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Detroit Free PressAuthor tells of fight for justice as teacher, activist by Ron Dzwonkowski

John Telford has been fighting all his life. As a kid, he brawled on the streets of Detroit and boxed in the ring. As an adult, he traded his fists for words and actions that were no less combative. Like all fighters, he’s a hero to some, a real pain to others. Read more…

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Dome MagazineDetroit’s Fiery Schoolhouse Crusader

…”a fascinating ‘tell-all’ autobiography by Dr. John Telford, a long-time Detroit area schoolteacher, administrator and social activist. Pulling no punches (he’s a former boxer) and pushing his ‘tell-it-like-I-see-it’ philosophy, Telford describes his five-decades crusade to save Detroit kids from educational neglect and mismanagement.”Read more…

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The Detroit Teacher: Recommended Reading A Life on the RUN – Seeking and Safeguarding Social Justice

Dr. John Telford has led more lives than a cat and survived more setbacks. A Detroit teacher 50 years ago and again in this century, he bled in the amateur boxing ring, broke bones in football and fights, was incarcerated as a teen and expelled from a Detroit high school, sired a son with another man’s wife, and tore his hamstring muscle in the 1956 Olympic trials. Decades later, skinheads riddled his Rochester house with midnight gunfire when as deputy superintendent he pioneered the hire of black administrators in that 98 percent white district. He endured a messy divorce he admits was his fault. He was fired from two DPS executive directorships for whistle blowing and from the Madison District Public Schools superintendency for bringing in hundreds of Detroit students against the wishes of white residents. Read more starting on Page 9…

