"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, September 30, 2005

Gulf Coast Voucher Plan

A new piece from The Hill gives the lowdown on work to block the half-billion voucher proposal from being slid into legislation in the coming weeks. Even though Spellings and her lawyers are doing the old soft shoe, nobody is buying it. Call today if you are a constituent of any of these House members on the Education and the Workforce Committee.

Full Committee Members and Jurisdiction
109th Congress
(updated February 4, 2005)


John A. Boehner, Ohio, Chairman

Republican Members (27) Democrat Members (22)
Thomas E. Petri, Wisconsin
(Vice Chairman)
George Miller, California
(Ranking Minority Member)
Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, California Dale E. Kildee, Michigan
Michael N. Castle, Delaware Major R. Owens, New York
Sam Johnson, Texas Donald M. Payne, New Jersey
Mark E. Souder, Indiana Robert E. Andrews, New Jersey
Charlie Norwood, Georgia Robert C. Scott, Virginia
Vernon J. Ehlers, Michigan Lynn C. Woolsey, California
Judy Biggert, Illinois Rubén Hinojosa, Texas
Todd Russell Platts, Pennsylvania Carolyn McCarthy, New York
Patrick J. Tiberi, Ohio John F. Tierney, Massachusetts
Ric Keller, Florida Ron Kind, Wisconsin
Tom Osborne, Nebraska Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio
Joe Wilson, South Carolina David Wu, Oregon
Jon C. Porter, Nevada Rush D. Holt, New Jersey
John Kline, Minnesota Susan A. Davis, California
Marilyn N. Musgrave, Colorado Betty McCollum, Minnesota
Bob Inglis, South Carolina Danny K. Davis, Illinois
Cathy McMorris, Washington Raúl M. Grijalva, Arizona
Kenny Marchant, Texas Chris Van Hollen, Maryland
Tom Price, Georgia Tim Ryan, Ohio
Luis G. Fortuño, Puerto Rico Timothy H. Bishop, New York
Bobby Jindal, Louisiana John Barrow, Georgia
Charles W. Boustany, Jr., Louisiana
Virginia Foxx, North Carolina
Thelma D. Drake, Virginia
John R. "Randy" Kuhl, Jr., New York

Speaking of Former Education Secretary Bennett. . .

Here, from Media Matters, is a Quicktime clip of leading virtuecrat, Bill Bennett, laying out his thoughts on the morally-reprensible notion of aborting all black babies to get rid of the crime problem. Note that in the CNN clip, Bennett does not even bother to address his morally-reprehensible conclusion that crime is caused by being black.

His solution to the "crime probem" is not abortion, but rather, the creation of reform schools in urban areas where black children are taught to toe the line, speak when spoken to, sit in straight-jacket positions, and march around in little brown uniforms. That's his solution to the crime problem. Never would he advocate for something immoral!

Compassionate Cronyism

Following the lead of the big-hearted education bosses in Louisiana to delay for one year the intellectual and emotional genocide against the State's poor and minority children, Spellings announced yesterday that the Federal testing sanctions will take a break next year as well, at least in schools with Katrina refugees. In a Brownie-esque fit of pique that clearly shows that she has more access to power than good sense, Susan Aspey, in the role of ED's bad cop, snapped to reporters:
"It's important to note that is not Waiver City . . . No one has gotten a waiver yet, and these schools will have to show that they did not meet the state standards because of this disaster and these displaced students."
Gracious in defeat, they are not. It should be noted that the disaster she refers to is Katrina, even though the much larger disaster, of course, is NCLB itself. Relief from that one will have to wait until '07.

In making the announcement, Spellings tried to defend the private school voucher giveaway of $488,000,000 that is planned during the Gulf Coast disaster. Waiting in the wings, of course, to see if this compasionate cronyism will stick in Congress, are the education industry corporate welfare artists like Whittle (no relation to Tucker Carlson, I understand), Big Bill Bennett, etc.

Please call your Congressman today to vote No on the half-billion dollar private school voucher giveaway.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

New Product Rollout from ABCTE

Remember the phony teacher preparation outfit started by insider crony, Gene Hickok who, as former Asst. Secretary of Education under Paige, set aside his interest in the company long enough to shovel it $40,000,000 to dream up a Internet certification scam for teaching. (See earlier posts here and here and here .) This kind suspected thievery has not escaped the attention of the GAO, by the way.

Well, I signed up to get ABCTE's latest info as it comes out their cave, and here is just part of the latest product line for those home-bodies who would prefer not to go to a real college to get real teacher preparation--but who prefer a virtual preparation from a real bunch of hucksters. This hot new arm-twister is called PoliteChild's Classroom Management for Success. On sale today!

PoliteChild’s Classroom Management for Success DVDs
Introductory price $75 before October 1! (regularly $90)
This DVD course, containing over 3 hours of video and additional online course materials, will help you learn critical classroom management techniques and strategies in preparation for the Professional Teaching Knowledge exam.You will learn how to develop a positive classroom environment; one in which students “buy into” conducting themselves with courtesy and consideration for others. By using PoliteChild’s classroom management techniques, you will be able to make the most of your school day and avoid dealing with time-consuming behavior management issues.

LEAP Comes Back to Earth

Accustomed to being at the bottom of every national education survey, Louisiana took a huge LEAP (Louisiana Education Assessment Program) in 2000 to become # 1--the first, that is, to use a test as the sole criterion to make promotion decisions for elementary grade students. Since then, of course, 9 other enlightened states and/or large municipalities have joined in this practice, which has been condemned by every child psychology and educational research or interest group in the country. New York City has one-upped Louisiana, now requiring kids to pass tests in grades 3, 5, and 7. That'll teach those crackers who the educational leaders are!

Now it seems, in the wake of Katrina, the State Board in Louisiana is having second thoughts on the fairness of this practice that has left behind approximately 70,000 4th graders since 2000. Voting unanimously to suspend the retention requirement for one year, the Board has been brought face to face with what it could not see ever since Emancipation: it is unfair to hold these poverty-riddled schools to the same standard that is set for the white suburban schools of the state.

Experiencing a blinding insight, Dr. Phillip Rozeman noted to the Shreveport Times piece, "All the movements of the students have rendered the baseline (scores) unuseable . . . It is simply not fair to compare system against system, school against school." What Dr. Rozeman and his colleagues don't seem to get is that the pillar-to-post moving among the poor did not begin with Katrina. In the many poor communities of Louisiana, it is not uncommon to have 20-25% of the school population to change in any year, hurricane or no hurricane.

