum. Lake Jackson’s true heritage was at Dow Park, where children played under moss-draped oaks and the ghosts of Abner Jackson’s slaves drifted among the sugar mill ruins, not in some musty museum full of talking dummies.
Patricia Caperton Parent

Test Scores

IN “A TEST ON THE TEST” GREGORY Curtis notes that TAAS scores are improving [Behind the Lines, December 1998]. However, this fact does not necessarily mean that students in Texas are receiving a better education, only that they are becoming better test takers. Increasingly, classroom educators are forced to spend more and more time preparing students for test taking at the expense of more provocative and developmental educational activities. I do not dispute that tests such as the TAAS serve a useful role in the evaluation of our educational institutions. However, we must exercise caution or else exaggerate this usefulness to the detriment of the very institutions such tests aim to improve.
Bryce Bedford
Teachers College, Columbia University
New York, New York

SCHOOL DISTRICTS HAVE IMPROVED BECAUSE of the TAAS test, and it is necessary to assure that all of our graduates know the basic skills covered on the test. However, I disagree that another test is needed in the ninth grade. The reasons ninth graders often falter are well known: The transition from middle school to high school, larger schools, larger classes, and increased peer pressure are among them. It is unfair for Mr. Curtis to imply that ninth-grade teachers need an additional test to make certain they are teaching TAAS skills. Believe me, ninth-grade math and English teachers teach TAAS skills. Social studies, science, and elective teachers reinforce TAAS skills. Adding a ninth-grade TAAS will not cure transitional problems among freshmen.
Cynthia L. Miller
Journalism and Ninth-Grade English Teacher
Del Valle High School

Editor’s Note: In “Just Say Snow” [December 1998] we incorrectly say that Ski Cloudcroft doubles as a golf course in the off-season. Within and surrounding the village are several golf courses, but none are located on the ski slopes.