by Drury, of “Fourteen Areas of Concern”rnto the committee. These concernsrnincluded unresolved issues of remediationrn(what if a child “flunked” one ofrnthe 65 “assessments”) and a delicatelyrnphrased question of final authority:rn”Who is it that determines when thernproficiency standards will be implemented?”rnThe committee first responded withrnsilence (noted in Cisney’s transcript)rnthen took the list under considerationrnand scheduled discussion for Decemberrn10. Three days before that meeting, Fergusonrnand the teachers again tried tornclose the committee deliberations to parents,rnarguing that thev were going to discussrn”personnel matters” along with thern14 concerns. This time, Cisney et al.rn(eventually represented b’ downtown attorneyrnMelvin Sabey, another parent),rnobtained a temporary restraining order.rnDespite advice from district counsel thatrnthe Central Committee was a publicrnbody for purposes of the Sunshine Law,rnthe Littleton Board of Education chosernto support Ferguson and challenge thernparents’ right to observe. The board’s rationalernfor that decision was that thernprofessionals needed both privacy andrnflexibility to restructure education in therndistrict. In time this excuse would provernno more convincing to the public than itrndid to the court, which eventually foundrnfor plaintiff parents two months beforernthe election.rnIn August, the “Back to Basics” slaternwas formed with Cisney, Brzeczek, andrnFanchi committed to run. At every juncturernLittleton educators marginalizedrnthe group. They were “radicals,” “defectivernproducts,” and “troublemakers”rnwho did not speak for the great mass ofrndocile parents. But amid all the namecallingrnin the context of OBE, anotherrnphenomenon, only indirectly related tornhigh school issues, was at play. Readingrnproblems in grade-schoolers and middle-rnschoolers, never vetted in the press,rnhad been created by the district’s emphasisrnon “Whole Language” to thernexclusion of phonics. This, combinedrnwith a pronounced lack of standards andrnassessments, propelled the parents ofrnyounger families to join the camp ofrnolder parents who backed the “Back tornBasics” slate.rnIn early October, disturbing rumorsrncoupled with insinuating fliers began circulatingrnin Littleton. Cisney, Brzeczek,rnand Fanchi had been investigated andrnfound to be “stealth” candidates of thern”religious right.” The “Basics” slate,rnnone of whom are particularly religious,rnhad anticipated an attack like this andrncontinued to slog away. What happenedrnnext, nobody expected. On October 4,rnBerny Morson, education reporter forrnthe Rocky Mountain News, broke a storyrnthat related how “People for the AmericanrnWay,” a liberal, self-proclaimedrn”watch dog” group, had evaluated the responsesrnof the Basics candidates to arnquestionnaire and found their positionsrnto be “in common” with the religiousrnright. In follow-up articles Morson disclosedrnthat People for the AmericanrnWay’s newly established rent-free officernin Boulder was sponsored by . . . the staternteachers’ union.rnEven before these disclosures, thernReform Coalition, a slate of incumbentrneducators that was formed to battle thern”Back to Basics” movement, tried to distancernitself from OBE. In a Septemberrn28 forum, incumbent Woody Davisrndeclared that it was not, after all,rn”Outcome Based Education” but “PerformancernEvaluation” that the coalitionrnstood for. He did not try to explain therndifference. This came as a huge surprisernto administrators who had been usingrnthe former term for the last five years.rnThe assembled parents were visiblyrnangered at the dodge.rnTwo weeks later the reformers tried tornpirate the slogan “Basics Plus.” By thisrntime the Morson stories had robbedrnthem of their most devastating weapon:rnthe religious right smear. Still, unable tornarticulate just what it was they stood for,rnthey struggled on, attempting to affixrnnegative labels to the “Basics” slate:rn”Backwards to Basics”; “Back to thern50’s.” And, of course, there was therncampaign of whispers, which includedrnthe rumor that the slate would tear downrnplayground equipment.rnThe Littleton experience gives muchrnhope for those who await a consumer revoltrnin public education. There is, however,rnanother less optimistic sign: thatrnthe more socially and financially powerfulrnthe population of a school district is,rnthe more likely, one way or another, itrnwill wrest control of its schools from “educationalrnproviders.” While this bodesrnwell for the upper-middle class, it leavesrnless-powerful communities to the tenderrnmercies of the education establishment.rnIt may foreshadow public educationrnDarwinism: the strong control theirrneducators while the weak fall prey to pedagogicalrnchurning, their children alwaysrnsubject to the latest self-serving, curriculum-rndeconstructing fads.rnEdward L. Lederman is a senior fellowrnin education policy at the IndependencernInstitute in Denver.rnLetter From Belizernby Ray LowryrnCaribbean VacationrnChristmas was approaching, and I wasrngetting homesick. I’d been in Hondurasrnfor a year and a half, teaching school forrnpeanuts at a small, bilingual parochialrnschool in Puerto Cortes. Ok, ok. I wasrnteaching school for lempiras, not forrnpeanuts. But the difference is so slightrnthat it isn’t worth arguing about. In anyrnevent, I wanted to go home for the holidays,rnbut my salary—the equivalent ofrn150 Yankee dollars—wouldn’t permitrnsuch an extravagance.rnLIBERAL ARTSrn:irnVL^-“rnl)OliBJ,F, IROUm.Krn”If any cro^s-dics.sing customers, arcrnconfident fiujufjh to go .shoppi’igrndressed .T. ,I woman it’s p().ssible forrntlieiii to h.ivt: a ^t•t•oncl card, so thatrntlicy can j()id t-nibarrassnient oi difficultiesrnwlen paying hy check.”rn-A sfxikesniau for a ScoUiilirnhank thai provides photornII )* lor chuck-cashing and offersrnIransvestitei Ivu, one showingrnthem dressed as a man. the otherrnas a woman ia^ reported by thern(‘hujgo liibune last winter)rnSEPTEMBER 1994/39rnrnrn