In a wave of empathy that coincides with a wave of attention to Louisana's educational genocide against the poor, Rozeman continued, "My fear is, if we continue sticking to business as usual in the school systems, we will leave people bleeding and broken." Dr. Rozeman, sir, the storm came ashore in 2000--Not even Brownie would be this late in responding.

In the meantime, we wait for news from on high as to what Maggie and her lawyers have decided in regards to their role in the continuing mis-educative crimes against humanity.

For a PowerPoint presentation w/text (2005) on the achievement gap that remains an open gash in Louisiana after five years of the unrelenting assault on poor children, click top item on Google search page here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Corporate Socialism and the Education Agenda

This morning editorials across the country are skewering Brownie, Brownie's boss, and the looters who have paid the political price of admission into the biggest no-bid feeding frenzy since another storm some time back, that one near another gulf region far away where people continue to get blown away every day. If the privatizers prevail now, they will shovel out a quarter-trillion dollars to their privateer cronies on this Gulf Coast. Part of their plan, of course, is to hand out a half-billion (almost a quarter of the entire education relief package) in Federal vouchers to make sure that private school education is not interrupted in the Gulf region.

All of this is part of the corporate socialist movement led (until the indictments come down, anyway) by Grover Norquist, who advocates the focused role of the U. S. government to use its muscle and cash to clear a path here and abroad for the corporate socialist version of free markets to establish a hegemony throughout the world, thus saturating the planet with the unrestrained greed that enobles the Norquist/Cheney/Bush vision of freedom and democracy. The looting of the federal treasury is like the looting of Baghdad, a necessary step in the rebuilding effort of a government whose civic purpose has been replaced entirely by an alienated individualism grounded by fear, righteous hate, and reprisal.

The education plan is a core piece in this new vision of "freedom on the march." Not only do the Norquistians hope to subdue the black and brown urban poor with their reform schools, but they now have their aim set on the university.

This past Sunday the good-and-angry David Brooks began to pump the bellows to get the fires lit under the agenda set last week by Mom Spellings' announcement for a commission to study higher ed. The conservative cause to "end the achievement gap" has been such a popular lie that it will be called into action here, also, to begin the effort to control what is thought and taught in the university. It is clear, Brooks concludes, that the university must take an active role in making sure that students are "psychologically prepared and culturally prepared."

This talking point is echoed in a statement by lead hack and chairman of Spellings' new commission on higher ed (see story here). Even though the "exploration" of higher ed has not even begun, it seems that Chairman Charles Miller has already been handed the demands that the findings will eventually entail:
"It's a different breed of cat," Miller said of colleges and universities. "We should be asking: What are they learning? Are they learning the right thing? Academe is going to have to come up with answers there."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New Documentary on NCLB

This is an email from Judy Rabin on a very important event:

I attended the premiere of Lerone Wilson's documentary, No Child
Left Behind
,
at the Pioneer Theater in New York on Sunday. It is
artistically well-done and very powerful in reflecting the realities

and issues of NCLB -- a MUST SEE.


Here's the link to the web site if you would like to purchase the DVD:

http://www.boondogglefilms.net/store.php

We need to support this young NYU film student and this VERY
IMPORTANT
project by not only purchasing the DVD, but by
making sure that it is aired and
seen in as many venues and by as
many people as possible -- local theaters,
universities and PBS stations.

The idea for the film originated while he was
working in a NYC
elementary schoolas a teacher's assistant and was exposed to the
harsh realities of NCLB. One of theteachers said, "Lerone, you have to
do
something about this!" and he did.

You will not be disappointed.

Judy




Judy Rabin
Graduate Student
Monmouth University

"In God We Trust: All Others Bring Data"


While doing some research on my US DOE Corruption Flow Chart, I came upon this piece by Daniel Pryzbyla from EducationNews.org that is so good that it warrants some extensive quotes for its contribution to the continued unmasking of the whores, scoundrels, and hucksters now hauling off billions from the NCLB budget, Bush's disastrous corporate relief project for an education industry that he built with tax dollars intended to help the poor and disadvantaged. The context is a speaking event in Indiana with Mom Spellings:

. . . . Congress passed the “Goals 2000 Educate America” act in March 1994. “Within a month of its passage,” wrote Mike Ferner of Program on Corporation, Law and Democracy, in its summer 2000 newsletter, “the ideological foundation of Goals 2000 was revealed in ‘Reinventing Education: Entrepreneurship in America’s Public Schools.’” It was co-authored by Louis Gerstner, then CEO of IBM. Gerstner and his corporate colleagues define students as “human capital,” urging schools to compare themselves to each other as “Xerox compares itself to L.L. Bean for inventory control.” A “Goals 2000” follow-up meeting 2 years later in 1996 wasn’t even held in a typical hotel conference setting, but a more conducive hideout – IBM headquarters. Fortune 500 planning committee members included luminaries from IBM, Eastman Kodak and Proctor & Gamble. Privatization zealots from the American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation attended as resources to promote their conservative education “reform” agenda.

With all that “human capital” in Title 1 public schools, data banks would be critical apparatus. “Thanks to No Child Left behind, we’re no longer flying blind,” echoed Spellings. “This is the time of the year when our schools release their ‘adequate yearly progress’ (AYP) data. That data help states target their finite resources to the classrooms where the need is greatest and most urgent.” Who’s really “flying blind” here? While Spellings was singing “sweet nothings” to attendees, charter and voucher vultures were already circling NCLB “sanctioned” public schools.

. . . . Originally focused on grades K-8, NCLB hustlers have now advanced their draconian sanction schemes to high-schools. Stalled because of the unexpected backlash against privatization of Social Security, Spellings now had to rekindle the high-school coals. “The president and I believe it is time to introduce the principles of No Child Left Behind to grades 9-12,” she gleamed. “We have every right to demand that graduates in Indiana and elsewhere be given the skills to compete in the world and not just be ‘socially promoted’ to life. I know you agree, or you wouldn’t be here today.” But nobody knew what she was going to say before they had even arrived. Maybe they came because it’s just another annual Indiana high-school summit they attend every year. Why should everyone in attendance necessarily “agree” with what she said “or (they) wouldn’t be here”? Maybe some were ordered to attend by their supervisors. Mrs. Jones at Hoosier High is having a baby. Not attending meant she “didn’t agree”? Yeah, she went into labor early too, so she didn’t have to show up.

