"Sometimes the thing we're taking about is not as important

as the thing we're not talking about." -- Herman Velarde

More to the problem than meets the eye

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WHEN THERE'S MORE TO THE PROBLEM

THAN MEETS THE EYE!

Generally, books about education are written by teachers, professors, school administrators, superintendents, psychologists, corporate CEOs and politicians. They usually call for more money, smaller class sizes, better pay for teachers, revised textbooks and improved facilities. Some champion charter schools, magnet schools or trade schools to yield the grades and careers they anticipate the future will demand. Many such programs are already in place, with mixed and often disappointing results. Could it be that they are all addressing the tip of the iceberg, when the problems our schools face are hidden in the depths of our overstressed society?

Herman Velarde's experience as a Los Angeles Unified School District guidance counselor and truant officer sent him into many ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods, district-wide. There he found parents who could not or would not encourage their children to strive for excellence in anticipation of rewards that had, hitherto, eluded their parents. He also met with affluent parents who had little or no time for their offspring and chose to pay them off with hefty allowances, in effect, rewarding them for staying out of the way, rather than for personal achievment. In these families, the social contract was undermined or abrogated in its entirety. Where gangs did not fill the gap, anarchy reigned.

It became clear to Mr. Velarde that without a comprehensivc understanding of, and commitment to, the basic principles embraced by the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, these marginalized students would remain outside the mainstream, forced to endure the humiliations, limitations, dangers and hardships imposed by their parents' neglect. HANDBOOK FOR AMERICA addresses these issue head on. Only when the psychology of the individuals, their families and neighborhoods changes, can the schools really improve and the opportunities promised in our Declaration of Independence be, once again, respected and available to all.

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