Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Remediation bill points up the need for school choice

The good news: Oklahoma schools are teaching phonics. The bad news: It’s in college.

To cite just one example (sadly, there are many) of what goes on at many of our institutions of "higher education," students at Tulsa Community College can take a college English course called Spelling and Phonics, which is "designed for the student who needs to master basic spelling literacy and principles of phonics." Ponder it, folks. I can’t make this stuff up.

Taxpayers already paid for K-12 education once; now they are forced to pay for it again. According to last year’s annual Student Remediation Report produced for the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education, more than one-third of Oklahoma students require remedial courses in college.

In an attempt to do something about it, yesterday the Oklahoma House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation creating a Task Force on Student Remediation.

As you think about "Spelling and Phonics" and about high-school students watching movies in class, I want you to consider the requirements facing students hoping to be admitted to Harvard College around 1700: "Everyone competent to read Cicero or any other classic author of that kind extemporaneously, and also to speak and write Latin prose and verse with tolerable skill and without assistance, and of declining the Greek nouns and verbs, may expect to be admitted to the College: if deficient in any of these qualifications, he cannot under any circumstances be admitted."

Do you think it’s possible Oklahoma’s K-12 education system is dumbed down? Last year my homeschooled eighth-grade son learned Algebra II, Henle Latin I, intermediate logic, physical science, grammar, and composition. Here are some (not all) of the books he read and discussed: The Epic of Gilgamesh; The Code of Hammurabi; The Odyssey; The Histories; The Oresteia Trilogy; Plutarch’s Lives; The Theban Trilogy; The Last Days of Socrates; The Early History of Rome; The Aeneid; The Twelve Caesars; Till We Have Faces; The Unaborted Socrates; Genesis; Exodus; I and II Samuel; I and II Kings; Isaiah; Jeremiah; Chosen by God; and Socrates Meets Jesus.

If parents want this kind of education for their children and the public schools won’t deliver it, those parents should be given a voucher or a tax credit which allows them to choose another option.

If you enter college needing to learn “Spelling and Phonics” – something you should have learned in first grade – suffice it to say you’ve been ripped off.

No comments: