Pamela Riley, then with the Pacific Research Institute, was one of the original group of contributing editors to School Reform News when the newspaper was first published in January 1997. For much of the past year, she worked as a U.S. advisor in Iraq, assisting in the re-opening of that war-torn country’s schools.
In June 2004, one of her Iraqi colleagues, Kamal al-Jarah, a senior education ministry official, was gunned down as he left his home in Baghdad. Riley worked closely with him on exchange programs and curriculum reforms.
“I just can’t understand why good, decent people like that are being targeted,” she said, telling a National Public Radio interviewer, “I cried. This time, I really cried.
“You just get this feeling you want to fight back, and the best way I know how to fight back is to educate Iraq’s children so they’ll learn decency and good values, and they will make a good living,” she added. “To me, that’s the only way to combat it.”
Riley is now director of School Partners, an effort of the non-profit group Spirit of America to connect U.S. and Iraqi high schools–school-to-school, teacher-to-teacher, and classroom-to-classroom communications. The goal is to help American students develop a broader international understanding and to provide opportunities for Iraqi students to speak and write in English. The program started this fall with up to 20 high schools.
For more information …
More details about the Spirit of America volunteer efforts are available at the organization’s Web site at http://www.spiritofamerica.net.