Wrightslaw l No Child Left Behind l IDEA 2004 l Fetaweb l Yellow Pages for Kids l Harbor House Law Press

 Home > FAQs > Are Pete and Pam Wright the Enemies of Public Schools?


The Special Ed Advocate
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

 

2014 - 2015 Training Programs

Oct 25 - Olympia, WA

Oct 30 - Phoenix, AZ

Nov. 1 - Grand Rapids, MI

Nov 6 - McAllen, TX

Nov 18 - DesMoines, IA

Nov 21 - Temecula, CA

Dec 4 - OKC, OK

Full Schedule

Be a Hero ...

 Jason at Ft. Benning
... to a Hero
Learn more

Wrightslaw

Home
Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Consultations
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room
FAQs
Sitemap

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Books & DVDs
Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
New! Military Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Articles
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
FAQs
Newsletter Archives
Summer School Series
Success Stories
Tips

Law Library

Articles
Caselaw
IDEA 2004
No Child Left Behind
McKinney-Vento Homeless
FERPA
Section 504
Fed Court Complaints

Topics

Advocacy
ADD/ADHD
Allergy/Anaphylaxis
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
Bullying
College/Continuing Ed
Damages
Discrimination
Due Process
Early Intervention (Part C)
Eligibility
ESY
Evaluations
FAPE
Flyers
Future Planning
Harassment
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
IEPs
ISEA
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE/Inclusion
Mediation
Military / DOD
No Child Left Behind
NCLB Directories
NCLB Law & Regs
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Reading
Related Services
Research Based Instruction
Response to Intervention (RTI)
Restraints/Abuse
Retention
Retaliation
School Report Cards
Section 504
Self-Advocacy
Teachers & Principals
Transition
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
Directories
  Disability Groups
  International
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
Glossaries
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites

 

Print this page

Are Pete and Pam Wright the Enemies of Public Schools?

Joe writes, "Why are you telling parents how to use No Child Left Behind to fight public schools? Are you against public schools? Do you think people should place their children in private schools or teach them at home?"

It's time to tackle the idea that Pete and Pam Wright are the enemies of public schools.

Yes, we are frustrated about the education most children in public schools receive. Look at these statistics from the U. S. Department of Education:

  • Only 31 percent of 4th graders are proficient in reading
  • Only 17 percent of 12th graders are proficient in math
  • Only 18 percent of 12th graders are proficient in science
  • Only 11 percent of 12th graders are proficient in history
  • U. S. 8th graders rank below Bulgaria and Latvia in science

Sources: U. S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics

If you are like most people, these statistics will surprise you. Pam finds these statistics frightening.

Learn how U. S. students rank when compared to students from other countries:

Trends in International Math & Science Study

2001 International Comparison of 4th graders

Get more information about student achievement in reading, writing, spelling, arithetic, history and science from the National Center for Education Statistics and The Nations Report Card at http://www.nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/nclb.asp

From Pam

Before I respond, I'd like to tell you a story.

In 1897, my grandmother left her family's comfortable farm in Iowa, and traveled by train and stagecoach to Miles City, Montana to teach school. She rode a pony to the one-room schoolhouse, and stoked a fire in the pot-bellied stove to keep her students warm during the long winter days.

Grandmother's students were the children of Scandinavian immigrants and Native American children from the nearby Redbud Indian Reservation. Most of her students were not fluent in English. Yet she taught her students to read, write, spell, and do arithmetic - in English.

My mother taught English and History to middle school students until she retired. My sister is a Kindergarten teacher. Many of her young students are recent immigrants who do not speak English. Perhaps my sister is following in Grandmother's footsteps.

I have high expectations for teachers. I believe my grandmother would be shocked to learn that 69 percent of children are not proficient readers in 2003.

I believe schools should teach all students to read. I believe teachers should have high expectations for all students - including poor students, minority students, English language learners, and children with disabilities.

I believe teachers should stop complaining that testing interferes with teaching and learning.

I am relieved that my doctor does not believe that testing interferes with his ability to practice medicine. (Recent xrays showed that my bone graft is beginning to mend.)

