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Comments: Week of December 19, 2011

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1. Readers were shaken by a story on the July murder of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky, in which Matthew Shaer profiled confessed killer Levi Aron and the Borough Park Hasidic community, home to both Aron and his victim (A Monster Among the Frum,” December 12). “Your article really hit home,” wrote reader Yonit Tanenbaum in a letter. “Stylistically, you wove your way so artfully from the progress of the case to Levi Aron’s history. I applaud your thoroughness and objectivity … I bless you that you should have only positive features to cover in the future and that your words be used to bring more goodness and light into this world.” Commenters on nymag.com found the story wrenching. “I think this case shows that communities (not just Orthodox Jewish communities) can often make the mistake of assuming that ‘one of their own’ will not commit crimes against someone in the community—when in fact, they do,” wrote one. Another found the portrait of Aron indulgent, particularly in regard to his insanity defense: “Why does NYMag publish such a puff piece? ­Every single action taken by Levi Aron in this case contradicts the notion that he was insane … So what that Aron once fell off a bike, or that he had trouble with women, or that his family was slightly dysfunctional? These things are irrelevant because … he fully confesses and explains a murder that is thought out and committed precisely in a perfectly ‘sane’ way (legally, that is—morally, it is beyond comprehension).”


2. Robert Kolker’s story on legendary public high school Bronx Science and the upset caused by principal Valerie ­Reidy’s efforts to reform the school drew blood from current and former Science students, who were furious at the principal’s actions (A Bronx Science Experiment,” December 12). “The faculty at Bronx Science, particularly the old guard that Reidy is eliminating piece by piece, are absurdly passionate,” wrote one recent, nostalgic graduate at nymag.com. “Perhaps ­Reidy has the best of intentions, but the execution of her vision for a better school is overbearing, and ultimately detrimental … Students who care for Bronx Science call Reidy’s administration a dictatorship.” “During my time at Science, the only thing the administration ever successfully did was make me feel like I attended a prison,” wrote a member of the class of 2011. “She canceled many beloved student events and created a student body so downtrodden as to be apathetic … When I was younger I dreamed of attending Bronx Science, yet when the time came for my younger brother to apply to high schools I flat out told him not to bother with Science because I didn’t want him to suffer the way my classmates and I had.” One current student agreed the blame lay with the principal. “Our teachers have legitimate disagreements with Valerie ­Reidy’s authoritarian pedagogical approach, and deserve to have their voices heard,” wrote senior Cara Cancelmo in a letter applauding the faculty for their stand against Reidy. “Her teaching methods have affected my motivation and self-­esteem immensely. No matter how much effort I put in, the only thing that seems to matter is how accurately I can bubble in a Scantron … Higher standardized-test scores may seem nice on the surface, but they have come at a high moral cost.” Outsiders, however, were more sympathetic to Reidy’s reforms. “Access to AP courses is up, as are college stats,” wrote one online commenter. “I understand a bunch of teachers have left, but if Reidy was the cause, why have so few spoken out publicly to say so?” Added another reader, the parent of a recent graduate: “The principal is not warm and fuzzy but does her job and does it well. If you look at the complaints, and the people who complain, they’re mostly from ‘whiners,’ people who don’t like to work or are convinced that they know better than their boss.”

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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