Flashback 2003: Letter to Playwright and Friend Ron Milner After the NBTF in 2003 – Miss You Big Guy!

The National Black Theatre Festival Founded By the Late Larry Leon Hamlin is Theatre Holy Ground Where Prolific Ideas and Relationships with a Lot of Fun are Born


Ron Milner

Ron Milner

October 28, 2003

Dear Ron:

We have been making progress on the phone, but in some ways I feel as though I have been putting off our historic written correspondence to develop strategies and solutions for saving future young folks from illiteracy and the inability to relate their lives to educational performance standards and “high-stakes tests”.

I know how busy you have been developing the Michigan performance standards prep. project. I do hope to know more about the details. I am beginning to understand your broad interdisciplinary instructional capacity and objectives.

The use of the arts to explain interdisciplinary topics is not new. The learning standards for the arts developed by the federal government and NYS has that as an objective. But how that is executed and packaged is of primary concern because there is no broad-based formula to date. The Annenberg Foundation has dedicated the past five years at least to funding these types of projects but no formula has been promoted to the general public.

I think that you are a commodity and the ability for Ron Milner to shape curriculum and instruction whereby teachers are trained or by direct instruction in a team-teaching workshop tailored to the specific needs of students on a per grade and per topic basis is exceptional.

You are the Guru so to speak for a major literary heritage and the gate-keeper that could offer other people-of-color the opportunities to apply their media or genre and techniques to the problem of the day – “getting our kidz to be more competitive with these mandated tests”.

When I sent to you last month:

  • the NYC Performance Standards for English Language Arts, and
  • the America’s Choice portfolio of how they packaged the literary works of author, Gary Soto I thought that it would be a road map for the overview of how the ELA prep has been package in the nation’s largest school system and how a prominent vendor has positioned Spanish master artist.

I have now enclosed:

1) my program for examining the humanities and dramatic arts literary works called the “SEP Humanities Digestion Program”. I think that my delivery system and your model to tailor the specific needs could be a collaborative force.

2) I am also enclosing examples of the types of vendors (Kaplan K-12 learning Services etc.) who are currently in the national marketplace doing similar things with respect to the performance standards.

3) George Lucas Foundation’s terminology concerning methods of applying art-in education that sounds like it is akin to your practical experiences teaching various subject through aesthetic genres.

Thanks Man,


* since this letter was written Dr. E.D. Hirsch Jr’s Common Core Curriculum has set the stage for us to platform rubrics (at least grades K-8) with must- know autobiographical studies and other ELA and Career Oriented information. Look at his “What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know” series. He outlines grades K-6 and the school system use state performance standards for the upper grades. Keep it moving y’all!

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Ron Milner wiki


LA Times


Ron was part of a project to document US Studies


Illiteracy in the US


Parallel Universe with the late Ossie Davis


African American Studies PhD. at Harvard


As it relates to reading…the late Ruby Dee’s mom wanted her to be an elocutionist. She certainly was that!

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