This letter from Patricia Polacco was forwarded to the JWKC listserv. Check it out. And forward it to everyone you can!
> Urgent Notice....
> To All Educators, Librarians, and Media Specialists
> Regarding the cancellation of my appearance at the IRA in Chicago for May
> 2 and 3, 2006
> A few months ago I was approached by The Buchanan Associates in Dublin, OH
> to appear at the International Reading Association Conference in Chicago
> on May 2 and 3, 2006. I was to be part of 5 events. Speeches, 'meet and
> greet' and book signings.
> I was happy to accept the invitation which, I assumed, was coming from the
> I.R.A. and my publisher. It is always such an honor for me to speak and
> interact with teachers and librarians from around the country.
> But, then, a very disturbing turn of events transpired. My staff started
> receiving phone calls and emails from this firm in Ohio requesting that I
> furnish them with a detailed written outline of what I intended to include
> in my speeches. I assumed, of course, that this was asked so that a
> synopsis of my content could be included in a printed brochure furnished
> to the conferees.
> 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.
> It was then that I closely reviewed all if the emails (I had not up until
> this time because I had been doing school visits and was not home until
> now) I then realized that the "client" that this firm referred to, but
> never names, was indeed, SRA/McGraw Hill! I also learned from the
> Officials of the IRA that SRA/McGraw Hill was indeed sponsoring the event
> that I had been invited to. I was shocked!
> This "firm" insisted that my speech be "upbeat, non-controversial, and
> non-political"...I countered with the fact that the plight of the American
> teacher is far from "upbeat" and they are caught in the vice grip of the
> most controversial and political LIE that has ever been perpetrated on the
> American teacher.
> I was also quite mystified as to why SRA/McGraw Hill would even select ME
> and invite me to be a part of their program knowing how strongly I feel
> about this entire situation.
> My speeches certainly do inspire teachers...I truly believe they are among
> the last hero's we have in our country...but I always mention the
> destructive path that is laying wasted to our schools and that is the No
> Child Left Behind Mandate!
> I did mention to them that I considered this broaching "censorship" and a
> violation of my freedom of speech.
> Finally, after receiving numerous emails from this 'firm' that got more
> and more 'insistences'...I finally sent them a written refusal to alter my
> speeches in any way, Certainly I can moderate their length, but I refused
> to alter the content. I made them aware if they truly had a problem with
> this, then they could "un-invite" me to be part of their event.
> Needless to sat, SRA/McGraw Hill cancelled my programs within the hour!
> My main concern here, is that I very much fear the conferee's will be led
> to believe that it is I who cancelled this event. The cancellation was the
> choice of SRA/McGraw Hill and was generated by a blatant attempt to CENSOR
> my remarks and the content of what I say to teachers. Which is a clear
> infringement of my constitutional right to freedom of speech. I pride
> myself on being an advocate for America's teachers as well as being one of
> the most reliable speakers at conferences in our country.
> My lawyers and I have set a formal request to SRA/McGraw Hill through
> their representative, The Buchanan Associates in Dublin, Ohio, to post the
> following signs outside of each venue at the conference where I am
> schedules to speak.
> "DUE TO PHILOSOPHICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SRA/McGRAW HILL AND PATRICIA
> POLACCO, SRA/McGRAW HILL
> HAS CHOSEN TO CANCEL ALL OF PATRICIA POLACCO'S APPEARANCES AT THIS EVENT"
> Call anyone you know that was either going to attend my events, or that
> did and were disappointed and tell them why this happened.
> I am very disturbed by this on may levels. It seems that we American's are
> losing, by leaps and bounds, our constitution "guaranteed" rights.
> I am insulted and very offended not only on my own behalf, but also
> because of these various organizations that seek to profit from the misery
> for our teachers and school children. Profits and money seem to matter
> much more that truly making changes to our educational systems that would
> truly help our children. I have to admit that I have a certain amount of
> pride in taking this stand on your behalf.
> Yours faithfully,
> Patricia Polacco
In my opinion, No Child Left Behind stinks.
Now I have to wait for the feds to show up at the door .... cripes.