[Susan notes: This letter to Charlie Rose was written after
Rose gave Secretary of Arne Duncan a free ride on
his television show]
Submitted to Charlie Rose PBS TV Show but not published
Dear Mr. Rose,
Our president, Mr. Obama, has chosen to abandon
his policy for open dialogue of ideas when
creating his stance on the NCLB. It seems that
full discussion of issues only pertains to issues
of national importance such as the economy and
health care. The President does not seem to
understand that the process for gaining input in
one area - if things are to be truly different
for us than previous administrations - needs to
apply to all social systems/institutions. Yes,
the economy is vitally important especially in
light of the fact that jobs we are 'educating'
our children for have yet to be created.
It seems that the education his children are
receiving at Sidwell Friends School and that the
president received in Hawaii is to be limited to
the privileged few rather than the general
public. It seems that the one issue he said
needed to undergo reformation is the one area
that he is not seeking input from those in the
trenches - the teachers, the parents, and the
In my work at a community college I see every day
the effects of a public education that prepares
different students in vastly different ways. It
does not seem fair, just, or equitable if only
part of the population gets the education they
need and deserve. Of course every 4-8 years
education policy typically gets an overhaul
except now. Teachers have been strangely silent
during the Bush years of NCLB. As our students
last line of defense and as experts on how people
learn, curriculum development, and how to teach,
most of us are tired of being silent and removed
from the conversation. Part of this is our own
fault but part of it isn't.
You asked very good questions but I didn't hear
any about why in the world we should compare our
education system to countries who don't education
all of their members: China and India. When this
type of comparison is done we need to be sure we
are comparing ourselves with a nation that
actually does education all its members. If
there aren't any then perhaps we are trying to
measure success in the wrong way.
That said, I haven't seen network news crews
going to teachers, parents, and students in poor-
urban areas or poor-rural areas to see what is
and isn't working. I haven't seen network news
asking questions of anyone other than elected or
appointed education officials, either.
One of the most important questions for the Obama
education plan and the Administration to answer
is the following and is of vital interest to all
involved is: How have merit increases worked in
the business sector? I don't see anyone asking
that question at all. I don't see anyone asking
why we remove funds from schools in poor sections
just to give to those in more affluent
neighborhoods. This plan of Mr. Obama's doesn't
When we use economic terms such as 'rebranding'
NCLB we do a great disservice to the students,
the parents, the teachers, and to the nation.
Why? Because it is not an economic system. When
NCLB was originally branded very well. It was
underfunded and took the stance that there is
only one way to become educated and that only one
way was going to get funded. It stated that
students had to be on the same level of
experience when entering school as everyone else.
How is that possible if students come from all
walks of life and life experiences?
The NCLB did not allow anyone to show other
perspectives in education and how they may work
better than their way. It served notice that
standardized tests measure knowledge and that
reading tests that used nonsense words measured a
child's comprehension (DIBELS). Doesn't our
democracy deserve better? Don't our children and
grandchildren deserve better?
Thank you for listening. I've attached a letter
that I faxed to Mr. Obama. Please help us in our
quest to teach our students - all our students.