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5442Of Laura Bush's visit to Chipman Middle School, Alameda

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  • Hulda Nystrom
    May 1, 2005
      -------- Original Message --------
      Date: Sun, 01 May 2005 19:54:53
      To: LiteracyForAll@egroups.com
      From: Peter Farruggio <pfarr@...>
      Subject: [KPFAed] Chipman Middle School

      Just sent to the San Francisco Chronicle. See the article, below

      To the Editors:

      Re: your recent article about the success of the scripted reading program
      (REACH) at Chipman Middle School in Alameda:

      [19 words]

      It is unfortunate that the story on Chipman degenerated into a propaganda
      piece for the scripted REACH reading program. What should have been
      mentioned is the fact that Chipman has pioneered the "brain compatible"
      teaching model for more than seven years, long before they ever heard of
      REACH. During this time, the teachers addressed the social, emotional,
      academic needs of all of their students with engaging, hands-on teaching,
      much different from the scripted, "one-size-fits-all" approach promoted by
      the educational bureaucrats currently in power in Sacramento and
      Washington, D.C.

      Real educational research consistently tell us that no single curriculum
      or program works in isolation from the larger context of the school, and
      that any such program takes at least three years to show any evidence of
      its influence on students' learning. I suggest that you send a reporter
      back to Chipman to look more deeply at the profound, non-scripted
      reforms at work there for many years, instead of leaving your readership
      with the false impression that a didactic, "miracle" reading program is
      alone responsible for the students' improved learning.

      [179 words] TOTAL = 198 WORDS


      Pete Farruggio, PhD.
      Laura Bush gives teachers high marks
      Reading program at Chipman school singled out
      - Carla Marinucci, Chronicle Political Writer
      Friday, April 29, 2005

      Page B - 1

      First lady Laura Bush, visiting a model reading program at an Alameda
      middle school on Thursday, delivered an admiring message that California
      teachers say they are hungry to hear: They are "remarkable men and women
      ... who have made a difference" in the nation's battle to improve schools.

      Educators who heard Bush said her warm words of support contrasted
      with that of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been dogged by protests
      and opposition to his education proposals, and who has clashed bitterly
      with the Californian teachers union by dismissing its members as special
      interests who are trying to block his calls for reform.

      The first lady swept into Chipman Middle School in Alameda, which has been

      praised for developing effective reading and character education programs.

      Her stop at the school -- where 700-plus students speak 26 different
      languages, and about two-thirds are at the poverty level -- was part of a
      three-day West Coast swing to promote the $150 million program that is
      focused on at-risk youth and gang prevention and touted by President Bush
      in his 2005 State of the Union address. Earlier this week, she appeared on

      the "Tonight" show with Jay Leno and attended several Southern California
      events before her nearly two-hour Alameda stay.

      At Chipman, Bush, a former teacher and librarian, sat enthralled in the
      classroom of teacher Toni Marie D'Amore, 35, who worked on no-nonsense
      drills for an intensive reading program with her students. The first lady
      later met with educators in the school library for a roundtable discussion

      about encouraging innovations in the classroom; she also addressed an
      assembly of hundreds of school volunteers, parents, students and White
      House guests.

      "All of us are grateful for all that you do to help our sons and daughters

      succeed," she said to the faculty. "Here at Chipman, you're preparing
      students for a lifetime of success."

      Bush cited the achievements of students such as eighth-graders Jorge
      Garcia, Dominique Sashington and Tiffany Johnson, who have dramatically
      improved their classroom performance and reading skills, as examples of
      facing challenges with determination and courage.

      Dominique told Bush that, thanks to his improved reading abilities, he
      still hopes to play football in the National Football League, "but if that

      doesn't work out, I want to open a business."

      Throughout the stay, the popular first lady -- whose latest USA
      Today/CNN/Gallup poll approval ratings are near 80 percent -- never once
      mentioned California's Republican governor, who has seen his approval
      numbers dip below 50 percent. And while she touted several White House
      initiatives that she said were intended to improve students' futures --
      including a fall summit on education issues -- she didn't discuss more
      controversial classroom issues, such as the criticism that budget
      tightening and the administration's No Child Left Behind law have hurt the

      bottom line in some state classroom funding.

      Educators and students at the Alameda school said they were greatly
      encouraged by Bush's admiring recognition of their success in keeping
      challenged children engaged in learning and increasing test scores with
      innovative techniques. These include the development of a character
      education program, reading innovations and a reform called the "cycle of
      inquiry," which identifies students' problems and develops targeted
      instruction to "close the achievement gap" between some students of color
      and their white and Asian counterparts.

      "The value of this visit is that people who work hard are being
      acknowledged," school Principal Laurie McLachlan-Fry said to Bush at the
      close of the visit. "I can't thank you enough for that."

      D'Amore said the visit highlighted what teachers have long believed: that
      "our interests are for kids -- not any other special interests."

      D'Amore said the teachers at Chipman appreciated Bush's recognition that
      their school's diverse student body includes many immigrant and reading-
      challenged kids -- and yet that as a team, educators and kids alike have
      worked together to succeed.

      That's why the governor's call for merit pay, "combat pay" for teachers
      a change in tenure, she said, is not the answer.

      "We've made huge gains, but according to the governor, if he gives merit
      pay," teachers in inner city schools where challenges are the highest
      get paid the least," she said. "And that's not fair to my students."

      The governor and his aides, however, have said repeatedly that they are
      providing California's public schools with more money for the classrooms
      and their changes reward teachers who demonstrate that their students are

      But D'Amore said the governor should take a lesson from the first lady and

      "support the schools. We need his help. We want to help the kids. We don't

      want to be seen as enemies."

      E-mail Carla Marinucci at cmarinucci@....