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September 1, 1992
Vol. 50
No. 1

Letters

Don't Forget Principals

I was disappointed by the omission of a principal's point of view from ASCD's 1992 yearbook, Supervision in Transition. Author Carl Glickman indicates he wants to bring “fresh insight from the varying perspectives of theorists, researchers, and practitioners,” but then he represents everyone in our profession except the on-line principal!
As a principal of 19 years, I need to reflect on what's possible, and I need to know what building-level practitioners are thinking and doing. I hope in future publications you'll not forget principals and their leadership visions.
—Charles W. Crosby, Bridgewater-Raritan High School, Bridgewater Township, New Jersey

Response: Inadvertently Omitted Principals

I apologize for omitting the voice of the school principal in Supervision in Transition. I was so concerned about the omission of teachers' voices in publications about leadership that I wanted to make apparent the teacher's contribution in redefining supervision. Rest assured that in our own League of Professional Schools (60 schools involved in sustained educational renewal), the principals play a critical and proactive role.
—Carl Glickman, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia

Open Letter to Mom and Dad

A few months ago the National Association of Secondary School Principals released the results of a survey of high school juniors and seniors. The students graded their schools, teachers, and parents in terms of educational effectiveness. The results were staggering. The teachers received an A, the schools a B, and the parents received a D on an imaginary report card.
I don't expect many Dads lost their TV privileges (although that would be a step in the right direction) or that keys to the family sedan were swiped out of Mom's hands. But I do trust that the social conscience of our nation was pricked by the candor of these teens who gave us a new perspective on the plight of public education.
Mom and Dad, here's the message. We're counting on you to get involved.
—Steve D. Whitaker, Principal, Jupiter Christian High School, Hobe Sound, Florida

History of Oppression Must Be Told

Writers in your issue on multiculturalism (December 1991/January 1992) seem to agree that children need to understand the many contributions of all cultures. What Diane Ravitch and others do not state is the necessity of conveying long-suppressed information about how whites have oppressed other groups.
While Ravitch would now admit Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, and Cesar Chavez to a common curriculum, she does not mention exploring the racist and selfish economic interests that supported those who opposed them. Had there not been slavery, Douglass could have turned his considerable talents to other issues. Had a Ku Klux Klan not lynched innocent African Americans, Wells might have crusaded for women's rights, and had migrant workers not been exploited, Chavez might have been a mainstream politician.
The point is that the whole truth must be told about the forces that have made this nation and culture what they are today. The process of enslaving Africans is not often presented in depth. How did African slave-traders get caught up in this process? What was the role of Jews and Christians in this economic enterprise? What strategies did the slave masters use to keep African Americans enslaved, and how did this experience change them? How did slaves develop a culture of survival? (The slave narratives provide rich documentation.) Finally, how have the responses both of master and of slave defined contemporary culture, more so than the immigrant experience, which has been so widely studied?
Educators like Hilliard and Banks insist upon a truthful place for the African-American experience within the school curriculum. If we are ever to make an unum out of the pluribus we now have, it is equally important for white children to learn these truths.
—Mary Jenkins, English Department, A. Philip Randolph Campus High School, New York, New York

Separate Treatment Leads to Bloody Chaos

Cheers for your December-January issue (Whose Culture?). After four years of teaching in Africa, I suggest that groups demanding separate treatment for any sex, race, religion, or culture tour the U.N. refugee camps of Asia and Africa, or visit South Africa, Somalia, Northern Uganda, Kwanda, Northern Ireland, Israel, Lebanon, or any of the streets of our major cities where West Side Story continues to play.
We have been spared most of the bloody chaos of elitism. Let's keep it that way. Let's move our democracy into the classroom—preach it, teach it, model it, and practice it. Our Bill of Rights has guided us for 200 years. Commitment to human rights can show us the path to excellence for another 200 years.
—Lorri Lockwood, Big Sur, California

A Junior High Student Compares Systems

Recently I read “Japanese High Schools: Our New Cross-Town Rivals,” (March 1992). I studied in Japan for 10 years, and now have studied in America for 2 years. Both educational systems have fine qualities, but neither is perfect.
The educational system in Japan makes students study hard. School starts at 8:30 and ends at 4:30. Right after school is over, clubs start. They end at 6:30 and Juku (school that students attend voluntarily to prepare for examinations) begins. After Juku, students do homework. Some Japanese students study more than five hours each day, and on holidays, eight hours.
What makes Japanese students study so hard? Pressure from parents, friends, and test scores. Parents collect information on the best schools, no matter what their child's ability. American students have more free time and more flexibility to choose classes than Japanese do. American students study hard in school, but do not do much extra unassigned work. Americans have many classes each day, with three minutes' passing time. Japanese have 10-minute breaks between classes, but they have to clean up school and attend assemblies. This wastes much time.
I do not think that Americans or Japanese have an advantage at birth. Japanese do well on the tests because they study many hours. Americans choose their own classes and have more social life. If we share good points in each education program, it will be helpful. I believe that education and socialization are both important for the people who will support both countries in the future.
—Junpei Ishiguro, Irvington Junior High School, Irvington, New York

There Is No “We” in America

When a principal of a local Oregon school visits a Japanese high school, he should remember he does not go as an American representing “our” educational system (Larry Pettersen, March 1992). When it comes to schools, there is no “we” in the USA.
Unlike Japan, the United States does not have one national educational system. When American citizens compare the products and procedures of a centralized political and cultural economy with their own, they must first recognize that individual school systems set the standards here.
I enjoyed the article and know that the administrator from Tigard, Oregon, will seek to improve his school. But if he seeks to emulate Japanese institutions, he must do so as a local leader or a person with enough power to wring some money out of his state system. As far as education is concerned, we do not function as national citizens.
—Harry Stein, Board of Education, Ramapo Indian Hills, Regional High School District, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey

Focus on the Human Factor

I agree with Larry Pettersen and other contributors (Education for Employment, March 1992) about the importance of building collaborative attitudes and skills.
My recent book, The Human Factor, Maximising Team Efficiency through Collaborative Leadership, argues that unless top managers in the predominantly hierarchical, non-learning organizational cultures in the West are willing to change their underlying attitudes toward the value of people, their organizations will go under to the superior performance of the more collaborative, learning organizational cultures of the Japanese and Germans (and certain organizations in the United States and the United Kindgom).
—Susan Jones, Participative Management and Educational Training, Cheltenham, England

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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