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[Susan notes: Great letter making effective use of specific outrages to buttress the larger point.]

Published in Sacramento Bee

To the editor

Re "Staying the course on state school reform," Op-Ed, Nov. 15: Richard Riordan and Ruth Green begin with an untruth - that until the late 1990s California schools did not have clear goals for student learning. The bureaucratic phrases of their agenda mask their intent to impose one-size-fits-all instruction.

"The state Board of Education's adopted academic content standards" were written by people who knew very little about children. In some cases they are wildly inappropriate, but Riordan and Green resist re-examining them.

"Board of Education-adopted materials" means only those instructional materials that pass an ideological test. "Support[ing] professional development for teachers on the adopted instructional materials" means so-called "reading coaches" tell teachers and students that they may not read any books except those purchased from the approved list.

Recently, an assistant superintendent in Oakland informed principals that teachers must use a scripted reading program 2 1/2 hours daily, with "no omissions, no supplements and no tweaking." A superintendent in Sacramento County has said that he wants to walk from classroom to classroom, hearing each teacher speaking the same words at the same time. This command-and-control approach to education can never lead to excellence.

Gerorge Sheridan

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