Friday, April 25, 2008

April 27th Installment of Forward Forum

This week's primary focus is on issues of educational equity, and we'll be telling the inspiring tale of a Chicago inner city school where fifth grade students showed enormous creativity in improving educational conditions at their elementary school. Education programs based less on arbitrary testing requirements--and more on cultivating the full potential of our young people--on this week's Forward Forum.

We'll also be previewing this week's "True Cost of the Iraq War" event, upcoming on Friday, May 2nd, beginning at 4 pm on the UW-Madison's Library Mall. $ 309.6 MILLION is what Madison taxpayers have spent on the Iraq War since 2003, while Wisconsin taxpayers statewide have paid $ 8.3 BILLION. That money could have provided healthcare for 238,255 Children; added 5,400 Elementary teachers, provided 46,028 College scholarships; or added 6,930 City Police/Firemen. Among the principal organizers of this event is Forward Forum co-host Harry Waisbren; host John Quinlan will also be serving as an MC. For more info, go to our new blog at , and click on "True Cost of War Iraq Events," and "What is the Iraq/Recession Campaign?" under "Blog Archive," at lower left.

Our guest at 7pm is Chicago-based educator, Brian Schultz, author of "Spectacular Things Happen Along the Way: Lessons from an Urban Classroom." (See It's a moving tribute to what determined teachers can do to provide their students with real opportunities to use their innate creativity to improve the climate and other basic conditions of their educational environment. During the course of a remarkable year, Schultz's class of predominantly African-American fifth graders set off on a mission to repair and remedy the decay of their school, Carr Community Academy, which lies in the shadows of Chicago's distressed public housing complex, Cabrini Green. In the process, they successfully engaged with public officials at all levels of government, and made front page news in a series of articles originally appearing in the Chicago Tribune, and later, in various newsmedia nationwide.

While Schultz offered a framework for hope and creative action, the inspiring part of this story is how a remarkable group of pre-teenage young people stepped forward to meet these challenges, in a way that defies every negative stereotype out there about our nation's poor and minority youth. These young people were creative, resilient, strategic, and committed in ways that would put most adults to shame--constantly surprising their teacher and a growing group of supporters at every turn. Although their ultimate dream of building a new school was never realized, the sum total of small victories achieved along the way, and the life lessons each child took deep within them, had a value beyond measure.

Also joining us throughout the two hours is Forward Forum contributing editor Todd Price, who is a professor at National-Louis University in Chicago, and a graduate of the UW-Madison's doctoral program in curriculum and instruction. As he has periodically throughout the last two years, Todd will update us on recent developments in the fight to turn back the detrimental effects of the ironically-named "No Child Left Behind" legislation. Price and Schultz are colleagues.

Consumer Advocate Ralph Nader, one of many national and local figures the students contacted who later joined in collaboration with the students at Carr Academy, says it well: "Carr Community Academy is a crumbling elementary school in Chicago next to one of the larges and most perilous public housing projects--Cabrini Green. It also is the location of one of the most spectacular fifth-grade classes in the country."

Educational Equity Expert Jeannie Oakes of UCLA writes: "An amazing tale of incredible fifth-grade citizen activists that reveals what education in America's inner cities could and should be."
Author Jonathan Kozol writes: "Once I began reading, I couldn't put it down. The power here is in the details. It's a marvelous, important book and is badly needed at a moment when the values it upholds are under an unrelenting assault from forces of reactionary ignorance."

We are also still actively assembling a panel of educators, and are hoping to provide an update on the Madison-based African-American Pedagogy project, which has a goal of increasing achievement here for minority youth--in a city, county, and state that rank near the bottom in national rankings of graduation rates for minority students. We also hope to be joined by phone by Dr. Charles Waisbren, who will report on efforts to support an increase in minority student achievement in the Milwaukee schools. (Look for an update on this panel, later in the weekend, and on the Forward Forum website at on the day of the show.)

Moving beyond testing--on a playing field that is far from level for all too many, identifying creative methods of making education accessible to all students, on this week's Forward Forum.

Please join in our conversation by calling 321-1670, *123 tollfree for US Cellular users, and 1-877-867-1670 toll free from outside the Madison area. Our show streams live online at . You can provide your feedback about this week's show on our new blog at Or contact John Quinlan with your ideas for future shows at 608-213-8409 or by writing to Show website: .

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