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A Response to:
Nip Problem in bud...

Indy Star, 7/30/06

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A Response to "Nip problem in bud..."

A Reponse to the Indianapolis Star Article: “Nip problem in bud with early education initiatives” written by Terry Spradlin, and published in the July 30 newspaper.

To the Editor
Indianapolis Star Newspaper
307 N. Pennsylvania Ave.
Indianapolis, In. 46204


Dear Sir:

Thanks for printing the article “Nip problem in bud with early education initiatives” written by Terry Spradlin, in your Sunday, July 30 Newspaper.

In that article he advocates pre-kindergarten programs for 4 year olds and Full-Day kindergarten in all school corporations. As justification for these suggestions Mr. Spradlin mentioned the Indiana P-16 Plan for Improving Student Achievement and stated that the “P” in P-16 meant pre-kindergarten.

Unfortunately for Mr. Spradlin, the “P” in the P-16 meant “Prenatal” in that program. That was clearly defined on page 22 of the P-16 Plan introduced in October, 2003. The portion of that page that defined the prenatal care part of the Plan was omitted from the public handouts at the community meetings and few understood that the “P” extended mandatory public health care, in the schools, to prenatal care for expectant mothers. It’s the first program discussed in the nine checked programs listed below the introductory remarks on Page 22.

Mr. Spradlin then goes on to encourage the governor to pursue funding for full-day kindergarten during the 2007 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

Operation “Head Start” is an existing government education system aimed at the same children that any kindergarten or pre-kindergarten program would reach. Consider this:

There is an important, if not the most important, study yet made of our school systems. That study was made by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services and was released in June 2003. In that report that agency states: “Most children enter and leave Head Start with below-average skill and knowledge levels”. If Head Start cannot teach preschoolers then our Indiana schools certainly cannot do so. That report is 37 pages long and that statement is on page one.

Just look at the effectiveness of our Indiana School System:

The Indiana School System is funded at number 12 in the country, about $10,000 per year per student. The Indiana School System educational results, as compared to all the others states on the National SAT testing, ranks Indiana at number 41 in the entire country. (Iowa funded at number 32 produces students rated at number one (1) on the SAT, the best in the country.)

The Indiana schools need no more funding. Instead our schools need to become more independent with less centralized control. Local school boards need more independence along with control of the schools and their curriculum.

In fact our schools could use less funding. May I propose that Indiana reduce school funding at the rate of 5% per year until the funding level equals the level of performance of the state school system? The East Harlem, New York, school system is a perfect example of what independent schools can achieve in this country. (See “Miracle in East Harlem” by Seymour Fliegel.) Even better, let’s take the government out of education entirely.  New Zealand tried it and it worked there incredibly well. In one day that country closed all its government schools and opened independent ones. Indiana could do the same thing. (See Maurice M. McTigues speech at Hillsdale College.) Teachers pay went up and the education results exploded with the New Zealand students now ranking in the top five world-wide. (Before, its students ranked number 25 of the top 25 industrialized countries.)

To succeed in school a student must first know how to read. Any student can be taught to read in the first semester of the first grade. Yet, in the Indiana P-16 Plan, the school system guaranteed to teach the student to read by the time he reached the end of the third grade. That statement is item number four on page 22 of the Indiana P-16 Plan.



Ed Sparks