Letters: Dionne Warwick And Ballot Initiatives

Talk of the Nation listeners comment on past shows, including our conversation with Dionne Warwick. Also, listeners wrote in to comment on parental involvement in their children's educations, and state ballot initiatives.

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NEAL CONAN, Host:

It's Tuesday, and time to read from your emails and Web comments. We often hear the same thing whenever we talk about teachers and education: What about the parents?

I: I have three children in different schools. Parent-teacher conferences all fall on the same week, and children are not allowed to attend. For three nights, every four weeks, quarterly, I need to rush home, prepare dinner, get a sitter, and in the case of the high school level, spend a couple of hours going from one classroom to the next. Throw in the occasionally conflicting scouts meeting or tutoring, making attendance mandatory would upset me. Even though I do attend parent-teacher conferences, sometimes I will skip one because of the difficulty involved.

Dan, another parent and listener, complained that schools reach out in the wrong way. I receive, on average, 10 emails a week from my two sons' school. Most, if not all, are targeting my participation to raise more money for the schools. I feel like parents become an ATM fundraiser for the local schools. I would like to participate with academic events or share my time with the school, but the fundraising issue is a turn off for me.

I: Dionne's spotlight. I had a set of headphones on to hear the lighting director, so most of my experience was visual. And she was visually stunning, with an amazing stage presence. I had a connection with her through my spotlight.

Finally, when we asked about state ballot initiatives, we mentioned the measure to shorten the name of the state of Rhode Island. In the election, voters decided to keep the name, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The reasons given for the proposed change included the state's history in the slave trade and the modern perception of the term plantation.

Morris Melton emailed from Georgia to clarify: When Roger Williams received his patent in the 1600s, the term plantation meant settlement or colony, as in plant a settlement in the New World. The name Providence Plantation has nothing to do with slavery or cash crop agriculture. And thanks for that.

TALK OF THE NATION: @nealconan, all one word. If you're not getting our email newsletter, stop by our website and sign up. We'll send you a preview of what's coming up on the program and how you can get in on the conversation. Go to npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION for details. If you have comments, questions or corrections for us, the best way to reach us is by email. That address is talk@npr.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name.

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