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[Susan notes: This terrific letter delivers the goods. It states the problem, explains why the recipient is getting the book, and offers assistance and expertise. ]

Submitted to but not published

Dear Senator Allard:

Public education in our country has devolved since the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983 to a place where our children's scores are valued more than our children. The public perception is that achievement can be measured by a standardized test and reading skills can be determined by a child's ability to repeat, robot-like, nonsense syllables. In the wake of this furor, our teachers, gifted to bring out the best in our children, have become technocrats.

We can do so much better. Erudite authors such as Jonathan Kozol (The Shame of the Nation), David G. Berliner (The Manufactured Crisis and Collateral Damage) Alfie Kohn (The Case Against Standardized Testing, Raising the Scores and Ruining the Schools), and Susan Ohanian (One Size Fits Few and Why is Corporate America Bashing our Public Schools?) have examined in detail the harms of high stakes testing so inherent in the No Child Left Behind legislation.

The results are indisuptable. Our children are increasingly marginalized, and the over-emphasis of their scores on a grid has taken the place of developing co-operative, compassionate and thoughtful citizens so necessary for a healthy, democratic society.

Now comes Susan Ohanian with an artful new book, When Childhood Collides with NCLB, in which she brilliantly reflects the clash between human strivings and the heartless legislation of NCLB. I urge you to let the beauty of this wise book connect you to the original purpose of public education - to lead our children to discover their talents and interests so that they can enrich their lives and participate in the democratic process.

Call on our coalition for further information. We have access to scholars and practicioners with true expertise in education available to help initiate the renaissance so necessary for public education in the twenty-first century.


Don Perl, The Coalition for Better Education, Inc.

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