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[Susan notes: Bob Kay makes persuasive argument against compulsory attendance. How would schools change if, say, 8-year-olds had the option of leaving?]

Submitted to Philadelphia Inquirer but not published
02/09/2004

To the editor



Not only is it "Time to shed some school districts" (One Reader's View, Feb. 10) but it may be time to shed a coercive and ineffective system altogether.



Because, as John Taylor Gatto, former Teacher of the Year in both N.Y. City and N.Y. State, has written, "Schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet."



That is: -- given parents, siblings, peers, books, newspapers, magazines, toys, games, educational TV, the evening news, entertainment, sporting events, meetings, debates, periodicals, far-too-many-experts, churches, government reports, music classes, basketball, karate,

advertisements, organizations, scouts, supermarkets, museums, theaters, art galleries, concerts, health clubs, libraries, pet stores, word processors, computers, educational videos, and The Internet as well as relatives, homeschooling, learning centers, interesting programs, the armed services, mentors,

on-the-job training, volunteering, and travel etc. etc. -- why the opportunities for effective, self-motivated, and solid learning are virtually endless -- in both city and suburb.



As opposed to that well-intended, Prussian derived, factory-oriented, high-anxiety, anger-producing, and very-boring place called Academia which produces mostly mediocre basic skills, disaffected kids, depressed teachers, and a forgettable curriculum, all of which problems might be solved if we merely shed the compulsory attendance law.



Robert E. Kay, MD, psychiatrist


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