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Education Frustration

To the Editor,

Tom Danehy's "Poor Sports" (November 11), lambasting home schooling, is so bigoted, so twisted in its logic, I can't believe you printed it. He could teach Ross Perot a thing or two about conspiracy theories, fer cryin' out loud. Ooh, watch out, the subversive home-schoolers are planning to wipe out high-school sports. He claims parents who home school their kids are doing so because of "racism, paranoia, religious intolerance or combinations thereof." What's probably closer to the truth is they are sick of their children's schools being run by and overrun by sport goofs like him. Because as we all know, there is nothing more important to an American child's education than a good football team (and new uniforms, of course).

What's really amazing is that he ignores the media's almost daily reports of our public school system's failures. I guess he only reads the sports pages. It's a shame that he uses his public forum to beat up the little guy. Typical jock.

American 12th graders rank 19th out of 21 industrialized countries in mathematics achievement and 16th out of 21 nations in science. Our advanced physics students rank dead last.

In 1995, nearly 30 percent of first-time college freshmen enrolled in at least one remedial course to compensate for a sub-standard high-school education.

According to U.S. manufacturers, 40 percent of all 17-year-olds do not have the math skills and 60 percent lack the reading skills to hold down a production job at a manufacturing company.

Seventy-six percent of college professors and 63 percent of employers believe that "a high-school diploma is no guarantee that the typical student has learned the basics."

In Arizona, 45 percent of the staff of the state Education Department are responsible for managing federal programs that account for six percent of the state's education spending.

In 1994, fewer than 50 percent of the personnel employed by U.S. public schools were teachers.*

Does any of this sound familiar? If not, where the hell have you been?

If a private corporation had that kind of success rate, they'd be out of business. But instead we're asked for more tax money, and we keep giving it to them, by gum. Heck, as long as our school's got a good football program, who cares?

If parents are smart enough to figure out their kids aren't getting a premier education at P.S. 911, what are their options? If schools had to compete for students, they would perform better, just like in any other competitive business. Parents should have the freedom to shop for a school just like they shopped for their last car. And if sports were important to them, then that would be a feature they'd look for, wouldn't it. Meanwhile, students who don't give a flip about football don't have to watch their share of the dollars go down the locker-room drain.

Doesn't sound like the end of the world to me, more like a New World. And Danehy is screaming that the world is flat.

-- Diane Kreinbring

*Statistics are from 20 Troubling Facts about American Education by former Secretary of Education William Bennett. They are available online at www.empower.org.


To the Editor,

The fact that Tom Danehy continues to be employed at your periodical makes me wonder how many employees in your human resources department were publicly educated. If, as Danehy says, home schooling is a subtle form of child abuse, what the hell is public schooling? Publicly educated children barely possess the skill to read 1984 or Huck Finn, let alone understand it. In my experience, especially here in Arizona, home-schooled children are (no generalities needed) brighter, more well read, and less socially retarded than their publicly educated counterparts. Do you really think most kids in the classroom are "busting their butts"? If so, you obviously haven't taken a good look at pop culture lately. I'll leave you to make the necessary leap of critical thinking there. Maybe, if you weren't publicly educated yourself, you would spend less time worrying about the Wildcats and instead see more value in physically participating in sports yourself.

-- John Vinacci


To the Editor,

Where did you dig up this Tom Danehy character?! After reading his appalling commentary on home schooling and high-school athletics ("Poor Sports," November 11), I could only wonder about Tucson Weekly's deteriorating editorial standards. I will not even attempt to reply to Danehy directly -- except to say that not nearly a fraction of home-schooling families fits his bigoted description. More significantly, I was under the impression that the Tucson Weekly advocated for views that were open-minded, progressive, tolerant and willing to stand against the status quo. I guess I was mistaken.

-- Gary F. Daught

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