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Dr. Telford Available for Interview Request a Review Copy Contact: Gail Kearns, Publicist To Press and Beyond (805) 898-2263 | gail@topressandbeyond.com Over 69% of 4th Graders in Detroit Scored Below the Basic Level in Math Dr. John Telford Demands the Detroit Public Schools Take Action Immediately (Detroit, Michigan, January 2010) – John Telford, teacher activist, superintendent, passionate civil rights champion, world-class sprinter, street fighter and now author (A Life on the Run: Seeking and Safeguarding Social Justice, Harmonie Park Press, January 2010) last May applauded Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, who had suggested that the Detroit Public Schools are the “Ground Zero” of education in America. Telford thought the news could not get any worse. Wrong, it has. In December, Detroit students posted the worst math scores in the 40-year history of the test. And Telford suggests that the quality of the education of Detroit’s students may continue to be in a free fall until the corruption at the highest level of the school administration is finally addressed. Telford, however, makes it clear that the Detroit Schools didn’t sink into this disgraceful condition overnight. It began with white flight from the city in the ‘40’s and ‘50’s and accelerated in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s with the hasty promotions of unqualified black administrators within an ill-conceived (but NOT ill-advised) affirmative action program, and reached its current nadir due to generations of miseducated parents and the accelerating incompetence and corruption at the very top. This is tough talk for tough times, but what makes the retired 74-year-old Telford different is that he comes from inner city Detroit, stayed there, taught there and still cares deeply about what happens to his students. To Telford, what has happened to the math program in Detroit is “an embarrassing disgrace and an abysmal lack of leadership at the highest level. Other former administrators like myself long dedicated to the Detroit schools would gladly have offered their services free to fix what is now a horrendous and deep-seeded problem. What is needed is a clear plan for the future and it has to start today.” While Detroit may be one of the worst school systems in America, many others are plagued with the same problems and few former administrators, those with direct knowledge of what goes on are willing to speak out. An interview with Telford will provide an extraordinary look behind the scenes of a big city school system and some concrete steps to make it right. A snapshot of what is needed: Eliminate the public charter schools. Redirect more money proportionally to traditional public school districts with the greatest social need. Most misbehaving teens in urban schools can’t read. Isolate misbehavers in special classes until their grades and behavior improve and squeeze the financial balloon to surround them with remedial and behavioral support systems. Establish stiff anti-nepotism clauses in hiring and promoting instructional and administrative staff. Many urban school districts, including Detroit, are being run by black “classists” who funnel most of the tax dollars into a few elite schools and let the others rot. Praise for A Life on the Run “A Life on the Run” is a triumphant tale of teaching, fighting, loving, racing, civil-righteous rebellion, and raw courage. Dr. John Telford lays it on the line in exciting activist/educator style—like the exciting activist/educator he is.” —Professor John A. Powell, Executive Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University writes in his introduction for A Life on the Run. ABOUT JOHN TELFORD John Telford has run on many tracks –not all of them always the right ones. He out ran Olympic champions, hosted radio shows, appeared on television, wrote over one thousand newspaper columns, coached and taught in ghetto schools and in colleges, led school districts and social welfare agencies and continues to fight for urban school reform and minority rights. Publication Information for Telford’s book: Title: A LIFE ON THE RUN: SEEKING AND SAFEGUARDING SOCIAL JUSTICE Author: Dr John Telford Harmonie Park Press Publication Date: January 2010 Price: $24.95 ISBN: 978-0-899901-49-7 Pages: 435 www.lifeontherunbook.com To schedule an interview, contact Gail Kearns, gail@topressandbeyond.com or 805-898-2263 Dr Telford can also be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfmGVZi5ca4 from documentary filmmaker Oren Goldenberg. Retired education executive applauds Robert Bobb as doing ‘terrific job’ in reforming Detroit’s failing education system (Detroit, Michigan, March 25, 2010) – After a decade of inept and corrupt boards and central administrations and ballooning deficits, emergency financial manager Robert Bobb was brought in to clean up the mess with Detroit Public Schools. Dr. John Telford—teacher activist, superintendent, passionate civil rights champion, world-class sprinter, and now author (A Life on the Run: Seeking and Safeguarding Social Justice, www.lifeontherunbook.com)—says Bobb is doing a terrific job in the face of unbelievable challenges. Yet, he adds, we can talk urban education reform until the cows come home regarding curriculum, testing, and closing schools in districts that appear to be losing enrollment, but until other needed reform components are addressed, the above list is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. This is tough talk for tough times, but what makes the retired 74-year-old Telford different is that he comes from inner city Detroit, stayed there, taught there and still cares deeply about what happens to the students. While Detroit may be one of the worst school systems in America, many others are plagued with the same problems and few former administrators, those with direct knowledge of what goes on are willing to speak out. An interview with Telford will provide an extraordinary look behind the scenes of a big city school system and some concrete steps to make it right. Telford’s snapshot of what is needed: Put truant officers back on district payrolls to round up all the high school dropouts. These are kids who have spun out of the control of their mothers or grandmothers who are vainly trying to raise them. Most misbehaving teens in urban schools can’t read. They need to be placed in special classes and small education settings and surrounded with special assistance, like remedial teachers and social workers. Return to instruction in traditional grammar, K-12. Dialect can cause severe comprehension problems for African-American, Latino and Arabic students. Restore vocational courses and art, music, and athletic programs that have been curtailed in many secondary schools across America. In-school opportunities to compete on a team, play in a band, or learn a trade are the only reasons some kids stay in school. Institutionalize programs for restorative justice, anger management, and conflict resolution to induce rival gangs in a give school to put aside their rivalries during the school day and ultimately permanently.   