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An Open Letter To US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

NOTE: Gerald Bracey had just finished a column on this scandal when he died. He intended it for Huffington Post on Halloween. His wife told me he had boxes of documentation. Since he had planned to post it at Huffington on Halloween, I tried to post it on Huffington. They delayed and delayed. Finally I posted Jerry's column on my site, asking George Schmidt at Substance and Jim Horn at Schools Matter to post it simultaneously on their sites. Huffington sent me a nasty note. You can see all this, including Jerry's last column, here.

Both that piece and the Rational Math site where this Open Letter appears, have lots of links to documents.

And for a full account of this affair--with all the documentation, go to Peter M. Heimlich's The Sidebar. Heimlich has been on this story for years, trying to get the media interested.

For a link to latest news item on this unfolding affair, go here.

June 1, 2011

The Honorable Arne Duncan
US Secretary of Education
Department of Education Building
400 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202

Dear Mr. Duncan:

I'm a mathematics educator working in an urban public school district. On my blog, I'm reporting about the Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF), an Illinois nonprofit with which you were associated when you served as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). I'd greatly appreciate your answers to two brief, but serious questions.

You'll recall that SALF's charter was to provide in-class first aid training to students. According to an October 11, 2009 Chicago Tribune article, SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri claimed "2 million children took the classes, many of them from the Chicago Public Schools."

According to news reports, press releases, and other records, from 2003 through late 2006 you lent your support to Spizzirri's organization in various ways, including appearing as an animated cartoon character on SALF's website.

Subsequently, a November 2006 ABC7 I-Team story reported that SALF and Spizzirri engaged in a variety of serious misrepresentations. In that broadcast, you yourself raise doubts about SALF's claims. Since then, the organization has been the subject of dozens more media exposes including an October 11, 2010 article in The Hill reporting that SALF was under investigation by the Illinois Attorney General's Charitable Trust Bureau. An investigation by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also appears to be underway.

Here's why I'm writing. In response to a federal court subpoena and FOIA requests, the only records produced by CPS indicate that at best a few dozen students ever participated in SALF training classes. As result, Chicago Schools Inspector General James M. Sullivan has been asked to investigate what happened to approximately $62,000 CPS awarded to SALF, most of which was arranged by you. Records show that you contracted with Spizzirri to provide first-aid training for approximately 18,000 students from 2004-2006. You signed off on $49,000 in CPS funds and Ronald McDonald House Charities provided an additional $125,000, making a total of $174,000 paid to SALF for what appears to be a program that never happened.

Given the facts, do you think Inspector General Sullivan should proceed with an investigation? And would you co-operate with such an investigation?

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to receiving your answers.

Michael Paul Goldenberg

Justin Hamilton, Press Secretary
US Department of Education
Peter M. Heimlich, MedFraud.info

Here is response Mike received:

Dear Mr. Goldenberg:

Thank you for your e-mail to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. We appreciate hearing from you.
Your message has been forwarded to the appropriate staff member for review.

Thank you again for contacting us.


Edgar Mayes
Director of Correspondence and
Communications Control Unit
Office of the Secretary
U.S. Department of Education
Washington, DC 20202

— Michael Paul Goldenberg
Rational Mathematics Education blog





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