Thursday, April 01, 2004


Two things crossed my desk that have a connection that points directly to the need for private-sector initiatives in public education.

First, the local high school newspaper’s latest issue contains these gems:

p. 1: ‘’Editor-In-Cheif’’ and ‘’Standford 9 Test’’

p. 2: ‘’Editor-in-Cheif’’ and ‘’there is barely enough stalls for the students’’

p. 3: ‘’shoved it’s way into the spotlight’’ and ‘’Their is such a thing as’’

pp. 4-5: (one-inch type) ‘’Students Widdle Away In Woods’’

p. 6: ‘’going through their lost loved ones personal affects’’

p. 7: (four times) ‘’the Eight Grade Band’’

Had enough?

The second item is a flyer that says that Creighton University is offering Saturday classes for age 4 through adult on how to read and write. There are eight programs with skills for phonics, comprehension, fluency, speed-reading and study skills.

Especially for older readers, the program promises comprehension, concentration and retention techniques -- the lack of which makes people write and spell very badly. These basics are rarely, if ever, taught systematically and explicitly in public school anymore.

If you know a student (or a teacher!) who really struggles with reading, writing, spelling and similar language skills, suggest these courses. They are taught in downtown Omaha at Creighton, at one west Omaha location, and at Bellevue University. Sessions last for two hours and meet once a week for five weeks. Cost: $299. For class schedules and other information: (800) 979-9151.

Here’s the deal: compare the quality of the writing in the first item from that typical Nebraska high school, where presumably the newspaper draws the very best writers in the school, and where the spending per pupil is well over $5,000 a year. So we have invested well over $50,000 in these student writers’ educations so far. And this is what we are getting.

Now, consider the fact that Creighton’s class offers some excellent language arts ‘’tune-up’’ for $299.

Private-sector initiatives: something to think about. Or our ‘’cheif’’ responsibility to our kids -- providing a quality education -- will be ‘’widdled’’ away.

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