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[Susan notes: This letter writer asks important questions.

I would add just one: When are the policy makers going to start listening to parents?]

Submitted to Washington Post but not published

To the editor

I had one of those "aha" moments, when reading Jay Matthews' column – “Entrepreneurs Grab the Chance to Build Careers, Help Schools” (Oct. 8, 2002).

Now I know who the No Child Left Behind Act is supposed to help.

Though young entrepreneurs with limited education expertise are cashing in on this misguided legislation based on joyless state standards and high-stakes testing, our children's lives are unlikely to be so enriched.

Only when we stop treating America's public school children as products on an assembly line, to be tracked for quality control purposes like so many widgets, will we improve public education. Education is a gloriously messy business and should stay that way.

Our children come into this world magnificently unique - with awesome built-in arrays of strengths, weakness, passions and aversions. They all learn in different ways and on their own timetables. When are our political leaders going to have their "aha" moments? When are they going to realize that our children are not the products of public education - but are the customers of public education? When are they going to acknowledge and rejoice in the fact (as parents and teachers do) that our kids don't come standard?

-- Lusby, MD

Sue Allison

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