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[Susan notes: Two good letters, each hitting home a single point.]

Published in The Oregonian
03/09/2005

To the editor

Bill Gates may get an A+ as a businessman and inventor, but he gets an F as an educator. In his opinion piece, "Fixing our obsolete high schools," he makes the assumption that all students' brains are created equal and that all have the same abilities and desires. He even brings nationality and race into the equation and states, "...Wealthy white kids are taught Algebra II, while low-income minority kids are taught how to balance a checkbook."



This is the same thinking mode that has given us the miserably failing "No Child Left Behind" act. Under this program, my daughter, teaching special education students in a Southern California high school, has to try to teach

advanced algebra to students who are just beginning to grasp the concept of multiplication.



As a retired eductor, I will tell you that we need carpenters, electricians, mechanics and others in our country who do not need college

degrees. We should encourage and advance these skills rather than force students into college preparation classes for which they have no desire.



Yes, our high schools are obsolete, but mainly because they refuse to recognize the potential of each student individually and not clump them

all together in one grand mold.



Betty Weldon





Bill Gates' March 3 column urging that high schools prepare students for college through expanded math and science instruction to enable them to better serve business and industry, while politically correct, is disturbing.



What about the lessons of history, understanding and appreciating the fundamentals of democracy, ethics, philosophy, languages, social skills, tolerance, understanding and compassion? What about the arts--those great teachers of imagination, creativity and appreciation of beauty?



We are graduating thousands from our schools and colleges who have never attended a concert of classical music, seen an opera or a ballet, attended a serious play or visited an art museum. Should we render the arts irrelevant?



Gates' plan for education will undoubtedly make us more competitive in the marketplace, but how many workers will be intellectually one-dimensional cultural oafs?



Robert Mix

Betty Weldon and Robert Mix


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