Chapel Hill: Opinion

July 18, 2014

Your letters, July 16

A sign on the wall in UNC Hospitals’ Emergency Room says conversations between physicians and patients are private. But putting up a sign doesn’t make it so.

No privacy in the emergency room

A sign on the wall in UNC Hospitals’ Emergency Room says conversations between physicians and patients are private. But putting up a sign doesn’t make it so. Privacy is virtually nonexistent in UNC’s ER.

I had the misfortune to spend most of a recent Tuesday in the ER with my elderly father. As his legal guardian, I should have been able to have private conversations with the doctors and medical staff about my father, but privacy just doesn’t exist when patients are lined up on gurneys in hallways or separated from other patients by a few steps and flimsy half curtains. Only ear plugs would have prevented me from hearing other patients’ complaints, symptoms, and consultations.

I should not have been hearing about Do Not Resuscitate standards being explained to an elderly patient or the chemotherapy complications of cancer patient or the contents being removed from another patient’s stomach. But sadly, I heard all this and much more.

UNC goes to great lengths to provide privacy rights handouts, but there is no privacy in the ER. It’s time for UNC to make some real changes to its ER and to provide patients with the dignity, respect, and privacy they deserve.

Jo Ann Ragazzo

Chapel Hill

Flat-out wrong

In the June 29 CHN (“Mandarin debate misses point,”, Dr. Timothy Platts-Mills writes, “Families with limited financial resources could send their children to Mandarin dual-language programs, but they don’t. Not surprisingly, parents who have not completed higher education, work two or three jobs, and don’t have many books at home don’t push their children to learn Mandarin. They don’t do it in other parts of the U.S., and they don’t do it in Chapel Hill."

I am a product of the Mandarin dual language program. I just completed a year's study in China as a National Security Language Initiative-Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship recipient. The program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, is a fully funded scholarship for language study in China and other regions considered “critical languages.” I was one of nine high school students from around the United States selected for the program in Shanghai. The students selected as NSLI-Y students were NOT all from homes of wealthy and highly educated families. Some were from single-family homes and lower-income homes. From my personal experience both nationally and as a student in the Mandarin dual language program in CHCCS, “families with limited finanacial resources,” are interested in learning Mandarin.

Dr. Platt-Mills‘ remarks are flat-out wrong. They are offensive, narrow-minded and elitist.

Paris Buedel, 16

Chapel Hill

Mandarin a jewel program

I helped write the grant that brought the Mandarin program to Chapel Hill in 2001-02. Closing the achievement gap was not even one of the goals. In fact, when we started writing the grant – Jo Harris from CHCCS, Ryoko Kubota from UNC and I – we were going for a Spanish and a Japanese program.

The main reason we switched to Mandarin, was twofold: First, the number of Chinese-speakers arriving was growing and they were difficult to accommodate in the existing ESL classrooms. Second, the local Chinese families felt alienated from the local schools and wanted to see a culturally responsive program created. Many Chinese and Chinese-American children were forging their friendships and cultural identity through Saturday schools, while their parents were eager to share their rich culture and valuable language skills with the greater community and help bring “world class” international/bilingual education to the community. The Spanish language program also had social and cultural goals, with the added benefit of closing a growing achievement gap.

The Mandarin program is a jewel that should be built on. It is a gift to all children who participate, preparing them for the global, inter-connected world they will inhabit. Rather than dismantling it, we should try to make the dual-immersion programs accessible to more students, recruiting disadvantaged families, where children could find a unique opportunity through participation in this program. They will be challenged, enriched, and able to overcome any “disadvantages” through a world-class program.

Maria Palmer


An effective program

The achievement gap is a product of many factors, however socio-economic factors stand at the forefront.

The Mandarin Chinese program and other immersion programs facilitate not only a highly effective educational experience, but also a unique cultural experience.

As a former staff member of the dual language program at Glenwood, I can assure that it indeed hosts a melting pot of students from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. Native Asian children, African Americans, children of Hispanic, European, and American decent, all learning in a unified way about the Chinese and American cultures.

I have found that these students feel that they share something special and their relationships alone create unique learning opportunities. These children experience all of this together. I have seen children transcend difficult home lives because of the confidence this program has given them. Because many parents do not know Mandarin themselves, the children constantly encourage and support each other’s learning experiences both inside and outside school.

Many countries in the world today require their school children to become multilingual. Why would Chapel Hill ( a system recently ranked No. 1 in small city schools) retract a positive step it has already taken? Instead of focusing on “evening the playing field” by lowering educational standards and limiting cultural experiences, why not even it out by offering this wonderful opportunity to even more families?

Brienne Adams


Reform immigration

It is essential that the U.S. House of Representatives passes an Immigration Reform bill before their August recess.

The Senate passed such a bill last year. Our broken immigration system needs to be fixed, but no law can be passed until the House acts.

Congressmen Coble and Price should be working with their colleagues, especially the House leadership, to make sure an immigration reform bill is brought to the floor and voted on before their August recess.

Gail McKinnis

Chapel Hill

McCrory right about architecture

Amid considerable criticism, Gov. Pat McCrory deserves praise for identifying a daily nuisance for most North Carolinians, indeed most Americans: this country’s sorry state of architecture and urban planning.

How long will we endure brick-and-mortar monstrosities and their attendant traffic congestion and pollution? Few government officials dare mention these realities of “development.” What is the goal of our building, and are we better off than we were before we began?

McCrory courageously declares that our towns and cities need not be haphazard and ugly, but can be orderly and beautiful. The urban jungle does not constitute progress; North Carolina need not replicate New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. Our state is blessed with Southern heritage, a magnificent environment, and an army of artists and architects who will produce prodigiously if we only engage them.

Our buildings reflect our souls. After we turn off our televisions and computers, what do we see? We Americans must confront our demons of modernity, the spiritual poverty that Mother Teresa found worse in New York than anywhere else in the world. God, art, and the humanities can enrich us, but we must champion cultural education, if, like Gov. McCrory, we seek a vista, not just a view.

Dhruva Ranjan Sen

Chapel Hill

Short-term bucks

Pennsylvania has done a lot of fracking as it has a lot of shale. This has caused trouble with polluted streams and other dangerous side effects with water and soil.

Gov. McCrory is short sighted because North Carolina has little shale in which gas is found. Once it is drilled the supply of gas will soon be used up, but the adverse effects on the streams and to the land will be long lasting.

We have had enough trouble in Camp Lejeune with water pollution and on the Dan River with the coal ash. We need no more get-rich-quick scheme with harmful long-term effects on the state's population for the few short-term bucks it will put in the Republicans’ pockets. What will happen to our future generations? The shale will be gone and the streams will be polluted and the soil will be permanently damaged by short-sighted politicians.

Ariana Mangum

Chapel Hill

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