After listening to the NCLB fan club long enough, you begin to hear the same recordings – over, and over, and over, and over. It’s the age-old marketing gimmick; repeat, repeat, repeat. A consistent drumbeat of NCLB marketplace strategy is “dumbing-down” certified, qualified, experienced education professionals in public schools. Packaging arrogance taught at CEO “reform” academies, they act as if they’ve reinvented the wheels of learning. Their fantasies include driving in “demolition derbies.” Their favorite toys are bulldozers and wrecking balls. Hundreds of new practices (reforms) that have been introduced in public education throughout past decades are deemed meaningless, “outdated.” Targeting Title 1 public schools, their “human capital” privatization bulldozes forward, wearing the label of education “reform.”

Of “social promotion,” who is Spellings to complain? She’s the political candy-stripe who has been “socially promoted” to Secretary of Education because of her long-standing political association with her boss, George W.

Spellings displayed another “social promotion” educator onto the dance floor during her high-school prom in Indianapolis. “The high-school model of today is not much different from that of our grandparents’ day,” said the education chief. “As Bill Gates has said, ‘Training the workforce of tomorrow with today’s high-schools is like trying to teach kids about today’s computers on a 50-year-old mainframe.’” Anybody have any idea how the “college drop-out” made it into the NCLB education club? Hint: Be a multi-(b)illionaire, set up an education foundation for a tax write-off, and toss Title 1 public school districts millions of dollars to implement his “small high-schools” experiments within existing “large” public high schools. Of course, with this brainstorm will come his Microsoft monopoly system into the classrooms to help facilitate the technology learning, testing, teacher training in specialized programs, and school district data processing for NCLB needs. Strangely, nobody is asking why Gates’s “small high-schools” are needed in Title 1 districts, but not in the mostly Anglo, suburban middle and upper-middle class “large” high-schools with student populations numbering 1,500 to 3,000 students. Could it be because of mounting (“shh, hush now…don’t go there…”) socioeconomic inequalities?

“I am encouraged by the unity I’ve seen today and throughout my brief tenure as secretary,” proclaimed Spellings. “While we may feel occasional gusts of opposition, the prevailing wind continues to point toward reform.” First they call their education “reform” marketplace “competition.” Now she complains of “opposition.” Sounds like she’s being tutored by “college drop-out” Monopoly Bill.

Maybe a “reformed” Texas data punch line too: “In God we trust; follow the money.”

Economic Integration and the Achievement Gap

In an interview with Jonathan Kozol in Ed Week (9/21), he notes the pathological testing hysteria and the frenzy to demonstrate the failure of public schools, thus ushering in the Bush agenda to privatize education while rewarding the hacks and cronies and hucksters who have paid their way to the feeding trough. Of course, as we have noted repeatedly, this agenda is masked in the high rhetoric of helping to close the achievement gap and providing aid to the kind of people who didn't get any in New Orleans or in any poor urban school in America. From the Kozol interview:
Q: But the No Child Left Behind Act was a bipartisan effort to hold schools accountable for the performance of racial and ethnic subgroups that for years schools were able to ignore. Isn't that a sign that there is a growing national commitment to addressing the achievement gap and some of the inequalities in schools you have written about for years?

A: No. It's a preposterous claim that only with the advent of NCLB did we discover suddenly that segregated, minority children have never received the education white, middle-class children receive. Teachers don't need this sociopathic regime of nonstop testing to tell them these students are being cheated. The main function of the accountability regime is to humiliate inner-city principals by telling the public in graphic terms what all of us already knew. President Bush would do more good if he would save all the money wasted on these pathologically repetitive, high-stakes exams and give large financial incentives to good suburban school systems surrounding every major city that would provide powerful inducements to open up their doors to inner-city children.

Backing Kozol's insistence on ending the new apartheid schooling in America is a piece of news from the Sunday NY Times on an effort in North Carolina to do something there to integrate schools (again). As a sign of a time in our history when it is more acceptable to talk about economic rights than civil rights (another shame), Wake County, which includes Raleigh schools, has been carrying out an integration-by-income plan for years that has had significant impacts on really closing the achievement gap, instead of pretending to do so in order to disguise another agenda.

It is interesting, and sad, too, that some of the most vocal opponents of this kind of integration have been transplanted Northerners who would like to maintain the same lily-white schools that they left in New Jersey and Connecticut and other more "socially-advanced" parts of the world when they pulled up stakes to head south. See this CBS story from 2003 that lays out this problem, while reminding us that the most segregated schools in the U.S today are in NY, California, Illinois, and Michigan.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Keep Religious Discrimination Out of Head Start Bill

This from SaveHeadStart.org:

U.S. HOUSE VOTE:
Click here to read the September 23, 2005 National Head Start Association statement on the U.S. House Head Start bill passed on September 22nd. While the measure contains some positive elements (including an end to the controversial NRS tests), NHSA is concerned about provisions that would permit religious discrimination in hiring, fail to provide needed funding for higher teacher qualifications, limit parental involvement and put undue limits on Head Start training and travel ...

Tell McGraw Hill What You Really Think

Get your children programmed today before they learn that their brains are for thinking, rather than imitating the sounds of a parrot in front of the class who has been forced to learn her lines in the place of preparing her lesson. Never worry again about losing control of your class or getting fired for not making AYP. Remember we write tests, too!!

As one of the leading insider profiteers in the Bush war on thinking in schools, the Open Court Series seized the high ground early in the Carnine/Lyon-inspired direct instruction assault on learning. First developed and marketed for reading and math, this drill and kill approach to teaching has now been extended to science, too.

Seriously, folks--McGraw-Hill wants your help. Go to the site listed below in this memo and do your patriotic duty. Let them know what you really think--while you can.

Dear Educator,
SRA/McGraw-Hill invites you to participate in a review of the Open
Court Reading program. Your input is an important part of the process
and will give us an opportunity to gain insight into educators'
thoughts regarding instructional practices and the features of the
program.

If you are one of the first 500 respondents, you will qualify for
a $10.00 gift certificate to Powells.com upon completion of the
review. This is the bookstore that Forbes magazine has called the
"best on the Web."

