Tuesday, May 09, 2006

People Speak Out About the Patricia Polacco Outrage

We wrote about this earlier. Here is a powerful letter from O'Hanian's website:

excerpted from Patricia Polacco's statement:
You can imagine my astonishment when I finally called this firm and learned that this was not the reason. They requested my written outline because their 'client' wanted to make sure that I would not discuss my deep concern about NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND MANDATE...as well as my concern that there is a link between this mandate and the SRA/McGraw Hill Company who manufactures, prints, and profits from the sale of these tests to school systems all over our country.
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Virginia Parent: When I got to this part, I let out a loud audible GASP.

I have a story about Patricia Polacco. Like millions of children around the country, my daughter was mesmerized by all her stories. Especially The Keeping Quilt And Mrs. Katz and Tusch. (Forgive me, we love her, but my daughter is fourteen and it's been years since I've read these books and the hour is late and my memory weak, but I'm still sure I got those titles right since we read them over and over and over). We loved those books especially because of their Jewish content. There was another about the Oakland fires that really resonated with my five year old. Patricia Polacco was one of our favorites.

Therefore, when we discovered she was speaking at the Corcoran in Washington, imagine our delight! We jumped at the chance. Sarah was already in sixth grade but we went anyway. We are passionate about books in this household, they are everywhere so that it is dangerous to attempt a middle-of-the-night bathroom run for fear of tripping all over then. We have always loved this author because she helped instill that passion in our child. The day at the Corcoran was actually a book illustrators event, but Polacco was featured (perhaps because she illustrates her own books?)

Early in her talk, she began decrying No Child Left Behind. She talked of how this was sapping children's creativity, destroying their love of reading but most importantly how art and music were being scrapped in favor of more test prep. She was unrelenting, unforgiving, she minced no words. I was so overcome, I had tears in my eyes. When she finished, I started applauding. Immediately my eleven-year-old daughter and husband joined me. The rest of the audience sat there in silence. But then they picked up the pace. The clapping became louder and more insistent. All that lacked was that we didn't stand up and give Ms. Polacco a standing ovation.

My daughter learned a valuable lesson that day. You stand up for what you believe in, you fight for what is right, even when you are swimming against the tide.

Judith Fogel
Fairfax, Virginia

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1 comment:

SRA/McGraw-Hill said...

SRA/McGraw-Hill welcomes the opportunity to present the facts about Patricia Polacco's scheduled appearances in SRA's exhibit booth at IRA on May 2 and 3, 2006.

SRA/McGraw-Hill and Ms. Polacco signed a very clear contract, which can be viewed at http://www.sraonline.com/index.php/home/statement/2094.

In the contract, signed by SRA on Jan. 10, 2006, and by Ms. Polacco on Feb. 8, 2006, Ms. Polacco agreed to be an SRA/McGraw-Hill exhibit booth speaker at four 30-minute presentations on two very specific topics: heroes who made a difference in her life and the real stories that inspired several of her books. In the two-page contract, SRA/McGraw-Hill was identified by name 14 times. She further agreed that her appearances at the SRA exhibit booth would be limited solely to these four presentations.

Ms. Polacco chose not to honor her commitment to SRA/McGraw-Hill. Shortly before the event, she began insisting that she wanted to use her appearances as a platform for expressing her personal views on public education policy. We respect her right to express her ideas; however, since the SRA educational presentations were focused on writing and children's books, SRA did not believe that its exhibit booth was an appropriate forum for a public policy speech. Ms. Polacco's statements about this event are inaccurate and unreasonable.

SRA's intention was to have Ms. Polacco deliver four presentations that would inspire the people who have the greatest impact on educating our children – classroom teachers.