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An Editor in Search of Activism and Justice

Publication Date: 2015-04-05

I just came across this 14-year-old e-mail and was struck by these words of an editor trying to go against the status quo.

I responded to the compliments and to this editor's "sense of activism and justice"--and after he explained that the trade division is totally separate from McGraw-Hill testing and that my book could indeed criticize McGraw-Hill, I
did write a book: What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten?

Alas, it was ahead of its time: Parents weren't worried about outrageous testing in 2002. That said, the book is even more timely today. I'll say this for McGraw-Hill: They were great to work with and they've kept the book in print all these years.

Alas, the fellow who wrote the note below is no longer at McGraw-Hill and the current crop of publishers who don't absolutely embrace the standards seem to confuse whining about standards and testing with activism and justice, not to mention their tin ears for humor). My determination to employ a unique format for exposing the 'good guys' who are complicit in school deform does not sit well with business as usual.

Three rejections and counting.


Subj: Let's Fit More!
Date: 3/6/01
From: acquisitions editor
to: Susan Ohanian

Dear Susan:

I am an Acquisitions Editor in the Professional Book Group at McGraw-Hill. I'm not with SRA/McGraw-Hill or Glencoe but with the retail trade-oriented Professional Book Group.

I write you in the spirit of admiration and curiosity about your projects and writing on Standardized Testing. A few months ago, my group started publishing a series of trade-oriented books titled Get Ready for Standardized Tests. I saw the questions and thought they were so arbitrary I wondered if there was some fault in our author. On more investigation I found that our author was just fine (an expert in every way), it was just that the questions were, in fact, that arbitrary on the real tests. Then, through my own investigation, I started reading--finding my way to your articles and reviews. You confirm what I suspected.

Over the weekend I read One Size Fits Few. It is laugh out loud funny in places, and yet, it's the kind of laughing that goes straight to my sense of activism and justice.

So why do I write? Well, I would like to talk to you about our publishing program. I am seeking the most perceptive and challenging books in this area. And, in my experience, there are very few. I see a larger market for One Size Fits Few, and more publicity and marketing, and think a similar book could be a break away trade title that would reach more average (voting) parents.

Is it possible we could have a phone conversation about this soon?

Sincerely Yours,


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