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[Susan notes: The letter writer advocates scrapping high school altogether. His argument should get attention.]

Submitted to Philadelphia Inquirer but not published

To the editor

While discussing the pros and cons of building

a new high school in Lower Merion as in "A new

regime takes on a fiery issue" (News, Dec. 1)

I'm reminded of a former Supt. of the Radnor

School System, who went on to Harrisburg, who

used to say that, "The elementary schools may

still have a role to play by way of teaching the

basic skills, but the junior and senior high

schools have outlived their usefulness and

cannot be salvaged."

This idea would be supported by Leon Botstein,

President of Bard College, who, in the N.Y. Times, recently called for the abolition of the American high school while a professor of education at Penn mentioned not long ago that, despite all the hard work on the part of both teachers and students, there is "....no learning of any significance going on at any high school

in Philadelphia."

In the meantime, not only has a 1999 Dept.

of Labor report concluded that 70 percent of

the jobs coming on line in the next ten years

could be filled by someone with a basic-skill-

proficient 8th-grade education but most of

those still-energetic 14-year-olds could go

to community college, volunteer, or do

some real work in the real world, just as

in 1900 when 94 percent left school before

age seventeen.

But, the betting is that, were we to make

high schools voluntary, that most would still

attend since they could immediately become

STIMULATING places -- not to mention our

obsession with credentials, especially in

Lower Merion.

Or we could merely abolish formal

assessment, give diplomas to those who

can demonstrate the basic skills, and

let kids find their own way into college,

just as the homeschoolers can so easily do.

Robert E. Kay, MD, psychiatrist

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