Celebrated Education Reformist Responds to CNN’s Perry’s Principles Dr. John Telford points out five ignored steps to school reform (Detroit, Michigan, April 15, 2010) – Every week, CNN’s Steve Perry is showcasing America’s education challenges and highlighting examples of how they’re being met. But the CNN Education Contributor’s list of principles is missing key components. Dr. John Telford—teacher, activist, superintendent, passionate civil rights champion, world-class sprinter, and now author (A Life on the Run: Seeking and Safeguarding Social Justice, www.lifeontherunbook.com)—says Perry is doing a terrific job exposing a troubled education system’s challenges. Yet, he adds, we can talk education reform until the cows come home regarding curriculum, testing, and closing schools in districts that appear to be losing enrollment, but until other components are addressed, Perry’s list will amount to little more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. In an interview with Pharrell Williams, Perry agrees with his guest on two imminent threats to education—the Nintendo Wii and cell phones. Urban schools face much more serious distractions. During his time as superintendent of Rochester Schools, Telford watched as needy children killed each other over shoes, coats and girls. Kids carried guns in potato chip bags while their sisters worked in dope houses. They weren’t thinking about the Wii Fit. This is tough talk for tough times. The 74-year-old Telford comes from inner city Detroit. He is the only retired school superintendent in America who returned to a tough inner-city high school to teach. He did it into his 70s, breaking up fights and preventing kids from stomping each other to death twenty feet outside his office. While Detroit may be one of the worst school systems in America, many others are plagued with the same problems and few former administrators, those with direct knowledge of what goes on are willing to speak out. An interview with Telford will provide an extraordinary look behind the scenes of a big city school system and some concrete steps to make it right. Telford’s snapshot of what is needed: Put truant officers back on district payrolls to round up all the high school dropouts. These are kids who have spun out of the control of their mothers or grandmothers who are vainly trying to raise them. Most misbehaving teens in urban schools can’t read. They need to be placed in special classes and small education settings and surrounded with special assistance, like remedial teachers and social workers. Return to instruction in traditional grammar, K-12. Dialect can cause severe comprehension problems for African-American, Latino and Arabic students. Restore vocational courses and art, music, and athletic programs that have been curtailed in many secondary schools across America. In-school opportunities to compete on a team, play in a band, or learn a trade are the only reasons some kids stay in school. Institutionalize programs for restorative justice, anger management, and conflict resolution to induce rival gangs in a give school to put aside their rivalries during the school day. Urban Schools in America Are Broken—Can They Be Fixed? Dr. John Telford Says Yes A LIFE ON THE RUN: SEEKING AND SAFEGUARDING SOCIAL JUSTICE By Dr. John Telford (Detroit, Michigan, September 30, 2009) – John Telford, teacher activist, superintendent, passionate civil rights champion, world class sprinter, street fighter and now author says it can be done, but we need to change NOW what is critically and fundamentally wrong. Telford makes it clear that the miseducation of America’s students will surely create a situation where regardless of who wins in Iraq, if Wall Street hits 12,000 again, or if health care is available to all who need it, how we deal with educating not only the best and the brightest but the weakest in our schools, will ultimately define the kind of America we live in 5, 10 and 15 years from now. President Obama echoed some of these same feelings in his address on September 7, 2009. Obama challenged America’s students, “What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school—you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.” So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve?” This is tough talk for tough times, but what makes the retired 74-year-old Telford different is that he comes from inner city Detroit, stayed there, taught there and still cares deeply about what happens to his students. Telford is not just angry at the state of schools today—that’s simple; he has got a plan to turn it around. This is his prescription and it is just the beginning: Eliminate the public charter schools. Redirect more money proportionally to traditional public school districts with the greatest social need. Most misbehaving teens in urban schools can’t read. Isolate misbehavers in special classes until their grades and behavior improve and squeeze the financial balloon to surround them with remedial and behavioral support systems. Establish stiff anti-nepotism clauses in hiring and promoting instructional and administrative staff. Many urban school districts, including Detroit, are being run by black “classists” who funnel most of the tax dollars into a few elite schools and let the others rot.   Activist Educator and Former All-American Sprinter John Telford Pens an Electrifying Tell-All Memoir about the Down-and-Dirty Fight for Racial and Social Justice in Schools (Detroit, Michigan, September 20, 2009) – Inner-city teacher and retired suburban school superintendent John Telford has long been called a lightning rod for controversy. A 74-year-old native Detroiter who outran Olympic champions in his youth, Dr. Telford is one of America’s most fervent fighters for the right of impoverished black and brown teenagers to get a full and fair education. In January 2010, Harmonie Park Press, a 60-year-old company that is launching a new series of titles from emerging Michigan writers, will release Dr. John Telford’s blockbuster, no-holds-barred autobiography, A Life on the RUN – Seeking and Safeguarding Social Justice. World-renowned self-help author Dr. Wayne Dyer calls Dr. Telford’s life story “luminous”—and “in turn, outraged, droll, scandalous, and sexy.” Spencer Haywood, an Olympian and National Basketball Association All-Star of the 1960s and 70s, says: “Coach Telford has led a life of which legends are made.” Telford’s incarceration as a young teen and his expulsion from a Detroit high school were humbling experiences that set the stage for what former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer calls “John’s lifelong championing of the underdog.” Despite illicit romances that ended his first marriage and nearly destroyed his career, Telford was able to tilt at many windmills, right many wrongs, and help save the world—often one youngster at a time. For his aggressive