Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ominous Censorship and NCLB

A week or so ago I came across a story in School Matters that simply reinforced all of my suspicions about the near absence of No Child Left Behind discussion from any quarter. It is as if the entire country is participateing in a "don't ask, don't tell" conspiracy. Taken at face value, nothing about NCLB is appealing except it's loud, Homerish platitudes.

Our link, takes us to Patricia Polacco's website. She's a children's book author who finds herself uninvited to certain industry events because she might discuss her misgivings about NCLB.

In Bush's tidy, totalitarian democracy any opinion that conflicts with his dogma is one opinion too many. From that webpage here's a sample of her own Kafkaesque experiences:

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 'insistent'...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 say, 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 many 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

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