Click on the link below to open the review. This link will be
open from September 20, 2005 - September 30, 2005. When you open
the link, please indicate whether or not you are a current user of
the Open Court Reading program in order to be directed
to the appropriate survey.

http://bookdev.com/launch/1692/launch_screener.html

Please be aware that we would like your feedback by September 30,
2005. We realize that your time is valuable, and we greatly appreciate
your willingness to share yourtime, as well as your expertise.

Thank you for your help in creating quality educational programs.

Anne Booth
Project Director
abooth@contentconnections.com
Content Connections

Friday, September 23, 2005

Education Trust Advocates Testing into Pre-Kindergarten

hys·ter·i·a:
  1. A mental disorder characterized by emotional excitability and sometimes by amnesia or a physical deficit, such as paralysis, or a sensory deficit, without an organic cause.
Just when you thought the testing hysteria might be peaking, here come the "child advocates" at Education Trust to kick it up a notch with their endorsement now of pre-K testing. Not only kindergarten, you see, but pre-kindergarten, also. Writing now for the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation's appropriately-titled online rag, Fwd: Arresting Insights in Education, Amy Wilkins, Principal Partner of Education Trust, props up Jeb Bush's veto of the pre-K bill in Florida earlier this year--on the basis that it did not include the proper "accountability" provisions. Here is part of her arrested insight on ending the "achievement gap" of 3 year olds:
One way for the state to address these issues
is through an accountability system that uses
disaggregated student achievement data and
considers achievement growth as well as
whether students meet the school readiness
goals. Such a system would assess children’s
skills as they enter the pre-K program and
again when they enter Kindergarten. Testing
at both ends of the program would allow the
state to gauge more accurately the effective-
ness of the program. Florida would have to
establish target growth rates for various pop-
ulations—including more growth for low-
income children—if pre-Kindergarten is to
help all children meet uniform school readi-
ness goals.
Yes, uniformity. Think of it--if we can intervene at an earlier and earlier age to train these children to behave properly, to learn the Code while they are learning to de-code, and to also appreciate the second-class citizenship that they have inherited, then we can entirely avoid the root causes of poverty, racism, lack of opportunity--at the same time making these children and future soldiers entirely dependent upon and thankful for the dead-end jobs that we will provided them when they become "educated"--if they behave themselves.

If they don't, well, we have another institution for them, one that looks increasingly like the schools that the sorority sisters at Ed Trust would smilingly advocate as the best we can do at this time. Keep on the sunny side, always the sunny side, keep on the sunny . . .

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Guess What? Pressure Cooker NCLB Testing Doesn't Raise Achievement

With millions of school children labeled failures at an early age, with soaring dropout rates (so bad that states hide them in statistical spider holes), with small hearts pounding so hard the teachers can hear them from across the desk, with puke-covered test forms secured in zip-lock bags, with disabled children hiding under beds out of shame for failing the tests, with the most committed teachers leaving education out of disgust and despair, with students and teachers taught that doing anything to pass is fine just as long as you don't get caught, with the school curriculum shrunk to exclude thinking and with school turned into a job that kids simply put up with, with segregated housing patterns and real estate prices determined by test scores, with parents blaming teachers and teachers blaming parents, and with a Katrina-sized lump of cash hauled away by textbook, tutoring, and testing companies, with American ingenuity and creativity threatened by a lock-step stupidification of school children, and with a 200 year effort to create a public system of quality schools for all children now held up to ridicule and possible replacement by a bunch of craven, ideological and know-nothing hacks, with all of this,

we now find out that high-stakes testing does not raise student academic achievement.

Who, who, will be accountable for this debacle? Who will take the blame, yes the blame, for this cynical crime against humanity?

National Study Finds No Convincing Evidence that High-Stakes Testing Pressure Leads to Increased Student Achievement

CONTACT: Teri Moblo (517) 203-2940 (email) tmoblo@mea.org or
Alex Molnar (480) 965-1886 (email) epsl@asu.edu

TEMPE, Ariz. (Tuesday, September 20, 2005) — The pressure associated with high-stakes testing has no real impact on student achievement, according to “High-StakesTesting and Student Achievement: Problems for the No Child Left Behind Act,” a study released by the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University and the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), high-stakes test scores are the indicators used to measure school and student success on a statewide basis. Low test scores can result in severe consequences for schools under this law. The underlying theory behind this type of accountability program is that the pressure of high-stakes testing will increase student achievement. But according to this study, there is no convincing evidence that this kind of pressure leads to increased student achievement.

The authors, Sharon L. Nichols, University of Texas at San Antonio, and Gene V Glass and David C. Berliner, Arizona State University, studied the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test data from 25 states. The results suggest that increases in testing pressure are related to increased retention in grade and drop-out rates. The authors found that states with the highest proportions of minority students implemented
accountability systems that exerted the greatest pressure. Thus, the negative impacts of high-stakes testing will disproportionately affect America’s minority students.

“This most recent research demonstrates that the pressure to produce high test scores as a result of No Child Left Behind hasn’t helped students to achieve more, and has served to limit the depth and breadth of what students are being taught in schools around the country,” said Teri Moblo, director of the Great Lakes Center.

Four key findings emerged from the study:

  • States with greater proportions of minority students tend to implement accountability systems that exert greater pressure. An unintended consequence of this patterning is that problems associated with high-stakes testing risk disproportionately affecting America’s minority students.
  • Increased testing pressure is related to increased retention and drop-out rates. High-stakes testing pressure is negatively associated with the likelihood that eighth and 10th graders will move into 12th grade.
  • NAEP reading scores at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels were not improved as a result of increased testing pressure. This finding was consistent across African American, Hispanic, and White student subgroups.
  • Weak correlations between pressure and NAEP performance for fourth- grade mathematics and the unclear relationship for eighth-grade mathematics are unlikely linked to increased testing pressure. While a weak relationship emerged at the fourth-grade level, a systematic link between pressure and achievement was not established. For eighth-grade performance, the lack of clarity in the relationship may arise from the interplay of other indirect factors. Inconsistent performance gains in these cases are far more likely the result of indirect factors such as teaching to the test, drill and practice, or the exclusion of lower-achieving students than pressure.
What the researchers could not find is also of great importance. Many different analyses were unable to establish any consistent link between the pressure to score high in a particular state and that state’s student performance on the NAEP. That means that claims of a clear-cut link between pressure and performance cannot be considered credible.

“A rapidly growing body of research evidence on the harmful effects of high-stakes testing, along with no reliable evidence of improved performance by students on NAEP tests of achievement, suggests that we need a moratorium in public education on the use of high-stakes testing,” said Nichols, the study’s lead author.

