I was surprised and dismayed to see you refer to Knots Landing as trash (PEOPLE, June 2). Besides the fact that it is bad business to insult your audience, I had to wonder if James Grant was qualified to be assigned the story; it is apparent he knows very little about nighttime soap operas and the extraordinarily high level of literacy, creativity and training of the people who make them possible. Television serials are far from "mindless"; in fact it is the one genre that requires its audience to pay close attention and remember several simultaneous plot lines for weeks, months and, as in Knots Landing's case, for years. Americans have always responded to serialized storytelling, if the story has been worth it. In 1841 thousands amassed at a New York pier to meet the ship that was carrying the last installment of Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop from England. In 1986 millions of Americans compare notes on where on earth Karen McKenzie is. The storytelling structure has not changed, only the medium.
Laura Van Wormer
New York City
Ms. Van Wormer is the author of Knots Landing: the Saga of Seaview Circle, which will be published by Doubleday & Company in November.—ED.
Shame on you! That cover picture of Donna Mills belongs in the centerfold of Playboy! Very tacky and tasteless for a very highly rated magazine, and remember, in many homes, a "family" magazine.
Hats off to Terry Sweeney. It's refreshing to see a celebrity who is open and honest and most of all comfortable with his sexuality. Although he may not realize it, he is providing a role model for thousands of gay teenagers who need to know they can be gay and successful in life. Besides, he does a wonderful Nancy Reagan!
David V. Meunier
Peter and Lorna Francis
Peter Francis may have valid concerns about aerobic exercise, but you ran a picture of his wife riding a bicycle with their 2-year-old son on the back, and he wasn't wearing a safety helmet. Learning and practicing safe aerobics is great, but learning and practicing child safety is even better. Thanks for the advice, Mr. Francis, I hope you'll take mine, too.
The tone of your article about the two Brooklyn students was one of blaming teachers, administrators and guidance counselors and placing most of a student's responsibilities for personal success on these people. As a high school teacher, I find a great number of students blaming society and teachers for their lack of knowledge. If a student fails the course, they and their parents blame me. They forget that their child did not show up for many of the classes, did not produce any worthwhile work and failed the tests. I'm getting tired of being responsible for the ultimate success of my 97 students. The students in your article stated that they want to be challenged and pushed to reach their potential. I've tried this too. Here were my results: Recently I politely explained to a student that her work could be better, and to succeed on the job, she would have to produce more accurate work. I requested her to redo the work. She called me a "bitch" in front of the entire class.
I am outraged at the attitude those two students took. They said they needed someone to push them. I am a high school student, I make better than average grades and I have never been in any trouble at school. The "push" I get comes from inside of me. These kids are not going to be sat down by someone when they are 35 and be spoon-fed. It's time they took some responsibility and did something for themselves and their future, instead of waiting for someone else to do it for them.
I work in a rural Minnesota school system (I am not a teacher) and what I see each day is distressing. The administrators are so busy with meetings and planning negotiating strategies for the next teachers' contract that they have little involvement with the students. Discipline is horrible in this school of 350 students. They sense the power struggle between teachers and administrators and take full advantage of it. Most of these children really want to learn and would accept discipline, but what is the motivation? I applaud the two students who spoke out in the article. I hope they have helped the public see that most of the problems in our schools are not a result of the students, but of the adults hired to educate and guide them.
Name and Address Withheld
I am a teacher in the New York City school system and several of the things Mr. Gonzalez says are true. However, many of us find that our biggest enemy is parental apathy. Few of our students' parents show up for open-school days and nights. I rarely get a response to letters mailed home regarding a student who is in danger of failing, is not doing homework or is just plain truant. Children get the message that school is important from their parents. It is easy to place blame on teachers alone. All parents, teachers and administrators must share the responsibility for educating the children.
White Plains, N.Y.
A top-gun salute for your article on Tom Cruise. You offered a candid, refreshing portrait of this very talented young actor. Cruise turned in an intense, steamy performance in Top Gun which left audiences all over America soaring and caused a renewed sense of pride in America and in those brave servicemen who serve our country. Thank you for letting readers see his personal side.
Ormond Beach, Fla.