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Web Letter

I really do wish East Coast people would stop thinking everything originates in New York City. Honestly. Educators have been reading P. Frier for years. Little Village has a Mexican-American population that has learned the Chicago way for creating local pressure to get the neighborhood what people want. Our Latinos here are predominately Mexican in origin and they are exercising their political clout very intelligently.

Once all the "experts" learn to talk to the seasoned teachers, they might learn something about educating the lower classes. I get so tired of these articles from on high written by people who never learn what the local people are struggling with, what their attitudes are, what their children have to cope with.

As a PhD from the working classes, I find so many "reporters" hopelessly out of it. Really, why don't such people take a few courses in learning how the lower classes live and think? Their idiotic attitudes color their perceptions. Working people are interested in decent-paying jobs; not all want to go to college; they are willing to finish high school... if the schools have anything to say to them other than "go to college."

And why do we live in this stupid atmosphere of teacher-bashing and college assertion? Is it a conservative way of dumping on the lower classes and assuring them that they are adequately inferior so that no one has to listen to them or be concerned about their welfare?

I grew up with the concept of "the common man." Where has that vanished? The common man/woman still exists and knows what their/his/her own welfare is. Who's listening to that?

Jay Fraser

Chicago, IL

Feb 23 2008 - 12:26am

Web Letter

"While difficult to quantify empirically because much of the work is new and geographically localized, the pedagogy has shown humble signs of success. One Philliber Research Associates study found that the reading ability of 1,598 children who attend CDF Freedom School programs in Kansas City 'significantly improved,' outdistancing similar students, irrespective of whether or not they attended summer enrichment programs."

Now that is about the vaguest endorsement one could possibly hope to see. For as long as the CDF has been around, there should be empirical data. Do those students now make up a statistically higher portion of today's leaders in industry, technology and academia?

I find social justice laudable, but suggest the author would have a problem with a community school in Scarsdale teaching students that increasing shareholder value is good for all Americans. That aside, we have to be realistic about what education can and cannot accomplish.

Students from dysfunctional communities-single parenthood, welfare dependency, violence and drugs--are much more likely to fail. Teachers will readily admit there is no magical transformation when a kid walks through the school door.

Also, we are all competing in a global economy. Not only are jobs being outsourced, tons of immigrants are arriving here from Third World countries and going into high strata positions. Many of these people come from poverty we don't even know in this country. Like it or not, they don't play by "social justice" rules. They show up early, desire to excel at what they do and have no problem with competiveness as long as they win.

My views may differ from the author's, but I suggest schools emphasize the following in order to help students become successful:

1. Learn how to dress, groom, speak and conduct yourself during a job interview.

2. Show up to work. On time!

3. Stay busy. People who decide on promotions will think you care enough about yourself and the institution to actually make a contribution.

Again, I say social justice is certainly a desirable trait. It is, however, necessary that we not end up with any more relational underachievers.

Robert Stephens

Flagstaff, AZ

Feb 10 2008 - 9:47am

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