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Thursday, June 09, 2005

"It's time for California to be the leader that it always has been."

These are the words of Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, a Los Angeles Democrat who chairs the Assembly Education Committee. She was speaking of California Assembly Bill 756, which bans schools from purchasing textbooks of over 200 pages. I intended to write on this sooner, but I had to wait until I could catch my breath.

While the same Democrats who voted for this bill are opposing private school vouchers, homeschooling, and anything else that might make it easier remove children from public school influence, they are supporting a nail in the coffin of genuine education in public schools. I can just hear Mark Shea saying "Did I mention we homeschool?"

What bothers me most about this obvious dumbing down of public education is the dichotomy it will produce in California between public schooled children and educated children. Those children whose parents cannot put them in private schools are not at fault, but they are the ones who will suffer when their transcripts reflect a lack of great literature or comprehension of long works. They will have a harder time than their private school counterparts getting into college, surviving in college, and getting well-paid jobs. They will have a harder time as adults finding the funds to afford a decent private education for their own children, and the cycle of undeserved ignorance will continue.

I can only be thankful that the California Assembly does not represent education at large. Even while I'm frustrated at the discrepancy between the education public school kids will receive and the education private school kids will receive, I'm awfully glad that there is a private school network in place. I'm awfully glad, too, that other states have not adopted this ridiculous policy. At least not yet. The reason I'm glad is that maybe in 30 years some member of my family will need surgery. I'll want to know that the surgeon learned to read well enough to read and comprehend all the details in his surgery texts.

If this trend were universal, who would build the bridges and teach my grandchildren? Who would find a cure for cancer if this generation cannot?

Thankfully this trend is not universal. We must do what we can to get the word out... if they try to dumb down your children, fight. If they try to dumb down your neighbor's children, or your grandchildren, fight. If you believe that all children deserve a good education, FIGHT. Speak up. Let the lawmakers know that we support literacy, and we want to know that at least some of our children will read War and Peace even though it's more than 200 pages.

Whatever you do, don't take it sitting down. Pick up your pens and show these lawmakers the power of literacy!