initiatives to ensure racial justice, he was attacked by community bigots when as a deputy superintendent he hired black principals and his home was riddled with bullets at midnight. Telford was later fired from another suburban superintendency for bringing in hundreds of Detroit students against the wishes of white residents. He was also fired from two non-consecutive executive directorships in the Detroit schools by officials whose incompetence, classism, and corruption he exposed in newspaper columns and on his radio show. His young African-American activist wife Gina says: “John doesn’t hesitate to fight the white and the black establishment when they aren’t about kids.” Dr. Telford is a wise, witty, and cautionary voice in the still discomfiting and difficult discourse on racism and classism in America. In his riveting autobiography, he shares rare insights regarding what is right and wrong with American secondary education—especially urban secondary education—and how those pervasive wrongs can be righted. We invite you to consider Dr. Telford for stories or background for a frank assessment of the state of race relations today—with his insider’s perspective that is extremely rare among white men. He offers half-a-century of first-hand insights from the executive offices of school districts in exclusionary suburbs and from the schools and streets of some of our most economically challenged urban neighborhoods. He remains the only top-ranked administrative retiree in America who actually came back to teach in a tough big-city high school. While others continue merely to “talk the talk,” Telford dares and cares enough to “walk the walk.” To learn more about Dr. Telford and his book, visit www.ALifeontheRUN.com. To request a review copy and/or set up an author interview, contact Gail M. Kearns at 805-898-2263 or e-mail gail@topressandbeyond.com. Don’t All Children Deserve Schools that Work: A Teacher’s Perspective A LIFE ON THE RUN: SEEKING AND SAFEGUARDING SOCIAL JUSTICE By Dr. John Telford (Detroit, Michigan, November, 2009) – Teacher activist Dr. John Telford has penned a memoir, A Life On The Run: Seeking and Safeguarding Social Justice, about his more than 50 years in the trenches of one of the largest urban school districts in America. Coming of age against the backdrop of some of the most critical events in the struggle for equality in Detroit, this book is a compelling look at how racism channeled his passion into a love for teaching. From this vantage point, Dr. Telford has a unique perspective on how to fix what is wrong with our ailing schools in what could rightly be called the most critical issue affecting America’s economic sustainability. This is what a teacher sees today when they look at their world: Against the lingering effects of the downturn, schools are needing to both slash and borrow millions of dollars just to stay open, and in some districts mandatory teacher furloughs are being considered to get to June. Can we afford to lose more teachers? More than 6 million teachers are currently teaching in the U.S. 71% are women and less than 8% are teachers of color and fewer and fewer are joining the ranks. It is in fact the lowest number of teachers of color since 1971. What does this do to the teaching of the multi-cultural experience? More than 50% of teachers areover 50. In ten years, 50% of the most experienced work force will retire. Who will take their place? In many urban schools, 80% of teachers are women in elementary and middle schools, ensuring that many urban black children will have virtually no contact with any adult males until high school. After 5 years many of the best and the brightest teachers leave — burned out. What can be done to reverse the trend? Many urban classrooms are badly in need of repair with broken windows, leaky sewage, ten-year-old textbooks, no paper and chalk. What kind of environment does this create for students and teachers? Clearly we are failing here. For black children in America, a recent study reported that 90% will be on food stamps before they reach 20 – schools represent their only way out, but we are failing to provide even the basics of a proper education. The social and economic divide is nowhere more clearly evident than in urban schools. While largely white districts are thriving, urban areas with children of color are virtually in disarray. At the close of the recent mayoral race in Boston, one poll placed education at the top of the list for what is of greatest concern to the voters. Teachers are the window to the problem and to the solution. We urge you to consider Dr John Telford for an interview or profile. At MediaQuire, there is a short interview with Dr. Telford, which we believe will give you an insight into the kind of piece you could develop around these critical issues. Upcoming media appearance: Dr. Telford will be a guest on Connie Martison Talks Books in December, 2009. Please go to her website www.conniemartinson.com for more information.   Dr. John Telford Defends Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, on “Ground Zero” Charge in the Detroit Public Schools (Detroit, Michigan, December 16, 2009) – John Telford, teacher activist, superintendent, passionate civil rights champion, world-class sprinter, street fighter and now author (A Life on the Run: Seeking and Safeguarding Social Justice, Harmonie Park Press, January 2010) says Duncan suggested last May that the Detroit Public Schools were at the epicenter of everything that is wrong with education in American today. While the Ground Zero charge strikes a cord, little can be done to address the problem because of the widespread corruption starting at the very top of the school administrations in Detroit.Telford, however, makes it clear that the Detroit Schools didn’t sink into this disgraceful condition overnight. It began with white flight from the city in the 40’s and 50’s and accelerated in the late 60s and early 70s with the hasty promotions of unqualified black administrators within an ill-conceived (but NOT ill-advised) affirmative action program, and reached its current nadir due to generations of miseducated parents and the accelerating incompetence and corruption at the very top. This is tough talk for tough times, but what makes the retired 74-year-old Telford different is that he comes from inner city Detroit, stayed there, taught there and still cares deeply about what happens to his students. If what he says is true, then exposing the real reasons behind the failure of the Detroit schools is a critically important first step. And one that no one seems willing to tackle. While Detroit may be one of the worst school systems in America, many others are plagued with the same problems and few former administrators, those with direct knowledge of what goes on are willing to speak out. An interview with Telford will provide an extraordinary look behind the scenes of a big city school system and some concrete steps to make it right.

 

 

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