"We're trying to get kids while they're fresh."

As reported here in Richmond, Indiana's Palladium-Item, Indiana is giving school-to- work a whole new meaning, with work starting in grade 4.

Article published Sep 20, 2005
For students, graduation riding on tests

Breakfast is a rare part of Carey Countryman's daily routine.

But the 16-year-old Union County High School student made an exception this morning.

Monday ushered in ISTEP+ testing and this morning Countryman joined thousands of Indiana sophomores in taking the Graduation Qualifying Exam.

Countryman knows energy and focus are important since there's plenty riding on the outcome of the test.

"The main point is," he said, "and I think every student in the state would agree with me, is everybody is nervous about it. It's graduation we're talking about."

The Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress-Plus is given to students in grades 3-9. The exam measures English, language arts and math skills.

All students -- general education, special education and Limited English Proficiency -- must pass the exam to qualify for a high school diploma.

Students who fail the test can retake it as juniors and seniors.

"The key is you've got to relax," Countryman said of the importance of the test. "If you start to get worked up, you've just got to take a deep breath and keep calm."

The Indiana Department of Education uses ISTEP+ scores to determine whether schools make adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind Act. ISTEP+ testing runs through Sept. 30.

Fourth-grade teacher Kim Morris said preparation is the key. Morris said the families of her 27 students at C.R. Richardson Elementary are well informed. Notes were sent to parents and guardians.

"We tell them it's coming," Morris said. "There are no surprises."

And neither is that student who looks a little tired or distracted. Morris keeps an eye out for students with empty bellies and wandering minds.

"If they're tired and lethargic," Morris said, "I usually get a snack for them to eat. It helps them out."

Daily tests take 30 minutes to 1½ hours.

C.R. Richardson principal Bill Doering said there's a reason testing happens in the morning.

"We trying to get the kids while they're fresh," he said.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Spellings to the Rescue--of Higher Ed?

With NCLB under a withering barrage of criticism from every hamlet and city in America, and with formal complaints or lawsuits underway in 47 states against NCLB, and with two-thirds of Americans disagreeing with NCLB's use of a single measure to make high-stakes decisions, and with 61% of informed poll respondents opposing NCLB (see story here), it is not surprising that Queen Mag would want to change the subject.

Out of the blue, or out of the storm clouds following Katrina, here comes Mom-Secretary to announce that, since the effort to bring NCLB to the high schools fell flat earlier this year, that now Bush Co. wants to know what is going on in the University. As reported by Inside Higher Ed, most everyone was surprised by this bold stroke of educational meddling:

College groups had relatively little to say about the national commission, mostly because they knew virtually nothing about it. (Ward told a group of officials from other higher education associations Monday morning that he could offer little insight on its goals.) Members of the panel apparently were approached in late August and have received only a brief form letter outlining its mission in the broadest terms.
Remaining consistent with other blue-ribbon panels sent out to study education issues, the illustrious body is heavy on corporate bosses and short on educators, with only two real professors among the 19 members, and one of them is economist and chief among ideologues for the American Enterprise Institute, Richard Vedder.

Chairing the Commission is retired investment specialist, Charles Miller, who just wound up his tenure as a Bush appointment on the Board of Regents for UT (that one in Texas). Mr. Miller indicated that he can stay on message when he assured the Inside Higher Ed reporter that “Accountability and deregulation go together.” Mr. Miller has a bachelor's degree in Math (UT '59) and would appear imminently qualified to do whatever he is told by the Business Roundtable and the educational antiquarians such as Bennett, Finn, and the Great Carnine who inspired this intrusion and diversion in the first place. When the heat gets too great, set fire to another kitchen.

"Advocates for minority and other underrepresented students" include Kati Haycock's Education Trust, espousing a 1950s liberal agenda based on a keep-on-the-sunny-side phony meritocratic technocracy. The other "advocate" is the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, a private venture chaired by Dr. Robert Benjamin, who is President of Council for Aid to Education, which has as prominent Board members Benno Schmidt, Jr. of the corporate welfare outfit, Edison Schools--and, wouldn't you know it, Harold W. McGraw, Jr. as Special Advisor. And these are the advocates for the poor. I suppose we might add Commission Member Jonathan Grayer, CEO and Chairman, Kaplan, Inc. as an advocate for the poor and downtrodden--after all, his company is doing its humanitarian duty in the test-failed urban schools where billions in tax dollars are shoveled out for private tutoring firms like Kaplan, who, by the way, are accountable to no one except their lobbyists. Being accountable to no one would seem to automatically qualify for inclusion on a national Commission headed by Spellings and the band of dark visionaries circulating in the White House, who would like nothing more than to morph this republic, now under seige, into the 21st Century version of corporate socialism.

Save Head Start from Religious Indoctrination---Call Your Congressman

This comes from Judy Rabin:

Advocates for Head Start are justifiably concerned that the fight over religious hiring rights will jeopardize the reauthorization of the Head Start program this Congress. Head Start is too important to be held hostage to such naked partisan politics. JR

September
16, 2005

To: Education and Legal Affairs Reporters, Editors, and Columnists

From: Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD)

RE: Government-Funded Religious Discrimination in Head Start Programs

This week, the House of Representatives will debate legislation reauthorizing the historic anti-poverty Head Start preschool education program – which has helped millions of disadvantaged children by providing access to quality preschool education programs. The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved this measure, H.R. 2123, the School Readiness Act, by a vote of 48-0 on May 18, 2005. Despite bipartisan, unanimous support for the bill in his Committee, Chairman, Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), with the support of the Bush Administration, has announced that he intends to offer an amendment on the floor of the House to repeal existing, longstanding Head Start provisions which prohibit religious organizations and churches from discriminating on the basis of religion when hiring or firing staff for positions within this federally-funded program.

The House of Representatives has never voted to repeal existing civil rights protections in a floor amendment, and here it is being done without the benefit of committee hearings, debate, and testimony from experts. This unwelcome action would also undermine the existing broad, bipartisan support for reauthorizing Head Start, one of the most heralded anti-poverty programs in the nation’s history.

Head Start

Head Start is a widely-acclaimed early childhood education program established in 1965. This anti-poverty program serves close to one million disadvantaged preschool children in hundreds of communities across the country. The program has also been a ladder out of poverty for many disadvantaged parents who have become employed as teachers and staff after having first served as volunteer teacher aides in their children’s classroom.

