Of Laura Bush's visit to Chipman Middle School, Alameda
- -------- Original Message --------
Date: Sun, 01 May 2005 19:54:53
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:
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
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
"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@....