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HITLER ENDORSED THE political tactic of the “Big Lie”: If you tell a lie, particularly a bizarre lie, long enough and often enough, people will begin to believe it. “School Reform Fight” (Loose Lips, 7/14) is dangerous enough in its misinformation to do just that.
Your first Big Lie, or super-disingenuous statement, is to use what Malcolm X called “tricky logic” by calling reformers “reform foes” and nonreformers “reformers.” You label my group, the Coalition in Defense of African-American Education, along with other groups, as those opposed to reformers. You then describe Parents United, D.C. Committee on Public Education, Carrie Thornhill, and the superintendent as reformers.
Yet my organization and many others have been advocating reform for the last year in a series of 10 forums, conferences, and presentations to council/school board meetings, including the Monday, July 10, council meeting which you covered. We have consistently endorsed three positions: super-literacy schools, anti-privatization, and African-centered education.
Your second disingenuous statement is that “[i]nstead of pushing for more rigorous educational stand ards, [George] Pope, his ally Thelmiah Lee Jr., and [Mary] Hoover are pushing DCPS to adopt an African-centered curriculum, a proposal that reformers see as a continuation of DCPS’s “dumbing down.’ ”
Once again, you use tricky logic by reversing the truth. Far from a dumbing-down process, you will find that African-centered education actually raises the scores of students in most cases (see Cannon, Times Tribune, 1992, for a description of an African-centered school where students test far above the other students when they transfer to public schools). My group also endorses super-literacy schools—schools with 30-year histories of excellence.
You also use the semantic trick of omission. In two sections of your article, you omit proven approaches to literacy, my group’s recommendation for reform. You omit the fact that we support, as recorded on videotape at the July 10 council meeting, super literacy, an alternative to privatization, BESST, and other unproven approaches to educational reform.
You also omit proven literacy approaches from the summit’s July 10 priority council recommendations, described by Linda McMillen, a spokesperson for the summit at that time. You correctly list the first three recommendations of the group: against privatization of public schools, against creation of independently operated charter schools, and against vouchers to send DCPS students to private schools—but omit the fourth!—support for mandating proven literacy approaches.
The Bell Curve mentality, or the belief in black genetic inferiority, is clearly operating here. One might inadvertently forget literacy once, but to inadvertently omit it twice is most improbable. Have you so completely adopted the belief that black children cannot learn that you consistently overlook proven literacy approaches as a solution?
Parents don’t. In survey after survey, they call for literacy as a primary solution to educational problems (see the Jet survey, 11/7/94). They know what real reform is.
Chairperson, Coalition in Defense of African-American Education, Meridian Hill