Dear Mr. Jeffs:
This letter is an experiment in direct democracy, unfiltered by the corporate media. I read your letter yesterday's Times Sunday Magazine. I too would have written the same letter, if the only information I had was Richard Colvin's article. Unfortunately, that article was dangerously biased, and way off the mark. Our school is dedicated to academic rigor and democracy, and in the process, college success. This is a tall order for students who enter our school four or five grades behind. For them, the status quo is failure and death. How to get them to think critically, and then accept that they are capable of seeing themselves as agents of social change? We do that in a hundred, sometimes subtle ways, but mostly by respecting them as people with their own voices who, if they are to succeed, must understand that they are the critical stakeholders in their own education.
We raised our students' average English reading, writing and comprehension level by 2 1/2 grades in our first year of operation. We'll do even better this year. But I don't want you to take my word for this. You've already been burned once. Please come and visit this school and see what's really going on. Stay as long as you want and visit any classroom. This is a school that honors civics. It's an old fashioned notion, but apparently threatening to some. I guess Tom Paine was pretty threatening too, now that I think about it. I look forward to hearing from you.
Letter to the L.A. Times Magazine from Daniel B. Jeffs:
Re: L.A. Times Magazine Cover Story, "Ready, Writing and Revolution,"
October 5, 2003
Published in the L.A. Times Magazine - October 26, 2003
Students Need an Education, Not a Social Revolution
It was disturbing, but not surprising, to read about the Los Angeles Leadership Academy, the public-funded charter school that is teaching social justice revolution to middle-school students when most of them read at second-grade level and need remedial training.
Indeed, it is troubling enough that the education establishment left them functionally illiterate by replacing fundamental academics with the nonsense of political correctness, censored textbooks, historical reconstruction, social promotion and outcome based programs.
But playing social revolution and protest games with young minds is unconscionable.
Daniel B. Jeffs
Apple Valley, CA
Response to Mr. Lowenstein's letter:
December 19, 2003
Roger Lowenstein, founder
Los Angeles Leadership Academy
668 South Catalina Street
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Dear Mr. Lowenstein,
I apologize for the delay in responding to your thoughtful letter. I read your response to Richard Lee Colvin's article in the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Frankly, the reason I wrote the letter -- thinking the article was surprisingly unbiased -- was because the Los Angeles Times is known for being biased toward leftist ideology. Obviously, you are dedicated to your work and the Los Angeles Leadership Academy. If you have been able to raise your students' average English reading, writing and comprehension several grades in your first year of operation, you are to be commended.
However, I am still concerned about teaching immature students to overcome the status quo by being agents of social change. Particularly, at a time when they are being subjected to the confusing, often extreme, biological and hormonal changes of puberty. Indeed, there has been a troubling, undisciplined and eventual damaging trend of parents and teachers treating even younger children as adults. Of course, when they have matured, critical thinking is absolutely necessary for their future success. And, of course, I strongly believe that democracy is the means to overcome the status quo, directly.
To be fair, I would like to accept your invitation and visit the Academy.
Daniel B. Jeffs, founder
The Direct Democracy Center