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General News    H3'ed 9/20/15

An Open Letter to the Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor of California

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Message Thomas Farrell
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Governor Jerry Brown
Governor Jerry Brown
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To: The Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor of California

Dear Governor Brown:

I recently published a 1,700-word op-ed piece online at with the title "SOS to American Politicians: Save Our Schools!" As a follow up to that piece, I am writing this open letter to you to urge you to undertake establishing a national showcase multi-year program in the schools in Oakland, California, where you ate one time served as mayor.

Now, as you may know, Pope Francis in his eco-encyclical criticizes what he refers to as the technocratic paradigm that dominates global capitalism today. In effect, the pope calls for a paradigm shift, even though he does not happen to use the expression "paradigm shift" (which, as you may know, is associated with Thomas Kuhn).

In my estimate, the technocratic paradigm prevails today in other arenas of discourse as well.

Please don't misunderstand me here. I am not, in principle, opposed to quantitative measures. For example, in my op-ed piece, I mention pre-tests and post-tests on standardized IQ tests.

However, when we turn our attention to testing in elementary and secondary schools, I am a bit wary of frequent testing.

In my judgment, the quantitative measures that should be monitored are the graduation rates and the dropout rates.

Now, in the fall of 1969, I was hired to teach writing in a national showcase program at the community college campus in the City of St. Louis. Over a period of ten years (1969-1979), I taught approximately 1,000 inner-city black youth in the City of St. Louis and in New York City (in 1975-1976).

The national showcase program in which I taught had the second highest per student cost on campus -- second only to the cost per student in the nursing program.

Joseph P. Cosand was the founding president of the community college district in the St. Louis area. He built the campus in the City of St. Louis, the two campuses in St. Louis County, and the administrative center in the City of St. Louis. (As you may know, Ferguson, Missouri, is in St. Louis County.)

When Cosand left St. Louis, he took a high-ranking position with the U.S. Department of Education.

Cosand and two other campus administrators (William Moore, Jr., and Richard C. Richardson, Jr.) did a lot to publicize that national showcase program. As a result, a steady flow of visitors visited the program. At the time, community colleges were opening across the U.S. at the rate of one a week. At that time, the community college district in St. Louis was considered to be one of the two top multi-campus districts in the country -- the other being Miami-Dade.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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