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The Mayor's School Plan

August 25, 1985

Ever since Henry VI, who was almost certainly mentally deranged, founded Eton in the 15th Century, Britain's upper class has sent its sons, from the mature age of 7, to expensive and hallowed boarding schools noted for centuries for determinedly bad food and savage floggings.

Vacancies thereat are so desperately sought after that some boys' names are placed on waiting lists before they are even born.

Though the rarefied snobbery involved is mocked by Britons of lesser social stature, many would still gruffly acknowledge that, except in unusually tender cases (Shelley was almost driven to suicide), attendance at Eton, Harrow, Winchester etc., "maketh man," to a great extent, and unquestionably confers a clear and permanent aura of advantage on the "old boy." So, to some extent, and however grudgingly, the opportunity to attend is envied.

Mayor Bradley has suggested much the same sturdy away-from-home treatment for the underprivileged of Watts without, presumably, a waiting list (or the whippings) or much, if any, cost to the parents. But, far from being hailed as one who wishes to lavish on the hard-pressed youth of Los Angeles the benefits of the system for which British parents bankrupt themselves in the service of their children, he is being attacked as a family-busting anarchist who will probably next try to prohibit apple pie from civic functions.

So, to some extent, opinions are formed as follows: If you're wealthy and privileged and whie, then the British top-drawer motto of "Dogs at home and the children away at school" is a jolly good thing; if you're poor, American and black, then much the same system, though arguably if drastically beneficial, appears to infringe on just about every right you're grimly holding on to.

NORMAN HUDIS

Woodland Hills

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