Wednesday, December 22, 2004


The Grand Island Independent is the first Nebraska newspaper to blast State Education Commissioner Doug Christensen’s pet project, ‘’essential education.’’ Not only would that scary, sweeping socialistic plan cost us an arm and a leg, it would morph our schools into government job-training facilities. Thank goodness at least one newspaper is on to it.

Christensen’s plan would cost an estimated $700 million extra over the next 10 years, according to legislative sources. It would force a lot of changes that cost a lot of money but don’t even help kids learn better, according to the research, such as all-day kindergarten. It would almost certainly force longer school days and a lot closer to year-round schooling.

Just as Tuesday’s Go Big Ed explained how educators ignore evidence that block scheduling is counter-productive, Christensen’s plan is clearly anti-academic and not supported by research. But he’s pushing for it, anyway.

How come? Money and power, silly. Same old, same old.

The plan is socialistic in the way it would standardize curriculum and even parental involvement activities from the smallest private school in the state to the biggest urban district.

Therefore, it’s a threat to the quality of education in our state, not to mention the very existence of rural schools and some of our very best private schools.

Come see the Tuesday editorial, ‘’State plan is an unfunded mandate on schools,’’ at:


Christensen’s plan would force schools to put in place all the fads an educrat’s heart can hold -- all-day kindergarten, a third year of mandated foreign-language class, and forced acceptance of a bunch of School-to-Work ‘’classes’’ that are not foundational, civilizing or academic in the least, but are really veiled job-training programs.

Send that editorial around to your peeps. We need to circle the wagons against this one.


FOOTNOTE to Tuesday’s block scheduling article: an intrepid reader sent a copy of a study by The College Board, which runs the Advanced Placement program. The May 1998 study should be distributed far and wide to any educators thinking about imposing block scheduling on their high schools. Man, oh man, what a mistake.

AP exams given in May can earn a student college credit hours, usually if the student can score a ‘’4’’ or a ‘’5’’ on a 5-point scale. My daughters both gained several ‘’free’’ college credits this way, a value to our family of more than $10,000 since they both chose expensive colleges. A healthy AP program is one of the best marketing tools a school can have, because it definitely attracts the higher-quality students.

The study compared how kids in traditional school schedules did on the AP exams with the kids who were in block scheduling schools. A typical block schedule is four 90-minute class periods a day. Students would finish a year’s worth of course content in one semester.

The study covered more than 100,000 students who took the AP history and English literature tests, nearly 75,000 who took the calculus exam and 45,000 who took the biology test.

According to the study’s conclusion, “(S)tudents who are taught in compressed schedules score lower on all four AP Exams than those who receive year-long instruction.’’

Again, I say: if your district has block scheduling or is thinking of putting it in place, be quick out of the . . . BLOCKS . . . and getchermotorrunnin’ to get rid of it.

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