Since 1972, agencies that receive government funding for Head Start – including religious organizations and houses of worship that host Head Start programs – have been prohibited from discriminating on the basis of religion when hiring or firing staff for positions within the federally-funded program. These existing non-discrimination requirements have a history of bipartisan support, and were originally signed into law by President Richard Nixon. The current anti-discrimination language was included in the 1981 Head Start reauthorization bill, signed into law by President Ronal Reagan. These same civil rights protections have been included in every Head Start reauthorization since then – in 1984, 1986, 1990, 1994, and 1998. For 33 years, these fundamental non-discrimination protections have worked well, allowing thousands of Head Start programs in communities throughout the country to flourish while maintaining constitutional and civil rights safeguards against religious tests for employment in federally-funded programs.

The Boehner Religious Discrimination Amendment is Unnecessary

Chairman Boehner has said that he is “committed to adding language to this bill that will ensure faith-based organizations can compete for federal Head Start grants without surrendering their constitutionally-protected right to take religion into account in their hiring practices.” But faith-based organizations do not have a constitutionally-protected right to use federal funds to discriminate on the basis of religion in government-funded positions.

Under current law, faith-based and secular organizations are already equally eligible for Head Start funding. More than five percent of all Head Start programs are administered by houses of worship or religiously-affiliated organizations. These programs currently operate effectively -- and manage to do so without making employment decisions based on the religious beliefs of their teachers and parent volunteer. This success is due, in part, to the fact that these organizations are required to abide by strong constitutional and anti-discrimination safeguards -- protecting beneficiaries from unwanted proselytizing and protecting employees in positions funded by these federal programs from religious discrimination.

The Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (members included below) supports the right of churches and synagogues to perform their religious mission with their own private funds. But federally-funded religious discrimination is always wrong. It is especially damaging in the context of the enormously influential Head Start program.

The Boehner Religious Discrimination Amendment Raises Constitutional Concerns

This proposed change runs afoul of considerations underlying the First Amendment’s prohibitions against the use of direct government funding to promote religious beliefs. When Head Start programs operated by faith-based organizations discriminate on the basis of religion in hiring for government-funded positions, the government becomes associated with promotion of a religious mission in a manner that the Establishment Clause was designed to prevent.

The Boehner Religious Discrimination Amendment Would Damage Head Start Programs.

If Congress approves such an amendment, teachers and staff working at Head Start programs housed in religious organizations could immediately be fired because of their religion. Tens of thousands of already at-risk children could lose their teachers. And Head Start could lose thousands of parent volunteers essential to the success of the program merely because those parents do not share the religious beliefs of the host federally-funded religious organization.

The Boehner Religious Discrimination Amendment is Divisive and Jeopardizes Head Start Reauthorization

The Head Start bill, in its current form, has wide, bipartisan support. The House Education and the Workforce Committee approved the reauthorization legislation by a unanimous vote – retaining existing civil rights and anti-discrimination provisions. These anti-discrimination provisions have enjoyed bipartisan support since President Richard Nixon signed them into law in 1972. Allowing religious discrimination in Head Start programs is controversial -- and will undoubtedly divide legislators as efforts to reauthorize the program move forward.

Two years ago, Congress was unsuccessful in an attempt to reauthorize Head Start due to an inability to reach consensus on a number of controversial amendments – including one similar to the Boehner Amendment – which was not included in the Senate version of this legislation. At that time, Members of the House engaged in heated debate over the anti-discrimination provisions, which had been eliminated during Education and the Workforce Committee markup. During the 108th Congress, on July 25, 2003, the House defeated an amendment, offered by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), to reinstate these civil rights provisions by a vote of 231-199, with only four Republicans voting to reinsert the anti-discrimination provisions and only seven Democrats voting against the amendment. The Senate reauthorization bill stalled; the Committee-approved bill was never received a vote on the floor.

In this Congress, the Boehner religious discrimination amendment would unnecessarily politicize what has been a remarkably bipartisan effort to reauthorize Head Start. On two previous occasions Rep. Boehner has voted to affirm the current anti-discrimination language as part of the Head Start reauthorization (the 1994 and 1998 reauthorizations). But now, as the Bush Administration aggressively promotes its Faith-Based Initiative, the Republican majority is seeking to repeal these longstanding civil rights provisions.

The notion that efforts to eliminate these civil rights provisions are politically motivated was recently affirmed in testimony by an unlikely source -- David Kuo, former Deputy Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In testimony, before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources on June 21, 2005, Kuo stated: “[M]any members of the President’s own party expressed equal parts apathy and antipathy towards this agenda. Money for the poor? Why, it will just get wasted, they said. We just need to cut the funds and let the private sector take over. We don’t need more funds, all we really need to do is make sure that we have a huge political fight over religious charities’ right to hire and fire based on their own faith. That way, as I have heard time and time again, Republicans will be seen as fighting for religions and Democrats will be seen as fight against it.”

Advocates for Head Start are justifiably concerned that the fight over religious hiring rights will jeopardize the reauthorization of the Head Start program this Congress. Head Start is too important to be held hostage to such naked partisan politics.

Proselytizing in Head Start Programs is Clearly Illegal

Supporters of the Boehner Amendment argue that discriminating in hiring is essential in the advancement of the mission and goals of faith-based Head Start programs – but they do not assert that proselytizing in Head Start programs is legal. Since there is no dispute that proselytizing and religious activities cannot be integrated into the highly-structured Head Start curriculum anyway, such justifications are wrong. The religious background of the staff and faculty of a Head Start program are irrelevant – since faith-based providers are not allowed to teach religion with federal funds anyway. While the faith tradition of an organization may motivate it to become a Head Start provider, religious beliefs clearly may not be taught with federal dollars.

Conclusion

The expected Boehner amendment to permit religious discrimination in hiring and firing for faith-based Head Start programs is divisive, unwise, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. Congress should reject efforts to burden this historic anti-poverty program with “a huge political fight.” The needs of disadvantaged preschool children and their families should not be held hostage to a partisan effort to inject religion into this essential federal program.

Paige Now Paid Consultant for His Own Policies

Thanks to David Gabbard for pointing to this prime example from the Boston Globe.

Hauling Away the Federal Treasury

Bush Co. came into office with a plan inspired by the corporate fascism of Grover Norquist (click here for audio quote). Elegant, the mathematicians might call it.