From Pete

NCLB was enacted because most children who attend public schools cannot read at grade level and because there is little accountability in public schools.

Children are not being taught to read, write, and do arithmetic because many public school staff have low expectations for their students, many public school educators do not have the necessary training and skills, and because many school districts do not use reading programs that are effective and research-based.

In my experience, most teachers at private schools have higher expectations for their students. I have seen thousands of children with disabilities learn to read and thrive in private schools after these same students failed to learn in public schools.

I am one of these students.

I attended Washington D.C. public schools for twelve years, from Kindergarten through 11th grade. I learned about low expections when my teachers advised my parents to lower their expectations because I was was not college material.

By the end of 11th grade, I had a D+ average and virtually no chance of being accepted by any college.

My parents withdrew me from public school and sent me to Moses Brown, a small Quaker school in Rhode Island where I repeated 11th grade. Two years later, I graduated from Moses Brown.

Apparently I was college material after all. I graduated from Randolph Macon College and earned a law degree from T. C. Williams Law School at the University of Richmond.

The Power of Low Expectations

Rod Paige, Secretary of Education, talked about the deadly power of low expectations in a recent speech to the Commonwealth Club of California. He said,

Changing the law is just the start of reform. To produce great schools worthy of a great nation, we must also change our hearts and our minds. We must let go of the myths and perceptions about who can learn and who can't.

Low expectations can take many forms.

It may be as explicit as buying into the stereotype that some people just are not as intelligent, so why bother?

It may take the shape of a misguided sense of compassion that says it's kinder not to give some children difficult material because they will get discouraged and give up.

It may even come from the simple fact that the teacher--also the victim of low expectations and poor preparation--has no idea how to fix the problem.

But explicit or implicit, intentional or not, the effect is the same.

Our Message

We think parents are responsible for ensuring that their children are educated and that parents cannot leave this job to others.

To help parents, teachers and child advocates, we filled the Wrightslaw and Fetaweb sites with hundreds of articles, with free access to all. We publish The Special Ed Advocate, a free electronic newsletter.

We write books about advocacy. We do legal and advocacy training programs around the country.

Are we enemies of public schools because we expect schools to teach all children to read?

Are we enemies of public schools because we expect schools to use research-based educational programs and methods?

Are we enemies of public schools because we want teachers to have high expectations for all students? Or because we want teachers to be better trained?

We don't think so - what do you think?

About Pete & Pam Wright

Paradise at end of the road - Champion of special-ed children still doing good while having fun. After visiting Pete and Pam, Bill Lohmann of The Richmond Times-Dispatch writes of "a fast-talking, hyperactive, former football player with a photographic memory and a passion for his work" who "fights for children and sails for himself," a man "who struggled through school, like the kids he helps, with learning disabilities," a man who lives in "a slice of paradise" with his wife, Pam. (August 3, 2003)

Championing Children for Whom Reading and Learning Are Difficult. Brent Staples of the New York Times asked, "Why is Pete Wright a warrior for children?" Mr. Staples found that "People who get help after suffering humiliation in school often grow up to be champions of children who remind them of their younger selves. This is what happened to Mr. Wright." (June 26, 2003)

About Us - Bios, photos, maps

Last revised: 04/28/10

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!

 

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video

 

Copyright 1998-2014, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved.

Contact Us | Press Mission l Our Awards l Privacy Policy l Disclaimer l Site Map

 

What's New!

Now Shipping!

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Check it out!

Wrightslaw Store

The Advocate's Store

Get Help!

Blog the Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw on Facebook

Find us on Facebook

Wrightslaw Books

Student Discounts

Military Discounts


Wrightslaw: All About IEPs

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book
To Order


About the Book

To Order


Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

About the DVD Video
To Order


To Order


Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw Multimedia Training


Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Understanding Your Child's Test Scores

Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $
24.95
Wrightslaw Special: $14.95

Special Education Law & Advocacy Training
(6.5 hrs)


Wrightslaw WebEx Special Education Law & Training Program (6.5 hrs)


Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $99.95
Wrightslaw Special: $49.95