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Topic: A note from Mendieta
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
A note from Mendieta
Posted: Mar 7, 2000 10:48 AM
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Regarding the LAUSD (Los Angeles Union School District situation).
Note: From Guillermo Mendieta <> , March 7, 2000.

Hi - the last two weeks have been unbelievable. So much is going on, as
Ortega & Gasset said, "Life is firing itself at point blank at me." All of
you on this list are on the same team, so don't worry about being on this
list - we have other things to worry about. I am writing all of you, as a
team of great minds. I am not crazy about the idea of not eating for a long
time, but there is no question that I will.

I see California as the nation's firewall against those who willingly or
unwillingly echo Woodrow Wilson's words: "We want one class of people to
earn a liberal education, and we want another class of people, a much
larger class, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education, and be fitted
to specific manual tasks."

I like to think I have a plan, that while I am taking decisive action, all
actions have been previously carefully thought-out, hopefully with
conversations with several great thinkers and developers of ideas such as
you. The truth is, due to the speed of things, the mounting needs, etc. I
find myself taking action based on instincts and based on what I have learn
from people like you.

If as professors, you have the opportunity to assign graduate student
projects, for the long term strategy, that is, statewide and national
policy issues, it would be very helpful to have dedicated and committed
graduate students researching/documenting various issues through a
coordinated effort.

The article that Bill and Jerry have written has provided with a very good
foundation that describes the historical chain of events that lead us here.
It needs to be distributed all over the place, all over.
We also need to prepare/educate the general public, even many teachers and
administrators. But it needs to be easier to read, much easier. Any

I can think of 20 questions/research projects for graduate students that
could be very helpful for all us who are struggling to make teaching and
learning more meaningful and more humane. Today I decided to name the
coalition we are forming The Coalition for Meaningful Teaching and
Learning. Perhaps you would like to be its first advisors?

The traditionalists, the back to basics, back to emphasizing norm
referenced- Standardized testing - drill and drill - bunches of unconnected
facts - segregating - Discriminating - filtering - boring - meaningless -
fragmented - elitist and mostly conservative movement that has been
sweeping the country had all but celebrated their victory (just so we are
clear on where I stand). Given their organization, connections and clever
marketing techniques, I fear that in the long we will fail, unless we get
truly organized.

I have always been a critic and a friend of mathematics reform ideas. Lots
of bad things have been done in the name of reform. If we do win this one,
the really hard part is to help shape a coherent, systematic, meaningful
and well-grounded intervention, so that the many; many serious weakness of
implementation (of reform ideals) get effectively addressed.

Please let me know what you think, I may be totally off base here, if so,
let me know, I am big boy, I can take it!


Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office)
(618) 457-8903 (home)


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