Tireless Champion for Children: A Tribute to Howard Fuller
Posted on Tuesday December 14, 2010 | Wisconsin
“And how are the children?”
This question, a traditional greeting among Maasai warriors, appears on the directory outside the Institute for the Transformation of Learning that Howard Fuller founded in 1995. For staff and visitors to the Institute, where I have worked with Howard for the past 14 years, the question invites honest discussions and timely actions to address the daily reality of children living in poverty and attending inadequate schools.
The most [A] recent example of Howard’s timely work on behalf of children began this past March when the Journal-Sentinel reported shocking findings from the National Assessment of Educational Progress: Fourth and eighth graders in Milwaukee ranked last among their peers throughout the country for reading. Howard was distressed over these findings and the apparent lack of outrage by city and school leaders over the poor test results. Even though his schedule was packed, he made dozens of phone calls and convened meetings involving over 50 people to study the components of effective reading programs. This summer, due to Howard’s relentless preparation, coalition-building and fund-raising, 86 second and third graders from public and private schools were engaged in the Milwaukee Summer Reading Project.
This fall, director of “An Inconvenient Truth” Davis Guggenheim features Howard in the nationally-distributed documentary “Waiting for Superman”. The highly controversial documentary posits that public education increasingly protects its teachers as the expense of students. At one point, Howard describes the “dance of the lemons”, an annual process of reassigning ineffective teachers among schools as one example of how difficult it is for many school districts to remove ineffective teachers due to constraints in contracts with teacher unions.
Howard’s career has never been without challenge and controversy.