Exercise for the Reader

Don Shiraishi tells the following story:...

When Don attended college, pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering, he had a friend who majored in Chemistry. Don played a pretty sharp game of chess and enjoyed other games as well. His friend was not as good a chess player, but studied other games well enough to review new games for gamer magazines and write articles on how to play one side or another in the battle of Midway or the Arab-Israeli 1967 war.

Don graduated. His friend graduated. They lost contact.

Years later, Don got a visit from the Naval Investigative Service, who asked about his friend. "Was he really serious about games, or did he just play around?" they asked. Don told them that his friend had been pretty serious about his games. His friend, you see, had applied for a job writing war games for use in training commanders in tactics when the fleet received a new, longer-range anti-air missile or when the Soviets deployed a quieter submarine.

So here is today's question: If education is an investment, a deferral of current consumption made in anticipation of higher income, material or otherwise, later (you got a better definition? And don't get all mystical), when Don's friend was in college studying Chemistry and playing Lee at Gettysburg, which was his education and which was his recreation?


First Class

The taxpayers of Hawaii support the only State-wide school district in the US. An reported enrollment of 183,829 students in 2002 made this district the ninth largest in the US. A full-time-equivalent staff of 20,000 Hawaii Department of Education employees operate this institution. In its 2004 report to the Bureau of the Census, "The National Public Education Financial Survey", the Hawaii DOE reported an average daily attendance (ADA) of 167,739 students, a total revenue of $2,137,931,111 and, by a miracle of accounting, a per pupil annual expenditure of $8,954.

Standardized tests of Reading and Math place Hawaii's State school system in the national cellar. Prior to 1990, DOE officials claimed that Hawaii's children, though below the national average in Reading, were above the national average in Math. Then Hawaii participated in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). By some measures, Hawaii's students perform worse than students in Louisiana and Washington, DC.

Standardized tests are not the only measure of a school. Defenders of the State (government, generally) school system claim that children benefit from socialization, from contact with other children. This claim is testable. According to a statistician at the Office of the Attorney General, juvenile violent crime arrests fall in summer, when school is not in session. Juvenile arrests for drug possession and drug promotion fall in summer. Reported burglaries fall in summer. According to a study of hospital records performed for The Agenda's author by the Hawaii Health Information Corporation, juvenile hospitalizations for human-induced trauma fall in summer.

"The issue of social skills. One edition of Home School Researcher, Volume 8, Number 3, contains two research reports on the issue of social skills. The first finding of the study by Larry Shyers (1992) was that home-schooled students received significantly lower problem behavior scores than schooled children. His next finding was that home-schooled children are socially well adjusted, but schooled children are not so well adjusted. Shyers concludes that we are asking the wrong question when we ask about the social adjustment of home-schooled children. The real question is why is the social; adjustment ofschooled children of such poor quality?"

"The second study, by Thomas Smedley (1992), used different test instruments but comes to the same conclusion, that home-educated children are more mature and better socialized than those attending school." ...[Roland Meighan, "Home-based Education Effectiveness Research and Some of its Implications", __Educational Review__, Vol. 47, No.3, 1995.p. 277]

"12. So-called 'school phobia' is actually more likely to be a sign of mental health, whereas school dependancy is a largely unrecognized mental health problem"....[Meighan, p.281]

At least the State-wide system promotes equal treatment, right? A Washington, DC advocacy group, the Education Trust, gives the Hawaii school system an A for equity in financing schools. They should have looked closer. The State Auditor reports variations in per-pupil allocations of more than $3,000, between intermediate schools in the same "district" (as we use the term in Hawaii, to refer to regional subdivisions of the DOE).

The point is, unequal funding allows DOE administrators to allocate funds where they are most needed, yielding equity of result, right?

No. The difference between the 90th percentile score (1996 NAEP 8th grade Numbers and Operations test) and the 10th percentile score is among the greatest in the nation. Other measures yield similar results.

We have a lot to discuss.


Chapter Zero: Dedication

Aloha. The Harriet Tubman Agenda describes the State schools of Hawaii and provides a forum for comments on the Hawaii Department of Education and on schools generally. The Agenda offers suggestions for students, parents, and real classroom teachers and welcomes comments from visitors (please be civil). The Agenda supports policies which empower parents in education decision-making. With many exceptions, the Agenda favors policies which reduce the role of organized violence (the State) in society generally.

Take care. Homeschool if you can.