Unfortunately, such a compromisenbetween the art community and thentaxpayers may not be possible. Despitenits bellyaching the NEA was not significantlynchastised by Congress for fundingnMapplethorpe and Serrano, and itnis hard to believe that if such a publicnoutcry could have no effect, anothernone will. In its 25-year history thenNEA has always more than recoverednfrom a budget cut, coming back a yearnor two later with a big jump in funding.nWe can probably expect the samenresult from what was only a threatenednbudget cut, especially if President Bushnreduces the defense budget as significantlynas he has promised to. In thatncase we’ll have all those loose billionsnthat heaven forbid should be squanderednon lowering the deficit — muchnless lowering taxes. The NEA’s truenreaction to Mapplethorpe may benmore, bigger, and worse. (KD)nK-12 EDUCATION in America is,nnationally, a disaster—that is somethingneveryone seems to agree on. Butnon the local level, the parents ofnschoolchildren are hearing a differentnstory. In a 1988 study an educationalnwatchdog group called Friends for Educationndiscovered that all of the 50nstates were reporting that their elementarynand secondary students were testingn”above the national norm” innachievement. John Jacob Cannell, whonheads this group, calls it the “LakenWobegon effect,” referring to GarrisonnKeillor’s mythic town in which “all thenmen are strong, all the women arengood-looking, and all the children arenabove average.”nIn a follow-up study conducted lastnspring, Cannell found that a majornreason for those uniformly high testnscores was cheating. In response to annad Cannell placed in Education Week,nhe received a number of letters fromnteachers maintaining that cheating isncommon. And in those few states thatn8/CHRONICLESndo make an effort to investigate cheating,nthe number of incidences is shockinglynhigh, California has found 50nschools cheating within the last threenyears. Chicago investigated 40 schoolsnin 1985, 17 that were “above suspicion”nas a control and 23 that werensuspected. The testing officials therenfound that not only were 70 percent ofnthe suspected schools cheating, but sonwere 12 percent of the control group.nOther indications of cheating arenhigh elementary reading scores thatnmysteriously peter out as the studentnmoves into secondary school, andnstates that rank low in national testsnsuch as the ACT (administered withnhigh security), but high in achievementntests (administered under the aegis ofnlocal superintendents with often littlenor no security). Cannell cites evidencenthat teachers are tailoring their curriculanto fit the test questions, that teachersnand administrators are teaching the testnto their students, even that teachers arenwalking around during a test and indicatingnto students where an answernshould be “doublechecked.” What isnmore shocking is that in those statesnwhere cheating has been discovered,ndisciplinary action was either not takennat all or relatively mild.nMany of Cannell’s proposed solutionsnare remarkably simple. He suggestsnthat teachers should not test theirnown classes, for example, but switchnwith other teachers in their school, asntesting their own classes gives them toongreat a personal interest in high testnscores. He makes clear that it wouldnnot take an enormous amount of eitherneffort or money to gather accurate testnscores. What seems to be missing is thendesire.nUnfortunately, as Cannell does notnsay explicitly in his report but as hisnevidence makes clear, what we have isnthe collusion of several parties, allnanxious to hide the truth that Johnnyncan’t read. For teachers and their unions,nmerit pay is often tied to testnscores. Administrators are subject tonde-funding from their state legislatorsnand hostile local news reports if scoresnare low. And some publishers, out tonmake a buck, will not scruple to offer andistrict tests certain to raise their scores.nThe real push for a true indication ofnachievement is going to have to comenfrom parents — for the simple reasonnthat parents are the only group vitallynnninterested in the education of childrennwho will put the welfare of thosenchildren before their own. Eternal vigilancenwill always be the price of decentnpublic education.nCopies of “How Public EducatorsnCheat on Standardized Tests” arenavailable for $15.00, and “NationallynNormed Elementary AchievementnTesting in America’s Public Schools:nHow All Fifty States Are Above thenNational Average” for $10.00, fromnFriends for Education, 600 CirardnBoulevard NE, Albuquerque, NewnMexico 87106. (KD)nBARRY SADLER, the Vietnam veterannwho wrote and recorded “ThenBallad of the Green Berets,” died innMurfreesboro, Tennessee, last Novembern5. He was 49 years old. Sadler hadnbeen shot in the forehead in GuatemalanCity in September 1988, an incidentnthat had left him brain damaged andnpartially paralyzed. The cause of deathnwas not given, and an autopsy hadnbeen scheduled as of the time of thisnwriting.nThe circumstances of Sadler’snshooting have given rise to speculationnand rumor. Some say it was the resultnof a robbery; a few say he accidentlynshot himself while drunk; and othersnsay it was tied to Sadler’s involvementnwith gunrunning and the training ofnNicaraguan rebels. What is confirmednby his friends, however, is that Sadlernwas a free-spirit whose actions andnpursuits were as varied and unpredictablenas they often were adventurous,nviolent, and dangerous.nSadler was a combat medic with thenUnited States Special Forces in Vietnam.nHe saw extensive combatnthroughout 1964 and 1965 and wasnwounded and returned stateside inn1966, the year he recorded his famousnballad. With America having “turnednthe corner” in Vietnam, and with then”light at the end of the tunnel” clearlynin sight, Sadler’s patriotic song rose tonNo. I and stayed there for five weeks.nHe was christened the poet laureate ofnthe Vietnam War, and his hit singlenand album of army ballads sold morenthan nine million copies. He went tonHollywood in the late 1960’s and actednin both movies and television, appearingnin such series as Death Valley Daysnand High Chaparral, and went ton