Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC - VOA's radio magazine in SpecialEnglish.
This is Doug Johnson. On our program today we:
Play some music by Cassandra Wilson ...
Answer a question about the United States educational system ...
And report about a popular young poet.
Mattie Stepanek (STE-pan-nick) is known as a poet and apeacemaker. His poetry has influenced the lives of many people. MaryTillotson tells us more.
Mattie Stepanek is eleven yearsold. He began writing poetry and short stories at the age of three.
Mattie has a rare form of the disease muscular dystrophy.Muscular dystrophy weakens the muscles. Mattie's mother has theadult form of the same disease. She did not know she had the diseaseuntil she had given birth to four children. Mattie's sister and twobrothers all died from the disease. Mattie and his mother usespecial wheelchairs to help them move around. Mattie must use oxygento help him breathe.
p>Mattie says he writes poetry to express his feelings about livingwith a rare illness and bringing peace to the world. His poems alsotell about the fun of being a child, like playing with toys andhaving friends.
For several years, Mattie Stepanek had three wishes. One wish wasto have his poems published. Another was to share his message ofpeace on the Oprah Winfrey television program. The third wish was tomeet his hero, former President Jimmy Carter. All three wishes havecome true.Graphic Image
Three of Mattie's books of poetryhave been published. They are national best sellers. They are called"Heartsongs," "Journey Through Heartsongs" and "Hope ThroughHeartsongs."
Mattie says a heartsong is the feeling in your heart that wantsyou to make yourself a better person. It wants you to help otherpeople to do the same.
Listen as Bob Doughty reads part of Matty Stepanek'spoem,"Heartsong."
((CUT ONE - "Heartsong"))
I have a song, deep in my heart,
And only I can hear it.
IfI close my eyes and sit very still
It is so easy to listen to mysong.
When my eyes are open and
I am so busy and moving andbusy,
If I take time and listen very hard,
I can still hear myHeartsong.
It makes me feel happy.
Happier than everywhere
And everything andeveryone
In the whole wide world
Happy like thinkingabout
Going to Heaven when I die.
My Heartsong sounds like this:
I love you! I love you!
How happy you canbe!
How happy you can make
The whole world be!
United States Educational System
Our VOA listener question this week comes from Poland. SylwesterSinger asks about the American school system.Graphic Image
The education system in theUnited States is controlled by state and local governments. This isbecause the tenth amendment to the United States Constitution saysthat powers not given to the federal government are left to thestates. So the federal government has no power to establish anational educational system. Federal agencies do not make educationpolicy. These decisions are made at the state or local levels.
So you might expect education laws to be different in each state.But they are similar. For example, in all fifty states and sixterritories, all children must attend school from the age of six orseven to the age of sixteen. Public schools are free of charge forgrades one through twelve. The schools receive money from the stategovernment.
Private schools also operate in all states and territories. Someprivate schools are operated by churches and religious groups. Otherprivate schools are not linked to any religious organization.Private schools must be approved by the state in which they operate.Most private schools do not receive government money. The parents ofprivate school students pay the school.
American students generally attend school from the first throughthe twelfth grades. Students are in school from Monday throughFriday. They attend classes from about eight in the morning untilthree in the afternoon.
The school year usually begins in September and continues untilJune. Most states require a school year of one-hundred-eighty days.Some schools have changed this schedule and require students toattend school throughout the year.
More than forty-six-million students attend American publicschools. Another six-million attend private schools. More thanone-million students do not go to school at all. Their parents teachthem at home. This home-schooling has become popular in the lastfifteen years or so.
To learn more about the American education system, listen to thenew Special English Education Report, broadcast each Thursday.
Cassandra Wilson is one of the truly great jazz singersperforming today. Fans of jazz music know her simply as Cassandra.Shep O'Neal tells us more about her.
Cassandra Wilson has becomefamous for singing not just jazz, but almost any kind of music.During live performances, she sings jazz songs, folk songs and evensome blues songs from her home state of Mississippi.
Cassandra Wilson began playing guitar and singing at the age ofnine. She began singing professionally in the Nineteen-Seventies.Less than ten years later, she was one of the top jazz performers inNew York City. Here she sings "Tupelo Honey."
((CUT ONE: "TUPELO HONEY"))
That song was on Cassandra Wilson's third record album, "BlueLight 'Til Dawn." Her latest album is called "Belly of the Sun."Critics say this album shows that she can sing many different kindsof songs extremely well. Cassandra Wilson also shows that she cantake an old song and make it new. Here, she shows what she can dowith the old country and western song, "Wichita Lineman."
(((CUT TWO: "WICHITA LINEMAN"))
Cassandra Wilson recorded most of the songs on "Belly of the Sun"last summer in an old train station building not far from her hometown in Mississippi. We leave you now with another song fromCassandra Wilson's new album. This one is "Show Me a Love."
((CUT THREE: "SHOW ME A LOVE"))
This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And Ihope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC - VOA'sradio magazine in Special English.
Please include your name and postal address. This AMERICAN MOSAICprogram was written by Lawan Davis, Nancy Steinbach and PaulThompson. Our studio engineer was Tom Verba. And our producer wasPaul Thompson.