Move to privatize those elements of government that do not meet strong resistance by appointing cronies and contributors to key posts who will craft policies that will initiate a giveaway of Federal assets to other cronies lined up at the feeding trough. At the same time, gain short-term political advantage by increasing government spending on entitlements that balloon the deficit, while cutting taxes for contributors and cronies--which exacerbates the deficit even more. Eventually, as Grover would have it, a Government spending crisis could only be averted by slashing the federal budget in half, thus achieving the desired end. In the meantime, the Federal treasury will have been raided like a Baghdad bank, and the corporate state becomes positioned to replace the democratic republic.

All of this is contingent, of course, on Grover and the bands of robbers staying out of jail. With the dots connecting that show a picture of "conservative" luminaries such as Grover, Ralph Reed, Jack Abramoff, and David Safavian in the cozy embrace, who knows if the neocon economic dream might not be interrupted by some down time in those stylish orange jumpsuits. See NY Times story here and Raw Story here for details on Safavian, "who oversees [oversaw] $300 billion of annual federal purchasing as director of the Office of Procurement Policy, has been arrested for three criminal charges relating to obstruction of a federal investigation. He resigned quietly last Friday."

Of course, ED is simply a large and significant piece of this unprecedented tapestry of corruption where political cronies are drafted to write rules and regs that limit Federal handouts to insiders and supporters. If that doesn't completely get the job done, then "consultants" are trained by the same insiders and sent out across the land to assure compliance to the chosen orthodoxy as packaged and sold by cronies and contributors. See Education Week, Sept. 7 for "States Pressed to Refashion Reading First Grant Designs."

We know that there was good reason for educational publishing and testing corporations to celebrate the Bush Administration’s arrival in Washington. After looking at the President's planned initiatives for state testing high-stakes name taking, the chief executive of Pearson Education, Peter Jovanovich, quipped to Education Week (2/21/01): "This almost reads like our business plan."

Now, in fact, McGraw-Hill, the Bush family favorite, is taking on a more assertive tone in public financial pronouncements—or is that just a cozy confidence that they will have their way on Capitol Hill. They tout their "broad base of knowledge about what is happening across state lines." Indeed, they should, as Stephen Metcalf clearly shows in his research on the Bush-McGraw/Hill connection that goes all the way back to joint family beach vacations during the Depression (The Nation, 01/28/02) And they are obviously proud of their overlapping roles as congressional advisor, grass roots consultant, policy expert, and psychometric high priest:

“While we have no interaction in creating general social policy, we do have conversations with members of Congress advising on technical issues. We work across all states, and are a contractor [sic] for 23 different states, so have a broad base of knowledge about what's happening across the nation for anyone drafting legislation at this time. As states and districts implement NCLB--in the earlier grades and potentially at the high school level--we encourage educators, administrators, and policy makers to consult with us. CTB/McGraw-Hill can provide valuable policy resources, technical assistance, and advice. We are not only the leading publisher of educational assessments in the United States; we are also a key resource for information on standards and testing. Our national team of Evaluation Consultants is involved at a grass-roots level in each state-- meeting with educators, helping districts and schools understand the impact of the new law, and offering solutions that meet both the letter and spirit of the law--to improve teaching and learning” (CBT/McGraw-Hill Inform-Online, Spring 2005).


If favored educational publishers are excited about the billion dollars of Reading First money pouring from the US DOE coffers each year, then double that yearly allocation and imagine how thrilled the tutoring company execs must be with their target set on the $2 billion a year jackpot awaiting them as a result of NCLB tutoring (Supplemental Services) requirements for students of failing schools.

The tutoring requirement became the late-inning replacement for the favored privatization pitch, school vouchers, pulled from NCLB in the late stages of the negotiations that eventually assured passage in 2001. School privatization would have to take a more subtle route, embedded in the increasingly-draconian sanctions that would surely result from impossible test performance demands as 2014 approaches. In the meantime, the best that could be arranged for the eager education industry was a massive giveaway in the form of tutoring contracts to private ventures that have sprung up or ramped up since NCLB passage.

Unlike the strict oversight of schools receiving federal funds to stringently implement the neo-traditional phonics orthodoxy pushed by Reading First, there are no federal accountability enforcements for the companies who are now collecting the carloads of cash from NCLB's tutoring program.

And carloads there are. The Baltimore Sun (7/25/05) reports that a local company, Educate, Inc. saw profits jump 402% in 2004, as more and more urban schools failed to meet their mandated testing targets for the third year, thus requiring these schools to set aside up to 20% of their Federal Title I funds to for tutoring students who request extra help.

In a recent study conducted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and the American Institute for Social Justice, researchers found that Louisiana is the only state that monitors the effects of the private tutoring services on test score performance. The study, which examined 91 separate districts, found that $300 million was paid to tutoring companies in one year “with almost no scientific evidence that this spending has contributed to academic achievement."

As the draining of Title I funds continues, The Center for Policy Alternatives reports these interesting facts, some of which are from the same ACORN study cited above:
Of the 1,000 tutoring providers on current state approval lists, 63 percent are private companies. In future years, the market for in-school services by for-profit companies is estimated to be $20 to $30 billion. One of the biggest tutoring companies, Sylvan Education Solutions, expected to tutor 20,000 students in 2004, at $20 to $40 an hour. Some companies try to take unfair advantage. In one case in North Carolina, a tutoring company submitted an invoice for providing 48 students a total of 56 hours of instruction at a cost of $37,455—a rate of $674 an hour.
It would seem, then, that NCLB's impossible demands that are advertised as accountability, and the draconian sanctions that are offered as remedies, really only apply to those public institutions that are perceived to be in need of extremist makeovers or outright replacement. Left immune from these relentless, bare-knuckled policies are those who are sure to profit from the resulting carnage of what was once the American public education system.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Commentary

Click here for my Guest Commentary in National School Board News: "To What Question is More Testing the Correct Answer?"

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Ethical use of testing comments

A couple of days ago I posted a draft of a Statement on the Ethical Use of Testing.

I think that such a statement that places a humane limit on testing in K-12 will be wildly popular with Americans who are not already bought by the privatization and the corporate welfare wizards at ED. I believe that those who have not constitute a clear majority. I believe, too, that a statement with clarity, humanity, and teeth can bring together organizations and individuals at all level around the idea of making our people fairer and smarter and more caring.

