Monday, April 10, 2006


An email from a reader below. To reinforce his points, I might note that I myself did the last two years of High School in one year -- AS AN EVENING STUDENT -- mainly by teaching myself. I had tuition for only one subject

I was for ten years a teacher in one of the worst school systems in the US, the Hawaii Department of Education. Interruptions from on high, as described in the story you cite, did not intrude as often as the writer observed in his encounter with US schools. The conduct of an ordinary class is bad enough, though, with bathroom passes to write, students to shush, points to repeat for the slow kids while the quick ones fidget and wait or wander into dreamland.

Some years ago a Professor of Library Science came to the University of Hawaii for a sabbatical semester. She brought her 15 year old daughter. She had been warned about Hawaii's wretched State schools. She was not about to jump through the hoops necessary to get her daughter admitted for one semester to a decent independent or parochial school. She requested a semester's worth of assignments from her daughter's private East Coast school, hired a Biochem grad to tutor Math and Science three hours per week and a History grad to tutor History and English two hours per week, gave her daughter a set of keys to her office, and gave her dayghter the run of the campus.

At first they had doubts, but by the end of the semester the daughter did not want to return to her plush private school. She oconcluded that school is a waste of time; that she could get her academic work completed between 0800 and 1100, and then had time to read independently or take craft classes at the student center (she was pretty good at pottery).

The author of Evolution's Captain, a biography of Robert FitzRoy, wrote that FitzRoy entered the Admiralty school at age 12 and completed the customary 36 month course in 20 months. This curriculum included Classical and Modern Languages, History, Math through Calculus, navigation, ship handling, gunnery, fencing, and dancing. This implies: 1) FitzRoy was brilliant, and 2) the Admiralty curriculum was self-paced.

Study finds preschool initiative would benefit few

An initiative to pay for universal preschool in California would help some low-income children and English-learners who could benefit the most but also would subsidize thousands of parents who already pay to send their children to preschool, according to a study released Wednesday.

Proposition 82, the "Preschool for All" initiative led by director Rob Reiner, would provide what supporters call high-quality preschool for all 4-year-olds by raising income taxes by 1.7 percent for individuals who earn at least $400,000 a year, or couples earning $800,000. It would raise an estimated $2.4 billion a year.

A review of the measure by the Policy Analysis for California Education, a joint research project at Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, concludes that the extra funding would boost preschool enrollment by just 10 percent to 15 percent. That means as much as $1.3 billion of the funding would go to parents who already are paying for preschool. "The bulk of benefits really would go to better-off families," UC Berkeley professor Bruce Fuller said in a conference call Tuesday. "Is this initiative about providing income relief for these families or is it about expanding access to preschool?"

Several studies have found that children from poor families and students who are learning English reap the most from intensive preschool programs. Among the findings in the Stanford and Berkeley study:

- About 64 percent of California's 533,000 4-year-olds attend preschool, about 40 percent of them in subsidized programs for low-income families. Results from other states suggest the percentage of students who would enroll in the voluntary program is likely to increase to about 75 percent.

- There's no proof of better outcomes for programs in which all teachers have bachelor's degrees, as the initiative would require. Fuller said benefits have been shown from the two-year training programs Proposition 82 would require for preschool aides.

- Existing community and nonprofit preschools could be squeezed out by school district-operated preschools that would have access to greater resources and training, while preschools that serve disabled students would not qualify for funding because of a legal loophole.

The report's release shows how heated the battle over universal preschool has become. Several Proposition 82 supporters interrupted Fuller's conference call with reporters Tuesday to challenge his findings. They said it was misleading to say two-thirds of California's 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool, saying that figure includes thousands of children who attend day care or low-quality preschool programs. "There are very few programs that are comparable in terms of the quality aspirations of Proposition 82," said Karen Hill-Scott, a consultant for the Los Angeles First 5 coalition and an initiative supporter who called into Fuller's press conference. "The vast majority of low-income families do not benefit from the subsidized system."

Fuller acknowledged that the estimated 26,000 additional low-income children who could enroll in preschool under the initiative would likely see benefits. Reiner resigned his position as head of the statewide First 5 coalition last week amid a controversy over the commission's funding of television commercials that touted the benefits of preschool



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

The NEA and similar unions worldwide believe that children should be thoroughly indoctrinated with Green/Left, feminist/homosexual ideology but the "3 R's" are something that kids should just be allowed to "discover"

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