Paul R. Lehman, Great Expectations, giving credit where it is due

June 10, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Posted in fairness, justice, Oklahoma education, public education | 2 Comments
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An article appearing in the “Point of view” section of The Oklahoma (6/6/12) entitled “Innovations produce more effective teachers,” was written Roger Webb, president emeritus of University of Central Oklahoma, and focused on the many contributions of the late Charlie Hollar. The article celebrated both Hollar and the program he sponsored “Great Expectation” which continues still today. All the accolades and honors given Hollar are well deserved and should be appreciated by the people of Oklahoma. Lost in the article were a number of important pieces of information that need to be inserted.

The article stated that “Charlie Hollar believed schools could never be better than the teachers who taught our children. He said ‘Teachers should be celebrated, encouraged and given the access to the quality of professional education that was available to business executives.’” We were told that “He worked with many of the top state and national education leaders and developed Great Expectations.”

The article continued by noting that “Since its inception in 1999, more than 40,000 teachers have been trained under the program.” Actually, the program was started in 1990 and although the program for Oklahoma was under Hollar’s guidance, the genesis of the program was created and implemented first by Marva Collins as early as 1975. The article leaves the impression that the program from start to finish was created and developed by Hollar. No criticism is intended of the program Hollar developed for Oklahoma educators. We just believe that if one develops a program about gravity, Sir Isaac Newton’s name should be mentioned.

Marva Collins, an African American educator taught in the Chicago Public Schools for some fourteen years after which we are told in an article about her that “Displeased with both the public and private schools in Chicago, Collins took $5,ooo out of her pension to start the Westside Preparatory School in 1975 on the second floor of her home.” The program was so successful that she received national attention from schools named Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.  In 1982 “60 Minutes” did a show honoring her, that show was followed by a movie entitled “The Marva Collins Story.”(www. BlackPast.org)

In an effort to make the point of Collin’s influences and contributions we looked at the comments of one elementary school teacher from a school in Oklahoma, Debbie Vaughan, who stated that she “have practiced Great Expectations for 15 years in my classroom and had the honor of meeting Marva Collins and visiting her school in Chicago.”

Another statement in the article seemed to cast aspersions at educators when it stated that “It is interesting that a non-educator could have a greater impact on Oklahoma’s schools over a 20-year period than any elected or appointed educational official.”The fact of the matter is that Hollar, a non-educator, had to work with equally dedicated educators just to get his program implemented. In addition, the efforts of someone not working in the educational system would more than likely experience greater success than someone trying to work within the system because the structure inside the system sometime makes changes difficult if not impossible. People outside the educational system, like Charlie Hollar, are not limited as to how to raise funds for programs whereas educators are restricted by a plethora of rules and restrictions.

If we remember correctly, Collins was displeased with both the public and private schools in Chicago for not meeting the needs of the children. As an educator, she knew what would work and what would not work: however, working within the system could never get her to where she needed to be. So, she went outside of the school system to accomplish her goal.

Our comments are not intended as criticism of the Great Expectations program or Charlie Hollar. Oklahoma educators and children are blessed to have such an opportunity offered by this program. The efforts of Hollar should continue to be commended and appreciated as the article recorded. Our concern was with some of the information in the article that needed addressing regarding the genesis of the program and giving credit where credit is due. An often used saying informs us that knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad

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  1. Tracing the genesis of a program back to its roots has a double benefit: honoring all the contributors as well as providing insight on how problems are successfully addressed. I always like to discover the often simple but risky move someone makes in response to a frustration or roadblock. If more of us would make moves like Marva Collins made, we might be surprised at what would come of them.

  2. I leave a comment when I like a article on a site or if I have something to contribute to the discussion. Usually it is a result of the passion displayed in the article I looked at. And after this article Paul R. Lehman, Great Expectations, giving credit where it is due America's Race Problem. I was moved enough to post a comment 😉 I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you usually do not mind. Could it be only me or does it look like like some of the responses look as if they are coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing at other sites, I’d like to keep up with anything fresh you have to post. Could you list all of your social pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


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