Some have expressed concern for what might result as "fallout from the approach toward poverty" taken in the Statement. It states that the disabled, immigrants, and the poor will not be held to the same standard as others. A friend who responded in an email that her primary concern was that recognizing economic disadvantage as a criterion for adjusting assessment requirements would lead to an institutionalization of low expectations.

My response, in short, was that we don't need this kind of concession to the poor to institutionalize unfairness--that has been the theme of minority education in America since the beginning. And such institutionalized unfairness has never, to my knowledge, resulted from a caring concern for acknowledging the realities of being poor, but rather as a series of wicked cudgels to beat down every attempt of oppressed people to claim a place in society where none was available.

I would argue that the "idealization" of fairness as miraculously appearing somewhere down the sunny road of the future, has been the chief weapon used by liberals to maintain inequality and inequity. Of course, conservatives simply deny that any unfairness exists. Those who insist on the same performance expectations for rich and poor do so to supposedly avoid a regime of low expectations, which reality tells us is all that we may expect with any certainty for as long as the poor remain poor. Such idealization is, in fact, a denial to preserve that which has not occurred and not likely to occur as long the denial continues.

The result, of course, to this kind of wishful thinking trumping reality is for the poor to continue the degradation of failure that poverty brings, while the policy that assures their continuing subjugation goes unchanged and is even ramped up by an empty-headed and inhumane notion that screaming louder at the poor to come along will somehow make it possible for them to move faster.

If this kind of blind stupidity could be pried loose and an alternative conception considered, then there may be hope for the beginning of an interim of sanity to ensue and for learning to begin again in schools. As long as the testing that assures failure continues unimpeded by blindness and insipid optimism, then public schools will continue to be blamed for not accomplishing that which public schools or any other schools will ever get done alone. In the meantime, the intellectual and emotional genocide against poor children and poor communities will continue.

Those who argue for the continuance of this blind idealization as a way to preserve a once and future date for justice and fairness to be wrought, would not be willing, I do not think, to apply the same argument to affirmative action practices. Would the preservers of a future fairness argue that affirmative action institutionalizes low expectations for poor students, thus stunting real opportunity that is sure to arrive if we simply pretend that it already has.

Of course, the need to confront these hard realities of poverty and race could be entirely avoided if we got rid of assessments that assure failure. Without that requisite, however, neocons would have no heavy club to complete the demonization of public schools, thus opening the door to the guaranteed corruption of the educational enterprise by corporate welfare artists, and the rendering of future populations much more concerned with any kind of job than with the preservation and extension of the democratic principles and human rights that made this place America.

God help us if we can't get this done.

Still open for comments. Please do.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

While Testing Decisions Wait, a Half-Billion in Vouchers Approved

Susan Ohanian reprints here a piece from the Post yesterday that shows that Spellings can swing into action for important matters, such as bringing relief to the thousands of parents in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast who previously paid for their children to attend private schools. If passed by Congres, the proposed $488,000,000 will go immediately for vouchers ($7,500 max. each) to send these private school children to other private schools, religious or otherwise. That amount represents more than twice the amount that will go to students, colleges, and universities affected by Katrina, and over 30 times the amount of the largest voucher experiment in history in Washington D. C. (14 million).

It seems that Katrina may accomplish overnite for Bush Co. what years of testing to assure failure, government propaganda, influence peddling, support-buying, and lies about public education couldn't get done.

Will Teddy Kennedy and George Miller come to rescue of the taxpayers and public school advocates--this time?

Is FEMA Now in Charge at ED?

It seems that waiting for relief from the corrupt incompetents is not just limited to poor people on roofs in New Orleans or in the small towns in Mississippi where guys are recruited to wear FEMA shirts and go around telling everyone that help is on the way. Maggie Spellings' hush on the question of testing for the displaced and traumatized thousands of school children is just another example of the arrogant, uncaring malfeasance that exudes from every operation run by Bush Co.

The Detroit Free Press reports today that the Michigan Department of Education has taken it upon themselves to show as much humanity as Federal law allows by waiving requirements for displaced Katrina victims to take state social studies and science tests this year. As for the math and reading, well, go ask Maggie and her lawyers, who represent the Party for decentralization of government power to the states, right?

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Request for Help

Before coming to New Jersey, I taught at Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, where I had the pleasure of teaching a student whose email to me yesterday you see below. If you have suggestions or avenues of help for this student who so wants to help these children who have been left behind, let me know and I will pass on your ideas. (At least in the days before Brown, black students got the discarded books from the white schools. Now it seems some kids in poor schools don't get any).
I hope you are doing well. I'm still plodding along at una in
grad school. I'm getting close to student teaching, though.

I'm writing you because I need some advice. I think I told
you, but I know you have a lot to remember, I feel called
to teach in an inner-city school. I've been taking every
opportunity I can in classes to do projects that will be useful
to me once I am there. I've been studying a lot about race
and how white teachers further alienate minority students.
I am terribly conscious of this, and I'm taking every
opportunity to figure out how to NOT be like this. I'm
beginning to see this more and more everyday just by
listening to white teachers who are so narrow-minded in
their thinking and teaching. Anyway, I have a professor,
who I might add reminds me a lot of you, who is requiring
us to observe in the schools. I thought it would be
particularly useful for me to observe in a predominantly
black school in the county in which I grew up. While you
were in Huntsville did you hear of (name withheld)
in Lawrence County?

That is where I observed today.
I left in tears. The teacher I sat in with told me that
the 8th graders did not have enough books in order for them
to take them home, and the 10th graders didn't have any.
I asked her why, and she said that the board of ed told her
they couldn't do anything else for them. She very frankly
told me that they didn't seem to care about the black children.
I asked her what I could do. She told me that if I wanted
to say something to someone to be her guest and use her name
if I wanted to. This really concerns and upsets me. It's
2005 for crying out loud!!!!! What should I do? My mom told
me to call the candidate for superintendent who lost and
talk to him because he really liked stirring things up.
I know I'm meant to do something with this information. I
completely believe in fate. I'm going back out to help this
teacher tomorrow. The school recently merged and became
(name withheld), and so they had to create a new
library for the high school. The district began the bookshelves
but didn't finish them.!

She says she has thousands of books with no where to put them.
Are there any organizations I could write a grant proposal
to in order to help? I need a starting point, and I knew you
could help me.

Thanks so much, Dr. Horn. I have never forgotten how much you
inspired me or the impact you had on shaping how I believe.
My beliefs were always there, but you helped bring them out,
shape them, and you gave me the courage to speak out about
them.