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[Susan notes: This is a great letter. Gloria establishes a personal connection with the recipient, establishes her own moral/intellectual authority, explains why she's sending the book, and entreats the politico to go forth and do the right thing. Who could ask for anything more?]

Submitted to but not published

Dear Representative Keller,

A few years ago you and I shared the honor of speaking at a National Louis University commencement in St. Petersburg. You spoke eloquently about growing up with a single mother who made great sacrifices to provide for you and your education. The graduating class, which included many teachers, responded warmly to your story. As the granddaughter of sharecroppers in rural northwest Florida, I identified with your family’s challenges.

My topic that evening, as I received an honorary doctor of humanities degree from NLU, was the harms that have been inflicted on the children of Florida as a result of NCLB and the FCAT. I also honored the courageous Florida teachers and administrators who have spoken out against narrow, test-driven, punitive measures that have turned our public schools into giant test-prep factories that shame and stigmatize our most vulnerable children, schools, families, and neighborhoods.

I'm writing now to share a powerful little book by my friend Susan Ohanian, titled When Childhood Collides with NCLB. Susan juxtaposes (and meticulously documents) news stories and other factual accounts of NCLB with her own haunting poetry to produce what the publisher characterized as "an owner's manual of caring and compassion." I hope you will read it with an open heart and carry its messages with you as Congress revisits NCLB.

The author is the President of FCAR,

Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform, Inc.

Gloria Pipkin

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