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Speaker: Gayle, as we discussed our experience, we found we could complete each other's
Ms. Cloud: We have to quit hanging out like this. It is so interesting that such
a diverse group of people have become such good friends, and that is what the education
community needs to take a lesson from. We are a diverse lot, but focused on academics,
and because we are focusing on academics, we are making a difference.
First and foremost. I am a parent. I am a parent of six. So everything that's been
said here has somehow affected me one way or another. My oldest son is in medical
school. It is true what they said yesterday. He is a science major. Most of the people
in his field are foreign born nationals. He is a minority, white male. He is a late
bloomer and missed the lousy curricula his brothers and sisters got. My daughter
is finishing at a community college. -- My twins are of the fuzzy teaching CLAS test
kind. These are my kids who are unfocused -- having a lot of fun but totally academically
unfocused. I have a daughter in middle school and one in third grade. So not only
am I a professional parent but I've become a professional driver as well.
As a parent, like everyone else here, I've become an education reformer because it
has affected my children. The mama bear syndrome; whatever touches your kids, you
get excited about. I wish more parents would get excited. We are active in real reform
here in California- - not the reform coming from Washington, DC. We have heard a
lot of talk about reform. There are two kinds, the real reform based on academics
and the faux reform based on someone's pet theory. Parents should never be discounted
in this struggle to maintain academic standards. We have the biggest investment and
the smallest voice and they don't pay too much attention to us. I want to let everyone
know that schools are partners with me. I am the parent. And anything they do needs
to have my approval.
I have a teaching credential so I support teachers, as well. I support sound teaching.
My story is not unlike everybody else's story. We have the principal who told us
that calculators were wonderful and we didn't need to learn algorithms. We had the
administrators who said our concerns were misplaced and that they were the experts
and didn't need to hear from us. You name it, we've heard it. So I want to go on
from there to talk about standards. As my husband quipped, standards must remain
high standards or they are only guidelines. We are raising our children with standards
of behavior and achievement. I didn't realize how important it was to have academic
standards until the battle I'm in now took place.
It is important to have standards. Sure, not everybody will meet them. My kids don't
meet my standards of behavior every day either. But it is important to have standards
and for everyone to know what they are. Students have paid the price for our folly
which is unfortunate because as everybody said, education is the way out of the ghetto,
the way to have a better life. Nancy Ichinaga and some principals understand that.
Unfortunately too many don't.
Standards for text books must remain high. I love pictures and activities, but you
know I love text. I just do. I guess I'm an anachronism these days. Knowledge is
power. And I think our young children know that. They love to learn big words and
to know how things work. As Marion said yesterday, students have no shelf life and
we have spent too long dabbling in fads which have left kids with diminished opportunities.
Today in this place anyway, we understand what the "duh" factor is. Duh,
we know what works, let's do it. We need to hurry or we'll be two generations away
from a sound knowledge base. Public agenda polls consistently reveal the fact that
parents want sound education. It's the college education professors who favor the
I want to reiterate how important California standards are because these are the
kind we have in Oregon: A student will demonstrate his ability making decisions and
solving problems. What??? It's only as I look at other states' standards that I see
how stellar our own are. I'm grateful for the effort expended on our children from
the professors here today. Unfortunately most of those here today are not the run
of the mill professors. And I want to say there is something wrong with a system
that began with such a noble purpose in giving Americans the chance to be educated,
to have declined to the point that money and politics, rather than children and academic
This thought world, I like your term Dr. Hirsch, is a good term for those who do
not live in the real world where honesty is tested. It is dishonest to pretend students
are learning to read when they are not and to prepare them for the real world by
making them calculator dependent. It is dishonest to test on feelings and call it
critical thinking and to want parent participation and not let them participate in
real terms. It is dishonest to expect poor minority children to perform less well
than other kids and use that as an excuse. It's dishonest to sell a program to teachers
and parents without giving them informed consent and to tell students not to cheat
and place study hints on the wall in preparation for the star test -- which is happening.
We've been attempting to remake a child rather than enabling him to make truly educated
choices. And all this dishonesty is going on in public education today. As discouraging
as that is, I'm hopeful because I read Hirsch and Stotsky and talked to many here
today. And I have met teachers who belie this trend. Those are many of the teachers
my kids have had and I've been able to maneuver them through the system to access
I want my children to have a love of knowledge. It's exciting to have a passionate
teacher. In fact, it is a passionate teacher that turned my child on to biology --
not integrated science, mind you, but biology. That's one of the reasons he is in
med school today. Parents can make a difference. There's many of us here today who
are making a difference. Whether we can make a difference in our district might be
negotiable. But we can make a difference at the state level. We can write op ed pieces.
We can speak publicly. We can tell the truth. In this three steps forward two steps
back battle, I sometimes feel hopeful and sometimes I don't, but I continue on because
it is the right thing to do.
Our standards must remain high unlike those of other states who have succumbed to
the false, self-esteem riddled standards which rely more on demonstrating and describing
subjects rather than knowing them. I wish more teachers and parents were aware of
the dangers lurking in the public school classroom: The bent toward profiling students
with the tools of technology, the lack of scientific evidence undergirding much pedagogy,
the lack of teacher preparedness especially with the reduced class size fervor. I
wish there were more fixes. But, then, that's the purpose of conferences like this
--to propose the fixes and to take a thoughtful look at the problems and try not
to let another generation of students be academically devastated. Like so many students
already have. Thank you.
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